April 2017

Have you registered yet for this Year’s Leadership Summit: Amplify?

What are you waiting for? Register NOW! 

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to hear, share and learn from individuals who play an integral role within the youth employment and education sectors respectively.

    Some of our featured speakers
Hon. Minister Deb Matthews       Mide Akerewusi                  Trudy Button
Deputy Premiere                           Founder & CEO,                       Ontario Centre
MAESD                                             AGENTSC                     For Workforce Innovation


                                           Special thanks to some of our sponsors 


2017-18 Budget Amendments 

The recently announced budget cuts will no doubt impact clients, agencies and communities. Several concerns were raised at First Work’s recent regional meeting. Major concerns include uncertainty over revised budget calculations, and the dismay of members over the short notice and inconsistent means with which the upcoming cuts were communicated, especially in light of existing commitments for the new fiscal year.

While we are certain that our network can ultimately adapt, these budget cuts undoubtedly mean significant challenges in the very near future. First Work is committed to helping to develop solutions that will help our members to deal with these sudden and unexpected cuts.

Since the budget cuts take effect April 1st, we understand that this puts a great deal of pressure on organizations, as a result. Given the commitments already in place, these unexpected cuts affect projected expenditures and agreements, including lease agreements, collective bargaining agreements and notice periods. Furthermore, issues may arise surrounding communication of changes to participants and employers, service coordination and partnership agreements, and any other existing commitments for the new fiscal year.

Following the regional meeting, member concerns were documented and conveyed to MAESD. In response, MAESD representatives shared or clarified the following:

  • Acknowledging that organizations received inconsistent notification of changes, and insufficient communication regarding the impending cuts
  • Acknowledging that FAQs should have been posted, including more content than just the technical methodologies used in the calculations of amendments
  • Maintaining that the timing of notification and roll-out was unavoidable, and that the April deadline is firm
  • Explaining that the budget amendments are a direct response to the Value for Money Audit
  • Explaining that the roll-out plan and sequence was intended to consist of a phone call to each agency, followed by an email of notification, then an amended contract for review and return by March 31st
MAESD representatives also confirmed that the Ministry will post FAQs regarding budget amendments on EOPG, and that many steps will be taken to mitigate the impact of these cuts on agencies and participants. Specifically:
  • For ES, any providers meeting between 80-120% of the target received no adjustments
  • For ES providers performing below 80%, the starting point of the adjustment calculation is the mid-point of target
  • The Ministry attempted to cap any changes to funding at 10%
  • For LBS, the focus was on bringing targets and budgets into better alignment for all 4 streams
  • YJC will be most significantly impacted; however, 11 months of data and the most recent EER will be considered in the analysis and assessment
  • YJC projections indicated very high slippage, and the new targets are in alignment with projections and actual expenditures
As contracts are received, we encourage all members to carefully review agreements, particularly the notice of termination clause, as it appears that there has been a change of notice period from 6 months to 30 days. Please see the “Program Updates” section below for further detail. As this change was not initially highlighted, we will be seeking clarification on this matter.
Program Updates

EOPG Ontario Transfer Payment Agreement Updates

For important information on “Termination on Notice,” please see section 13.0 of this document, “Ontario Transfer Payment Agreement.” Section 13.1 explains that “The Province may terminate the Agreement at any time without liability, penalty or costs upon giving at least 30 days’ Notice to the Recipient.” This represents a substantial change from the previous notice period of 6 months. Section 13.2 goes on to detail “Consequences of Termination on Notice by the Province,” and provides a list of actions the Province may take if terminating the Agreement pursuant to section 13.1, for instance, “demand[ing] the repayment of any Funds remaining in the possession or under the control of the Recipient.” 
COJG Service Provider Guidelines for 2017-2018 

This bulletin “advise[s] the Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) delivery network that revised COJG Service Provider Guidelines for the upcoming fiscal of 2017/2018 have been posted to the Employment Ontario Partners’ Gateway (EOPG).” The bulletin explains that changes in the guidelines take effect on April 1, 2017, and states: “As we have previously informed you, the Canada-Ontario Job Fund Agreement (COJFA) is the key source of funding to support Ontario employers to develop their workforce through employer-driven training. Some of the changes in the guidelines are due to the amendment made to the COJFA to provide additional supports for the hiring of unemployed individuals and supports for travel costs incurred for the duration of training.”

MAESD Letter to EO Service Providers

This letter from MAESD states that “The Auditor General of Ontario’s 2016 reportmade recommendations that would help ensure that each dollar Ontario invests is targeted at achieving program goals, to help as many people as possible get the right support and find employment. The ministry is taking action by implementing those recommendations to ensure programs are assessed based on prior achievement of service plans. We will also be working with the sector this year to make changes to the performance measurement framework with an enhanced focus on outcomes…”
YJC: Summer 
This memo states that “advise[s] Youth Job Connection: Summer service providers that an additional Estimate of Expenditure Report, covering the period from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, will be released via the Service Provider Connect system and due back to the ministry on April 7, 2017. Through this final EER for 2016-2017, service providers will report on expenses incurred from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. The ministry will use these reports to complete the year-end accrual process. If your organization has any additional questions, please contact your Employment and Training Consultant (ETC).”
News Corner

Harnessing the Fun of Online Games to Connect Youth With Real-World Jobs

A Global News article details an innovative approach to helping youth build their resumes and develop job search skills. The article, “YES Montreal turns to gaming to develop job search tool geared to youth” explains that the “Jobprepper” tool “engages youth on their own turf, making the job search process more relevant.” As Annalise Iten, a job search program director at YES Montreal explains, youth are “online, they’re always clicking away so we decided to make a gamified approach to job search.” In the game, the player tackles job search challenges, such as writing a strong cover letter and resume. Players then make choices and receive instant feedback, allowing them to actively learn which strategies do and don’t work. Young job-seekers are encouraged to highlight what special skills and unique experience they can offer employers, and to develop other useful skills that will improve their chances when translated into the competitive real-world job market.

Preparing Youth for Changing Labour Market Realities

This article, “Equipping Our Kids for the New Labour Market,” encourages us to “rethink how our education system is preparing kids for the new labour market” As the article explains, a “recent U.S. Department of Labor report suggests that nearly a third of today’s schoolchildren, when they graduate from high school, will land jobs that don’t currently exist.” It goes on to point out that Canadian youth face high unemployment, increasing precarious and contract work, decreased stability, and numerous lifetime career changes. As a result, the article explains, “teaching young people information and basic skills is no longer good enough. We simply don’t know what they will need to know by the time they’re ready to enter the labour market.” It goes on to explain that we need to shift from teaching information to teaching resiliency, adaptability and competencies. Similarly, we must stop treating youth as “passive recipients of knowledge,” and begin treating them as “decision-makers about the nature and structure of their own learning.” This article is part of a larger Policy Optionsseries, “The Changing Nature of Work.”
Employer Engagement
First Work member agencies looking to engage employers in their communities will benefit from the new Retain and Gain: Career Management for Small Business Playbook. Published by CERIC, the Playbook identifies 40+ low-cost tips, activities and actions that small business can take right now (some in only 10 minutes a day) to attract, retain and develop staff.
Written in an innovative “travel guide” format, author Lisa Taylor includes special sections on new graduates, the aging workforce and family enterprises, and provides planning templates and links to unique resources.
The Playbook is of particular value to job developers, presenting innovative ways to build and maintain strong relationships with employers. Job developers can distribute the Playbook as a marketing tool for their services or use it in partnership with employers to create effective retention and training plans.
Given that most agencies are themselves small- or medium-sized enterprises (fewer than 500 employees), agency directors and managers would also find the Playbook relevant to apply with their own staff. Furthermore, with the fact that 99.7% of all businesses in Canada are SMEs, this Playbook offers helpful insights on the workforce needs of SMEs, where the vast majority of clients will be employed.
Supported by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Ryerson University, TD Bank and others, the Playbook is available to purchase (English and French versions) in print for $15.95 (get a 30% discount on bulk sales) or for free download at www.ceric.ca/sme.

New Report Sparks Both Hopes and Fears of Possible Changes to Labour Laws

This article explains that a report commissioned by the Provincial Government may “trigger the most sweeping reforms to employment and labour laws since the 1990s.” As the article goes on to explain: “Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government is about to get advice that could lead to a significant shakeup of the laws governing work in Ontario. TheChanging Workplaces Review is examining just about everything related to labour law in this province…[i]t could trigger the most significant reforms to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act since Mike Harris was premier.” This article, “Business, Labour Brace for Changes to Ontario’s Workplace Laws” also discusses possible impacts of the new report, explaining that “Businesses in Ontario are spooked by the wide scope of possible changes to the province’s labour and employment laws,” and that “mandatory sick pay, shifting the threshold for overtime, boosting the minimum paid vacation, advance scheduling, and making it easier to join a union are all under consideration.”

Premier Wynne Fire Under Over Union Lockout at Provincially-Run School

In this Guest Editorial, entitled “Precarious Employment Trend,” Marty Warren, the Ontario Director of the United Steelworkers criticizes Premier Wynne over the “lockout of security guards at Belleville’s Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf.” Warren calls the lockout “a striking example of how Ontario’s Liberal government is not only failing in its promises to help precarious workers, it is directly contributing to the problem.” He goes on to explain that “security guards, members of the United Steelworkers, were attempting to negotiate their first collective agreement when they were locked out…two weeks ago.” Warren states that the employees are among the precarious workers that “now account for 40% to 50% of the province’s workforce.” Warren argues that “Wynne has been assuring vulnerable workers that she sympathizes with their plight and is committed to reversing the rise in precarious employment,” but that as a “provincially owned and operated school,” the “Wynne government could lead by example” at Sir James Whitney “by directly employing more workers within its own facilities and ensuring they have reliable, non-precarious jobs,” rather than outsourcing to private contractors.
Research Corner

Youth Research and Evaluation eXchange Tools

The Youth Research and Evaluation eXchange (YouthREX) website is an online learning community that aims to “make research evidence and evaluation accessible and relevant to Ontario’s youth sector through knowledge mobilization, capacity building and evaluation leadership.” The site has many useful resources, including an Evaluation Toolkit for Youth Programs, a “Literature Review On Factors Affecting the Transition Of Aboriginal Youth From School To Work” and a Guide to supporting Ontario’s Youth through Employment & Entrepreneurship. Other useful resources include a Covenant House infographic on the “Top 10 Reasons Why Homeless Youth Struggle To Get Jobs,” a research summary on Positive Youth Development (PYD) theory, and a U.S. report on “Employment Pathways For Boys And Young Men Of Color.”

LGBT Workplace Diversity & Inclusion

In an excellent presentation at the recent Diversity@Work conference, this useful report on Diversity in the Workplace was highlighted as a valuable resource on LGBT workplace inclusion and diversity. The presentation was given by Thomas Sasso, a researcher at the University of Guelph’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Research Lab, and one of the co-authors of the report. The report, “Diverging Perspectives on LGBT Inclusion in the Workplace,” was produced by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), in partnership with Pride at Work Canada. The report contains useful definitions, information, and tools related to gender and sexual diversity and workplace inclusion. Also, check back on the Diversity@Work site, as “Photos and Speakers’ Presentations will be Uploaded Shortly.”