April 18th 2023 marked the first-ever, membership-wide Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park for the First Work Network!

During our day of meetings and a Minister-filled, food-fueled reception; we continued our tradition of fostering relationships on both sides of the aisle to move the needle on youth-specific supports.

Our meetings with Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants and MPPs alike focused on the opportunities enabled by Employment Service Providers when they are resourced to service the breadth of workforce development needs that successful regional economies require. Leveraging their labour market expertise, ESPs are the bridge to employment for countless young people, jobseekers of all ages and the employers navigating Ontario’s labour talent shortage.

With over 50 First Work member delegates in attendance, this Network drove home the message that youth – no matter where they live in Ontario – have unique needs, requiring unique supports to achieve meaningful employment. To ensure both ends of the employment spectrum – jobseekers and job creators – have their needs met, Employment Service Providers are the economic development drivers that strengthen the workforce and make young people not just job-ready, but retention-ready.

First Work’s Advocacy Day included:

Question Period: an opportunity for First Work delegates to see Government in action, with acknowledgment from local MPPs for their constituents in attendance.

Reception: an opportunity for organic relationship development and knowledge-sharing for all MPPs and their staff. Reception remarks provided by:

PA Deepak Anand
NDP MPP Sarah Jama
Liberal MPP Adil Shamji
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner

Meetings are an opportunity for Network delegates to build relationships with MPPs and their staff, to raise awareness of impacts facilitated by ESPs in local economies, and to share impact stories pertinent to their local communities.

Read more about our Advocacy Day Meetings below.

  • [From Left] Suzanne Coutu, Akosua Alagaratnam, Carolyn Warkentin, Hon. Monte McNaughton, Hon. Deepak Anand, MPP Adil Shamji, MPP Mike Schreiner, MPP Robin Martin

Meetings of the day included:

  • MPP for Mississauga – Malton
  • Parliamentary Assistant, Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Development
  • PA Anand provided wonderful remarks at our reception, followed by a meeting focused on the ongoing opportunity for collaboration between our Network and the Ministry
  • MPP for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes
  • Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
  • Minister Clark connected with old colleagues from the Employment and Education Centre in Brockville at our reception, and discussed the role of ESPs as referral hubs not just in employment but around housing as well.
  • MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh
  • Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
  • We discussed opportunities in the Windsor region and how ESPs are drivers of local economies positioned to use their expertise to be active partners in workforce development.
  • MPP for Simcoe North
  • Minister of Colleges and Universities
  • Minister Dunlop was gracious to stop by our reception, setting the tone for a great meeting with her staff and Network delegates focused on the school-to-work transition.
  • MPP for Nickel Belt
  • Delegates discussed the need for greater collaboration with ESPs and schools, the opportunity ESPs offer as referral hubs for mental health, and region-specific solutioning required for the North with MPP Gelinas.
  • MPP for Hamilton Centre
  • Critic - Youth
  • Recently elected MPP Sarah Jama provided remarks as the Youth critic for the Official Opposition.
  • MPP for Eglinton – Lawrence
  • MPP Martin joined our reception and spoke passionately in our meeting about how we can best advance labour talent solutions in our current workforce landscape.
  • MPP for Aurora – Oak Ridges – Richmond Hill
  • Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
  • Very recently shuffled to this portfolio, joined by his PA [Nolan Quinn] for a quick discussion about the importance of youth-specific programming.
  • MPP for Brampton South
  • Treasury Board President
  • Minister Sarkaria surprised our delegates with a visit to our Reception, prior to a constructive meeting with First Work delegates about opportunities to further de-silo ministries and thereby increase opportunities for collaboration.
  • MPP for London West
  • Representatives from each region joined MPP Sattler to discuss employment scarring due to the pandemic. Our members spoke on how best to re-prioritize youth and bring those furthest from employment back with wraparound supports from community employment service providers.
  • MPP for Don Valley East
  • MPP Shamji provided remarks at our reception and, in our meeting, spoke adeptly about the needs of young people.
  • MPP for Parry Sound – Muskoka
  • Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Board Member Donna Sedore led the conversation about how Employment Service Providers offer young people in rural areas the critical assistance they need to achieve meaningful careers.
  • MPP for Guelph
  • Leader of the Green Party
  • MPP Schreiner graciously represented the Green Party, completing all-party remarks at our Reception. Youth-specific needs are not bound by party lines but offer a common goal of a thriving economy and society.
  • MPP for Davenport
  • Leader of the Official Opposition
  • Leader Stiles and First Work members discussed the unique needs of youth and embedding solutions to youth unemployment in Employment Ontario programming.
  • MPP for Huron-Bruce
  • Minister of Agricultural, Food and Rural Affairs
  • First Work’s Agri-food Pathways project was the focus of discussion, detailing how ESPs are well poised to foster the talent pipelines for much-needed Agri-Food roles.
  • MPP for Vaughan-Woodbridge
  • Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
  • Delegates spoke with the Minister’s office about the correlations between mental health needs and employment, and the supports needed to overcome these barriers.
  • MPP for Sudbury
  • First Work member delegates spoke to the MPP’s staff about Northern-specific issues facing young job seekers and the need for concerted Northern workforce development.