USW calls on Ontario Labour Minister to continue funding Job Action Centres

Hon. Monte McNaughton
Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Ontario

Dear Minister McNaughton,

As the elected leader of the United Steelworkers (USW) union’s 75,000 members in Ontario, I am urgently requesting a meeting with you to address a disturbing threat to a successful job-adjustment program that helps laid-off workers find new employment.

Our union has been informed by representatives of your government that you intend to eliminate funding and shut down three highly effective Job Action Centres that have assisted tens of thousands of workers in Toronto, Peel Halton and Hamilton since 2003.

Minister, this is a disconcerting development, on all levels.

These grassroots Job Action Centres, which are operated out of USW facilities in Toronto, Peel Halton and Hamilton, are unqualified success stories based on every measure valued by your government and our Union alike.

The track record built by these Job Action Centres over nearly two decades clearly demonstrates that they provide tremendous value for money to your government, to taxpayers, and to the affected workers and their families and communities.

These Job Action Centres not only achieve impressive results in assisting laid-off workers in obtaining new employment, they do so with relatively modest funding, less than $1 million in total. In fact, the Centres operate with as little as one-third to one-half of the funds spent on other job-adjustment programs elsewhere.

The Job Action Centres are effective because their Staff are trained and uniquely equipped to assist laid-off workers in returning to the workforce. The Centres are staffed by workers who also lost jobs in the past, who understand the challenges and the needs of laid-off workers and – crucially – who reflect the racial and cultural diversity of the workers and communities they serve.

In short, Minister, we believe there are few programs that provide your government with such a ‘bang for your buck’ in helping workers and families in need. As such it is shocking to learn your government intends to eliminate funding to the Job Action Centres this year, which in turn will force the centres to stop accepting new clients as of April 1, as operations wind down.

Minister, it is incomprehensible that your government would want to shut down a program that, for such a modest investment, provides so much value to taxpayers and helps so many workers and families get back on their feet and contribute to their communities and to Ontario’s economy.

I respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss this urgent matter and would appreciate hearing from you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Myles Sullivan
Ontario Director
United Steelworkers

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