Updated: Feb 20
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The District of Muskoka was notified on Feb. 14 that the Ontario government is moving ahead with the reform of Employment Services and has made an announcement identifying the new service system managers for three prototype areas in the province which include the Region of Peel, Hamilton-Niagara and the Muskoka-Kawarthas region.
The government said the plan is to contract out employment services to unite three previously separate programs: Employment Ontario, Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) announced that following a competitive process, Fleming College was selected as the new service system manager for the Muskoka-Kawarthas region. The District competed in a consortium application together with the City of Peterborough, City of Kawartha-Lakes and the County of Northhumberland but was unsuccessful.
“Although we are disappointed not to have been selected as the service system manager for the Muskoka-Kawartha’s catchment area, we look forward to building a collaborative relationship with our new partner Fleming College” said Samantha Hastings, Commissioner of Community and Planning Services with the District of Muskoka. “We will continue to support Muskoka’s most vulnerable people through the delivery of Ontario Works financial and life stabilization services and will work with Fleming College to connect clients to employment opportunities supported under the new model. We will also provide updates to Ontario Works clients as we learn more about these changes and impacts over the upcoming weeks.”
According to the provincial government Fleming College has over 50 years of experience delivering education, skills training and employment services to students, job seekers and employers. Each year, 3,000 job seekers access Employment Ontario services via the college.
The new Service System Managers will start establishing a presence in their prototype region and familiarizing themselves with the existing employment service provider network. The government has indicated that clients will not experience any changes to how they access employment services and supports at this time. Lessons learned from the prototype regions will be applied to the future roll out across the province expected to start in 2022.
In 2016, the Auditor General reported that Ontario's employment and training programs were not effectively helping people find and keep full-time jobs. On Feb. 12, 2019 the Ford government announced its plan to modernize Ontario's employment services by creating a new service delivery model that integrates social assistance employment services into Employment Ontario. Service System Managers were selected to plan and deliver more locally-responsive employment services starting in three prototype regions one of which was Muskoka-Kawartha.
Employment Ontario is the province’s network of employment and training programs that supports job seekers and employers. About one million people are served by Employment Ontario annually.