Provincial funding cuts set to impact Kingston employment agencies

WATCH: Provincial employment programming cuts are concerning, says KEYS Job Centre executive director Michael Harris.

Provincial funding cuts to employment programs and agencies like ReStart, ACFOMI and KEYS Job Centre may be felt by Kingston residents looking for work.

KEYS Job Centre executive director Michael Harris says his organization is still digesting the information it has received from the government about the cancellation of the provincial program Employing Young Talent, which helps employers with job training and wages for young people.

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In all, Harris says KEYS is losing a little over $1 million in funding that aids employers, a substantial hit for an organization with an overall budget between $7 million and $8 million.

“A lot of that is flow-through money going to the community, particularly to employers or to people to subsidize or support their wages,” he said. It’s a situation Harris calls concerning but one that isn’t going to force KEYS to close its doors.

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“The employers in this community have come to use KEYS as a way to bring people into the world of work, and as a result, this will have an impact on the services we provide to employers,” Harris said.

As ReStart executive director Julie Parent writes in an email to Global Kingston, her organization will also continue to work with employers.

“We will provide necessary information to employers about eligibility around other incentives and support offered under the Employment Ontario umbrella,” Parent wrote.

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Youth Job Link, a program that helps young people aged 15 to 29 with job searches and matches them with local employers, has also been eliminated by the province. This change impacts both ReStart and KEYS as well.

Harris, however, says that of the 30 programs and services offered by KEYS, many are unaffected by the provincial changes.

“All of our federal programs will continue to exist,” Harris said. “We have a number of programs for newcomers, they all continue to exist. Persons with disabilities, we have programs for them.”

With youth facing the highest unemployment rate in Ontario of all age groups — Statistics Canada’s third-quarter 2018 Labour Force Survey put the number at 12.1 per cent — the cuts to youth programming could be keenly felt.

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