Community Dispatch



Community Dispatch are InfoFacts which provide members of our community with discussion on important social and economic issues that currently affect our lives and collective well-being.




April 2017

The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services announced that the Province of Ontario will pilot a Basic Income Program in three areas: Hamilton, Brantford, Brant County; Thunder Bay and surrounding area; and Lindsay. They state that “the purpose of this pilot is to assess whether a basic income can better support vulnerable workers, improve health and education outcomes for people on low income and help ensure that everyone shares in Ontario’s economic growth.”

Almost 70 years ago, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights had articulated that the basis of human dignity and well-being are fundamental human rights. Article 25 states:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself (herself) and of his (her) family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his (her) control.”
(Article 25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948)

As the Government of Ontario evaluates a Basic Income Pilot, I thought it useful to share a set of principles developed by the Social Planning Network of Ontario against which it should be appraised.

Joey Edwardh
Executive Director

Principles for a Basic Income: An Income Security Policy

It is imperative that income security and all social welfare policy in Canada be grounded in the conviction that it is a shared public responsibility to provide the conditions and supports for all Canadians and residents in our land to live in health and dignity as a matter of fundamental human rights and that strategies, policies and programs that fulfill these rights should be developed and implemented in accordance with the social determinants of health.

Livable Incomes

Everyone needs sufficient income to meet the necessities of living in health and dignity in the community.


Public income support must be provided to individuals and families living below the poverty line without other eligibility requirements or conditions related to its use.


Basic income payments must not replace, disrupt, or limit access to other essential health and social service benefits and supports, which people on low incomes need to survive and thrive in community.

Augmenting Education and Employment Supports

Individuals receiving a Basic Income must be able to access additional supports to develop and advance their talents and skills through education, employment and other pursuits driven by their own personal initiative.

Sustaining Employment

A Basic Income program must complement, not supplant, a public policy commitment to the creation of good jobs for all, including opportunities for decent work in the community and civic sector.

Wage Protection and Enhancement

Implementation of a Basic Income must have no bearing on the need for an adequate legislated minimum wage that ensures an individual working full-year, full-time escapes poverty nor should it discourage all employers from paying a living wage to their workers based on the cost in their areas for individuals and families to sustain themselves and fully participate in community life.

Gender Lens

Basic Income policies and programs must not indirectly result in compelling women in the household to assume the full burden of caregiving roles for children, elderly or other family members.

Ethical Research Practices

Basic Income recipients or participants in a Basic Income pilot must have their privacy protected; no individual or family should be worse off during or after participating in a pilot study.

  Community Dispatch PDF

Produced by Community Development Halton
3350 South Service Roard
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3M6
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail:



February 2017

The Premier’s Advisory Group on Community Hubs published their report Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan in August 2015. Although community hubs have been around for decades, momentum surrounding hubs has increased due to Premier Wynne’s interest. Given the importance of the subject, with funding support from Social and Community Services of the Regional Municipality of Halton, Community Development Halton (CDH) embarked on building a broad-based conversation on community hubs. A recently released background document, Community Hubs in Halton, provides the basis of a full discussion on hubs. This Community Dispatch captures some of the important understandings outlined in the document.

Joey Edwardh
Executive Director


Community hubs are an alternative approach to delivering services in a holistic manner guided by the principles of community involvement and partnership. Important questions need to be answered such as:

  • How exactly do we define a community hub?
  • What is the purpose of a community hub?
  • Who is better off because of community hubs?

The background document, Community Hubs in Halton, speaks to an understanding and development of hubs within the Halton context. It explores different models of hubs, their characteristics, their role in community, their strengths and weaknesses in supporting planning, service delivery and community infrastructure and, importantly, community well-being. It also reviews experiences in hub development in countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia.

CDH engaged with community agencies, grassroots community-based organizations, and selected community members across Halton’s municipalities, exploring the multiple definitions or understandings of ‘hubs’ and their role in the development of community well-being in Halton. These discussions also assessed the readiness of community to embrace hubs as a model of collaboration and integrated service delivery at the local level, as well as the barriers to hub development in Halton.

Background on Hubs

Community hubs are believed to assist in building cohesive and more resilient communities. In fact, community hubs have the power to bring community members together, assisting them to form new relationships and support networks that did not previously exist. This is facilitated through community-based activities that bring people together and by the fact that community hubs are community-led. Community hubs also hold out the prospect of providing more effective services, since they can be shaped to be responsive to the needs of people in the communities in which they are located, as well as being more easily accessible.

Limitations of and Barriers to Implementing Hubs

Three areas that challenge hub development are:

  • Time for planning
  • Integrated service delivery
  • Community infrastructure and public property

The Australian Hubs Strategy Group has identified additional barriers that can impede the creation of a community hub:

  • Unable to initiate planning processes;
  • Challenges with staffing
  • Collaborating to create a joint vision;
  • Managing multiple partnerships;
  • Managing community expectations once a community hub is established/built;
  • Finding a fit between existing organizations that have their own way of operating;
  • Scepticism;
  • Potential segmentation of roles internally and externally; and
  • Dealing with change.

(Hubs Strategy Group, 2007, 23-24)[1]

Defining a Community Hub

There is no generally accepted definition of a community hub as it is a term that is driven locally and varies in meaning depending on its context. One definition that has resonance is as follows:

A community hub is a conveniently located place that is recognised and valued in the local community as a gathering place for people and an access point for a wide range of community activities, programs, services and events.

Rossiter 2007[2]

Community hubs do not just provide services for the community, but are orchestrated and driven by the community as well. A community hub can also act as a gathering place for local community members to come together to meet, collaborate, and build relationships with each other. Some even identify community hubs as a central meeting point that allows for communities to live, build social capital, and grow. In brief, a community hub is the concentration of various activities and services that are not only accessible to all within the same proximity, but serve the needs of all community members.

Purpose of a Community Hub

A community hub consists of publicly accessible services, spaces, resources, and activities that respond to the ever-changing needs of a community over time. These services are reflective of the community’s self-identified needs and are co-located, integrated, and delivered by the community under nonprofit community-based governance. A review of the literature indicates that community hubs have three primary purposes: community building, service coordination and delivery, and placemaking.

Community Participation and Engagement

The ‘elephant’ in the discussion about community hubs is the need to understand the dynamics and meanings associated with the word ‘community.’ Concepts such as community engagement, community participation and empowerment are rarely defined. What meanings are attributed to these words and how will they influence hub development?

The Halton Perspective

Over the last year, CDH has been engaging leaders from the health, education, and social services sectors in conversations about collaborative work and community hubs. Through these conversations, it has become evident that there is a strong desire to work together, that community hubs are about bringing together community partners who can create synergy and that collaboration and coordination is more important than integration.

As people discussed community hubs and their place in Halton, the language that wove through the conversations contained words such as network weaver, collaboration, partnership, gathering, democratic public space, quality of life, social inclusion, social capital, and synergy. These terms are helpful in framing the emerging conversation on hubs.

Based on the discussions, common themes appeared: that hubs could be those places that provide services to people of all ages and stages of life, that hubs support intergenerational opportunities, that hubs decrease stigma as people from all walks of life interact with each other. There needs to be a holistic approach for community hubs to thrive and hub development requires time, focus, resources, and staffing for community planning. Finally, there was a desire expressed around the creation of a meeting point or roundtable to initiate dialogue among all community actors who are integral to hub development.

The conversations highlighted the following areas that need definition and support. They are:

  • Leadership
  • Financing
  • Neighbourhood hubs
  • Shared spaces in usable spaces
  • Limits to space
  • Shared resources, shared program beyond co-location
  • Hubs as connectors
  • Hubs as knowledge exchange, shared learning
  • Processes
  • Common identified issues

Future Planning: A Journey into Hub Development in Halton

The document turns to how planning processes may be created in Halton that are holistic and recognize the continuum of hubs and the important contribution of each not only to the health and well-being of individuals and families but also, importantly, to a socially cohesive and inclusive Halton.

Activities that are considered necessary to the fulfillment of the steps to the development of hubs are suggested below. They are:

  • understand local needs and demands of community
  • establish a clear vision and mission with the community
  • collaborate, develop partnerships, and build relationships
  • develop strategic objectives
  • develop a ‘business’ [planning pathway] model for hub development
  • secure support and resources
  • acquire assets
  • establish an appropriate governance structure
  • implementation and sustain operations

(My Community 2016, 34; Mulligan 2010, 61)[3],[4]

Future Planning Framework: A Suggestion

As CDH engaged leaders in the human services sector in conversations about collaborative work associated with hub development, it was important to recognize that in Halton there are existing and thriving collaborative initiatives and emerging opportunities. However, there is no overarching planning framework for these developments at the local or regional level but rather, as the Special Advisor noted, multiple planning tables usually organized by field of service (Pitre, 2015). At the same time, there is no interest in a highly controlling and directing planning body for collaborative or community hub development. Planning and development in this area must be a cooperative undertaking for success.

How then to create a local or regional planning framework for community hub development? Perhaps, adapting the “constellation model” proposed by Tonya and Mark Surman (2008) offers some promise.[5] The constellation model refers to a collection of community partners (stewards) committed to a shared purpose that intentionally provides the space and support for smaller groups among their number to self-organize around specific initiatives that are consistent with and reflect the larger shared purpose. The overarching stewardship structure is not highly directive, but provides lightweight governance or oversight to the development of the overall shared concept or purpose. Partners organize themselves into “action-focused work teams” to achieve specific objectives, driven by their own energy and commitment to the task.

How could this approach be adapted to the issue of community hub, or collaborative services in Halton? In this case, the magnetic attractor is the opportunity presented by the provincial government’s interest in and support for community hub development, consistent with the interest and actions of the community and service sector (civic, health, education, and social service organizations). The “shared vision” is to promote and support connected, coordinated service delivery to people and communities, recognizing that this will be most effectively done through partnerships and collaborations rather than highly centralized corporate models. This is particularly true when the hub development is responding to service and social development initiatives at the smaller geographies (neighbourhood) of community. Since there are a variety of different areas involved, marked by distinct organizational cultures and experiences, what is required are “lightweight agreements” to explore hub development in self-selected areas from which all contributing partners (“stewards”) can learn and benefit.

A hub or community hub planning framework for Halton might be pictured as shown below. Organizations and agencies active or interested in hub development come around a table under an agreement to learn together and support each other in hub development and collaborative work. They may commit to hold educational and shared learning sessions from each other’s work, meeting perhaps three to four times a year. Among these “stewards” of community development there will already be some that are partnering in collaborations that may be well developed and that may be able to offer support and guidance to others at earlier stages of development. Others will be organized and evolving and still others just in the formative or emergent stage. Again, participants self-select into these circles of activity. The benefit of creating a space for this range of activity and a table convened regularly to stay connected in common purpose is shared learning, mutual support, and awareness of collaborative activity throughout the region.

As described in the Surman’s paper, it is recommended that an intermediary body not directly involved in any area of direct service would serve as a secretariat to convene the Regional Community Hub Action Network and keep track of and provide updates on hub developments.

Community Hubs Planning Framework diagram


This report establishes that there is not just one universal type of community hub; rather each community hub can be conceptualized, defined, and developed in numerous different ways depending on the needs of the community it serves. A community hub is not only unique, but contains specific resources, programs and a wide variety of social and health services that assists in implementing local and community-based solutions and supports.

The development of a successful and fully integrated community hub requires working at a community level and working with community members and forming local partnerships; a top-down approach cannot be employed. Rather, it is immensely important for the province, as well as local municipalities, to partake in a collaborative approach in the development of a community hub.

A community driven, collaborative, neighbourhood-based approach between government agencies and communities must also be implemented to adequately address the many challenges communities may encounter in the development of a community hub. Community hubs have the power to not only be a solution to ensure that a community’s needs are being met, but also to involve and empower residents, to increase social capital, and to build inclusive and cohesive communities.

The full document, Community Hubs in Halton, can be found on Community Development Halton’s website at

[1] Hubs Strategy Group. “Setting the hubs humming: Working together for children and their families.” Australia, 2007.

[2] Rossiter, Steve. “Feasibility Study of Community Hubs for the Parramatta Local Government Area – Briefing Paper.” Sydney, 2007.

[3] My Community. “Community Hubs: How to set up, run and sustain a community hub to transform local service provision.” 2016.  

[4] Mulligan, Suzanne. “A Toolkit to Outline the Development of the ‘Hub Model of Integrated Services’ in Halton.” Our Kids Network Halton. Burlington, 2010.

[5] Tonya Surman and Mark Surman (2008). Listening to the stars: the constellation model of collaborative social change. Social Space, pp. 24-29.

  Community Dispatch PDF

Produced by Community Development Halton
3350 South Service Roard
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3M6
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail:



July 2016

Community Development Halton (CDH) and the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) have addressed as core concerns the issues of poverty, inequality and income security. Once again emergent conversations about a basic income or guaranteed income are reverberating across communities. I share with you an opinion piece recently published in the Hamilton Spectator on the impact of basic income on economic and social inclusion. It is written by myself and Peter Clutterbuck, Senior Community Planning Consultant with SPNO.

Joey Edwardh
Executive Director

The Occupy Movement put poverty and income inequality on the public agenda in 2011, and since then public debate on a number of policy fronts has emerged with living and minimum wage campaigns, renewed poverty reduction plans, and a basic income guarantee (BIG) for everyone. On the basic income idea, the Ontario Government has committed to pilot test a “mincome project”.

Reducing both poverty and inequality is a complex undertaking, and creating a coherent policy package out of the mix of proposals under consideration is a daunting challenge. As critical as it is, testing only basic income may discount the importance of other considerations in creating a more equitable, just and inclusive society.

It is best to start with the desirable outcomes of restructuring our social and economic security system. We would argue that these outcomes are security, stability, and dignity for all Canadians. While an adequate basic income guarantee would contribute to these ends, the emphasis on the role of this income transfer to individuals tends to overshadow the critical importance of other pillars of a supportive policy framework.

Certainly, an income guarantee above the poverty line offers a measure of security to individuals and families, especially with respect to having sufficient food and shelter. Ensuring the availability of affordable housing stock, however, will demand additional public policy intervention (e.g. rent control, inclusionary zoning, decent social housing).

Maintaining stability through varying life circumstances (e.g. disability, poor health) and major life stages and transitions (e.g. raising families, moving into the workforce, retraining) require forms of support beyond only an income transfer. Tax supported human services and care produce not only relative stability through our life paths but also social cohesion and inclusion.

Making a universal basic income model the primary form of social protection may risk leaving the provision of essential human services to the marketplace. Would a basic income program just become another convenient route for government to offload its responsibilities for social provision to individuals and families?

In terms of dignity, basic income advocates argue compellingly that a universal income guarantee would eliminate the stigma of means testing. Further, decoupling income from “labour force attachment” will free people up to offer their skills and talents to personally chosen areas of endeavour and contribution to society.

Doubtless true for some, but this reasoning absolves governments from any serious commitment to a strong labour market policy to create decent employment for all in the economy of the future. Many at the margins without education or entrepreneurial inclinations may well end up hovering around the poverty line for their entire lives.

Why not the same public policy guarantees to the meaning and value of work in the construction of human dignity and the creation of a common good? While the traditional economy flags in job creation, there is no lack of work needed to build and strengthen our social and civic infrastructure. Re-balancing our economy from one tilted heavily towards private wealth creation to one of collective stewardship of our human and financial resources offers shared opportunity for all.

We suggest that an Ontario pilot should test more than only the impact of a basic income guarantee. A more flexible experiment focusing on certain population groups rather than on one or two geographic areas could also show how income programs, adaptive human service supports, and employment in the civic and nonprofit sectors might combine in mutually reinforcing ways to respond to the varying life circumstances and conditions of different groups.

How could adequate income support and transitional services make the path from education to the labour force smooth for young people? A Youth Income Benefit for young people would enable “debt free” learning and training supports for transition into work in the new economy.

Given the socially and environmentally useful work to be done, why not guarantee working age adults both training and civic employment at living wages in the non-profit and local public services sectors?

Going further, a pilot could test a flexible mix of income benefits, full and part-time employment options and accommodating individualized service supports for persons with physical, intellectual and mental health conditions. This would engage and liberate a vastly untapped human resource for community benefit.

Testing only basic income models may be short-sighted. A policy package combining income security with stabilizing public services and dignifying work would better reflect a vision of an equitable, inclusive and socially just future for all Canadians.

  Community Dispatch PDF

Produced by Community Development Halton
3350 South Service Road
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3M6
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail:



May 2016

This report examines the changing nature of the labour market and its impact on youth employment, and ultimately, the quality of their lives.

There are more temporary, seasonal and contract jobs, causing a wide fluctuation of work schedules, no benefits, and workers who cannot make personal and family plans.

This has led to a decrease in job duration, with the traditional career ladder dismantled. Entry level jobs are outsourced and top level positions are hired from outside. Many are asking about Halton’s youth and their future.

Joey Edwardh
Executive Director

Youth Population

For the purpose of this study, youth is defined as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years. This definition is widely used by international agencies such as the United Nations and the World Bank, as well as Statistics Canada.

Youth related data released by Statistics Canada are usually further broken down by two age subgroups: 15-19 years and 20-24 years. While both groups can be in the labour market, the first group corresponds to those entering and completing high school education and the second group includes those completing postsecondary education.

In 2011, there were over 63,000 persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years living in Halton Region. They represent about 12% of the total population.

According to the latest population projections prepared by the Ontario Ministry of Finance.[1] Halton’s youth population will reach 80,000 by 2021. Its share of the region’s total population will remain the same at about 12%, where one in eight residents is a youth.


Labour Market Participation Rate

As young people are getting fewer of the jobs that are being created, there is a need for our governments to look at their role in developing appropriate public policy (Yalnizyan, 2014). To this end, the federal government undertook a study of youth employment in Canada and submitted a report and recommendations to the House of Commons in June 2014. There were 23 recommendations but, only one is actually concerned with creating job opportunities for youth and it needs further study. Missing are any big ideas to actually tackle the problem of youth unemployment (Hatt, 2014).

The Broadbent Institute released a report “urging the development of a bold Youth Job Guarantee that would ensure those under age 25 have access to a good job, paid internship, or training position within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed” (Broadbent Institute, 2014b, 2). A bold public policy direction is considered critical in any response to the challenges of young people transitioning to work.

At the provincial level, Ontario signed the Canada-Ontario Job Fund Agreement in March 2014. The agreement is a key source of funding for new, employer-driven, training initiatives and represents an opportunity for the province to engage more effectively with employers to support Ontarians in obtaining the skills required to fill and succeed in available jobs. The grant will provide direct financial support for employers who wish to purchase training for their workforce. This program is intended to support employers’ in taking a greater role in workforce development. The cost of training is a shared investment between employers and the government.[2]

As part of the 2015 Ontario Budget, the Ontario government renewed the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy for another two years as it saw continued high youth unemployment.

Figure 1 shows the trend line of the unemployment rate for the youth population in Halton Region and Ontario between 2006 and 2013.


Figure 1. Unemployment Rate by Age Group, Ontario and Halton Region, 2006-2013

Figure 1. Unemployment Rate by Age Group, Ontario and Halton Region, 2006-2013


In 2013, youth unemployment was still 2.7 times higher than the overall unemployment rate. More youth were unemployed while at the same time, there were large numbers of youth leaving the labour force.

Part-time employment is the term referring to jobs with less than 30 hours per week. In 2014, about one-fifth (19.4%) of the jobs in Ontario were part-time. For the youth population, over half (52%) of the employment were part-time.

The Peel Halton Workforce Development Group found youth aged 15 to 24 years continue to feel the effect of the recession of 2008 (Peel Halton Workforce Development Group, 2015). In particular, youth without a high school diploma were most affected, with unemployment rates of 30%.

According to the Peel Halton Workforce Development Group, while youth are more likely to be employed part-time because of school attendance, this falls off as the level of education increases (Peel Halton Workforce Development Group, 2015). This is presumably because as youth obtain a diploma or degree, they are more likely to be seeking full-time employment.


Job Availability in Ontario in 2015

The unemployment rate for Ontario youth aged 15 to 24 increased to 14.8%, while the national average was 13.2% in July 2015. Summer employment amongst students intending to return to school in September declined by 3.4% compared to 2014. However, Ontario students still have greater challenges finding jobs relative to the Canadian student population, as the Ontario student unemployment rate was 18.7%, well above the Canadian average of 16.3%

2011 National Household Survey Snapshot

According to the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), of the 63,000 youth in Halton in 2011, about 40,000 (63.3%) were in the labour force. They were either employed (32,000) or unemployed (7,4000) without paid work or without self-employment and were available for work.

In 2011, the unemployment rate for youth (15 to 24) was 18.7%. For those between 15 to 19 years, the unemployment rate was 21.4%, which means that one in five teenage youth were looking for work.

Although the unemployment rate is most commonly used to measure the performance of the labour market, it does not include those who are not actively looking for work or who have given up looking. The employment rate which calculates the employment to population ratio presents a more complete snapshot of the labour market – how many people have jobs as a percentage of all people in that population. For the youth population, slightly over half (51.5%) were working.

To some extent, female youth are slightly better-off than their male counterparts in both the unemployment and employment rates. Over half (53.7%) of the female youth were working. Their unemployment rate is three percentage points lower than that of the male youth. This may in part be explained by a larger proportion of women participating in postsecondary education than men, particularly between the ages of 20 and 24.

Educational Attainment

In Halton, over one-third (37%) of the youth between 15 and 19 years completed high school or equivalent while many of them were still in school (e.g. with no certificate, diploma or degree).

A more appropriate measure of the number of youth with a high school diploma as their highest educational level attained is to look at the older age group (20-24 years). As the 2011 NHS data indicates, less than half (45%) of that cohort successfully completed high school.

Within the 20 to 24 year’s age group, about half have obtained postsecondary education. About one-quarter (24%) have received an university certificate, diploma or degree at the bachelor level or above.

Only 2.5% of the 20 to 24 age group has an apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma compared to the provincial average of 3.7% and national average of 7.8%.

Employment and Educational Attainment

For the youth population (15-24 years), the difference in the employment rate is more significant. The employment rate for those with no certificate, diploma, or degree was at 33%, less than half of that of the adult population. With a university diploma or degree, their employment rate improved to 71%.

Of particular interest is the employment rate for those with an apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma. For the youth population, this level of educational attainment has the highest employment rate (81%). It is even higher than those with a university diploma or degree (85%). There were more male youth pursuing this type and level of education than females. The ratio is approximately 3 to 1.

Youth Occupations

By far the most common occupation for youth is sales and service. It accounts for over half (54%) of youth workers. This proportion is more than double the average (22%) for the total labour force.

The next popular occupation is business, finance and administration (12%) followed by the trades, transport and equipment operator’s occupation (8%).

One in eight youth worked as retail salespersons or sales clerks. One in ten worked as food counter attendants or kitchen helpers. About 9% worked as cashiers.

Most of the jobs are characterized as precarious, meaning they are poorly paid and insecure.


  • In addition to unemployment, many unemployed youth have to repay student loans and have other financial obligations.
  • Unemployed youth may be forced to take on precarious employment.
  • Long-term unemployment may have detrimental impacts on mental health of youth.
  • Long-term unemployment also has a negative impact on the future earning potential of youth.
  • Youth unemployment can lead to anti-social behaviour.
  • Are we training our youth appropriately for the current and future labour market?


Challenges Facing Youth Transitioning To Work

Several key informants were identified and interviewed for their insights into youth employment challenges in Halton. They represented the following organizations:

  • Employment Halton
  • Goodwill, The Amity Group
  • Halton Industry Education Council
  • Oakville and District Labour Council
  • Peel Halton Workforce Development Group
  • The Centre for Skills Development and Training
  • YMCA of Hamilton, Burlington, Brantford

Below is a summary of their perspectives.

Underemployment and Precarious Employment

The issues of underemployment and precarious employment were identified as significant issues for young people. Key informants discussed the dynamic of more part-time work coupled with a lack of experience means that there is competition with older, more experienced workers, especially for precarious positions. There was recognition that as an increasing number of older workers continue participating in the labour force beyond traditional retirement age of 65 years, this puts pressure on part-time opportunities.

Student Debt

Student loans are creating challenges for youth to make progress in their working lives. They have greater debt coming out of postsecondary education and might have to live at home as they pay down their debt. There are also false expectations of what life will be like after postsecondary education. It is as if the bubble has been popped.

Information on the Labour Market

One of the challenges identified in the literature is that young people seeking work face a lack of good information on current job prospects as well as future career planning. Key informants indicated this lack of information represents a disconnection between the academic disciplines youths choose to pursue and the types of jobs currently in demand.

A challenge identified is to get beyond the stigma of skilled trades. For this, a paradigm shift is needed.

A critical element, as highlighted by one respondent, is the importance of young people networking as much as possible. Knowing someone who might provide that entry to a job is critical and youth who do not have connections are at a disadvantage.


Key informants identified that youth of today are different from the youth of 20 years ago. Traits identified include not having the same work ethic and an attitudinal shift with a focus on themselves, wanting something more immediate.

They also identified that young workers have unrealistic expectations of their place within the labour force. This was both in terms of their expectations of the kind of jobs they are qualified to secure as well as rates of compensation.

Employer Perceptions of Young Workers’ Experience and Skills

Key informants indicated that employers are looking for those with experience and are investing less in training. Lack of experience is one of the biggest barriers for young workers and when employers are not providing opportunities, it becomes more challenging to gain that experience. The challenge is that the changing nature of the labour market means that there are fewer jobs out of high school, and that youth are introduced to work later in life.

A number of respondents indicated that employers are looking for “soft” skills, such as attitudes towards work, being able to work with others in teams and professional appearance.

Key informants identified an attitude towards millennials where the experience has been that young people feel entitled and this raises potential issues with accountability.

Current Strategies

One respondent indicated that initial uptake to the Canada-Ontario Job Grant, which provides direct financial support to individual employers who wish to purchase training for their employees, was low. They identified that small businesses may be looking for immediate payback on training investment versus future planning. Another respondent indicated that “despite the fact that Halton is an affluent community with lots of advantages, we still don’t serve youth well.”

There was also discussion on current community and government supports that indicated challenges in navigating the various systems and programs. Programs can be disjointed and issues such as continuity of funding challenge youth employment services in delivering appropriate assistance.

The other area of supports discussed were those youths with various challenges or barriers. One example provided was for youth with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who may have fallen through the school system. Other areas identified as needing further supports were mental health and addiction, as well as newcomer youth, especially if they are not within the education system. Finally, the issue of transportation, particularly in a north-south direction within Halton, was identified as a continuing challenge for those seeking employment and training opportunities.

Recommendations and Actions

Based on the information gathered from the literature and key informant interviews, a few potential strategies came forth:

  • Develop creative solutions around mentoring and mediation, given that retention within the workplace was identified as an issue.
  • Increase opportunities for youth to learn and practice networking skills, and increase awareness about these employment opportunities.
  • Increase the availability of information and skills training workshops that provide youth with tools to enter the labour market.
  • Improve access to employment information and career development to youth to help mitigate some of the barriers to gainful employment.
  • Increase flexibility in training that allows for realistic expectations through the development of individualized solutions and supports.
  • Improve coordination across the employment services sector that minimizes the competitive nature of organizations. Look at organizational best practices, as one size does not fit all.

From a public policy perspective, a number of items need to be considered in order to address youth employment challenges.

  • Reduce or remove financial barriers to higher education. The cost of education should not burden students with a debt load.
  • Regulate internship programs to ensure that participants receive the appropriate educational and training value from the work or where their work provides economic value to their employer.
  • Develop appropriate minimum wage and living wage policies that ensure equitable compensation for work.
  • Develop flexible requirements and the appropriate supports and resources for taking on apprenticeships. Currently, strict requirements may be too much for small business employers.
  • Provide a broad range of supports, particularly for youth with additional challenges and barriers to employment, such as mental health and addiction, and transportation.

The full report can be found on Community Development Halton’s website at

[1] Ontario Ministry of Finance, Ontario Population Projections: 2012-2036, Spring, 2013


  Community Dispatch PDF

Produced by Community Development Halton
860 Harrington Court
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3N4
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail:


  • Community Dispatch Archive

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    Archive of Community Dispatch newsletters. Community Dispatch are InfoFacts which provide members of our community with discussion on important social and economic issues that currently affect our lives and collective well-being.