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June 12, 1998
Chong applauds community effort
Gordon Chong, Chair of Toronto's Community and Neighbourhood Services
Committee, both commends and supports the efforts of not-for-profit and
community organizations to provide valuable choices for clients of Toronto
Social Services, through the Community Participation component of Ontario Works.

"Many organizations have a long history of volunteering, so by incorporating
placements through Community Participation, they're not really doing anything
different," says Chong. A wide range of organizations from the health,
education and local community agency sectors are participating in the program.
"Through placements at these types of organizations," says Chong, "clients are
gaining the skills and the experience they need to pursue full-time employment."

"The system may not be perfect," he adds, "but I'm impressed by how hard the
community is working to make Community Participation a good option for some of
our clients. These organizations are providing Social Services clients with a
wide range of skills, contacts and experience that will be invaluable in the
years ahead. They are also helping people expand the range of choices they can
make to become self-sufficient."

One key requirement of Community Placement is that opportunities do not
displace full-time paid employment. "This is a cornerstone of our approach,"
says Chong. "We want to expand people's opportunities, but never at the expense
of other people."

Community Participation, which features placements in the not-for-profit
sector, is only one of three options available under Ontario Works. Another
option is Employment Supports, which includes the supports people might need to
find work (such as academic upgrading, English as a Second Language and
Employment Resource Centre Services). A third option is Employment Placement,
where job placement agencies are hired to help clients find and keep paid

"Community Participation might not be the right option for some people," adds
Chong, "but we're already seeing some success stories. For example, one person
began a Community Participation placement in March, and by April she was hired
by the same agency as a part-time employee. In another case, a person answered
an ad posted at her volunteer agency and got a full-time job."

Continues Chong, "No matter how good or bad any program is perceived to be, the
bottom line is are we helping the clients get what they tell us they need? I
think that as we've grappled with implementing Ontario Works, and specifically
Community Participation, we have found a way for the community to play an
important part in providing much-needed choices to Social Services clients."

Media Contact
Gordon Chong
Toronto Councillor - Don Parkway
(416) 392-4061

Russ Stuart
Social Services Division
(416) 392-5175



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