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November 7, 2008
Mayor launches new program for employment and social services in Toronto: Starting in the Right Place
Mayor David Miller, Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21 St. Paul’s), Chair of the Community Development and Recreation Committee, and Heather MacVicar, General Manager of Toronto Employment and Social Services, today announced a new approach to the planning, managing and delivery of employment and social services in Toronto that has been captured in a new report, Starting in the Right Place.

Starting in the Right Place transforms employment programs into an accessible and coherent employment services system for Toronto. This new approach provides residents with multiple ways of accessing a new integrated, client-centred, community focused service system that actively and productively engages employers. As this new approach is implemented, residents can expect to see better access to a stronger and more coherent employment and social service system for Toronto.

“Starting in the Right Place delivers services that respond to the needs of Torontonians, removes barriers and creates opportunities for success,” said Mayor David Miller. “As we move forward in creating a dynamic economy we must ensure that all the residents of Toronto share in the success.”

The Mayor also announced that the name of the City division delivering these services has been changed to Toronto Employment and Social Services. The word “employment” in the title reflects the City’s commitment that all Toronto residents have access to economic opportunities.

Two City projects highlighted in Starting in the Right Place demonstrate the fundamental principles of this new approach -- Investing in Neighbourhoods and Investing in Families. Investing in Neighbourhoods is a program that builds service capacity in communities while providing transitional employment opportunities to people living in priority neighbourhoods. Investing in Families is a true service integration initiative that brings together City services to reach out to single-parent families whose social isolation is preventing them and their children from accessing the services they need.

“The Investing in Neighbourhoods initiative works. The combination of social services ‘know how’ and the engagement of community agencies provides a perfect mix,” said Maggie Knap, Executive Director of York West Senior Citizen Centre. “It offers the newly employed, organizations and the community at large an unparalleled opportunity to revitalize historically under-served communities.”

As one of the first and most tangible examples of the new approach, the City in partnership with the Province of Ontario and the District of Algoma on Monday will launch a new web-based application called WAYS (Web Access to Your Services). WAYS is Canada’s first fully integrated on-line application for social assistance. It allows residents to quickly and easily access information about employment and social assistance and to apply for these services online. This system has been designed to fit the needs of the user and users helped design it.

“Starting in the Right Place is a made-in-Toronto approach to ensure employment and social services in the City continue to create opportunities for individuals and families and strengthen communities,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21 St Paul’s), Chair of the Community Development and Recreation Committee. “Through this work, Toronto will not only become more socially inclusive, but also more economically competitive.”

The recent provincial/municipal report Facing the Future Together emphasizes the need to deliver better value to residents and taxpayers across the province. The approach outlined in Starting in the Right Place responds to and reinforces the core directions in Facing the Future Together, which speak to the need to integrate, simplify and strengthen the planning, management and delivery of employment and social services in Ontario.

“The recent provincial report about the delivery and funding of social services was about how to deliver better value to residents. Starting in the Right Place is Toronto’s response and shows how we are committed to doing just that,” said Heather MacVicar, General Manager of Toronto Employment and Social Services.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Stuart Green, Mayor’s Office, 416-338-7119,
Heather MacVicar, General Manager, Toronto Employment and Social Services, 416-392-8952,



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