Ontario Government Invests $12 Million in Innovative Projects to Help People with Criminal Records Find Meaningful Employment

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Breaking free
Breaking free

TORONTO – NEWS – The Ontario government is investing $12 million in nine innovative projects aimed at assisting up to 2,000 individuals with prior criminal records or those leaving the justice system in securing meaningful jobs. These projects will help participants forge connections and a sense of belonging within their communities. Over a million people in Ontario have criminal records, which can significantly impact their chances of obtaining a second interview and increase the risk of long-term poverty. Research has demonstrated that stable employment helps address the root causes of crime and reduces the likelihood of re-offending.

“Across Ontario, tens of thousands of people have paid their dues and just want to roll up their sleeves and give back,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government believes in the power of second chances. I urge business leaders to join us as we smash through the stigma of a criminal record.”

The announced programs, led by various organizations across multiple sectors, will prepare job seekers for well-paying careers in industries such as construction, manufacturing, hospitality, and food and beverage processing. The projects will address employment and training needs through apprenticeship and technical training, on-the-job learning, and job readiness and interview skills improvement. Additionally, wrap-around support, including mentorship, job placement, and mental health resources, will be provided to ensure a smooth transition to the job market.

“We believe in second chances and in the inherent potential of each person,” said Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General. “Building a strong Ontario means that no one gets left behind, including those with previous criminal records. By connecting those with criminal records to skills training, we are creating brighter futures and better tomorrows.”

Over the coming months, the government will unveil more programs to support individuals with prior involvement in the criminal justice system. The projects are funded through the Skills Development Fund, a $700 million initiative that supports groundbreaking programs connecting job seekers with the necessary skills and training to find well-paying careers close to home.

Terry Tsianos, Chairman of Scale Hospitality, praised the government’s efforts, stating, “The ongoing funding received through the provincial SDF program has allowed us to provide second chance training to at-risk youth across the GTA and provide them with valuable training to transform their lives. The support this year will, once again, position the hospitality sector as a viable option for individuals who want meaningful, well-paying employment. We are thankful for the leadership of Premier Ford, Minister McNaughton, and Minister Kerzner for their continued support for skills development and second chance programs.”

Quick Facts:

  • Over 316,000 job vacancies were reported in Ontario during the winter.
  • The Skills Development Fund has supported 388 projects in its first two funding rounds, helping nearly 400,000 people across the province advance their careers.
  • Ontario’s Skills Development Fund is supported through labor market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.
  • This year, the government is investing $1.9 million in the Corrections Literacy Initiative to assist almost 1,000 learners in 13 correctional facilities in improving their math, reading, and writing skills, increasing their chances of finding a good job after serving their sentence.
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