Community

Organizing People, Places and Sectors

Meet seven decent work organizers who are out front.

Through grants, programs, projects and investments, we get behind the people who are building the decent work movement. They’re mobilizing people who are living on the economic margins. They’re organizing sectors with low-union density and a high percentage of precarious work. They’re engaging communities known for poverty and unemployment and underserved by transit and other services — places where voter turnout is low, impact on public policy and civic debates is limited, and access to political parties, government and the media is poor. They’re even organizing investors like us to press for workforce disclosure and to promote decent work as a key performance indicator in publicly traded companies.

Check out what these movement builders are working on now.

Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario

This two-year project builds on work that began in 2015. In this next phase, partners will continue to build the worker power needed to influence public policy progress on wages and working conditions for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and staff in Ontario. The project will promote the ECE Decent Work Task Force’s workforce strategy recommendations leading up to the provincial election, engage child care employers – non profit and municipal –  to adopt a Decent Work Charter for the sector.  A related goal is to increase the capacity of AECEO to act as a voice for the early childhood workforce.

The full value of this investment will be realized when an even broader base of ECEs, staff, parents and allies across Ontario are engaged as champions for decent work and shared prosperity.

The Association of Early Childhood Educators, Ontario (AECEO) is partnering with the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare (OCBC) and the Atkinson Centre on this initiative. AECEO has over 2,500 early childcare educators as its members and OCBC is a coalition of over 800 childcare agencies and organizations. Atkinson Centre is a research hub committed to early childhood development.

Broadbent Institute

THE POWER LAB: LOCAL ORGANIZING, FAIR ECONOMIES

Atkinson has contracted with the Broadbent Institute’s Director of Leadership and Training, Alejandra Bravo, to facilitate the development of a leadership learning initiative for community organizers in eight Canadian cities. The lab’s focus out the gate is on building equity into public infrastructure projects. The first wave of lab partners will be announced in June 2018.

The Broadbent Institute is a national progressive, independent organization championing change through the promotion of democracy, equality, and sustainability as well as the training of a new generation of leaders.

Labour Community Services - Toronto Community Benefits Network

CONTINUING TO BUILD THE COMMUNITY BENEFITS MODEL: PHASE 4

This two-year project builds on work that began in 2014. TCBN will strengthen its community benefit campaign strategies with a focus on the Finch Light Rail Transit (LRT) line and other developments that provide residents with the opportunity to build their knowledge, leadership and organizing capacity to achieve material wins. TCBN will continue its role in helping monitor the implementation of community benefits associated with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

This investment will realize its full value when low-income communities are effectively exercising their power to negotiate community benefit agreements as part of major infrastructure investments in Toronto and across Ontario.

Labour Community Services is a bridge between unions and the community, providing a range of social services and advocating for social justice. They are working with the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) to bring the community benefits approach to infrastructure development in the city. Launched in January 2013 and incorporated it as a non-profit organization in March 2014, TCBN is comprised of over 80 member organizations and groups from the labour, community and social enterprise sectors. TCBN is a primary signatory along with Metrolinx to the Community Benefits (CB) Framework associated with the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

Ontario Employment Education & Resource Centre - The Workers' Action Centre

The partnership between the Ontario Employment Education and Research Centre and Workers’ Action Centre anchors the growing movement of leaders supporting the rights of low and moderate wage workers in Ontario. Through this partnership, workers have won commitments to increase minimum wage, better legislative protections for temporary workers, and an improved enforcement regime. In the years ahead, they will continue to lead the fight for a much higher wage floor -fair standards and effective enforcement for all workers.

Priorities are to maintain momentum through the implementation of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act and continue to grow the base of workers in low-wage and precarious employment situations across the province; continue to develop the shared platform to better mentor and support community organizers and five member groups based in the Greater Toronto Area and in the north; and collaborate with academic and community partners to keep research and policy analysis current.

The Ontario Employment Education & Resource Centre and the Workers’ Action Centre share the vision that all workers in Ontario have equal opportunity and access to decent work, are protected by strong legislation and have sufficient income to live healthy lives for themselves and their families.

Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre - Parkdale People's Economy Project

GROWING THE MOVEMENT

This two year project builds on work that began in 2014. In this next phase, partners will continue to build community power and the capacity of residents and workers to engage in the economic processes taking place in Parkdale. The collaborative will finalize a Parkdale Community Benefits Framework, activate a community-based, peer-led coalition of at least 500 residents, workers, activists, and labour to implement the framework and continue to organize an anchor institution roundtable to leverage the spending and hiring power of public sector institutions.

The full value of this investment will be realized when more low and moderate income residents are organized to fight development displacement pressures, benefit from public investment and economic growth opportunities, and organize for decent work in the neighbourhood.

The Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC) provides a range of community supports to psychiatric survivors, people who are homeless and/or disabled, and those living on low incomes. Their members develop skills through employment programs, social enterprises and alternative local economy strategies. Formed in 2014, the Parkdale People’s Economy (formerly Parkdale Community Economic Development) initiative is made up of over 30 organizations with the goal of developing a strategic neighbourhood plan for Parkdale focused on decent work and shared prosperity. Parkdale People’s Economy (PPE) project is housed within PARC.

Shareholder Association for Research and Education

VALUING DECENT WORK

Atkinson has worked with SHARE since 2007 on various responsible investment issues related to our mission, principles and priorities. Two years ago, we approached SHARE to work with us on a project in support of Atkinson’s strategic priority on decent work. The goal of the project is to mobilize investors to advocate for robust decent work policies and practices in investee companies by demonstrating the importance of decent work for company performance, value creation and in building a sustainable and resilient Canadian economy.

SHARE has developed practical and in-depth guidance and tools for investors on ways to incorporate decent work into fund governance, investment management oversight, stewardship practices. The project has also launched the Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) in Canada. Modelled on the Carbon Disclosure Project, the WDI aims to mobilize investors to improve the quality of jobs in companies’ direct operations and supply chains.

The focus of the project’s next phase is on expanding outreach through the WDI; continuing to engage with Canadian companies seeking improved disclosure and performance; expanding communications and outreach to investor audiences; and research efforts in the areas of fair compensation and the current state of practice in workforce disclosure.

The full value of this investment is on track to be realized when shareholders appreciate the importance of strong labour practices and decent work outcomes as drivers of company performance and strong economies, and organize to drive different corporate workplace practices.

Established in 2000, SHARE is a Canadian leader in responsible investment services, research and education. The non-profit organization works with a growing network of institutional investors to help them to become active owners and develop and implement responsible investment policies and practices.

Toronto Neighbourhood Centres - Ontario Nonprofit Network

Over the last two years, Toronto Neighbourhood Centres and the Ontario Nonprofit Network have established themselves as effective leaders and allies in the movement for decent work in Ontario, by supporting the charitable and nonprofit (NFP) sector to champion its responsibility as employers to create quality jobs and career paths for its one million workers.  The NFP sector is a major employer in the province, and one of the fastest growing segments of Ontario’s labour market. Further, decent work for NFP workers is directly linked to the sector’s capacity to provide quality services and support to the community.

Over the next three years, this partnership will continue to mobilize its network and engage both NFP employers and employees in the conversation around the sector’s working conditions and the public policy strategies to achieve decent work for its employees. They will focus their work on addressing the root causes and true barriers to providing decent work in the sector and to build the conditions for the nonprofit sector to mobilize as an economic sector, a creator of community wealth, and a sector of job quality in the context of economic disruption.

The Toronto Neighbourhood Centres is an association of 30 nonprofit, multi-service organizations working for just and healthy communities. The Ontario Nonprofit Network is a 7,000-member network focused on strengthening the nonprofit sector through organizing, educating and advancing public policy solutions.

Atkinson Decent Work Fund partners participated in a "story slam" about their work in November 2016.

Since 2014, the Atkinson Decent Work Fund has been a source of support for many projects aimed at making work decent and the economy equitable.

2019 GRANTS

DECENT WORK: AN ANTIDOTE FOR A HEALTHCARE SYSTEM UNDER STRAIN

This 12-month project will strengthen the reach and impact of the network in support of the broader decent work movement. For this next phase of the project, the Network will continue to build the evidence connecting between paid emergency leave, sick days and sick notes to decent work and public health; broaden and grow the base of healthcare providers active in the decent work movement in communities outside of the GTA; and advocate for the reinstatement of paid sick days and the abolition of doctors notes by linking the research findings to the influenza season in early 2020. The full value of this investment is on track to be realized when greater awareness is raised connecting public health and decent work (through paid sick days) and when an even broader base of healthcare workers are engaged as champions for decent work.

The full value of this investment is on track to be realized when greater awareness is raised connecting public health and decent work (through paid sick days) and when an even broader base of healthcare workers are engaged as champions for decent work in cities outside of the GTHA.

The Ontario Employment Education and Research Centre (OEERC) is a charitable organization whose mandate focuses on providing public education on employment legislation and supporting workers experiencing violations of their rights at work. The Decent Work and Health Network emerged from the Employment and Better Employment through Relationships Project, funded by the Atkinson Foundation in 2014. It focused on engaging Ontario’s health workers and health organizations in the movement for decent work and shared prosperity. DWHN is made up of 23 health providers and precarious workers in Toronto, Hamilton, and Peterborough with over 500 supporters across Ontario.

RECONCILIATION AND RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT INITIATIVE – PHASE TWO

This collaborative project will further the second phase of the Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative (RRII) that began formally in 2017. The project will focus on supporting the leadership of Indigenous Trust Officers in responsible investment; producing investor guidance and research; and encouraging institutional investor partnership activity on reconciliation. 

The full value of this investment will be realized when investors advocate with the companies that they own, with the institutions they serve, and with the services they use, to improve Indigenous economic outcomes and reconciliation. 

The National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association (NATOA) is an Indigenous-led charitable organization committed to providing Indigenous peoples with the resources and information that will help them efficiently create, manage, and operate trusts as a means to ensure the seven generations yet unborn can benefit from the goals and dreams of the present generation. NATOA is partnering with the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) on this project. The two organizations have been working together on initiatives related to reconciliation and investing for over two years.

BASIC INCOME AND WORK

This 12-month project will bring together a cross-sectoral group of approximately 20 participants for a one-day roundtable in order to better understand both the possibilities and the limits of how basic income could impact workers and work. Participants will include members of Ontario Basic Income Pilot Project locations (Hamilton, Lindsay, and Thunder Bay), academics, activists, economists, and non-profit staff working on living wage and poverty reduction advocacy.

The Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Toronto – which was formally incorporated in 1976 – works to promote, encourage, and facilitate a better understanding between the many faiths, cultures, and professionals who, together, work to build a better society. They are partnering with the Ontario Basic Income Network (OBIN) on this project. OBIN is a coalition committed to seeing Basic Income implemented in Ontario. Members include advocates, professors, lawyers, policy makers, business and civic leaders, those with lived experience of poverty, students, and community activists.

DECENT WORK – DEEP COMMUNITY ORGANIZING: COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENTS PHASE TWO

This two year project builds on the work ACORN has undertaken over the last two years mobilizing low and moderate income residents to effectively negotiate community benefits from planned infrastructure investments in Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto. Working with community benefits networks, unions, housing groups, and social justice advocates, ACORN will grow its base of local leaders in each region,  strengthen its organizational capacity to document and share it’s unique approach to organizing and coalition building and implement digital tools to better mobilize community members. 

The full value of this investment will be realized when a broader base of low to moderate income residents are organized to benefit from public investment and economic growth in their neighbourhoods.

Established in Canada in 2005, ACORN Institute Canada uses research and training to combat the poverty, discrimination and community deterioration that keeps low-income people from taking advantage of their rights and opportunities. ACORN is the largest member-led organization of poverty activists in Canada, getting results on urgent issues related to Community Benefit Agreements, Inclusionary Zoning, equitable development commitments, digital inclusion, and fair lending practices among others. The organization builds its base by seeking out potential members door to door, holding workshops and events, and gradually cultivating community leaders. 

2018 GRANTS

LONDON CALLING:  EQUITABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES FOR MID-SIZED CITIES IN TRANSITION

This 12-month research and community engagement project is focused in London, Ontario, a city in decline as a result of the loss of its manufacturing base. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and its partners aim to intervene in current economic planning and redevelopment processes with equity-focused approaches to growth that emphasize public benefit over private returns. 

The full value of this investment will be realized when the region embraces equity as a core development operating principle and implements policies and strategies to ensure all residents can contribute, prosper and reach their full potential.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) provides independent, peer-reviewed, nonpartisan research to advance policy ideas around issues of social, economic and environmental justice. Founded in 1980, the CCPA is one of Canada’s leading progressive voices in policy debates. CCPA is working with the London Poverty Research Centre, the London Food Bank, and the Sisters of St. Joseph’s on this project.

ANCHORTO PHASE THREE – SUSTAINING THE CHANGE

This two year project builds on work that began in 2015, supporting a network of  public sector institutions to embed social procurement strategies to both achieve their organization’s mission and maximize benefit for Toronto’s low income communities.   Over the last two years, the work of the network has gained significant momentum, receiving national and international recognition and most importantly effectively supporting member anchors to move from a place of learning to action. This next phase will be on sustaining the changes that institutions have committed to and growing the movement. 

The full value of this investment will be realized when more public sector institutions are leveraging their procurement power for more decent work and shared prosperity.

AnchorTO is a network of 18 public sector institutions, including four provincial ministries and an agency, eight colleges and universities, two funders (including Atkinson) and four City agencies and corporations, working together to embed social procurement into collective and individual organizational strategies. The group represents over $17 billion in combined annual collective procurement spend. Even a small portion of this spend, directed to positive social and economic outcomes, can make a significant impact on Toronto’s communities. The City of Toronto coordinates the network, leveraging the City’s experience in developing and implementing its own Social Procurement Program.

LET’S GET READY FOR THE LOW CARBON ECONOMY PROJECT

This seven month engagement project is focused on strategies that promote just transitions for workers impacted by climate action. The project will take place in Oshawa where the collaborative has direct connections to workers and community members in Oshawa. This work will be done in partnership with auto workers and leadership in Unifor Local 222, members of the Durham Region Labour Council and members of Unifor’s Durham Regional Environment Council. The goal is to create a new and more effective dialogue regarding a just transition for workers and communities hardest hit by disruptive change and develop compelling stories that can be brought to the broader public, governments, and employers to get us ready for the low carbon economy. 

The full value of this investment will be realized when workers and communities are fully and meaningfully engaged in the movement for a sustainable and green economy that is centred on the ambition of decent work.

Formed in 2008, Blue Green Alliance Canada (BGAC) is an organization made up of Canada’s largest private sector labour unions, environmental and civil society organizations that advocates for working people and the environment by promoting solutions to environmental issues that have positive employment and economic impacts. Member organizations are Environmental Defence Canada Inc., Unifor, United Steelworkers, the Broadbent Institute, the Pembina Institute, the Columbia Institute, and Clean Energy Canada. BGAC has extensive experience bringing together stakeholders and unusual allies to address challenging issues related to just transition.

GROWING THE MOVEMENT: MOBILIZING FOR DECENT WORK IN GUELPH-WELLINGTON

This 18-month project will mobilize workers in Guelph-Wellington to join the movement for decent work. Inspired by the work of the $15 & Fairness Campaign and the Ontario Living Wage Movement, this project aims to build community organizing capacity and support political engagement at the neighbourhood level. Building on the partner’s work in storytelling and advocacy, six peer leaders will be supported to train over 70 precarious workers in community organizing. The goal is to ensure decent work is highlighted as a key issue during the upcoming municipal and federal elections. 

This investment will realize its full value when the public policy debate on work is focused on how we create more decent work and share prosperity more equitably.

The Guelph & Wellington Task Force For Poverty Elimination (PTF) was established in 2009 with the mission to work collaboratively to advocate for system and policy change to address the root causes of poverty. PTF focuses on four priority areas: livable incomes and decent work, homelessness and housing, food insecurity and health inequities. Project partner, Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition (GNSC), is a network of neighbourhood groups, sponsoring agencies and program partners. The 14 Guelph neighbourhood groups they represent operate at a grassroots level to meet the needs of children, youth and families in their community. 

ORGANIZING LOW-INCOME, IMMIGRANT WORKERS INJURED ON THE JOB

This 12-month project will strengthen the movement of injured immigrant workers, facilitate non-unionized, racialized and immigrant and migrant workers in leadership roles and build alliances with workers’ rights, migrants-rights and anti-poverty organizations. It will focus on advancing the Real Health Care Campaign, a worker-informed campaign that urges the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to listen to injured workers’ doctors, provide treatment that doctors recommend and better protect marginalized injured workers. With the support of a dedicated community organizer, IWA4J will create a chapter in Brampton, facilitate MPP delegations to raise awareness of issues facing injured workers and work with members to organize strategic actions that advance the campaign. 

The full value of this investment will be realized when legislative amendments are implemented that treat all workers fairly and to protect their rights.

Industrial Accident Victims Group Of Ontario (IAVGO) was established in 1975 as a specialty legal clinic by Legal Aid Ontario. IAVGO provides free legal representation to injured workers and has prioritized the cases of migrant and precarious workers since 2005. They engage in community organizing and law reform alongside this work. Injured Workers Action For Justice (IWA4J) is a collective of over 70 low income, immigrant injured workers who began organizing in 2010 in response to increasing austerity measures at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. IWA4J organizes across racial and linguistic lines to build the power of injured workers to demand fairness and respect for workers injured on the job.

CONTINUING TO BUILD THE COMMUNITY BENEFITS MODEL: PHASE FOUR

This two-year project builds on work that began in 2014. TCBN will strengthen its community benefit campaign strategies with a focus on the Finch Light Rail Transit (LRT) line and other developments that provide residents with the opportunity to build their knowledge, leadership and organizing capacity to achieve material wins. TCBN will continue its role in helping monitor the implementation of community benefits associated with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

This investment will realize its full value when low-income communities are effectively exercising their power to negotiate community benefit agreements as part of major infrastructure investments in Toronto and across Ontario. 

Labour Community Services is a bridge between unions and the community, providing a range of social services and advocating for social justice. They are working with the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) to bring the community benefits approach to infrastructure development in the city. Launched in January 2013, TCBN is comprised of over 80 member organizations and groups from the labour, community and social enterprise sectors working to embed community benefit agreements in public and private developments to improve economic, environmental and social outcomes for persistently marginalized residents. 

PUBLIC SECTOR LIVING WAGE LEADERS INITIATIVES – PHASE TWO

This 18-month project builds on work that began in 2014. Having grown from 13 cities with 30 employers to 27 cities and over 170 employers, including seven certified public sector employers, OLWN is transitioning from a casual network of advocates focused on living wage calculation updates to an effective province-wide campaign to certify public sector employers as living wage leaders in their community. With its goal of doubling the current number of public sector living wage employers, this project has the potential to benefit as many as 10,000 low wage employees working in the public sector. 

The full value of this investment will be realized when a much broader base of public sector institutions are participating in the movement for decent work and shared prosperity. 

The Mennonite Central Committee Ontario is convening the Ontario Living Wage Network (OLWN) with the Hamilton Poverty Reduction Roundtable and the Social Planning Council of Cambridge North Dumfries. The Ontario chapter of the Mennonite Central Committee is a charitable organization that strives to share God’s love and compassion through relief, development and peacebuilding. The Ontario Living Wage Network is made up of 27 active living wage initiatives from across Ontario.

IMPROVING WORK IN ETHNIC ECONOMIES – PHASE TWO

This 18-month project builds on the first phase of the project funded in 2016. This phase aims to: (1) build up a worker and community base that is able to lead, support and give direction to organizing strategies that address subminimum conditions faced by Chinese grocery store workers, (2) increase awareness of the high rates of wage theft faced by workers and to increase the rate of recovery of stolen wages, (3) explore the potential of establishing a joint community – Ministry of Labour compliance strategy that will build trust with workers and more actively enforce workplace standards; and (4) partner with workers in other “ethnic economies” to share lessons learned and explore ways to improve workplace conditions. 

The full value of this investment will be realized when legislative amendments are implemented that treat all workers fairly and an enforcement system is in place that consistently protects workers’ rights.

The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) provides policy, research and advocacy for immigrant groups on a wide range of issues including immigration, work and employment. They are partnering with the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, an organization that promotes equity, social justice, inclusive civic participation, and respect for diversity. The Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic and Workers’ Action Centre are also partners in the work.

SHIFTING TERRAINS: BUILDING AND STRENGTHENING ONTARIO’S MIGRANT WORKER MOVEMENT

This two-year project builds on work that began in 2014. The focus of this next stage is to provide research, policy support and build capacity of organizers in three key areas: (1) migrant workers who are here on study permits but engaged in exploitative work relationships; (2) regions in Southern Ontario where groups working with agricultural workers are focusing away from a decent work agenda and prioritizing social service delivery; and (3) caregiver organizations who are fighting to stop the end of the path to permanent status for caregivers. 

This investment will realize its full value when migrant workers have a more visible presence and audible voice in discussions about policies that affect them.

The Ontario Employment Education & Resource Centre (OEERC) builds public awareness of workplace legislation through education and provides support for workers whose rights have been violated. The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) is a coalition of national migrant worker groups, grassroots organizations, unions, faith groups, activists and researchers that support migrant workers. 

FEET ON THE GROUND: BUILDING DECENT WORK ACROSS ONTARIO

This 12-month project builds on the first phase of the project funded in 2015. The focus of this next stage is to deepen the capacity of the current base of workers as well as build relationships in sectors and regions that have previously not been active in the movement for decent work. It will provide intensive leadership training, mentorship and a train-the-trainer component in at least eight cities in Ontario to increase participation in the Changing Workplaces Review. This investment will realize its full value when legislative amendments are passed to treat all workers fairly and to protect their rights. 

This investment will realize its full value when a stronger and more effective movement for decent work is mobilized to fight for workers to be treated fairly and have their rights protected.

The Ontario Employment Education & Resource Centre and the Workers’ Action Centre share the vision that all workers in Ontario have equal opportunity and access to decent work, are protected by strong legislation and have sufficient income to live healthy lives for themselves and their families.

TIME FOR A CHANGE: NAIL TECHNICIANS BUILDING A COLLECTIVE VOICE

There are over 2,700 nail salon establishments across Toronto, Peel and York. With an average of four nail technicians per salon, it is estimated that there are over 11,000 nail technicians in the region. These workers are primarily racialized, low-income women who are consistently misclassified as self-employed, work long hours with little control over their conditions of work, are routinely denied basic access to employment standards and face substantial health risks on the job.

The full value of this investment will be realized when precarious workers are organized and connected to the broader decent work movement and legislative amendments are implemented that treat all workers fairly and an enforcement system is in place that consistently protects workers’ rights.

Since 2013, Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (PQWCHC) and the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (CSALC) have engaged with nail technicians on various projects focused on improving their knowledge and health. From this work the Nail Technicians’ Network (NTN) emerged, initiated by nail technicians with support from CSALC. The network has consisted of nail technicians, health promoters, researchers, front line health workers, representatives from environmental, health, settlement and legal organizations, and students. Current participation in the network stands at 112 people, of which 75 are nail technicians. The Workers’ Action Centre (WAC) has recently joined as a partner to help strengthen NTN as a worker-run network.

MID-SIZED CITY – BIG COMMUNITY BENEFITS

This 18-month project builds on work that the United Way started in 2017 to create the Windsor-Essex Community Benefits Network in response to planned infrastructure projects in the region. The focus moving forward is to grow the coalition by identifying and recruiting additional members, developing an ongoing process for the community to provide input and feedback on community benefits and infrastructure projects, facilitating ongoing dialogue with the developers, conducting ongoing evaluation and feedback, and ultimately positioning community benefits as a systematic feature rather than a series of isolated projects in Windsor-Essex County. 

This investment will realize its full value when low-income communities are effectively exercising their power to negotiate community benefit agreements as part of major infrastructure investments in Ontario. 

United Way / Centraide Windsor-Essex County’s mission is to improve lives by mobilizing people, resources, and the caring power of its community in a positive, healthy and lasting way. Since December 2016, United Way has been working with the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority on procuring community benefits as a requirement of the planned Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB) construction. The Windsor-Essex Community Benefits Coalition (WECBC) was established in 2017 and is made up of over 20 community members.

UNITING AT THE MARGINS

This 18-month project builds on the first phases of the project funded in 2015 aimed at participating in the $15 and Fairness and Living Wage Campaigns. This next stage will focus on organizing capacity in Sudbury around the next phase of the $15 and Fairness Campaign as well as deepening its partnership with allies in North Bay thereby strengthening workers’ voices in Northeastern Ontario. The full value of this investment will be realized when a stronger and expanded base of northern workers and employers are contributing to the provincial effort to create more decent work and shared prosperity.

The United Way North East Ontario and the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC) are partnering to engage workers and employers in Sudbury around decent work campaigns. SWEAC grew out of the work of Sudbury’s labour movement and is inspired by the Workers’ Action Centre model of organizing. Formally established in 2012, the organization is made up of workers, students and community volunteers committed to improving the lives and working conditions of people in low-wage and unstable employment.

2017 GRANTS

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO – ATKINSON CENTRE FOR SOCIETY AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP

Over the next three years, the Atkinson Centre will focus its work on addressing decent work within the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector at both the national and provincial and territorial levels.  This work builds on the Centre’s track record of using evidence to mobilize for change within ECEC broadly and its experience as a partner with the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO) on the Professional Pay and Decent Work for Early Childhood Educators project.

The ECEC sector employs approximately 350,000 workers across Canada. A qualified and resourced workforce is a necessary component of quality ECEC programs for all children. The work ahead seeks to develop the right policy mix to effectively balance three interconnected policy goals for ECEC – access, affordability, and quality of care.  The work will offer the evidence needed to shape the public policy debate and a comprehensive narrative required to underpin an effective organizing and advocacy strategies among workers, parents and allies.

The Atkinson Centre is a unique community, college and university partnership with the University of Toronto/Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College. Atkinson Centre has established itself as a national leader offering sound research and recommendations that strengthen the quality of practice and effectively influence public policy toward improved childhood outcomes.

THE VITAL CONVERSATIONS PROJECT

This six-month project is focused on a series of community conversations that will take place in the Fall of 2017, connected to the release of Peterborough’s 2017 Vital Signs® Report.  These conversations will bring friends and neighbours together to share a meal to identify common ground, and to surface shared core values to guide a vision for Peterborough’s future.

Conversation hosts will be supported through resources created with community input (i.e. conversation toolkit) and micro-grants (based on need to cover costs associated with space rental and food, etc.) In this way, the project is an investment in a more inclusive base of civic leaders and a ‘home-grown’ methodology for engaging a broad cross-section of residents and workers on complex and often contentious issues including decent work and equitable economic development.

Established in 2006, the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough (CFGP) brings philanthropic resources together to support charities that enhance the quality of life for all community members. For the last four years, CFGP has produced an annual Vital Signs® for the region. Vital Signs® are conducted by community foundations across the country to measure community vitality, identify needs, strengths and trends, and support actions and investment on issues that are critical to quality of life. 36 community partners contributed to CFGP’s Vital Signs in 2016.

THE NATIONAL PHARMACARE PROJECT

This six-month engagement and awareness raising project is focused on the adoption of a publicly-funded universal pharmacare policy. Following the release of the Parliamentary Budget Office’s analysis on the cost of pharmacare, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ will work with partners, including Canadian Doctors for Medicare – an authoritative defender of the Canada Health Act and advocate for the future of public healthcare – and others, to deliver an education and communications campaign geared to policymakers.

The project will use a variety of tools to reach out to key policymakers to explain the social and fiscal benefits of pharmacare.

Access to medication is one of the largest benefit investments made by employers. With the changing nature and structures of work, however, these benefits are harder to obtain through traditional employment relationships. The full value of this investment will be realized when a national pharmacare program has been won for all people living in Canada.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) provides independent, peer-reviewed, nonpartisan research to advance policy ideas around issues of social, economic and environmental justice. Founded in 1980, the CCPA is one of Canada’s leading progressive voices in policy debates.

EMPLOYMENT AND BETTER EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIPS (EMBER) PROJECT — PHASE TWO

This 12-month project builds on the first phase of the EMBER project. The focus for the next phase of work is twofold: 1) to continue educating key stakeholders about the importance of expanding paid sick days, personal emergency leave and protections for injured temporary workers and 2) further develop and test tools and training to support health providers to identify and address precarious work with their clients.

The full value of this investment will be realized when an even broader base of healthcare workers across Ontario are engaged as champions for decent work and shared prosperity.

Established in 1892, St. Michael’s Hospital runs the largest family health practice in Canada. The hospital’s Academic Family Health Team has been the lead partner on the EMployment and Better Employment through Relationships (EMBER) Project, funded by the Atkinson Foundation in 2014 which focused on engaging Ontario’s health workers and health organizations in the movement for decent work and shared prosperity. The Decent Work and Health Network (DWHN) has emerged from this earlier work. DWHN is made up of 23 health providers and precarious workers in Toronto, Hamilton, and Peterborough with over 300 supporters across Ontario.

DECENT WORK FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN TORONTO’S SUPPORT SERVICES SECTOR

This year-long research action project will examine how work is viewed, valued, and experienced by Indigenous workers in Indigenous-led nonprofit organizations. The project will also explore how Indigenous governance, policies, and procedures support decent work and where challenges exist. The work contributes to the broader narrative around decent work in the nonprofit sector, complementing the work of sector-wide organizations like the Ontario Nonprofit Network. Further, this project is likely to surface new ways of seeing and understanding decent work through an Indigenous lens. This investment will realize its full value when donors, funders and policy makers evaluate nonprofit operating models using an Indigenous lens of decent work.

Established in 1962, the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto (NCCT) is Toronto’s oldest Indigenous community organization and one of the original Friendship Centres in Canada providing social, recreational, cultural and spiritual services for the Indigenous community and beyond. NCCT is partnering with the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC) on this project. Incorporated in 2011, TASSC is made up of 17 local Indigenous support services organizations, headed by each organization’s leadership.  TASSC provides community-based research, policy and advocacy on the social determinants of well-being for the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people living in Toronto.

DECENT WORK – DEEP COMMUNITY ORGANIZING:  COMMUNITY BENEFIT AGREEMENTS (CBA)

This 18-month project will strengthen local power in Toronto (Finch-West), Hamilton and Peel to support communities to effectively negotiate community benefits from planned infrastructure investments connected to the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) expansion. ACORN will focus its efforts on leveraging its network of low and moderate income members and contacts in the three regions, build their leadership and connect leaders to locally established and emerging community benefit networks.  ACORN is partnering with the Toronto Community Benefits Network, the Hamilton Community Benefits Network and the Mississauga-Brampton Community Benefits Network on this project.

The full value of this investment will be realized when a broader base of low to moderate income residents are organized to benefit from public investment and economic growth in their neighbourhoods.

Established in Canada in 2005, ACORN Institute Canada uses research and training to combat the poverty, discrimination and community deterioration that keeps low-income people from taking advantage of their rights and opportunities. ACORN is the largest member-led organization of poverty activists in Canada, getting results on urgent issues related rental housing maintenance and quality, predatory lending and remittance fees, affordable internet access among others. The organization builds its base by seeking out potential members door to door, holding workshops and events, and gradually cultivating community leaders.

MOBILIZING FOR EQUALITY: BUILDING THE PAY EQUITY MOVEMENT

This five-month project will focus on influencing the legislation and building momentum within the labour and women’s sectors in support of pay equity in Canada. In May 2018, the Government of Canada is expected to introduce proactive pay equity legislation to address Canada’s gender pay gap.

The project will have three phases: 1) the development of guiding principles to inform the women’s sector and lay the foundations for the legislation development; 2) community consultations with labour and community organizations to ensure their voices influence policy development; and 3) the development of a comprehensive policy document reflective of the principles, community needs, and specific recommendations for federal pay equity legislation.

This investment will realize its full value when labour and the women’s sector have an organized voice in the movement for decent work and can translate that leadership into policy wins related to Canada’s gender pay gap.

Established in 1991, the Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF) has raised more than $80 million, funded programs in more than 1,500 communities, and supported women’s shelters across Canada. CWF funds across Canada, prioritizing the communities where the need is greatest. These programs address four urgent issues: prevention of gender-based violence, women’s economic development, girls’ empowerment, and inclusive leadership. CWF is working with the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition and the Canadian Labour Congress on this project.

2016 GRANTS

MOBILIZING THE EARLY CHILDHOOD WORKFORCE FOR DECENT WORK: CHAPTER 2

This 18-month project builds on work that began in 2015. The next stage will focus on deepening relationships and strengthening the leadership of early childhood workers across the province to participate in the movement for decent work. It will provide leadership training and tools to workers to support local mobilization and strengthen connections between ECEs and other campaigns including the Fight for $15 and Fairness and ChangeWork. This investment will realize its full value when ECEs have an organized voice in the movement for decent work and can translate that leadership into policy wins.

The Association of Early Childhood Educators, Ontario (AECEO) is partnering with the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare (OCBC) and the Atkinson Centre on this initiative. AECEO has over 2,500 early childcare educators as its members and OCBC is a coalition of over 800 childcare agencies and organizations. Atkinson Centre is a research hub committed to early childhood development.

SHAPING THE TERMS OF THE 2018 PUBLIC POLICY DEBATE

This 18-month research project will focus on two aspects of decent work: (1) labour market conditions (income inequality analysis, wage analysis, an annual jobs report); and, (2) the importance of the role of “social wages” in decent work — the supports that come from public services and programs. The project will also convene strategic roundtables or participate in other allies’ roundtables to ensure any findings build knowledge and inform policy activism in the province. The full value of this investment will be realized when an evidence-based, solutions-oriented narrative has shaped the public policy debate on how we create more decent work and share prosperity more equitably.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) provides independent, peer-reviewed, nonpartisan research to advance policy ideas around issues of social, economic and environmental justice. Founded in 1980, the CCPA is one of Canada’s leading progressive voices in policy debates.

CONTINUING TO BUILD THE COMMUNITY BENEFITS MODEL: PHASE 3

This 12-month project builds on the Toronto Community Benefit Network’s efforts to create new economic opportunities since 2014. The focus of this next stage is: (1) to support the implementation of a new “workforce intermediary” for historically marginalized groups to access union jobs; (2) to participate in the development and oversight of an effective community benefits monitoring and compliance system for the Crosstown LRT; (3) to organize along the planned Finch LRT line for measurable targets as part of the RFP; and (4) to support residents in building their knowledge, leadership and organizing capacity. This investment will realize its full value when low-income communities are effectively exercising their power to negotiate community benefits as part of major infrastructure investments in Toronto.

Labour Community Services is a bridge between unions and the community, providing a range of social services and advocating for social justice. They are working with the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) to bring the community benefits approach to infrastructure development in the city. Launched in January 2013 and incorporated it as a non-profit organization in March 2014, TCBN is comprised of 68 member organizations and groups from the labour, community and social enterprise sectors. TCBN is a primary signatory along with Metrolinx to the Community Benefits (CB) Framework associated with the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

PUBLIC SECTOR LIVING WAGE LEADERS INITIATIVE

This 18-month project builds on the Ontario Living Wage Network’s work since 2014. Having grown from 13 cities with 30 employers to 30 cities and over 100 employers, this next phase will focus on organizing public sector leaders in at least five municipal governments, five school boards, and five other public sector institutions to commit to adopt living wage policies by the end of 2018. This project has the potential to benefit as many as 10,000 employees working in the public sector. It will also develop a living wage student advocacy network within post-secondary institutions. The full value of this investment will be realized when a much broader base of public sector institutions are participating in the movement for decent work and shared prosperity.

The Mennonite Central Committee Ontario is convening the Ontario Living Wage Network with the Hamilton Poverty Reduction Roundtable and the Social Planning Council of Cambridge North Dumfries. The Ontario chapter of the Mennonite Central Committee is a charitable organization that strives to share God’s love and compassion through relief, development and peacebuilding. The Ontario Living Wage Network is made up of thirty active living wage initiatives from across Ontario.

SOCIAL PROCUREMENT AND COMMUNITY BENEFITS NETWORK OF HALTON

This 18-month project will support the work of the Social Procurement and Community Benefit Network of Halton to use social procurement policies and community benefit agreements to increase access to decent work. The 24-member network of representatives from anchor institutions, community organizations and labour was formed in 2016, following a series of community engagement sessions on strategies to tackle poverty and precarious employment. The network will launch two pilot projects and build an online platform. The full value of this investment will be realized when broader base of public sector institutions are leveraging their procurement power for more decent work and shared prosperity.

The Oak Park Neighbourhood Centre (OPNC) is a charitable organization established to provide programs for families based on community need and input in Oakville and surrounding area. They are working with the Halton Poverty Roundtable (HPRT) on this initiative. HPRT was formed in 2011 to address the systemic barriers and root causes that keep people in Halton in poverty.

ETHNIC SUPERMARKETS: MAPPING POSSIBILITIES, BUILDING LEADERSHIP AND GROWING ROOTS TO IMPROVE WORK IN THE ETHNIC ECONOMY

This 12-month project will use a model of engagement that combines education, research, leadership and relationship development with workers in the Greater Toronto Area’s Chinese ethnic grocery sector. It will serve to connect a rapidly growing but under engaged community of precarious workers to the broader movement for decent work, including the Fight for $15 and Fairness and the Changing Workplaces Review. The full value of this investment will be realized when legislative amendments are passed to treat all workers fairly and to protect their rights.

The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) has advocated for immigrants and immigrant serving agencies in Ontario since 1978, providing policy, research and advocacy for immigrant groups on a wide range of issues including immigration, work and employment. They are partnering with the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, an organization of Chinese Canadians in the City of Toronto that promotes equity, social justice, inclusive civic participation, and respect for diversity.

FEET ON THE GROUND: EXPANDING THE MOVEMENT FOR DECENT WORK

This 12-month project builds on the first phase of the project which began in 2015. The focus of this next stage is to deepen the capacity of the current base of workers as well as build relationships in sectors and regions that have previously not been active in the movement for decent work. It will provide intensive leadership training, mentorship and a train-the-trainer component in at least eight cities in Ontario to increase participation in the Changing Workplaces Review. This investment will realize its full value when legislative amendments are passed to treat all workers fairly and to protect their rights.

The Ontario Employment Education & Resource Centre and the Workers’ Action Centre share the vision that all workers in Ontario have equal opportunity and access to decent work, are protected by strong legislation and have sufficient income to live healthy lives for themselves and their families.

DEEPENING THE ROOTS

This 18-month project builds on the first phase of the Parkdale Community Economic Development project which began in 2014. In this next stage, the collaborative will develop a Parkdale Community Benefits Framework and initiate an anchor institution roundtable to leverage the spending and hiring power of public sector institutions. The full value of this investment will be realized when residents are organized to benefit from public investment and economic growth in the neighbourhood, and public sector institutions are leveraging their procurement power for more decent work and shared prosperity.

The Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC) provides a range of community supports to psychiatric survivors, people who are homeless and/or disabled, and those living on low incomes. Their members develop skills through employment programs, social enterprises and alternative local economy strategies. Formed in 2014, the Parkdale Community Economic Development Steering Committee is made up of 26 organizations with the goal of developing a strategic neighbourhood plan for Parkdale focused on decent work and shared prosperity.

VOICES OF THE WORKING NORTH

This 15-month project builds on the base built by the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre in 2015. The focus of this next stage is increasing organizing capacity in Sudbury and the surrounding area as well as reaching out to communities in other parts of North-eastern Ontario. The full value of this investment will be realized when a northern base of workers and employers are contributing to the provincial effort to create more decent work and shared prosperity.

The Social Planning Council of Sudbury and the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre(SWEAC) are partnering to engage workers and employers in Sudbury around decent work campaigns. SWEAC grew out of the work of Sudbury’s labour movement and is inspired by the Workers’ Action Centre model of organizing. Formally established in 2012, the organization is made up of workers, students and community volunteers committed to improving the lives and working conditions of people in low-wage and unstable employment.

REFRAMING ONTARIO’S CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN TO ACHIEVE DECENT WORK AND COMMUNITY BENEFITS

This 18-month project is focused on leveraging public infrastructure spending from climate investments in the province’s multi-billion dollar Climate Action Plan for community benefit. Informed by similar work in other jurisdictions, the project aims to establish neighbourhood-based grassroots organizing capacity to advocate for decent green jobs and other community benefits. The full value of this investment will be realized when advocates for the sustainable economy are engaged in the decent work movement and the transition to a green economy is more just and inclusive.

The Community Social Planning Council of Toronto (SPT), Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) and the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals (CEE) are collaborating on this initiative. SPT is a non-profit, charitable community organization that works to improve equity, social justice and quality of life in Toronto through community capacity building, community education and advocacy, policy research and analysis, and social reporting. TEA is a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of all Torontonians for a green, healthy and equitable city. CEE is dedicated to addressing economic issues affecting Black youth.

DECENT WORK IN THE GREEN ECONOMY

This 12-month research project will explore the labour market implications of the shift to a green economy with a particular focus on the impact on decent work. The project will convene strategic conversations with a cross section of stakeholders to support the research and build a vision for further action. The full value of this investment will be realized when the transition to a green economy provides more decent work opportunities for all Ontarians, especially those that have been historically excluded.

The Mowat Centre is partnering with the Smart Prosperity Institute on this project. Mowat Centre is an independent public policy think-tank located at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto. Using a non-partisan, evidence based approach, Mowat engages in public dialogue on Canada’s most important national issues. The Smart Prosperity Institute (formerly Sustainable Prosperity) is a national research network and policy think tank based at the University of Ottawa with the goal to advance practical policies and market solutions for a stronger, cleaner economy.

CHANGEWORK PHASE 2: BUILDING A MOVEMENT

This 12-month project builds on a base of research and action on decent work that began in 2014. This next stage will focus on advocacy for public policy changes and sector practices for those employed in the province’s one million-plus nonprofit workforce. Key components include (1) introducing a pension plan for the nonprofit sector; (2) expanding a sector-wide employee benefits program; (3) championing funding practices that counter the trend toward precarious work; and, (4) mobilizing the sector on employment standards and labour legislative reform. This investment will realize its full value when donors, funders and policy makers evaluate nonprofit business models through the lens of decent work.

The Toronto Neighbourhood Centres is an association of 30 nonprofit, multi-service organizations working for just and healthy communities. The Ontario Nonprofit Network is a 7,000-member network focused on strengthening the nonprofit sector through organizing, educating and advancing public policy solutions.

2015 GRANTS

“GOOD FOOD, GOOD JOBS” UNIVERSITY CAMPUS FEASIBILITY PLAN

This 12-month project will lay the groundwork for organizing on the University of Toronto and York University campuses. The project will engage students, faculty, food service workers and operators and university administrators to better understand how to improve job quality for food service workers through the provision of better food quality. The full value of this investment will be realized when the universities have effective social procurement strategies related to food.

The 519 Church Street Community Centre is committed to the health, happiness and full participation of the LGBTQ community and strives to make a real difference in people’s lives, while working to promote inclusion, understanding and respect. Hospitality Workers Training Centre is a nonprofit organization that provides hands-on, relevant training and programs that meet the needs of workers and aligns with the needs of the hospitality industry. UNITE HERE Local 75 is also a partner in this initiative.

MOBILIZING THE EARLY CHILDHOOD WORKFORCE IN THE MOVEMENT FOR DECENT WORK

This 12-month project will organize the membership of the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario and Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare to advocate for professional pay and decent work. The insights and knowledge gained from community forums will be used to shape national and provincial policy positions for Ontario’s ECEs. The full value of this investment will be realized when ECEs have a more visible presence and voice in the larger movement for decent work and can translate grassroots engagement into policy wins.

The Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario has over 2,500 early childhood educators as its members and Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare is a coalition of over 800 childcare agencies and organizations. Atkinson Centre is a research hub committed to early childhood development.

“A SILENT TRANSFORMATION” DOCUMENTARY

This 12-month project will produce a documentary to explore the unique features of co-operative enterprises. It will tell a story that challenges ideas about work, ownership, entrepreneurship, democracy and collective agency. The feature length film, with an online audience engagement component, is anticipated in the fall of 2016. The Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada will take a lead role in using the film to create opportunities for social action. The full value of this investment will be realized when a younger, broader audience is engaged in conversation about the co-operative movement’s principles of shared ownership and democratic governance.

The Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada’s primary goal is the development of co-operative enterprises nationally and internationally. Powerline Films is a grassroots video production company that has been tackling social issues through film for over a decade. Other project partners include Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, Ontario Co-operative Association, the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation and Measuring the Co-operative Difference Research Network.

COMMUNITIES ORGANIZING FOR RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT (CORD)

This 18-month project will engage residents and stakeholders connected to the expansion to the Woodbine Racetrack. The expansion creates opportunities for local hiring and training in North West Toronto. This project aims to build community organizing capacity and support political engagement at the neighbourhood level, including deepening partnerships in Rexdale and developing a local hiring pipeline to link residents to tourism and hospitality jobs. This investment will realize its full value when residents have a voice in local infrastructure planning and land development processes and are benefiting from new economic opportunities.

Labour Community Services of Toronto acts as a bridge between unions and the community, providing a range of social services and advocating for social justice. They are working with Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, UNITE HERE Local 75, and the Hospitality Workers Training to develop a community benefits strategy and action plan for North West Toronto – an area with high levels of poverty and unemployment or under-employment.

LAYING ROOTS, LOOKING AHEAD

This 18-month project focuses on strengthening the growing base of migrant workers and their allies in Cobourg, Durham, Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, Niagara, Windsor and Guelph. It will provide leadership training and tools to workers, map community organizations and services, and identify key “hubs” for migrant worker engagement and advocacy support. This investment is on track to realize its full value when migrant workers have a more visible presence and audible voice in discussions about policies that affect them.

The Ontario Employment Education & Resource Centre (OEERC) builds public awareness of workplace legislation through education and provides support for workers whose rights have been violated. The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) is a coalition of national migrant worker groups, grassroots organizations, unions, faith groups, activists and researchers that support migrant workers.

FEET ON THE GROUND: BUILDING DECENT WORK ACROSS ONTARIO

This 12-month project builds and strengthens community capacity to reduce precarious employment and create opportunities for decent work. It is focused on building leadership in three Toronto neighbourhoods, three cities in Southern Ontario, and three sectors such as health, young workers and faith-based communities. The project will also develop the capacity to participate in the Changing Workplaces Review, a province wide consultation process to review the Employment Standards Act and the Ontario Labour Relations Act. This investment will realize its full value when legislative amendments are passed to treat all workers fairly and to protect their rights.

The Ontario Employment Education & Resource Centre (OEERC) and the Workers’ Action Centre (WAC) share the vision that all workers in Ontario have equal opportunity and access to decent work, are protected by strong legislation and have sufficient income to live healthy lives for themselves and their families.

JUSTICE IN THE STREETS

This 12-month youth-led research project will explore how racialized youth living in the Jane Finch and Malvern neighbourhoods understand their rights at work. Relevant tools, resources and training will be developed as a result. A key component is raising awareness about the lived experience and realities of young racialized workers and to organize for better working conditions. This investment will realize its full value when young people understand their rights as workers, are able to advocate for themselves, and are connected to the broader decent work movement.

Lost Lyrics and the Remix Project are youth led organizations based in the City of Toronto. Lost Lyrics uses arts-based programming to organize racialized youth and re-ignite their passion for learning. The Remix Project connects vulnerable youth to training and employment opportunities within the creative industries such as music, photography and graphic design.

THE LIVING WAGE AND DECENT WORK PROJECT

This 13-month project aims to engage workers in Sudbury to better understand and map clusters of precarious work. It builds on existing alliances with partners such as Sudbury Legal Clinic and the Labour Studies Program at Laurentian University and creates new alliances. It also encourages Sudbury employers to join the network of businesses committed to providing a living wage to employees. The full value of this investment will be realized when a northern base of workers and employers are part of provincial efforts to create decent work and share prosperity more equitably.

The Social Planning Council of Sudbury work in partnership with individuals, community agencies, government, business, and the health and educational sectors to improve quality of life for all residents of Greater Sudbury through research and community development. Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre is made up of workers, students and community volunteers committed to improving the lives and working conditions of people in low-wage and unstable employment.

A ROAD MAP FOR A NONPROFIT SECTOR-WIDE PENSION PLAN

This 12-month project continues the focus on decent work in the nonprofit sector that began in 2014. Developing a pension plan for the sector is a cornerstone of ONN’s broader Labour Force Strategy. Partners will leverage their 7,000+ membership base through policy development, research, and engagement with nonprofit employers and employees. This investment is on track to realize its full value – (1) income security for workers in the nonprofit sector is on the federal and provincial pension reform agenda; and (2) employees have access to new pension arrangement.

Toronto Neighbourhood Centres (TNC) is an association of 30 nonprofit, multi-service organizations working for just and healthy communities. The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) is a 7,000-member network focused on strengthening the nonprofit sector through organizing, educating and advancing public policy solutions.

JOB RELATED AND COMMUNITY QUALITY OF LIFE IN OSHAWA

This 18-month research project comes out of the region’s Good Jobs Summit that took place in the spring of 2015. It aims to answer the following question: What happens to the quality of work and life in communities when they lose a major industrial employer? Taking into consideration class, race, gender and immigration status, the research will draw attention to job-related quality of life issues that people are experiencing, and identify public policies to promote job security and a living wage for workers. This investment will realize its full potential when it informs and inspires action on the economic realities and opportunities faced by the region.

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology is partnering with the United Way of Durham Region, Unifor Retirees’ Local 222 and the Durham Region Labour Council to conduct community-based qualitative research and public policy analysis to better understand the impact of economic restructuring in the region on workers and their families.

2014 GRANTS

TOWER RENEWAL COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENT RESEARCH

This 17-month project will determine how the costs of community benefit provisions – job opportunities, training and apprenticeships, affordable housing and other neighbourhood improvements – can be factored into the financial model for redeveloping or renewing high-rise, low-income apartment buildings from the start.  The results of this study will be applied to three pilot sites, and will inform the planning process for tower renewal across the GTA.  Residents will also use this information as a tool to help create community benefits agreements.  The full value of this investment will be realized when every tower renewal site has a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) as part of its plan. 

Evergreen CityWorks is a strategic initiative of Evergreen.  It aims to improve how we plan and design cities, and to reduce the environmental impact of urban areas. Their project partners are the Tower Renewal Partnership, DKGI Consulting, and the Greater Toronto Area Housing Action Lab – a consortia of more than sixty public, private and nonprofit partners working to improve housing affordability in the region.

CONTINUATION AND EXPANSION OF THE COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENT MODEL

This two-year project will organize residents to contribute to the Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) for the Eglinton, Finch and Sheppard LRTs. It will support the negotiations between Metrolinx, the building consortia, and the TCBN for this first Toronto CBA. It will result in a monitoring and compliance system as well as a model for connecting, screening, training and placing residents in pre-apprenticeship and first-year apprenticeships in the building trades.  This investment will realize its full value when CBAs are an integral and routine part of public infrastructure projects in Ontario.

Labour Community Services Toronto is a bridge between unions and the community, providing a range of social services and advocating for social justice. They are working with the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) to bring the community benefits approach to economic development to the city. The TCBN includes residents, 23 community organizations, nine labour organizations, four social enterprise organizations and many others linked to its five work groups.  Other project partners include United Way Toronto, Maytree Foundation, Metcalf Foundation, Atkinson Foundation, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Infrastructure Ontario, Metrolinx, and the City of Toronto.

PARKDALE COMMUNITY ECONOMIC PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

This 18-month project will reframe the community dialogue from reducing poverty to building community wealth.  It will develop strategies for decent work based on principles of shared ownership, democratic governance and the ethics of care. It will result in an economic development plan that will include an assets assessment, a set of neighbourhood-based economic well-being measures, and a shared vision for decent work in Parkdale.  The full value of this investment will be realized when residents are taking action to realize their plan, have identified policy changes required at every level, and are engaged to this end.  Additionally, they have the potential to translate their experience to other issues and neighbourhoods.

Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC) provides a range of community supports to psychiatric survivors, people who are homeless and/or disabled, and those living on low incomes. Their members develop skills through employment programs, social enterprises and alternative local economy strategies.  Their project partners are residents, West Neighbourhood House, Working for Change, West End Food Coop, Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, Parkdale Community Information Centre, Parkdale Intercultural Association, Parkdale Community Health Centre, Parkdale Village Business Improvement Area, and Greenest City.

NEW PATHWAYS TO COMMUNITY WEALTH FOR EAST SCARBOROUGH

This 12-month project will create new pathways for residents to benefit from the Eglinton LRT and from UTSC’s infrastructure investments. It will help anchor jobs, training, business opportunities, and neighbourhood improvements in East Scarborough. This work will connect with compatible social and economic development strategies in the community and beyond.  The full value of this investment will be realized when public funds spent in East Scarborough make the entire neighbourhood more prosperous.

Tides Canada Initiatives (TCI) is a shared administrative platform for groups working for a healthy environment and just society. East Scarborough Storefront (The Storefront) is a project of TCI, providing social and economic development support in Kingston Galloway/Orton Park (KGO) – an inner suburban low-income neighbourhood. The Storefront is partnering with University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus (UTSC) and the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) on this project.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: COORDINATING ONTARIO’S LIVING WAGE NETWORK

This 18-month project will expand and strengthen the living wage movement across Ontario.  It will develop leaders and organizing capacity to influence employer attitudes and behaviour.  It will produce digital and print tools to standardize living wage calculations and engage the public in promoting the concept of a living wage.  An additional seven Ontario communities (from 13 to 20) will be engaged in a dialogue about the connection between decent work and decent wages as a result of this project.  The full value of this investment will be realized when a much broader base of local business leaders, advocates, academics, teachers, students, policy makers and labour leaders are working collaboratively and across related networks to keep Ontario focused on decent work and shared prosperity.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Ontario) provides independent, peer-reviewed, nonpartisan research to advance progressive policy ideas. They are co-convening the Ontario Living Wage Network with the Hamilton Poverty Reduction Roundtable, Mennonite Central Committee and the Social Planning Council of Cambridge North Dumfries.

THE STARTER PROJECT: RE-MAKING A LIVING

This “starter” project will make discouraged workers full partners in the search for more effective workforce development programs and local economic development strategies in a city that consistently has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.  It will generate a shared vision of economic prosperity and concrete policy ideas around which workers and other stakeholders can organize in the next stage of this project.  It will result in a multi-media presentation designed and delivered by workers.  This investment will realize its full value when Peterborough implements new strategies to connect discouraged workers to decent work.

The Community Opportunity and Innovation Network Inc. (COIN) provides training for marginalized workers through the social enterprises they operate in Peterborough. They have joined forces with InWithForward – a global group of researchers who have equipped people most affected by issues to work with institutional players and to create policy and program solutions.  Other project partners include discouraged workers, City of Peterborough, Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network, YWCA Peterborough, Community Counselling and Resource Centre and United Way Peterborough.

BUILDING VOICE, GAINING GROUND

This 12-month project will organize migrant workers and their allies in Niagara, Windsor and Guelph.  It will map their work, assess barriers to their full engagement, and provide leadership training and tools.  It will result in a broader, more effective migrant worker coalition in Ontario.  It will also bring the voices of migrant workers into the wider dialogue on decent work and shared prosperity.  This investment will leverage other resources focused on developing leaders who can organize and mobilize workers in very difficult circumstances across the province. This investment will realize its full value when migrant workers have a more visible presence and audible voice in discussions about policies that affect them.

The Ontario Employment Education & Resource Centre (OEERC) builds public awareness of workplace legislation through education and provides support for workers whose rights have been violated.  The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is a coalition of national migrant worker groups, grassroots organizations, unions, faith groups, activists and researchers that support migrant workers.

EMPLOYMENT AND BETTER EMPLOYMENT THROUGH RELATIONSHIPS (EMBER)

This 18-month project will create a formal alliance among health, social service and advocacy organizations around decent work.  It will produce an environment scan and survey, train network members and patient advocates on the connection between working conditions and health outcomes, and develop an intervention model with 30-40 underemployed primary care clients to connect them to decent work opportunities.  It will organize an interdisciplinary group of professionals and mobilize them to advocate for better policy and practices.  The full value of this investment will be realized when this approach seeds an even broader base of health and employment champions for decent work within and beyond primary health care circles.

Project partners are Workers’ Action Centre, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services, City Family Health Team – St. Michael’s Hospital and the Centre for Research on Inner City Health.  They are working with South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Sherbourne Health Centre, South East Toronto Family Health Team and the Wellesley Institute.

CHANGEWORK: DECENT WORK AND THE PUBLIC BENEFIT SECTOR

This eighteen-month project will engage TNC and ONN members to take action on nonprofit workforce development issues. Mowat NFP will support the project by researching and helping document priority issues and best practices. This will be incorporated into a provincial platform for engaging nonprofit boards, executive directors and funders in discussion about decent work in the nonprofit sector. As a result, TNC members will create an action plan to enhance their own employment practices. ONN will use develop recommendations and priorities that support participation in the decent work movement within Ontario’s nonprofit sector. This investment will realize its full value when donors, funders and policy makers evaluate nonprofit operating models through the lens of decent work.

Toronto Neighbourhood Centres (TNC) is an association of 30 nonprofit, multi-service organizations working for just and healthy communities.  The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) is a 7,000-strong network focused on strengthening the nonprofit sector through organizing, educating and advancing public policy solutions.  Mowat NFP is a research hub within the Mowat Centre at University of Toronto focused on public policy for a stronger nonprofit sector in Ontario.

BE-LABOURED

This eight-month project will bring the voices of students into the public arena with a perspective on youth unemployment, student debt and other issues related to decent work.  It will engage 12 student reporters to research and report on these issues for 12,000 readers on campuses across Canada.  It will also produce a resource to support other student journalists to report on decent work issues.  PSAs will be published in participating newspapers to promote the series.  This investment will realize its full potential when CUP is engaging other student leaders in building movements for decent work on university campuses.

Journalists for Human Rights helps journalists report on human rights and governance issues in their communities – ethically and effectively. Canadian University Press (CUP) is a national, non-profit co-operative, owned and operated by student newspapers from coast to coast.  Their project partners are 12 university newspapers across the country.

DECENT WORK AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

This nine-month project will mobilize airport workers and their allies to advocate for an affordable, quick and dignified public transit commute.  It will produce communications tools and broaden the coalition to influence the pricing strategy for the Union Pearson Express rail service. It will demonstrate the connections between decent work and public transportation.  This investment will realize its full potential when an affordable fare strategy is implemented.

Social Planning Toronto undertakes research and policy analysis, community capacity building, community education and advocacy and social reporting.  It is a member of the coalition TTCriders has assembled to work on the affordable transit issue.  Their partners are the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly, Toronto Airport Council of Unions and the Clean Train Coalition.

EXPANDING THE CIRCLE – CRIMINALIZATION AND DECENT WORK

This six-month project will bring together criminalized people, social service workers and educators in forums on decent work in Toronto and Kitchener.  It will make the collaborative pedagogical approach at the core of this movement more widely known.  It will also broaden its base by demonstrating how to “re-humanize” the ways institutions and organizations support individuals in the criminal justice system, break down silos, and remove barriers to decent work upon their release.  The full value of this investment will be realized when criminalized people no longer face barriers to employment within those organizations that exist to serve them.

WilfrId Laurier University’s Faculty of Social Work offers graduate-level courses at the Grand Valley Correctional Institution for Women for ‘inside’ (incarcerated) and ‘outside’ (campus-based) students. Walls to Bridges provides curriculum supports, training, and coordination for faculty, students and their community allies to extend this model to other Canadian universities and prisons.  It is rooted in the Walls to Bridges Collective – a group of students who have taken one or more of these courses and their professors.  Some of the collective members are graduates and some have been released from prison.

Reach out to Atkinson’s Director of Social Investment Jenn Miller if you have any questions about the Atkinson Decent Work Fund. We put out a formal call for letters of interest every two years. But whenever you have an idea or an opportunity ready to pitch, we’re open to hear from you.

Related Resources

“Projects make us see the possible, policy helps make the possible standard practice, and power is what ultimately drives policy reform," says Dr. Manuel Pastor from the University of Southern California. Dr. Pastor's research on social movements has influenced the Atkinson Decent Work Fund from the start. This fund is about the possible. These guidelines will help you think about how we can work together. Learn more >