East Scarborough Example

What we set out to do

East Scarborough Works (ESW) grew out of the Metcalf Foundation sponsored Resilient Neighbourhood Economies Initiative <<link to history below>> and was originally run as a pilot under the Ontario Local Poverty Reduction Fund.  The purpose of this early work was to:

  1. Understand what local systems helped or hindered local people from getting local jobs being created as a result of public spending
  2. Create a local workforce development network that included employers, unions, residents, employment organizations
  3. Prototype solutions to system fragmentation

How East Scarborough Works - works

Over the next 2-20 years, significant investment in public institutions and infrastructure in East Scarborough is forecast:

The University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) master plan includes investments of $0.5 billion in expansion; the anticipated Scarborough “super-hospital” and LRT expansions hold the promise of millions of dollars of investment in construction jobs over the next decade or two.

And yet, East Scarborough is home to some of our City’s most marginalized communities where unemployment is as high as 15%-16% and 30% of people live below the Low Income Cut Off (LICO).

Unless we can embed Community Benefits Agreements in those projects and, simultaneously, link those opportunities with relevant training, wrap-round supports and employment service co-ordination, the people of East Scarborough could potentially, and most likely would, miss the opportunity to secure good jobs resulting from these public investments.

Across the Province of Ontario, momentum is building to embed Community Benefits Agreements in public infrastructure projects under Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015. Equally, there has been an emerging interest in harnessing networks and design thinking for the purpose of sector specific, demand-led workforce development.

By leveraging the best of both these innovative and promising approaches and combining them with the Connected Community Approach, ESW creates pathways to employment for people living in poverty in East Scarborough.

Early examples of East Scarborough Works in action:

In 2016, Dynamic Hospitality, in partnership with the City of Toronto set out restore the historical Guild Inn in East Scarborough, turning it into a state of the art event venue capable of housing a variety events including: weddings, corporate, social or charitable gatherings. The restauration incuded a full-service restaurant, Bickford Bistro (http://guildinnestate.com/ )

The East Scarborough Works partners worked with Dynamic Entertainment to create a local hiring strategy to:

  • Access to a motivated pool of qualified local candidates;
  • Streamline the hiring process, by leveraging employment organizations to assist in fielding inquiries, conducting outreach and screening resumes;
  • Leverage training partners to provide training that met Dynamic’s specifications
  • Leverage social service partners so that candidates had the supports they need to succeed.
  • Leverage Employment Ontario and Toronto Employment and Social Services supports and financial incentives while new employees are training on the job;

Result: 22 local residents successfully employed

A large group of people gathered for meeting

Public investment in East Scarborough can be seen in a number of sectors including the social sector. In 2017, as part of East Scarborough Works, The Storefront and its partners engaged in an innovative research project designed to a) explore the barriers people living in poverty might face in accessing employment in the social sector and b) identify possible strategies for reducing those barriers.

Among the key recommendations from this research was to: “introduce a comprehensive, demand-led, social sector training program in a geographical area which factors local trends and labour market forecasting into the curriculum and post-program supports”. To that end, The Storefront and its partner the Centre for Connected Communities developed Working With People in the Social Sector, designed to leverage the Connected Community Approach/local partnerships to help people living in poverty to bridge to employment in the social sector or relevant academic upgrading.

Result 2018: 23 local residents successfully employed (92% of participants)


City of Toronto - Pilot Project

In 2018, the Centre for Connected Communities (C3) was awarded one-time funding to support East Scarborough Works.

In consultation with Social Development Finance and Administration, it became apparent that an effective use of the funds would be to explore and prototype how this place-based networked workforce development strategy could support multiple City strategies and initiatives including:

  • TO Prosperity: Poverty Reduction Strategy
  • Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy
  • Youth Equity Strategy
  • Toronto Newcomer Strategy
  • Toronto Community Benefit Agreements

The network to do this in East Scarborough is in place. C3 is able to (along with East Scarborough Storefront) to play an intermediary role to leverage what exists for better outcomes.