Ontario Providing Second Chances for those with Criminal Records

2023 April 26

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing $12 million to support nine innovative projects designed to help up to 2,000 people leaving the justice system or with prior criminal records find meaningful jobs with local businesses, helping them create connections and a sense of belonging within their communities.

More than one million people in Ontario live with a criminal record, which can decrease the chances of a second interview by 50 percent and drastically increases the likelihood of long-term poverty. Stable employment has been shown to help address the root causes of crime and reduce the chance of someone 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.”

Led by various organizations across multiple sectors, the programs announced today will prepare job seekers for well-paying careers in construction, manufacturing, hospitality, food and beverage processing, and other industries. They will provide a range of employment and training needs through apprenticeship and technical training, on-the-job learning, and improving job readiness and interview skills. The projects include wrap-around support like mentorship, job placement, and mental health resources to ensure a smooth transition to the job market.

“We believe in second chances and the inherent potential of each person,” said Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General. “Building a strong Ontario means 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.”

The government will unveil additional programs to help people with prior involvement in the criminal justice system over the coming months. These projects are funded through the Skills Development Fund. This $700 million initiative supports ground-breaking programs that connect job seekers with the skills and training they need to find well-paying careers close to home.

“Minister McNaughton and his team have done incredible work to support training and skills development in the hospitality sector,” said Terry Tsianos, Chairman of Scale Hospitality. “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 and development and second chance programs.”

Tess de Jesus, FWH