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Thompson programs aim to help income assistance recipients join the workforce

Employment preparation programs at YWCA Thompson and FireSpirit Inc. are receiving $292,000 for their initial year.

A Manitoba cabinet minister was in Thompson Oct. 17 to provide more details about two local programs designed to help people get off employment and income assistance and into the workforce.

Previously announced in April, the two programs represent more than $292,000 in provincial funding for a period of one year.

$150,000 of that is going to YWCA Thompson for individualized pre-employment and mental health supports for EIA recipients.

“We offer services through wraparound services,” said Nina Cordell, associate director of YWCA Thompson at a press conference regarding the programs. “People maybe struggling with mental health issues or addictions or social issues, those are our people. Maybe they’re not quite ready for pre-employment, like going to Steps for Success or the assessment centre. It’ll be kind of a pre pre-employment readiness kind of thing. That’s how we’re looking at it.”

Two staff members will work with the clients of the program, who could number as many as 200 over the course of one year, said Cordell. 

“The YWCA has a long and rich history of providing a variety of supports,” said Families Minister Rochelle Squires.”Income and employment support to those further from the labour market, especially those in Northern Manitoba, is a key strategic priority for all of us, particularly as part of our post-pandemic recovery.”

The other program, which is receiving $142,600, will bring FireSpirit Inc.’s Belonging to Employment program to Thompson to help EIA recipients here and in surrounding communities transition into the workforce.

FireSpirit is owned and operated by Opaskwayak Cree Nation and aims to help Indigenous people secure employment. Its CEO, Lawrence Daniels, says the first step will be to identify a location to set up shop.

“Once we do that, once we are able to hire the staff, then we will formally enter into a lease and start building our programming from there,” he said. 

The Belonging to Employment program is customized to individual clients' needs, Daniels says.

“People start in different ways and start at and proceed at different paces,” he said. “Through very low-key, subtle interventions, we see people change and people take ownership of what they want to do and then we link that to further skills.”

All the services offered are respectful of Indigenous culture, said Squires.

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