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Ontario to launch integrated employment services system as unemployment rises

Ontario's unemployment rate has risen to 9.3 per cent as of last month.
Monte McNaughton is sworn into his new role as Ontario's Minister of Labour at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday, June 20, 2019. The Canadian Press/Tijana Martin

Ontario is launching a new integrated system of employment services it says will make it easier for residents to restart their careers.

The province says it will be combining the employment services offered under various social assistance programs, such as Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program, in order to make the process easier to navigate.

It says the program will include online self-serve options as well as phone and in-person services.

The new system, called Employment Ontario, is set to take effect in nine new areas next year, and in additional areas after that.

The government says a prototype version has already been in place in three regions -- Peel, Hamilton-Niagara and Muskoka-Kawarthas -- since last year.

Ontario's unemployment rate has risen to 9.3 per cent as of last month, up from the pre-pandemic rate of 5.5 per cent, according to the province.

"Workers, families and students have faced exceptional challenges as COVID-19 left many people without a job and limited opportunities to find work," Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said in a statement.

"The current model for employment services is complex, fragmented and has not been effectively helping people find and keep full-time jobs, making it difficult and time consuming for workers to navigate, particularly those on social assistance."

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