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Ontario Improving Employment Opportunities for People Facing Barriers

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Ontario Improving Employment Opportunities for People Facing Barriers

Province Invests $4 million to Pilot Community Loans Fund

Ontario is partnering with leading financial institutions to create a fund aimed at increasing employment opportunities for people facing employment barriers.

The Community Loans Fund, part of Ontario's Accessibility Action Plan, will provide discounted rates on financial products, such as loans, to businesses that commit to hiring people facing barriers such as people with disabilities, long-term unemployed, older unemployed, newcomers to Canada and unemployed Indigenous persons. The province is partnering with Alterna Savings, Libro Credit Union, First Ontario Credit Union and Meridian to deliver this fund.  

The two-year, $4 million fund will:

  • Help up to 1,100 people find careers
  • Support up to 500 businesses
  • Allow businesses to receive a 0.5 to one per cent reduced interest rate on a loan, in the form of a rebate, for each person they hire for a minimum of six months

The Community Loans Fund will be available in spring 2016 in specific branches in pilot locations including London, Ottawa and Hamilton.

Creating employment opportunities for people facing employment barriers is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan. 

Quick Facts

  • The Community Loans Fund is a key component of Valuing Ability, part of the Path to 2025: Ontario’s Accessibility Action Plan.
  • The Community Loans Fund is for businesses with fewer than 500 employees that are located within the cities where the program is available.
  • Eligible hires include persons with disabilities as well as others facing barriers to employment including long-term unemployed, older unemployed, newcomers to Canada and unemployed Indigenous persons. Ontario Disability Support Program or Ontario Works clients would automatically be eligible. Hires who are not Ontario residents would not be eligible for the program.
  • The fund builds on an existing loan program currently run by Social Capital Partners, which has helped more than 400 people facing barriers to employment get jobs.
  • In 2010, the Martin Prosperity Institute outlined that building a more inclusive Ontario could lead to an estimated $7.9 billion increase to our GDP.
  • More than 40 per cent of Ontarians with disabilities have some type of postsecondary schooling.
  • Seventy-five per cent of small businesses who have employees with a disability report that they meet or exceed their expectations.

Additional Resources


“This pilot is a win-win scenario. It will help disadvantaged job seekers find opportunities for meaningful employment and connect small businesses with attractive financing terms and motivated employees. Together, we can create a culture of inclusion in our workplaces and a next generation economy for our province.”

Brad Duguid

Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure

“We are excited to work with the Ontario government to take our existing Community Loan Program to the next level, working closely with both financial institutions and community partners. We view this as an important step to expand the use of community employment practices by Canadian business owners, helping to facilitate employment access to countless job seekers who face added obstacles in finding work. We believe this is a prime example of how social finance can be leveraged to engage the private sector and generate solutions.”

Bill Young

CEO and Founder, Social Capital Partners

“Libro Credit Union is passionate to collaborate with groups who are working to build the economy and grow prosperity for southwestern Ontario. Credit unions were founded on the social purpose of neighbour helping neighbour. Participating in this program allows local communities to build stronger businesses and it assists those with employment barriers to enjoy new opportunities to achieve success. We can do so much more together than we can individually on our own and we are excited to be a vested partner and collaborator.”

Steve Bolton

President and CEO, Libro Credit Union

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