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Migrant workers still among the most vulnerable

Our economy relies on several categories of workers: citizens, permanent residents, and workers here under various classes of visas.

One group that historically faces some of the greatest challenges is the category of temporary migrant workers—a group that has more than tripled in recent years. In 2000, there were 89,746 migrant workers in Canada; in 2012, that number was 338,213.

Temporary migrant workers are now admitted to the country at a much greater rate than permanent residents—the inverse of what was the case decades ago. This pattern holds locally, as well. the number of migrant workers in Toronto increased by 237 per cent between 2006 and 2012.

A new report just released by the Metcalfe Foundation, which works towards building a more equitable and inclusive society in Canada, examines the current state of affairs for migrant workers here. A hint of its findings can be gleaned just from the title: "Profiting from the Precarious."

The report gathered information via interviews and consultations with migrant workers in Toronto and Southern Ontario, and focuses on the growing for-profit labour recruitment industry, which helps match potential workers with employers, and assists those workers as they manage the bureaucratic processes involved in coming here.

The problem: according to the report, "widespread abuse of low-wage migrant workers at the hands of disreputable recruiters has been documented by academic and community-based researchers for years. Significant numbers of migrant workers are brought to Canada by recruiters who charge oppressive 'recruitment fees,' including fees for jobs that do not exist and jobs that are different than promised."

Though some legislation took effect in 2010 to try to provide better protection for migrant workers, the report found that "a mere $12,100 in illegal fees has been recovered from recruiters and only eight investigations are ongoing. Meanwhile, the Caregivers’ Action Centre reports that since the law was enacted, two-thirds of its members have been charged illegal recruitment fees."

The report provides a number of recommendations to help improve matters.

"A proactive regulatory model that is enforced by the employment standards branch and that builds in federal/provincial multidirectional oversight is both necessary and a best practice." Crucially, it goes on, "proactive licensing of recruiters, registration of employers, and significant security deposits to ensure that funds are available to compensate workers whose rights have been violated."

There is also the question of giving potential migrant workers better tools to make informed decisions about their employment here. New regulars must "address the significant information gap that recruiters and employers exploit. Registries with meaningful information about recruiters, recruiters’ supply chains, and employers must be publicly available and easily accessible. Information empowers workers."

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Profiting from the Precarious (Metcalfe Foundation Report)

Ontario and Alberta launch collaborative innovation program

The provincial governments of Alberta and Ontario have reached an agreement to work with academic and industry partners to collaboratively pursue research projects that have strong potential for commercialization, according to an announcement made earlier this month.

The two year Alberta-Ontario Innovation Program (AOP)  will be jointly managed by the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures (AITF). Each province will provide up to $2 million for the project with the aim of industry partners matching those sums in each province as well.
 
According to an Ontario government backgrounder on the program, AOP "will draw on academic expertise to address challenges faced by industry, such as the conservation of water and energy, developing better insulated building materials, environmental remediation, stormwater management, converting waste into energy, and modular manufacturing and assembly."
 
In order to participate, applicants will have to go through a two-step selection process, and their proposed projects must span no more than two years.

To be eligible, projects must include at least one industry partner that operates in both provinces, or multiple industry partners that collectively operate in both; a research partner from an accredited Ontario academic institution; and a research partner from an accredited Alberta academic institution.

The first step in the process is submitting an Expression of Interest, due by June 9, 2014. A review committee will assess those EOIs, and select applicants will be invited to continue to the next stage of the application process. Complete details are available on the AOP website.
 
Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation

Who's Hiring in Toronto? Soulpepper, TIFF, and more

The most interesting of the opportunities that we've come across lately:

The University of Toronto has two particularly interesting openings right now. The Department of Family and Community Medicine is looking for a research assistant to support a study examining the delivery of healthcare to patients with chronic pain issues. Applicants should have a master’s degree in social sciences, health administration, or psychology. Meanwhile, the office of the vice president for research and innovation is seeking an entrepreneurship manager to identify company creation opportunities that emerge from the university's research.

The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), which helps young Canadians who want to launch their own ventures, has two opportunities of note right now. They are looking for a regional marketing manager who will be based in their Toronto office, but focus on supporting the regional offices in the western provinces. And they are also on the hunt for a social media and content creation coordinator to handle online content across all platforms.

In the cultural sector, TIFF also has several openings at the moment. Among them: a scheduling coordinator for festival programming for candidates with at least one year of arts administration experience; an assistant for festival programming to provide administrative support; and an assistant for volunteer and intern resources for someone with at least one year of experience in volunteer management.

Also in the cultural sector, Soulpepper, Toronto's largest theatre company, is looking for a development coordinator, ideally with at least two or three years of experience in non-profit fundraising. The Literary Press Group of Canada, a non-profit that represents the country's literary publishers, is looking for an education and engagement manager, to tackle both internal and external projects. Finally, the City of Markham has a nine-month contract available for a discovery coordinator to manage and administer several theatre-related programs.

Do you know of a creative and innovative job opportunity? Let us know!

Who's Hiring in Toronto: The Stop, Harbourfront, and more

The most interesting of the opportunities we've seen this week:

Local food service organization The Stop, which runs everything from a farmers' market to nutrition classes for kids, is staffing up for the summer season. Among the positions they are looking to fill: three community garden assistants to take on maintenance, garden tours, and community event organizing; a cooking and growing assistant to develop activities for children in summer camp programs and assist with other programs as needed; and a food bank animator to support the weekly Tuesday market, as well as the drop-in and food bank programs. All of those posts are 12 week contract positions, and start at the beginning of June.

In the cultural sector, a couple of key organizations are looking for help. The Theatre Centre—which recently completed a major overhaul of an historic Queen West building that will now serve as its new home and a local arts hub—is looking for a general manager to oversee this new phase of their growth. Candidates should have at least three years of experience in non-profit arts management. And Harbourfront Centre needs an online content specialist to research, write, and edit materials for all their online sites and platforms.

Digital retail startup Slyce, which we featured last week, is growing, and therefore also hiring. Currently they are seeking an iOS developer, a systems engineer with at least five years of experience working in a Linux environment, and a database engineer, also with at least five years of Linux experience. All positions are full-time, and come with employee stock option plans.

Also in digital hires, Forward Vision Games, which develops games that help build financial literacy, is looking for a developer to work on their cloud-based simulation games.

Do you know of a creative and innovative job opportunity? Let us know!

Federal government announces $11.4M in job support for those with autism

"People with developmental disabilities have much to contribute in the Canadian labour market. Yet, existing research suggests that the rate of employment among this population is much lower than it needs to be."

That was the comment from Dr. David Nicholas, associate professor of social work at the University of Calgary, upon hearing the news that the federal government will be investing in new job support for youth with autism spectrum disorders.

Announced as part of the federal budget, the government is investing $11.4 million over four years in a program called CommunityWorks Canada.

The program is modelled on one that is currently available in Calgary. The funding will go to developing a national network of cities that offer similar services. Program participants, who range in age from 12 to 24, will work on developing key social, communications, and problem-solving skills that are essential in any employment environment. The program is delivered via one-on-one peer mentoring, and the ultimate goal is to equip participants with the capacity to pursue work successfully, and live more independent lives.

Some details are still in the works, but a representative from the Etobicoke-based
Autism Speaks Canada—which will be operating the program in partnership with the Calgary-based Sinneave Family Foundation—told us that the plan is to have two or three of the new centres open within the next two years, and a total of six centres (including the original Calgary location) open in four years. Organizers are hoping to ramp up to 1,200 participants per year, across all of the locations.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Carrie Habert, Marketing Director, Autism Speaks Canada

Showcasing Toronto's young gaming talent at Level Up

"One of the first things I did when I got here [in 2010]," says Emma Westecott, assistant professor of game design at OCAD University, "was try to find out who else was teaching games."

She found a kindred spirit in Steve Engels, a senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Toronto. They met, and they had their students meet, and "one of the things that became evident was that a lot of the games our students were making could be much better if they were working together." So they started doing just that, and it went well enough that they decided to set up a showcase at the end of that first year of collaboration.

It's four years later, and this past weekend Level Up marked its fourth instalment: an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional showcase of student work in gaming that allows graduating and senior students to show off their work, engage in a bit of friendly competition, and—crucially—meet potential employers.

This year more than a dozen institutions participated, and over 50 team projects were included in the showcase. Organizers estimate that 1,000 people attended—200 more than last year.

Why an off-campus showcase? "It became obvious to me that with a new subject matter," Westecott explains, "that working with community was the best way to build expertise."

Toronto has a well-established gaming sector—it's a growing and dynamic part of our local economy—and one key goal of Level Up is to help introduce students into that community, sniff out potential internship opportunities, and tap into a network that will help them as they leave school. It's also a great way to measure your progress.

"For our students, it helps them see what their games are like in comparison to what other games are being made; from potential employers' point of view, it makes it easier to see everyone in one place."

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Emma Westecott, Assistant Professor, Game Design, Digital Futures, OCAD University

Who's Hiring in Toronto: Random House, Harbourfront, and more

The most interesting of the opportunities we've seen recently:

Attention book lovers: Random House of Canada is looking for an editorial assistant to provide both editorial and administrative support for its executive vice-president. Duties will range from reading manuscripts to drafting meeting agendas.

For those with experience in the performing arts, Harbourfront is hiring an assistant production coordinator and is seeking applicants with stage management, production, and customer service experience.

For those with an interest in cinema, the National Film Board is seeking an administrative assistant with at least four years of relevant experience; candidates must be functional in both French and English.

In senior arts-related hires, The Corporation of Roy Thomson and Massey Hall is seeking a new director of programming. Candidates should have strong networks within the industry and a demonstrated record of sound financial management.

Finally in the cultural sector, the Toronto Arts Foundation is looking for an executive assistant to work with their CEO, providing administrative, project, and planning support.

Moving on to local food, the Withrow Park Farmers’ Market currently has two openings: they are currently seeking a market manager to oversee all market activities, and a market assistant to focus on providing activities for kids aged two to 10. Both positions are part-time and run from May through October. Meanwhile, Karma Co-op Food Store is looking for a general manager for a one-year contract to cover a maternity leave vacancy. Applicants should have at least three years of retail grocery management experience.

Elsewhere in urban environmental opportunities, the Toronto Botanical Garden is hiring a library manager to oversee their extensive book and periodical collection, and boost the library's role as a community resource. Candidates should have a library science degree and at least two years of professional experience.

Do you know of a creative and innovative job opportunity? Let us know!

Startup Canada inaugurates national awards

Startups can be inherently rewarding. They can also be extraordinarily financially rewarding. But they can also be a slog, and they’ll fail more often than they’ll succeed. It can make for some pretty dark nights of the soul.

So Startup Canada has decided a little wining and winning might be just the thing for the Canadian startup community.

The Toronto-based organization, founded in 2012, has just announced the inaugural Startup Canada Awards to be given to individuals, organizations, communities, and institutions in recognition of the various sorts of excellence these kinds of projects can evince.

There will be 17 awards in all, ranging from the Entrepreneurial Effect Award through Incubator of the Year and a Lifetime Achievement award.

"Starting a company is a difficult task; entrepreneurs need a variety of elements to be successful including mentorship, encouragement, talented people, funding, and a network of contacts," said Victoria Lennox, Startup Canada’s CEO.

"It is important to recognize and celebrate those working to advance entrepreneurship in Canada; increase awareness of the importance of strengthening Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and culture; and elevate the ambitions of the Canadian entrepreneurial community.”

Semifinalists will be selected regionally and announced at various fetes held in Halifax, Montreal, London, Calgary and Vancouver throughout May. The final awards will be handed out at a Wolf Blass-sponsored gala at the CN Tower on June 12.

Nominations are open until April 12 at the awards website.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Victoria Lennox

Digital retail startup Slyce buys two Toronto startups, gets $10.75M financing

Calgary tech startup Slyce has had a busy couple of months.

It started in December, when they acquired hovr.it, a young Toronto company that developed coding to enable people to search for products visually.

In February, it acquired a piece of tech from York University Ph.D. student Ehsan Fazi-Ersi that aggregates similar images. The tech was developed in conjunction with MaRS Innovation and Innovation York. The researchers also beneifted from a phase 1 Ontario Centres of Excellence grant. Slyce then hired Fazi-Ersi to head up its research and development department.

Then, last week, they announced they had completed their second round of financing, amounting to $10.75 million, for a total of $14.5 million in financing since startup, which may end up sounding like peanuts if things go their way.

The idea behind Slyce is a potential monster: Helping people take pictures of things they like (a cute bag they see someone with on the street, for example) or things they need (a broken window that needs replacing), and get matched up instantly with retailers’ offerings so they can buy it on the spot with their phones.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Mark Elfenbein

Who's Hiring in Toronto: Freshbooks, Samara, and more

The most interesting of the opportunities we've seen this week:

First up is FreshBooks, the local startup that provides financial services to small businesses. Freshbooks is looking to fill a number of key posts. They are seeking a director of advertising to take the lead on advertising in all traditional media (print, radio, and television). They are also hiring a copywriter with at least three years of experience, to work on both marketing and product projects. And finally, they are on the hunt for a project manager who can handle both client relations and internal project development.

For those with an interest in fundraising and marketing, Doctors Without Borders is hiring a direct marketing coordinator. The post is for a one year contract, and candidates should have three to five years of relevant experience. Also, political engagement organization Samara is currently seeking a director of fundraising and events - a newly created position for someone to expand those functions within the charity. Candidates should have at least six years of progressive experience, and a demonstrated commitment to citizen engagement.

If event services are primarily of interest, Yonge-Dundas Square is right now hiring a full-time event services coordinator to coordinate with third-party event organizers and provide other support as needed. And urban nature organization Evergreen is hiring a part-time event and client services coordinator to help them manage the more than 250 events that take place at their site each year.

If you have an interest in local food and also some technology skills The Big Carrot, the natural and health food store on the Danforth, is in need of an IT tech to support, maintain, and update their hardware, software, and networks.

Major granting institution the Ontario Trillium Foundation is seeking a new executive assistant to support two of their vice-presidents. Candidates should have at least five years of senior office administration experience.

And finally, in executive searches, Engineers Without Borders is looking for a new CEO to direct strategy, drive revenue growth, and oversee a complement of more than 100 full-time staff and volunteers.

Do you know of a creative and innovative job opportunity? Let us know!

Ryerson launches business incubator program with South African University

While on an official tour of government and institutional sites in South Africa recently, Ryerson president Sheldon Levy announced that the university would be launching a new business incubation program, offering a total of eight fellowships to students from four different South African universities. The fellowships will allow student entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop their ventures at one of Ryerson's several incubators, including the Digital Media Zone, Centre for Urban Energy, and the Fashion Zone.

“The future of the global economy is in the hands of our young people,” said Levy, while making the announcement at the University of Witwatersrand. “Ryerson is proud to partner with South African universities in promoting entrepreneurial innovation and great ideas.”

Meanwhile, Professor Adam Habib, Wits University Vice-Chancellor, emphasized that international partnerships like this are crucial for regional development. “Entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in the social and economic development of South Africa and Africa. It is imperative for higher education institutions to play their part in nurturing, training and developing future entrepreneurs."

Fellows will be selected in a two-stage process: first the originating universities will generate a short list of candidates, and then each Ryerson incubator's steering committee will make the final selection based on proposed business plans and video pitches. The fellows who make the cut will have travel and accommodation costs covered, and will each receive a three or four month placement at the most suitable incubator for their needs.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Ryerson University
Photo: Wits University

Ontario using the Pan Am Games to expand apprenticeship opportunities

Last week, the provincial government announced that it would be be investing an extra $3 million over the next two years in its pre-apprenticeship training program, creating spots for 200 new participants. (A total of 1,100 pre-apprentices are participating in the program this year.) The impetus: the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, and the massive infrastructure projects that are underway to prepare for those Games.

"it's something that's going to build a stronger workforce for us in the years ahead," said Brad Duguid, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, while announcing the program expansion, "but it also provides young people in our province with an opportunity for a new career."

The pre-apprenticeship training program is designed to help would-be apprentices prepare and develop the trade-specific skills they need in order to be eligible for full-fledged apprenticeships. An individual participant may be involved in the program—which is free, and also covers program-related related costs such as textbooks—for up to a year. Pre-apprentices may find themselves taking safety courses, doing in-school training, and in short-term work placements, depending on their goals and needs.

Because of the Pan Am Games' many infrastructure projects, skilled construction workers are needed in large numbers; the hope is this program expansion will provide participants with on-the-job learning opportunities, while helping to ensure those projects are delivered on schedule.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

Who's Hiring in Toronto: Girl Guides, Heart and Stroke Foundation, and more

The most interesting of the opportunities we've seen this week:

First up, a trio of opportunities from the Heart and Stroke Foundation. First off, they are looking for a senior specialist in digital advocacy to work on public affairs and government relations to work on social media advocacy campaigns. They are also looking for a senior support analyst for digital applications to serve as the primary point of contact for application development; candidates should have at least 5-7 years experience. Finally, the organization is looking for a manager of program execution to help support the national community engagement team.

The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion (CIDI) helps employers, diversity workers, and human resources practitioners tackle workplace equity and inclusion issues. CIDI is currently seeking a director of learning. The successful candidate will report directly to the CEO, and should have at least five years of educational development of social justice work experience.

Social Venture Partners Toronto is a network of philanthropists interested in long-term social change, and part of a much larger international network concerned with the same issue. The Toronto branch of SVP is currently seeking a director to oversee all daily operations. Volunteer management experience is essential, as is at least five years of program or social enterprise management.

Ontario EcoSchools works on environmental programs within the provincial school system at all grades. They are currently seeking to fill two posts: a communications and outreach coordinator and a program coordinator to help support schools as they implement the EcoSchools program. Both positions are for a one-year contract with the possibility of extension. Also for those with an interest in green issues, urban environmental organization Evergreen is looking for a development coordinator with at least three years of sales or fundraising experience.

Finally, if you have fond memories of Girl Guides mint chocolate cookies—or a general appreciation for the organization—they are looking for a permanent part-time archivist to develop and maintain their large collection of materials.

Do you know of a creative and innovative job opportunity? Let us know!

High schoolers, it's time to Make Your Pitch

Entrepreneurs, we are often told—by venture capitalists, by mentors, by incubators—need experience. One of the key factors that goes into making a new venture viable is the founder's know-how, familiarity with their market, and business skill set.

So what do you do if you're 15 or 16 years old and have a great idea, but haven't had a chance to develop that kind of experience? One option: enter the Province of Ontario's second annual Make Your Pitch contest. It's open to Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who are full-time high school students, and returning to the school in the fall. You can enter as an individual or a team (of up to four), and your goal is to create a two minute video explaining your entrepreneurial idea.

Make Your Pitch is looking specifically for innovative ideas that fall into one of the following categories: technology, environment, social enterprise, retail, service, or arts and culture. Video pitches can be whatever inspires you—live, animated, slideshows—and the deadline for submitting them is Friday, March 28.

Videos will be judged both by an expert panel and by members of the public—that'll whittle the list to 18 finalists, all of whom will receive admission to the Ontario Centre's of Excellence Discovery conference in May, some networking opportunities, and a bit of mentorship advice. At the conference, those finalists will make pitches in-person; six ultimate winners will be chosen. In store for those winners: help developing a business plan, additional mentorship, a grant of up to $3,000 to start the business, and reserved entry in the province's Summer Company program, another initiative that helps support small student businesses.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment

Who's Hiring in Toronto: TREC, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and more

The most interesting of the opportunities we've seen this week:

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, a global network that supports Canada's research community, is seeking a new programs department coordinator. The successful candidate will be providing administrative support, and help ensure the smooth operation of the office of the Vice Presidents’ of Research; applicants should have some senior administrative experience.

For those with a specific interest in health science, a few particular opportunities of note. The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research is hiring an IT manager to help meet their corporate IT needs. Candidates with at least 7 years of relevant experience are preferred. The Canadian Cancer Society also has several vacancies at the moment. Two in particular of note: they are looking for a senior manager of communications to lead all communications strategy within the organization's Ontario division; and they are looking for a marketing assistant to help provide support for national marketing strategies.

The East Scarborough Storefront, a community development organization, is currently filling two vacancies. One is a maternity leave opening for a local economic opportunities specialist to support existing local businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in the community. The other is a permanent position for a community employment specialist, whose role will be to help local residents connect to job opportunities and pursue meaningful career development.

For those with an interest in the environment, TREC Renewable Energy Cooperative needs an accounts coordinator with strong data management and mathematical skils. Another environmental group needing some office support: Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. The non-profit works to preserve and improve the health of our great lake, and is looking for a secretary to fill a three month contract, with a possibility of renewal.

Bridging the worlds of nature and culture, the McMichael Art Collection offers visitors the opportunity to engage both with Canadian art and the Canadian landscape. They are looking for an arts and special programs coordinator, to help develop and implement school, corporate, and other public programming.

Finally, for those who simply love Toronto and have a deep understanding of the city,  Walk T.O., a pedestrian-based tour guide company, is looking for part-time educational tour guides. The walks are environmentally and socially conscious, and the audience will be students in grades 5-12.

Do you know of a creative and innovative job opportunity? Let us know!
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