The roots of today’s Employment Help Centre (EHC) date back to the early ’80’s, at that time there was a nationwide economic downturn, and this contributed to significant increases in unemployment rates. The Niagara Region was particularly affected as this area was primarily a manufacturing based economy which was the sector hardest hit by the shifts in the labour market. To address the impact of widespread lay-offs on displaced workers, three parties came together to advocate for the rights of the unemployed: the District Labour Council, the City of St. Catharines and the United Way. Eventually, this coalition introduced employment counselling and supports that would assist the unemployed regain access to the competitive workplace.
The EHC continued to evolve by responding to community needs and new opportunities, delivering a series of successfully innovative programs in the community, and the agency itself became incorporated and known as the St. Catharines Unemployed Help Centre. From the early nineties until 2010, the EHC realized a great deal of success with two core programs, Job Connect and Farm Labour Pool, placing thousands of job seekers into employment.
Parallel to these initiatives, the EHC also offered other programs, services, and training options that were funded through the Federal Government, Niagara Region and the United Way in St. Catharines and Welland. Through its activities, the EHC became a valuable resource for employers and their recruiting needs.
Success is never realized independently but relies on contributions from other sources. The EHC would not have realized its successful achievements without the collaboration and input of its community partners and stakeholders. Agencies and organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Job Gym, Credit Counselling, Women’s Resource Centre, Region of Niagara and the YMCA, amongst others, have all provided supports and services that contributed to an individual’s success as they traversed the path to achieving their employment goals.