August 31, 1999
To:Policy and Finance Committee
From:Commissioner, Community and Neighbourhood Services
Subject:Update on Workers' Information and Action Centre of Toronto
This report is requesting authorization for continued funding of the Workers' Information and Action Centre of
Toronto(WIACT) to December 31, 1999 in order to complete a review of WIACT requested by City Council.
Should the recommendation contained in this report be adopted by Council, there will be no increase to the City's 1999
budget. There are sufficient funds in the Social Services Division's 1999 budget to provide for the additional $91,666.00
required to continue WIACT's operations until December 31, 1999.
"It is recommended that:
(1) the Workers' Information and Action Centre of Toronto continue until December 31, 1999, and that the required
$91,666.00 be allocated from the approved 1999 budget of the Social Services Division; and
(2)the appropriate City Officials be authorized and directed to take the necessary action to give effect thereto."
The former City of Toronto approved the establishment of the Workers' Information and Action Centre of Toronto
(WIACT) in 1990. The Centre offers a variety of direct services to low income individuals experiencing workplace
problems and issues. The Centre also performs a public education, advocacy and community outreach function related to
employment issues facing this target group, as well as undertaking research and policy work focussing on labour market
As part of the 1999 budget process, underpinned by an emphasis on maintaining core City functions in a fiscally
constrained environment, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) recommended that WIACT be discontinued. At the
April, 1999 Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee meeting, there were a large number of deputations in
response to this budget recommendation. It was agreed that before any final decision on WIACT was made, the
Commissioner would undertake an investigation of WIACT's functions and responsibilities. During the review, staff were
directed to consult with WIACT's advisory committee and a group of four Councillors selected to participate in the
Ultimately, City Council (Strategic Planning and Priorities Committee, Report No. 8, Clause No.18) recommended that
"The City funding of Workers' Information and Action Centre of Toronto(WIACT) continue until September, 1999, and
that the Commissioner of Community and Neighbourhood Services make all efforts with the Federation of Labour and
WIACT to attempt to obtain Provincial/Federal funding and that a report be submitted to City Council in September; and
the Commissioner of Community and Neighbourhood Services be requested to review this unit (WIACT) as to where it
should be located."
Consistent with Council's direction, Community and Neighbourhood Services, with support from the CAO's office,
initiated a review of WIACT in May 1999 and subsequently completed a "draft"Council report.
In preparing this report, Community and Neighbourhood Services examined the role and mandate of WIACT. In its review
a number of options were considered, including:
1. establishing WIACT, with its existing functions and services, in the community as a not for profit agency funded by the
three levels of government;
2. locating WIACT, with reduced functions, appropriately within the City's structure; and
3. eliminating City funding for WIACT, as a result of determining that there are existing similar services already provided
in the community.
The review itself encompassed three distinct activities. First, based on an inventory of the Centre's specific functions and
services, organizations and agencies providing similar services or performing similar functions were identified. Second,
meetings were held with potential funders from senior levels of government to seek alternative funding sources. Wherever
possible, WIACT Advisory Committee members and senior staff participated in the discussions. Finally, discussions were
held between the Commissioners of Community and Neighbourhood Services and Economic Development and Culture
regarding the location of certain functions of WIACT within the latter Department.
The report's findings and recommendations were reviewed at a joint meeting of Councillors Miller and Ashton, staff from
Community and Neighbourhood Services(C&NS), Economic Development and Culture(ED&C), and WIACT's Advisory
Committee, held on July 29, 1999. The report, in general, recommended that the Unit as whole, with its current functions,
did not meet the City's core responsibilities. However, the report suggested that the Unit's research and policy capacity
would complement Economic Development and Culture Department's mandate and should be added to the Department's
existing research capacity. WIACT's other functions-information, referral and education-should be considered, with equal
funding from other senior level governments, as a service to be provided by eligible community agencies or organizations.
At this meeting, the report was received by WIACT's Advisory Committee and Councillors Ashton and Miller who
recommended that additional time was necessary for all stakeholders to fully analyse the "draft" Council report's contents
and provide recommendations to the report.
As a result, further discussions have been scheduled with staff from C&NS and ED&C, members of the Advisory
Committee, and other interested community representatives to review the "draft" Council report. A final report is scheduled
for November, 1999 Community Services Committee meeting and subsequently for Council's consideration. This process
will allow for any final community stakeholders input.
In accordance with Council direction, a "draft" Council report has been discussed with Councillors Miller and Ashton,
members of WIACT's Advisory Committee and staff from C&NS and ED&C. At the meeting with the above noted
individuals, it was agreed that additional time was necessary to review contents of the "draft" Council report with
community stakeholders and to allow for their input to a final report.
Based on these developments, and the extended time frame for the completion of the review, continued funding beyond the
initial scheduled date of September, 1999, to the end of December, 1999, is necessary. The additional funding of
$91,666.00 for this period will come from existing Social Services Division's 1999 budget.
Heather MacVicar, General Manager
General Manager, Social Services Division
Commissioner, Community and Neighbourhood Services