This Note is part of a series of Notes on key City issues to update City Council at the start of its 2018 – 2022 term.

Issue description

Youth unemployment has been trending upward in Toronto since the early 2000s, remaining above the national average. Rates for vulnerable youth, such as racialized youth, newcomers, and youth with lower education, are often significantly higher.


The City’s youth employment efforts are closely linked with other City-wide strategies, including the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy, Working as One: A Workforce Development Strategy for Toronto, the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, Collaborating for Competitiveness, and most recently City Council’s steps to address gun violence. As these strategies are implemented, intersections will be leveraged and linkage created to ensure that Council and City divisions consider appropriate and coordinated steps to create opportunities for youth employment.

The City will continue to leverage relationships with employers, community partners and other governments to increase support and employment opportunities for youth.


Toronto, like many other global cities, is faced with youth unemployment and underemployment. To ensure Toronto continues to be economically competitive, the City’s priorities include fostering and providing quality jobs and a range of employment opportunities, particularly for Toronto’s vulnerable residents, such as youth.

Extended periods of youth unemployment and underemployment result in short and long-term consequences such as reduced income, loss of skills and a limited career trajectory. High rates of youth unemployment and underemployment are also associated with higher levels of psychological distress, poorer physical health, and reduced quality of life producing lifelong negative impacts.

Many youth struggle to find work and lack the knowledge, skills and professional connections to prepare and link them to employment opportunities or supports within their communities. The challenges are particularly acute among vulnerable populations, such as visible minorities, newcomers, and indigenous youth.

Youth employment varies significantly across Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods. One-third of the neighbourhoods have rates over 18 percent, and a smaller subset of these neighbourhoods have a rate of up to 25 percent. While action is needed throughout the city to promote youth employment and support the creation of local quality jobs, this is particularly true for young jobseekers living in low-income neighbourhoods.

Graph comparing youth unemployment rates of 6 different city Canadian regions (CMAs) and among the Toronto region's vulnerable populations (15-24 yrs)

Actions or Plans

The City promotes youth employment by ensuring better access to opportunities and jobs through accessible employment services that recognizes the supports youth need.

Employing youth

The City leverages its role as an employer to increase access to employment opportunities for youth. Parks Forestry and Recreation (PF&R) is the largest employer of youth in the city, employing youth in sports, recreation and arts and offering youth leadership programs to provide volunteer opportunities and build leadership skills, civic engagement and employability skills.

PF&R’s Community Recreation Recruitment Strategy seeks to improve systems and processes to enable inclusive and barrier-free access to job opportunities. The City’s Job Incentive Program, provide opportunities for Ontario Works recipients to acquire valuable workplace skills and experience in the public sector.

The City contracts out a range of employment services, and reviews, adjusts and improves its programs to reflect the changing labour market and meet the needs of youth. For example, through its recent Purchase of Employment Services program, Toronto Employment and Social Services contracted with 60 service providers to deliver over 100 programs that serve many groups, including youth.

Delivering targeted programs

The City delivers programs providing employment supports for the city’s most vulnerable youth including job fairs for youth in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas, Emerging Neighbourhoods, and neighbourhoods undergoing revitalization. The Toronto Youth Partnerships & Employment (TYPE) program provides intensive case management and employment supports to over 200 vulnerable youth in conflict with the law. The Youth Employment Partnerships (YEP) network provides training to build the capacity of frontline workers to better engage with vulnerable youth.

Partnering with other governments

The City has increased its efforts to integrate planning activities among government partners to improve service coordination and achieve better outcomes for young jobseekers. Recently, the City partnered with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the (former) Ministry of Children and Youth Services and community partners to directly connect youth who are on probation or parole to year-round support, skills development and employment opportunities.

Building on community strength

The City recognizes the critical role community agencies play in outreach and delivering employment services for youth. For example, the Toronto Youth Jobs Corps program, a cost-shared program between Social Development, Finance & Administration and the Federal Government is delivered by three community agencies, providing youth (16-29) with pre-employment and job placement support.

Engaging employers

Several City initiatives leverage connections with employers and sectors to create employment opportunities for youth. For example, the Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE) engages over 300 employers each year in supporting youth with learning, networking, first work and employment opportunities. Notable among these employers, Starbucks Coffee Canada has hired 10 percent of its baristas and shift supervisors through PAYE since 2015, and financial services employers such as RBC, CIBC and TD which have participated on the PAYE Board and provided employment opportunities for PAYE youth for almost ten years.

Date Action
May 2018 Meeting Many Needs: Advancing Toronto’s Workforce Development and Poverty Reduction Strategies – 2017 Annual Report was presented to the Economic Development Committee
December 2016 City Council approved Advancing Work-Based Learning in Toronto: Report of the Youth Employment Action Plan Advisory Committee
May 2015 City Council adopted Work-Based Learning Works: An Action Plan for Youth Employment in the City of Toronto
April 2015 City Council endorsed Expanding the Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE)
February 2014 City Council approved the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy