Re: Life in our divided city, Oct. 4
Elizabeth McIsaac, Executive Director, TRIEC, and Ratna Omidvar, President, Maytree Foundation, Toronto

Royson James’ report on Toronto’s Vital Signs challenges us to look at the growing divide in our city and where the solutions lie. Unfortunately a hasty indictment of the efforts made to find solutions on immigrant employment is offered, with a call to government as the provider of solutions. This is old thinking.

When the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) was founded in 2003, we recognized that government alone was not able to effect the change in attitudes and behaviours required. That is why we launched a region-wide strategy to work with employers and other actors to implement solutions.

We have used all the arguments that the article suggests have failed — social justice, demographic change, and the business case. Collectively they do make a powerful case for many significant employers in Toronto. There are many signs of promise and success. We have mobilized more than 5,000 mentors to work with the newcomer colleagues to find employment — 70 per cent have found jobs. We are working with hundreds of employers to change their hiring practices, and they are changing.

In a city as diverse as ours, we all need to roll up our sleeves as changemakers. It is a mistake to suggest that we go back in time and look to government to solve all of our problems.