By: Mike Anderson

Yorkworks Employment Services, which provided free employment counselling to local residents for more than 20 years, will permanently close its locations in Sutton and Stouffville on March 31.

The agency, operated by the York Region District School Board (YRDSB), assisted unemployed and underemployed clients to transition back to the job market. It also helped local employers with hiring and retaining skilled workers.

The Sutton office, located at 20887 Dalton Rd in the Somerset Square Plaza, also provided a variety of no cost training courses, including customer service and retail training, computer skills training, as well as occupational health & safety training.

Licinio Miguelo, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, YRDSB, said that the school board was forced to close the two locations because the Ministry of Labour had reduced its funding.

“The YorkWorks program is funded by the Ministry of Labour and the school board has been operating two of the nine sites across the region. Reductions in funding of the program from the Ministry of Labour have it made so that the school board cannot continue to run the two sites for the Ministry of Labour, the other sites will continue to be operational,” Mr. Miguelo said in a statement to The Post.

However, according to Mr. Miguelo, staff at the two locations will not lose their jobs.

“The staff at the two sites run by the YRDSB will be absorbed and hired by the school board,” he said.

The news has left many in the community questioning the timing of the closures.

As they follow a recent survey of 113 local businesses by the Georgina Chamber of Commerce, which found that more than 30 per cent of business owners had laid off staff due to the pandemic.

“This is disappointing to learn, and I am sorry to see this resource leave our community. Employment counselling is an important service to have at any time, particularly during a pandemic when so many have been impacted,” said Mayor Margaret Quirk in an email to The Post.

“The Town will be reaching out to the Province and the school board, to learn more about this announcement, and to inquire about alternate plans for residents to continue to receive this type of support.”

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