Canada’s nonprofit sector contributes significantly to the (re-) integration of economically at risk individuals into the workforce by providing employment related and social services. Over the last decade, more non-profit organizations (and a few for-profit organizations) have turned to a creative new strategy to help (re-)integrate highly disadvantaged populations into the workforce— the creation of social enterprise businesses that provide jobs for disadvantaged workers as well as training, placement and other supports. These jobs can be transitional, stops on the way to integration into the mainstream labour market, or stable, long-term alternatives to existing mainstream jobs. Restaurants, retail stores, courier services, cottage industries, and construction companies are common social enterprise businesses employing vulnerable populations in Canada (e.g. Elson & Hall, 2010). Recent surveys suggest that these organizations, known in Europe as WISEs (Work Integration Social Enterprises), are among the most common social enterprises in Canada’s emergent social enterprise sector (e.g. Elson & Hall, 2010; O’Connor et al, 2012; Flatt et al 2013).
Keywords: CVSS, Centre for Voluntary Sector Studies, Working Paper Series,TRSM, Ted Rogers School of Management
O'Connor, P. & Meinhard, A. (2014). Work integration social enterprises (WISEs): their potential contribution to labour market (re-) integration of at risk populations. Toronto: Ted Rogers School of Management, Centre for Voluntary Sector Studies, Ryerson University.