Ontario provides $546,364 for Quinte workforce development at Enrichment Centre for Mental Health

BELLEVILLE – The Ontario government is working for workers through a $546,364 investment in the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health’s GIFT (Growing Independent Futures for Tomorrow) program. GIFT will assist vulnerable people to overcome barriers to entering the job market and securing in-demand, well-paying jobs within the Quinte region. 

Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced the program funding today on behalf of Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration Training and Skills Development. 

“Our growing local economy is creating workforce pressures and greater opportunities for employment within the Quinte region, but many job candidates face barriers to access the market,” said Smith. “By providing specialized training and wraparound counselling and support, the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health is preparing local residents to meet employers’ needs and enabling them to succeed.” 

The funding supports 10 four-week training cohorts targeting as many as 200 participants, including people with disabilities. These participants are invited to attend a training environment that mimics the schedule and protocols of a typical workplace. In that environment, they receive access to hard and soft skills training, mentorship, and counselling. The training is a pathway to jobs and apprenticeship programs.  Following the course, participants return to monthly post-program gatherings with their peers and trainers to address workplace successes and concerns.  

Sandie Sidsworth, the Executive Director at the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health, says GIFT is succeeding in helping participants secure and retain jobs. 

“After the last two-and-a-half years we realize that mental health has to be approached as a global construct community wide, and that includes the workplace.  A healthy workforce begins with resilience for retention and the GIFT program brings individuals that are dealing with anxiety and depression and supports them to move into the workplace,” she said. “They are provided with tools to remain resilient, maintain their mental wellness and continue their trajectory of recovery, normalizing mental health support as a daily part of someone’s day. Resilience, recovery, renewal.” 

This initiative is supported through the government’s Skills Development Fund, which has provided over $200 million in funding for innovative projects that address challenges to hiring, training, and retaining workers as Ontario endures and emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Across our province, more than 375,000 jobs are available, and we need all hands on deck to fill them, “said Minister McNaughton. “That’s why our government is investing in innovative training programs, like GIFT, which gives vulnerable people the skills needed to find meaningful work and a better life.” 

During today’s announcement, Smith also recognized that the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health is receiving a $155,200 grant over 24 months through the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Resilient Communities Fund to provide resiliency training programs for local workplaces.  


  • Job seekers interested in applying to participate in the GIFT program can call the Enrichment Centre for Mental Health at 613-969-8874. 
  • According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians experience mental health problems each year and every week, 500,000 Canadians will miss work due to mental health. The CMHA estimates mental health costs the economy $51 billion annually.  
  • Statistics Canada data suggests the employment rate of Canadians with a mental health-related disability is 46 per cent, compared to approximately 80 per cent among those within a disability. 
  • Data suggests that the need to replace retiring workers is greater for skilled trades workers than for other occupations. In 2016, nearly 1 in 3 journeypersons in Ontario were aged 55 or older.  
  • In the fall of 2021, there were more than 360,000 jobs vacant in Ontario.  
  • Ontario’s Skills Development Fund is supported through labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.    


Originally published Sept. 2, 2022