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Thursday, January 21, 1999 

Y ripped over 'forced labour'

Accused of benefiting from workfare

By JAMES WALLACE, QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU

Social activists and labour groups have targeted the YMCA for taking part in the Tory government's workfare program.

The groups are calling for a boycott of Y programs and services to force the agency to stop using welfare recipients as "forced labour."

Helen Kennedy, head of the Metro Network for Social Justice, said yesterday the YMCA has "no place participating in workfare."

Workfare is a mandatory, job training program set up by the province that compels people on welfare to look for work, take job training or perform community work in exchange for their benefit cheque.

"Workfare participants at the Y are forced to work an additional 36 hours on a food assembly line packing meals that are sold to other agencies in Toronto from which the Y makes money," Kennedy said.

Laura Palmer Korn, general manager of the YMCA employment centre, denied the charge.

"The statements they have been making are misleading and inaccurate," Palmer Korn said.

The YMCA isn't involved in the community placement part of workfare, she said.

About 100 welfare recipients did receive training through the YMCA last year, including some who took part in the food preparation and hospitality program, but all of those were through the job training segment of Ontario Works, Palmer Korn said.Previous story: 35 snagged in theft blitz
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