WES Mariam Assefa Fund Grantee Partners

Ontario Employment Education & Research Centre (OEERC) 

Category: Immigrant Leadership

Amount: CSD$300,000

Term: April 2021 - Sept. 2022

Focus: The OEERC is supporting leadership development and organizing among migrant workers in the Greater Toronto Area to address issues facing workers in low-wage and precarious employment.


The Ontario Employment Education & Research Centre (OEERC) is committed to improving public education and awareness of workplace legislation, as well as providing supports and strategies for workers who have experienced violations of their rights. It delivers its programming utilizing the expertise of community organizations such as the Workers’ Action Centre, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, and Caregivers Action Centre, which have a proven record of developing and delivering accessible public education addressing workplace rights, as well as a commitment to the development of peer support networks and community leaders.

What type of work will the grant enable?

The OEERC, in partnership with the Workers’ Action Centre, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, and Caregivers Action Centre, is building capacity to reduce barriers that prevent immigrant and refugee workers from accessing employment in various sectors:

  • The Workers’ Action Centre will work with migrant workers in the Latinx community, many of whom work in cleaning and construction jobs.
  • The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change will work with International Mobility Program work permit holders who are facing challenges accessing permanent resident status, and who work in low-wage jobs in a range of sectors, from app-based gig jobs to warehouse, food services, and retail.
  • The Caregivers Action Centre will work with migrant care workers, who are predominantly women of colour, who provide in-home care for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Migrant worker leaders supported by each of the three partner organizations will participate in a training program—a proven model that helps to develop the skills needed to press for positive change in the workplace. The project will also document the experiences and challenges of workers during COVID-19, and use the findings as an advocacy tool to improve job quality.

Why is this work important?

Inequalities in the labour market have always existed, yet COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated them. The OEERC and its partners are providing immediate support to workers affected by COVID-19, while also building long-term worker leadership and organizing capacity to address systemic barriers to decent work and drive system-level change through advocacy. Their efforts are empowering and uplifting migrant communities and communities of colour, and improving their economic outcomes by addressing barriers to quality employment.