Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity  “Youth Employment Equity in Green Jobs” 


The traditional employing industries for Canadian youth (15-24 years) like Arts, Culture and Recreation are likely to resume their hiring of youth after a hiatus arising from the Covid-19 pandemic over the next few years (barring unforeseen events). Of the three main sub-sectors belonging to this broad class of industries, Heritage Institutions encompassing nature parks, zoos, natural reserves and botanical gardens mostly fall into the public sector category. Different levels of government, i.e., city/local, provincial and/or federal tend to employ youth in significant numbers to work in their parks and reserves, especially during the summer months. In fact, the Parks, Forestry and Recreation department at the City of Toronto is the largest employer of youth employed by the City of Toronto. The sub-sector Heritage Institutions constitutes 8% of youth employment in good quality, ‘green’, environmentally sound work, and provides experiences for youth to further their careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, ecology, engineering and resource management. Black youth in Canada (along with other visible minorities) are severely under-represented relative to their population in employment in parks, nature reserves etc. (the Heritage institution sector) by comprising only 2.3% of the 10,045 youth employees in the Heritage institution sector or the ‘Parks’ area (2016 census). That share is around 9% (similarly underrepresented) for other visible minority youth and 89% (over-represented) for white youth. Moreover, we see from the census that Black youth are over-represented in the other related sub-sectors that involve sporting, recreation and performance based activities. For example, the average youth participation of youth in sporting, recreation and performance based activities is 15.3%; for Black youth in this sector, it is 23.1%. Average hourly wages in Heritage Institutions, (parks, nature reserves etc.) sector is $22 while in sporting, recreation and performance-based activities there is considerable variability and is likely to be lower than youth wages in Heritage Institutions. We recognize that this data is from 2016, but public data that is localized and current data from the Labour Force Survey is unavailable for ethnicity and race and we await updated numbers from Census 2021. In the urban context, the Toronto Public Library system has 23 youth hubs that offer dedicated computing equipment, study spaces and spaces for youth to find work. These hubs are located in City of Toronto neighbourhoods that also have Neighbourhood Improvement Area (NIA) plans, which recognize the problems faced by each locality, arising from the spatial concentration of urban poverty. Finally, the hubs are located in neighbourhoods of Toronto that have high concentrations of Black and/or other racially visible youth, including recent immigrant youth. The low representation of Black and/or other racially visible youth in ‘green’ entry level work seen in the data country-wide, along with their spatial concentration in Toronto neighbourhoods, likely implies that they are not adequately represented in those jobs. 

Image of a Black youth in a park
Image credits: Mubarak Showole


Project Description

Over the course of 2022/23, the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity (CCYP), a federally funded not-for-profit under the YESS program of the federal government, along with community partners seeks to address the low participation of Black and/or other racially visible youth in the Heritage Institutions sector specifically covering parks, nature reserves and green spaces, amongst other employment opportunities. We hope to aid in accomplishing this mission by designing a model program that can raise the number of applications for employment for 2023/24 over 2022/23, in the Heritage Institutions sector, specifically parks, nature reserves and green spaces, from Black and/or other racially visible youth residents of those Toronto city-neighbourhoods categorized as low income and/or with NIA plans. While the focus may be on City of Toronto-run outdoor or nature related jobs, it is not limited to them and covers applications to Ontario parks and National parks for youth employment from these 23 youth hubs. Upon achieving a good model design, we hope to support our service provider partners in the youth workforce development sector to implement the model. The goal is to design a pilot approach for raising Black and/or other racially visible youth applications to Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation or Ontario Parks or Parks Canada positions from the previous years, that can be later applied to all of the 23 neighbourhoods containing youth hub branches of the Toronto Public Library or NIA neighbourhoods in Toronto. There have been outreach activities over the past couple of years aiming to increase the participation of Black and/or other racially visible youth in, for example, the City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation department. However, those strategies cover all recreation activities, and are not focused solely on conservation activities, parks and nature reserves included in the Heritage Institutions sector, the focus of this project. The first part of this project is to learn about existing outreach strategies and approaches. The second aspect of the project is to identify gaps existing recruitment in the community and devise improvements to them by understanding the conditions faced by the community better. 

In this project, the Client expects the team to design the following: 

CCYP expects the team to use the information in this document to arrive at best practice approach for targeted outreach along the following guidelines by: 

  • Formulating a method to determine the effectiveness of existing outreach approaches by reviewing relevant data from the City of Toronto. 
  • Selecting a test case for a pilot approach from the list of youth hubs or NIA areas in Toronto, where the test case must meet the demographic characteristics outlined above. Further the selection criteria used for the test case location must be explained.
  • Formulating various approaches for recruiting/reaching the youth concerned and outline the details and working of each suggested strategy. For e.g., should such recruitment go through the career counselling in the TDSB schools located in the catchment areas of the NIA neighbourhoods and if so, what would be the best/most effective methods used? 
  • Establishing the kinds of supporting programs, services and amenities that would further the interest and commitment from Black and other visible minority youth in targeted localities to apply for employment in the Heritage Institutions sector, specifically parks, nature reserves and similar institutions. 
  • Determining a break down of the costing of the pilot in terms of contributing elements. Students must prepare a final report that contains information covering all bulleted points including a blueprint for community outreach in Toronto that satisfies the project goal.