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This Casual Labour Pool bolsters self esteem and sense of community for marginalized people across the Capital Region

The Victoria Cool Aid Society service sources talent for employers and negotiates fair wages for workers
David, Cool Aid Community Casual Labour Pool worker, helps with yard and garden work for one of his regular customers. Photo via: Cool Aid Society

Home, health and connection.

That’s what the Victoria Cool Aid Society has been fostering in the Capital Region for more than five decades. Well-known for its comprehensive housing and health programs, the organization extends a full spectrum of care, ranging from emergency shelter to recreational activities and other forms of support, to individuals affected by poverty, mental health challenges, and homelessness.

Yet, amidst these better-known services lies a hidden gem: Cool Aid’s Community Casual Labour Pool. Wendy Stone, coordinator for the Labour Pool, reflects, "In some ways, I think we are one of Victoria’s best-kept secrets," noting that both employers and job seekers often express regret at not discovering the service sooner.

Since its creation 25 years ago, Cool Aid’s labour pool has placed more than 3,400 workers with more than 1,900 employers to fill jobs like landscaping, cleaning, moving services, painting, construction, and a host of trades.

“We even have calls for people with office, retail and hospitality skills,” Stone says.

Throughout the month of May, Cool Aid is actively seeking donations to support the labour pool, a vital but often underfunded initiative that plays a crucial role in providing autonomy and improved well-being to those in need. This program, accessible to all, not just Cool Aid clients, serves as a lifeline for those striving to overcome various obstacles.

“The majority of people seeking work are marginalized and facing a variety of barriers to employment,” Stone says. Additionally, the program assists newcomers to the city, as well as individuals re-entering the workforce after periods of absence due to illness or caretaking responsibilities.

Anyone looking for employment can register with the labour pool, and Cool Aid then matches them with employers in the community - businesses, homeowners and residents - for various jobs that suit their skills and availability.

The no-cost program also negotiates a wage with the employer who pays the worker directly.

And while most jobs are short-term, some people have turned their time in the labour pool into full-time work.

But at its core, providing work is only part of the story, Stone adds.

“Many people who find work through the program come to realize that there is so much more to gain from the employment opportunities than just a wage,” Stone says. “They build confidence and increase their self esteem, which really enforces a strong sense of self.”

Moreover, employment provides individuals with a sense of purpose and belonging within the community, allowing them to integrate more fully and make meaningful contributions. For employers, involvement in the program not only meets their labour needs but also offers a sense of fulfilment by providing opportunities that foster mutual growth and well-being.

For more information about finding work through Cool Aid’s Community Casual Labour Pool, or to request a casual worker, call 250-388-9296, email [email protected], or visit Cool Aid’s website at to fill out a form to request a casual worker.