Skip to content

Helping people find jobs and a place in the community

'I feel it is so integral to becoming not just a diverse and inclusive labor force, but a diverse and inclusive community. We're very proud of that most recent accomplishment'

Rooted is all about the people and the places that make us proud to call our community home.              


Helping individuals find meaningful employment, return to school, access training, and become productive members of the community has been the goal of Yes Employment Services since its inception in 1982.  

In 1997, LeeAnne Maille joined Yes Employment as front-line staff and has had a helping hand in achieving those goals for the organization. Maille climbed the ladder in the company, becoming a coordinator, a supervisor, a program manager and director of operations before moving up to CEO.  

“They didn't know what else to do with me,” the North Bay-born Maille jokes. “I went away to school in Ottawa, but then the north just called me back. It's a great place to raise a family. It really is. There's stuff to do when you're in proximity of a bigger city and you don't need to live there to be able to get the benefits of the bigger city.” 

The out-migration from bigger cities to places like North Bay has picked up steadily in recent years and Maille says that’s where the programming opportunities offered at Yes Employment Services can be useful.  

“We're still seeing employers surprised at exactly what kind of services we offer and what kind of positions that we're willing to help support. We have attraction programs that aim to attract highly skilled newcomers to fill labour needs. We have so many career transitioners and people that have moved here from out of the big city because their spouse has gotten a job.” 

Maille says finding a job for a spouse can be a challenge for an individual to take upon themselves.  

“When you're going somewhere where you don't have any support other than a spouse getting a job here, that spouse is automatically connected to a whole network of colleagues and friends and supports in their workplace, and the partner then doesn't have those supports. What we've heard from employers is that if they cannot make that spouse feel like this is a place where they can stay and grow roots and feel a sense of belonging, then they will lose that great hire. A spouse determines to a great degree whether a family stays or not. Often, employers try to go out on their own or with their HR departments and spend a whole lot of time trying to find the spouses meaningful employment,” says Maille.   

She says that’s where Yes Employment Services can utilize their skills and connections to make things easier. She says they have six staff members whose job it is to know who the employers are that are hiring and having open discussions with them on what they are looking for.  

“We can step in and actually do that work for them and they can focus on the business that they run, and we can focus on getting people connected. We do work with the City of Economic Development Department when they do attract someone to come, for instance, a doctor, they connect their partners with us and we help to get them connected to an employer themselves.” 

Maille says those services are available to everyone whether they are new to the community or are looking for work for the first time.  

“Anybody and everyone who is looking for work, whether they're employed or not employed, there's a service for them. We have a resource centre where people that are currently working can come and work on their resume and get advice from an employment consultant.” 

Maille says when she first joined the organization there were between 10-12 full-time staff.  

“Back then we were provincially funded, and we mainly focused on youth. However, in 1997 we onboarded a great deal of new programs and changed our name from Youth Employment Services to Yes, Employment Services, to reflect the fact that although we still serve youth, we now serve every age group.” 

She says today, there are 42 full-time employees working out of their location on Main Street in North Bay, and they have also expanded upon their service offerings since the late 90s.  

“In the last six years, we've almost doubled our program offerings. Given the fact that newcomer services are essential and given the fact that we're projecting that 100% of our workforce growth is going to be from immigrant talent, we need to be able to provide the services to make sure that employers are both ready to welcome and integrate these individuals into the workplace and that the people coming here also understand how to best integrate themselves into the workplace so that everyone sees success,” she says.  

Maille notes they have also expanded into language instruction for newcomers to Canada as this supports not just the local workforce but the area in general, helping people feel integrated and connected to the community.  

“Even if they aren't looking for work, I feel it is so integral to becoming not just a diverse and inclusive labour force, but a diverse and inclusive community. We're very proud of that most recent accomplishment.” 

She says diversity and inclusion extend to assisting people with disabilities.  

“People with disabilities, you know, don't fall into this one demographic,” she says. They're newcomers with disabilities, visible minorities with disabilities, and people who have different gender identities that have disabilities. There's intersectionality there, and our staff are constantly learning to help, and to serve people who are in each of them, individuals with their own complex needs. So we focus on both the workforce in terms of job seeker and making sure that they're prepared to do the best they can, but we're also focused on providing support to employers to make.” 

She says the growth of Yes Employment has allowed them to serve the community better over the years.  

“We have eight languages spoken by the staff now, and we have all these different perspectives coming in and really, we're adopting and changing as a workplace, just like any other workplace is. We know that the future of any resilient and successful organization is to not see itself as a hierarchy, but to see itself as an ecosystem. We're growing, we're expanding, and it's really a very interesting time within our organization.” 

Maille says as someone who has worked with Yes for a couple of decades and as someone who has helped others find their own careers – her biggest advice is to let what you're passionate about guide you.  

“Where you start is just where you are today. Some people change jobs every four or five years. I've been here 27 years, so there is no normal. But I think the only thing that I would say for someone who's coming into the workforce is commit to lifelong learning,” she says.  

“Because coming in with a certain skill set that meets the needs of the workforce today, we can guarantee that it will be different in five years and then that will be different five years later. Commit yourself to wanting to learn for the sake of learning, and then you're going to be continuously inspired by what brings you passion, and that will help guide your career, whether to be with the same employer or to grow in another organization. I think you owe it to yourself to make that promise to yourself, and I think that no matter what, you can't go wrong.” 

If you have a story idea for the “Rooted” feature series, send Matt an email at [email protected]  

Reader Feedback

Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
Read more