A Home, A Job, A Friend & Social Change

Formerly the Ontario Council of Alternative Businesses, Working for Change was established in 1994 to respond to the need for employment opportunities for people with mental health Issues. Since then we have expanded our mandate to include other marginalized communities.

Our Mission

To provide training and employment opportunities to people who have been marginalized by mental health/addictions challenges, poverty, homelessness, violence and refugee/new comer issues; to speak out against marginalization; to work to change policies that adversely affect our communities.

Our Vision


A home, a job, a friend and social change

We envision a society where everyone has access to meaningful employment, adequate housing, a society that no longer stigmatizes people with mental health/addictions issues, a society where no one is hungry, and where social enterprises are a thriving and vibrant sector of the Canadian economy.


Our Values

Working for Change is an organization that values:

  • The lived experience and knowledge of people disadvantaged by mental health/addictions challenges, poverty, homelessness, violence and refugee/newcomer issues
  • Diversity and respect for difference
  • Efforts to combat stigma related to mental health challenges and addictions
  • Peer Support
  • Social enterprise as a means to promote economic and social well-being
  • Employment as a critical component of recovery and social and economic well being
  • Personal growth and increased self-esteem through education and training
  • The leadership of people with lived experience
  • Ongoing individual support for employees and participants

In 1994, a small group of community activists and consumer/survivors, led by Diana Capponi, came together to develop employment opportunities for psychiatric survivors and to create a movement that would advocate for increased work opportunities for this community.

Since that time, much has changed: the consumer/survivor movement has grown, peer workers are being employed in many mental health agencies across the province, recovery has become an accepted concept, and the importance of employment has been widely recognized as a key component of the recovery process.” A Home, A Job and a Friend”

Working for Change, (which started out as the Ontario Council of Alternative Businesses) has a rich history which has grown and changed considerably over the past two decades. While the original vision for OCAB was that it would assist in the development of new businesses for consumer/survivors across Ontario that focus has now shifted (for a variety of reasons including funding opportunities) to the development of alternative businesses/social enterprises in Toronto and the creation of leadership training programs.

Over the years, as the businesses developed and flourished, it became evident to us that some people wanted more than work opportunities; they also wanted the chance to participate in arenas where they could influence public policy, change their world and work on social justice issues. Voices from the Street, a leadership-training program, was developed in 2005 and from it the Speakers Bureau emerged. In 2011, we added Women Speak Out adding a much needed gender perspective. For our folks; people with a lived experience are a critical component of the Peer, CSI movement.

Our vision for our work at Working for Change remains the same; we continue to learn from our history while creating new opportunities and choice grounded in the principles of the Consumer/ Survivor/Peer movement. Not only will our programs and social enterprises be successful but also we can actually start to envision a better place for  our folks.

Help us to build independent lives

If desired, you can specify which program or business you would like to support.