CEO Update Regarding Tragic Accident at Workplace Yesterday

Our sincere condolences go out to the friends and family of the individual who lost his life in the workplace accident in Westmount yesterday. We are also heartened by the outpouring of care and concern from communities in the wake of what has happened.

Some media reports have mentioned that the individual was placed at the worksite by Bissell Centre. To clarify these reports, our Casual Labour Program did not place the individual at this jobsite or to any of the companies cited by the media. We are not a subcontractor and do not hire people directly, but  connect workers with companies that are registered with Bissell Centre.

We are still awaiting the official identity of the individual and will share information when  more is known.

About our  Casual Labour Program:

Over 20 years ago, we recognized the safety concerns of workers. We started our Casual Labour Program as a social mission to address those concerns and to reduce barriers to employment for people on the street. We are committed to providing our participants the training and resources needed to ensure safety and success in the workplace.

Worker Safety and Employer Accountability:

Our Casual Labour Program offers up to 100 job placements every day for the unemployed. We work closely with over 500 registered employers who understand and agree to our standards regarding workplace safety, the hiring process, and successful payment for the worker. In 2014, we conducted 60 jobsite visits and we ended relationships with four businesses that did not meet our quality control standards.

Worker safety is our highest priority. A committee of participants in our program meets regularly to share their experiences on the jobsite and provide feedback and raise concerns in order to increase our awareness about safety in the workplace. Workers are encouraged to leave the jobsite if safety is an issue. That way, Bissell staff will meet with the employer to voice these concerns.

We encourage people to not accept jobs without safety measures in place, but the reality is that there are people who are desperate to work and do not raise safety concerns out of fear of losing their job. We try to mitigate this through education and skills training.

Safety and Skills Training:

The Casual Labour Program offers training and skill enhancement free of charge for workers needing to be job ready. The program provides: employment counselling, job searches, resume writing, Construction Safety Training System (CSTS), H2S (Hydrogen Sulphide) Alive, Standard First Aid, and other job specific training. It also offers free lunches, boots, coveralls, gloves, and bus tickets when needed.

Casual Labour Success Story:

For three years, Steve relied on Bissell Centre’s Casual Labour Program to find daily, temporary work. The staff of our Employment Services Program saw that he had a strong work ethic, a drive to succeed, and was a reliable participant of the program. They were able to immediately engage with him and discuss setting career minded goals, including operating his own business.

Personal issues in Steve’s life started to take control and pull him away from the program. He was seen less and less on a daily basis and this was a cause of concern for staff.

Employment Services was able to enroll Steve into Bissell Centre’s Homeless to Homes (H2H) Program to get him housed in hopes of getting his life back on a track. With the support from H2H, Steve was able to have the space to address his personal issues, gain the life skills necessary to get control of his life, and restore his confidence. The road blocks that impeded his ability to be a successful participant with the Casual Labour Program were reduced.

Steve has since come back to Bissell Centre’s Program as a registered business owner of a successful roofing company that billed $20,000 in the first month of operation. Employment Services was able to provide him with referrals and encouragement to start his business and continues to support him with his success. The program refers casual labour staff to work for him, provides the resources to help with problems that may occur on the worksite, and offers guidance to his staff who might also be dealing with personal problems.

Casual Labour Statistics:

  • 60 jobsite visits (2014)
  • 14,000 casual labour placements (2014)
  • 500 registered employers
  • $1M in the pockets of our workers
  • 100 full time job placements

For more information about our Casual Labour Program, please visit our webpage  here.

For media inquiries, please contact Darren Brennan, Marketing and Fund Development Associate, at 780.423.2285. ext. 129,


It’s Time to Recognize and Thank our Volunteers!

National Volunteer Week (NVW) runs from April 12th -18th and is a time to recognize, celebrate, and thank Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers. Bissell Centre relies on 1,200 of volunteers each year who graciously support our many programs that help people in poverty.

This is the 12th consecutive year for the NVW campaign and we encourage people to get out and participate in volunteer appreciation activities during this week!

For more information on how to volunteer at  Bissell Centre, please visit:

Over 300 Easter Meals Served – Thanks to You!

Thank you!  Over 300 turkey meals were served at our annual Easter celebration for the inner-city community, an undertaking that would not have been possible without the dedication of our supporters, volunteers, and hard-working staff.

An additional thanks to Stadium Save-On-Foods and Eastwood Safeway for providing  spring flowers as centerpieces. The flowers brightened the room  and were much appreciated by our participants!

A  hot meal amongst community can be a first step towards a life out of poverty and homelessness. This is why your support means so much!

Below is a video and some  photos from the event. Enjoy!

Easter at Bissell Centre – 2015

Hundreds of people from Edmonton’s inner-city community gathered in our Drop-in Centre to enjoy a hot meal during our annual Easter celebration. Thank you again to the many generous supporters and volunteers who helped make this year’s event possible. If you enjoyed the video, please share it with your friends. 🙂

Posted by Bissell Centre on Friday, April 10, 2015

View the entire album of photos on Facebook >

Our Easter event is  over, but you can still provide life-changing meals at  Bissell Centre.

Restore Hope for People like Rocky this Easter

“They took my hand and they held it and never let me go” – Rocky

After years of brutal domestic abuse when he was child, Rocky fled from his hometown in British Columbia to Edmonton to start a new life.

He found himself homeless, lost, and scared. “I didn’t know anybody. The life on the streets was hard and scary”, he says. “You never know when someone is going to attack you.”

Rocky began to use drugs and alcohol as a way to wash away the painful memories of his family life and was in and out of jail for 15 years.

He was always hungry and went without food for long periods of time.
He saw many desperately hungry people on the streets resort to stealing just to get some food.

“It was pretty sad to not find a place to get a meal and I noticed a lot people would go to stores to steal food”, Rocky said.

He felt isolated and lonely, especially during the holiday seasons.
He dreamed of enjoying a hot meal and a safe place with  family and friends.

Rocky eventually came to Bissell Centre and immediately felt safe and welcome in the Drop-in Centre. He had access  to hot  meals,  clean clothes, bathrooms,  showers, and help finding work and a home. He said, “I had no clothes, I had nothing, but here they give it to you…a lot of people don’t have access to that and Bissell provides all that.”

Getting a daily lunch at Bissell Centre was the start of his journey out of homelessness. The comfort he found in meals was also found in staff who treated him with dignity and respect.

It gave him the confidence to start on a new path.  “It’s an honour to work with these people and I feel happy and good when I talk to them”, says Rocky, “Once that door opened, I kept going and the doors always kept opening. They took my hand and they held it and never let me go”.

He watched as other people who came for meals also ending up getting the help they needed. “I have seen people come here and find a home. Some of them do change”, he says.

Rocky’s family never got together during Easter.

Enjoying holiday meals with friends in the Drop-in Centre gives him the warmth he needs. “The meals are a treat for the people here and I enjoy them. I have been to a lot of places and I am always saying that I’m grateful to have a place like the Bissell Centre that helps people.”

He believes that if there were no meals served in the inner city, there would be more problems on the street and, “they will  lose hope and it’s bad enough that they lost hope in their life”.

Today, Rocky is sober and  stably housed. Even though he has a home, Rocky still comes to the Drop-in Centre every day for a hot meal and to be with friends. Rocky’s goal is to go  back to school to become a counselor to  help others find hope and a new life.

We will be serving 300 hot  meals to people in need at our  annual Easter feast, an undertaking that would not be possible without the support of many.

Please help us provide meals and care  for people like Rocky this Easter.  

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