Jobs With Purpose, Hope in Employment: How EMBERS Staffing Is Changing Lives


© Courtesy of EMBERS Staffing

Changing Lives Through the Power of Work

In 2005, Marcia Nozick met Brian, a resident of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, at a community meeting to develop work opportunities in the neighbourhood. Brian approached Marcia after the meeting and said, “What we need in this neighbourhood is a temp-labour company that cares about the people. When we need money, my buddies and I go to day labour companies, but they pay us poorly and aren’t interested in us getting ahead. We could be paid more if we had a non-profit temp company, and you could help us get full-time work.”

It was an elegant solution to a complex problem, and three years later, it led to the birth of EMBERS Staffing. Today, the company employs well over 2,000 people annually. As a social enterprise, EMBERS Staffing has both a social and economic bottom line. EMBERS Staffing is more than just a bridge to finding a job; it is an agent of positive change in people’s lives and the communities they live in through the simple act of dignified work. A job, after all, means so much more to people than the work itself. In addition to much-needed income, a job provides a sense of identity, purpose, belonging, and hope for a better future.

“EMBERS is about giving people a new start. Some people have suffered enormous hardships, but I’ve seen people who were once facing homelessness now earning six figures, leading fulfilling lives, and all they needed was someone who gave them an opportunity and believed in them. EMBERS believes in everyone’s potential to succeed. Never give up hope.” — Marcia Nozick, Founder

Using the power of business to address social issues, EMBERS Staffing is operated by a charity, where all proceeds go back into the community through higher wages, access to training, free equipment rentals and a health spending account after three months of full-time work. The core of EMBERS Staffing is their focus on giving a hand-up instead of a hand-out. This simple message embodies the organization’s commitment to nurturing self-sufficiency and empowerment through the power of work. For a company that started small, employing just 10-15 people per week, EMBERS Staffing’s trajectory is a testament to their incredible work and impact.

Through partnerships with companies aligning with their vision of working for good, EMBERS Staffing now employs up to 400 people daily across their four locations. On top of that, EMBERS Staffing celebrated a significant milestone this year with the opening of their Edmonton branch, a first step in their national expansion strategy, furthering their mission of changing lives through the power of work in as many communities as possible.

“EMBERS has been more than an employer. They have been like friends who go out of their way to be helpful, considerate and genuinely concerned about what’s going on in my life. They offer support in any way they can, which I am grateful for. I feel like they’re my family in lieu of me having no family. EMBERS is a great organization I am proud to work for, and I do my very best to show that I appreciate working here.” — EMBERS Staffing worker

EMBERS Staffing’s innovative model and social impact achievement have garnered well-deserved recognition. Their unwavering commitment to sparking constructive change has earned them a long list of prestigious awards, including the Governor General’s Innovation Award, EY Entrepreneur of the Year Special Citation for Social Sustainability, BIV BC CEO Award for Lifetime Achievement, and Trico Social EnterPrize Award. But beyond recognition, the driving force behind EMBERS Staffing is the knowledge that their work is helping people re-claim and revitalize their lives.

EMBERS Staffing
© Courtesy of EMBERS Canada
© Courtesy of EMBERS Canada

“Businesses are starting to see that they can contribute to social good,” said Nozick. “This is good for people who need a second chance, this is great for businesses who need workers, and it’s great for society! This is the way of the future.”

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EMBERS Staffing is Canada’s multiple award-winning and socially responsible staffing agency that connects companies with workers. We are passionate about our work.


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