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WISE Impact

Research Project

WISE Impact is a 5 year study of work integration social enterprises (WISEs) in Ontario, and how they can impact the lives of people with mental illnesses and change communities. Our project brings together WISE experts and researchers in a collaborative process that is systematically examining WISE outcomes over time. Our research team of interviewers in 5 cities works one on one with new and seasoned WISE workers to collect information on health, social and economic factors. Interviews are repeated every 18 months, and changes that occur over time are identified.

The main goals of the project are to answer these questions:

  • Who works in WISEs – and why do they choose WISE?
  • How does WISE participation impact social and labour market integration for people with serious mental illness?
  • What differences can be seen in the level and nature of change in socio-economic indicators for people who remain in a WISE as compared with those workers who move on to other learning or employment options?

We hope to have answers to the initial question by the end of 2019.


We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of the wonderful individuals who took the time to speak to us helping us complete our first set of interviews for the WISE Impact Study. Your insight has been invaluable. We look forward to meeting with you again soon! 

It is hard to believe that 18 months have passed since we first began meeting with WISE employees to learn about their work experience and well-being. This spring we officially started conducting follow-up interviews with our participants. We look forward to this exciting part of the study.

The Cooperators created a new video summarizing the impact that one of our study partners, Working for Change, has on the lives of their employees and the community. Filmed at the College Street Café, the video highlights the positive impact that employment can have on the road to recovery. A link to the video can be seen here 

Green Thumb Purple Flowers Parkdale Green Thumb Enterprises (PGTE) , an award-winning Eco-Landscaping social enterprise, specializes in beautifying Toronto neighbourhoods! PGTE offers landscaping and streetscaping services to a wide range of commercial clients, as well as non-profit organizations, hospitals and community organizations.
As one of the enterprises operated by Working for Change, PGTE emphasizes the importance of work in the lives of individuals who experience employment challenges due to poverty and mental health issues. In addition to caring for people, PGTE is helping promote ‘Regenerative Landscaping’ - a landscaping approach that focuses on pulling carbon from the atmosphere and into the soil by planting commercial urban green spaces with native plant species whenever possible, and reviving depleted soils with natural products and methods.
PGTE staff use public transit and bicycles to access work sites, minimizing their reliance on trucks and relying on portable, hand-held watering equipment to reduce water waste, all the while providing employment to 20 individuals.
Check out some of Parkdale Green Thumb’s Enterprises stunning work by clicking on the following link:

Work Integration Social Enterprise Research Project