Youth Employment Services was set up in 1995 by a group of leaders in the community who were concerned about the issue of youth retention in Quebec. The organization provides direct services to over 4,000 people annually, including those who need help finding employment, individuals who want to start small businesses, and artists who need help creating an economic future through their art.
We do this through a variety of programs, including one-on-one business coaching and counselling. We see over 2,000 people through business sessions, and over 4,000 people come to us who need help with employment issues. We do workshops and events, and we really try to use our networks to maximize the potential of the clients who come to see us.
We host more than five conferences per year geared towards artists, employment counsellors, and entrepreneurs, and we reach over 1,000 people through these events. We also have an extensive mentorship program. In partnership with HRSDC through the youth employment strategies, we are able to do internships on an annual basis. We also offer several types of new internship programs to help integrate new graduates into the workforce.
Our physical space is located in downtown Montreal between Concordia and McGill, and we provide free access to a variety of resources, including computers, Internet connections, a library, faxes, and, most importantly, a place for people to meet to work on their job searches and businesses. We also publish several books, and we provide business skills to artists.
The number of clients started at 500 in 1995, and today we see over 4,000 people. We see those 4,000 people over 16,000 times. Our budget when we started in 1995, with a grant through a foundation, was $100,000, and today our budget is $1.6 million. It consists of funding from the federal and provincial governments, foundations, corporations, and we do a lot of fundraising on our own.
We have over 350 very active volunteers, and close to 700 volunteers we can call on at any time who help with our networks. We have partnerships with the business community, arts, academic, not-for-profit, and media sectors, and we leverage all those sectors to the maximum. Through our networks we are not only able to access valuable, in-kind resources, but we are able to help our clients build and grow their own networks.
We also head up the employment round table, which was created in 1998 specifically when the federal government transferred payments to the province on issues related to employment. It was started with five organizations that were very concerned about the impact this transfer would have on this particular sector. It continues to meet today to monitor that impact on these organizations. It's been a challenge, and we'll talk about that a little later. The only program that has been left with the federal jurisdiction is the youth employment strategies piece.
The table is currently made up of about 22 organizations that provide English language services in a variety of ways. Many of them offer bilingual services, but some of them offer exclusively English services. The majority of the members are not-for-profit, community-based service providers that have contracts with Emploi-Québec to provide direct services to the most vulnerable populations in our community—people with disabilities, visible minorities, new arrivals, women, people over 45, and youth. The group meets five to six times a year to discuss issues of common concern, and mostly to monitor the impact the transfers are having on the minority community. This is the only organization in Quebec that looks at these particular issues that impact the English-speaking employment service providers.
Three major challenges for this sector have come out of the round table and our experience at Youth Employment Services. The first is the impact of the devolution of the funding from the federal government to the provincial government and its impact on our community. Since the transfer of responsibility for employment from the federal government to the provincial government, there do not appear to be any provisions to ensure adequate support services to the minority community. For example, we see over 1,000 people at our centre, and Emploi-Québec funds 380. For the balance we have to do our own fundraising or look for other sources. Because Emploi-Québec is the sole provider of employment, it becomes a challenge.
I'd better talk very quickly, as I just noticed there's only a minute left.
The mission of Emploi-Québec does not meet the needs of our particular population. The proliferation of centralized government and para-government service organizations doesn't meet the needs of the English-speaking community for a variety of reasons. The potential loss of community-based organizations is a real threat, whether it's in employment or any other community organization.
I'm going to go quickly through the results of the investment of the road map. We currently get road map money from Canada Economic Development, which has been a major supporter of the work we do at YES, and it allows us to provide essential services. We start about 200 businesses a year. We also get money for a regional project to help provide our services out into the regions. We have a youth initiative project with Canadian Heritage, an arts program, and we have our internship, as I mentioned, with HRSDC. As well, I'm pleased to say that this week we signed an agreement with the Status of Women to help more women go into technology.
I'm going to quickly hand it over to John to discuss some of our recommendations.