Goodwill shuts down their business in Ontario

On January 16 (2016), much to everyone’s surprise, all Ontario branches of Goodwill Industries – a charitable organization that takes clothing and household item donations – have closed their stores. Across the GTA, Orillia and Brockville employees woke up, went to work and found they no longer had jobs to go to.

According to a collective agreement between the workers union (Canadian Airport Workers Union) and Goodwill Industries of Toronto (and Eastern, Central and Northern Ontario), the company must give a 30 to 60 day notice before closing its stores – unfortunately, this has not happened.

So why did Goodwill closed their stores ?

All that anyone really knows, right now, is based on a brief statement CEO Keiko Nakamura made on Sunday. She said that the 80-year old charitable organization was closing its stores due to “factors affecting retail in Ontario”. There seems to be a “cash flow crisis”, according to Nakamura, that none of Goodwill’s 450 employees – across 16 stores, 10 donation centres and two offices in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia and Brockville – were informed about. In fact, despite a full resignation [on the evening of Friday January 15] of all the organization’s board of directors (except its CEO), no one on the lower levels were given any notice of the full closure that would take place on Saturday morning.

So what has caused this unexpected collapse? While there is some speculation as to what happened, no one is really sure why it is all taking place now.

Goodwill closes their stores in toronto

Budget problems at Goodwill ?

In 2014, it was reported that Goodwill Industries of Toronto (and Eastern, Central and Northern Ontario) earned just over $28 million – and was given an additional $4 million in government funding. Yet, with expenses of over $29 million many find it quite shocking that this organization could continue to afford to pay some of its employees up to $250,000 per (at the most) and $150,000 per year (at the least). With an average salary of $14 per hour, for everyone else, many are quite shocked and upset at this overnight and unannounced closure. All the same, it would appear that the financial down turn referred to by Nakamura does not seem to be affecting other [Canadian] branches of Goodwill Industries.

However, there are other factors to take into consideration. According to Ellickson, many [now] unemployed workers are vulnerable individuals with disabilities, hired by Goodwill, through various government sponsored programs. There are not many alternatives now that all Ontario branches have shut their doors. And, with all donation centres closed, where are the donations supposed to go? As bags continue to pile up outside one collection centre, in Toronto, many are wondering if there is any foreseeable solution on the horizon.