The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impact on Canadian workers; but women have been disproportionately affected, and their economic recovery has been slower. The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of investing in new training and employment supports for women, including eliminating barriers to their inclusion in the workforce, so that the country can achieve a strong and inclusive economic recovery.
Today, on the eve of International Women’s Day, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced 26 projects approved for funding under the Women’s Employment Readiness pilot program. These projects will test and provide foundational and transferable skills training models, such as literacy and essential skills as well as wrap-around supports to access skills training, including child care, transportation and counselling.
The pilot program funds organizations to provide and test pre-employment and skills development supports for women who face barriers to training and employment, as well as new ways to help employers increase inclusivity in the workplace. The pilot targets racialized women and/or Indigenous women, women with disabilities, women from the LGBTQ2 community and women who have been out of work for an extended period.
The pandemic exacerbated pre-existing labour market inequalities for many Canadians, including women. Women experienced disproportionate job losses, partly because many work in hard hit sectors, such as retail, restaurants and hospitality, and partly because of increased caring responsibilities, among other factors. Employment and training supports need to address the unique needs of diverse women so that they can fully benefit from economic recovery.
The pilot program will support women facing barriers across all 13 provinces and territories. The results of the pilot will inform systemic changes to skills and employment programming, to help women across the country gain better access to skills and training opportunities.