FedDev Ontario announces support for women in advanced manufacturing and digital technology

News release

Over $6.5 million for YWCA Hamilton to address critical labour gaps in fields traditionally underrepresented by women

December 16, 2020 — Hamilton, Ontario

Women-led organizations often face unique challenges, which have been amplified by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our economy. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the full and equal participation of women in our economy, and facilitating a feminist recovery, which is vital to Canada’s long-term economic growth.

Supporting economic growth for all Canadians

Today, the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour and Member of Parliament for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, along with Bob Bratina, Member of Parliament for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario, announced a FedDev Ontario investment of over $6.5 million for The Hamilton Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA Hamilton). With this funding, the YWCA Hamilton will provide support and training to help more than 500 women to develop new, in-demand skills and aid their transition into high-skill jobs in sectors where women are traditionally underrepresented, particularly in the advanced manufacturing and specialized technology sectors.

This three-year investment will focus initially on the Hamilton Region ecosystem. The project will also be expanded across southern Ontario in partnership with other local YWCAs throughout the GTA, London/St. Thomas, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Ottawa, and eastern Ontario, as well as other women-focused industry partners. The project will support and accelerate 255 women into STEM-based, well-paying careers.

In addition to the reskilling programming, the YWCA Hamilton will work with the YWCA Canada and industry partners to launch the Curated Pathways to Innovation digital application (app). The app will offer free personalized learning pathways and resources to 250 women across southern Ontario, supporting them to acquire the skills to effectively compete for positions in technology fields and skilled trades which are traditionally underrepresented by women.

Under the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund, in 2019 the YWCA Hamilton received over $1 million to provide training, mentoring, networking and additional support to women seeking to expand or start their business in communities that include Hamilton, Burlington, Halton, Niagara Region, Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Guelph. To date, four cohorts of have received training and mentorship, supporting 32 women. As part of the previously announced Women Entrepreneurship Strategy top-up investments amid COVID-19, Hamilton YWCA is also receiving an additional almost $139,000 to implement digital advisory services by providing one-on-one training and workshops/webinars to approximately 75 women to support digital transformation and provide an opportunity to connect with women entrepreneurs and expand online sales capabilities. 


“The YWCA Hamilton is committed to improving the lives of women, girls and families in our region. Whether it is through helping women escape domestic violence, or providing crucial re-skilling programs to women struggling to get back into the workforce, the YWCA continues to mitigate the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women. This FedDev Ontario investment will provide women in Hamilton and across southern Ontario opportunities to seek well paying jobs in manufacturing and specialized technology while we build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour and Member of Parliament for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas

“Today’s announcement is great news for Hamilton. The YWCA Hamilton is an important organization in our community and with this FedDev Ontario funded program, it will have an even greater impact in supporting women with skills and training for good paying jobs. Together we will navigate an economic recovery that is inclusive and empowering for all.”
Bob Bratina, Member of Parliament for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek

“We recognize the extraordinary toll this pandemic has taken on women. With today’s investment for the YWCA Hamilton through FedDev Ontario, our message is clear: we have long supported the full and equal participation of women in our economy, and we remain committed to combatting the she-cession caused by the pandemic and supporting women as they develop their skills and transition into traditional sectors.”
The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario

“Helping women entrepreneurs succeed is essential to ensuring a strong and sustainable economic recovery for all Canadians. I’m thrilled that our government is able to support women-led businesses in Ontario and across the country so they can continue to grow, succeed, and contribute to thriving communities.”
- The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

“We know that women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In the Hamilton area, job losses due to COVID-19 were three times higher for women than men. We have worked hard to help women succeed since the COVID-19 outbreak began – thanks in part to investments by the WES Ecosystem Fund, which allowed us to create programs that helped women pivot their businesses to operate online. Now, this new $6.4 million investment will not only help women to advance in their careers and receive high-skills training, but it will also help even the playing field in high-tech industries where many women are often left behind.”
Denise Christopherson, CEO, YWCA Hamilton 

“Our colleagues at YWCA Hamilton have been on the cutting edge of programs and initiatives to support women’s reskilling aspirations. The Curated Pathways to Innovation digital application, powered by vital FedDev Ontario’s funding, is yet another example of that in action. Through this national partnership between YWCA Hamilton and YWCA Canada, we will have the opportunity to not only support women in the Hamilton area but provide a program model that can be mirrored across the country. This type of collaboration is exactly what we need to tackle the ‘she-cession’ and build an economy that works for everyone.”
Maya Roy, CEO, YWCA Canada

Quick facts

  • Established in 1889, the YWCA Hamilton strengthens women’s and girls’ voices, broadens their choices, builds dynamic leadership and provides essential and meaningful services that promote safe, inclusive, and equitable communities.

  • The first cohort of the program will launch in early 2021. For more information, please visit YWCA Hamilton’s website.

  • In addition to strategic investments through core programming, FedDev Ontario is delivering the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) in southern Ontario. The RRRF is a vital tool, supplementing the existing suite of federal relief measures to address the immediate needs of Canadians during the pandemic

  • Through the RRRF initiative, the Northumberland CFDC and WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with regional partners, will deliver the Rebuild Reopen Revive Initiative to support women-led SMEs across southern Ontario. Both organizations will receive $2 million to provide contributions of up to $5,000 to help eligible businesses with key reopening expenditures, including acquiring PPE, reconfiguring workspaces to accommodate physical distancing, and enhancing their online capacity.

  • Through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, the Government of Canada has invested more than $30 million in over 300 women-owned and/or led businesses across Canada to grow and reach new markets. In addition, the Government of Canada allocated $85 million to the WES Ecosystem Fund to strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs. Over 50 projects were funded through this initiative.

  • Since November 2015, FedDev Ontario has invested in 297 women-led businesses, totaling over $207.7 million in commitments for southern Ontario

Associated links


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario
Toll Free: 1-866-593-5505

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