Supporting the Next Generation of Middle Class Workers

News release

Modernized Strategy will Serve Young Canadians Facing Barriers to Employment

June 3, 2019                 Toronto, Ontario                                  Employment and Social Development Canada

Canada’s continued prosperity depends on young Canadians launching meaningful careers. By helping them gain the skills and experience they need for a fair chance at success, we are investing in our greatest asset—our people.

Today the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment Workforce Development and Labour, announced the launch of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS). This new strategy will provide more flexible employment services and enhanced supports for all young Canadians. It will help youth develop the skills and gain the experience they need to successfully transition into the labour market and ensure that no one is left behind.

While at an event with the Canadian Mentoring Partnership, part of Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, Minister Hajdu also announced they will receive more than $6M in funding from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) toward initiatives aimed at connecting young people with mentors who can help facilitate their understanding of the labour market, build resilience and support them as they begin their careers.

The Minister also launched a Call for Proposals for Employment and Social Development funding under the YESS from organizations that help young people overcome barriers to employment. The Call will be open from June 3 to July 26, 2019.


“The strategy builds on the success of the Youth Employment Strategy to support the next generation of the middle class. Young Canadians are talented, ambitious and hard-working, but getting a strong start in the workforce can be challenging for many. The Youth Employment and Skills Strategy will make it easier for young people to transition from the classroom to the workforce, including those facing barriers. It is part of our plan to ensure that everyone has a fair chance at success.”
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

“Canada’s continued prosperity depends on young people getting the education and experience they need to succeed. Our government is committed to supporting Canadians at all stages of their careers. A modernized Youth Employment and Skills Strategy will more effectively help Canada’s most vulnerable youth succeed in a rapidly changing world of work.”
– Jennifer O’Connell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance (Youth Economic Opportunity)

“The Canadian Mentoring Partnership will build the capacity of direct service organizations to ensure more young people have access to high quality mentoring programs. By curating resources, training materials, and best practices, the CMP will be the national reference point for any school, employment centre, or service delivery organization looking to start or improve a mentoring program. As a coalition, the CMP seeks to ensure Canadian youth can access mentoring regardless of their postal code.”  
– W. Matthew Chater, President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
– Liz O’Neil, Co-Chair, Alberta Mentoring Partnership
– Beth Malcolm, Co-Chair, Ontario Mentoring Coalition

Quick facts

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada has been providing mentoring experiences since 1912. In 2017, they had an impact on more than 41,000 youth in over 1,100 communities across Canada.

  • The YESS has been modernized to respond to recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Youth Employment to deliver a wider range of programs to help youth overcome barriers to employment and gain the skills, abilities and work experience needed to get a strong start in their careers. The modernized strategy will aim to offer more flexible services, broadened eligibility, and enhanced supports for youth facing barriers to employment tailored to address each individual’s challenges.

  • Under the YESS, ESDC will launch a Call for Proposals for funding for 2020-2021 from organizations that help young people overcome barriers to employment. The Call will be open from June 3 to July 26, 2019. Projects can be either national or regional in scope and may start as early as April 1, 2020.

    • National: Project activities must take place in three or more provinces or territories.
    • Regional: Project activities can be provincial, territorial, or local in scope, but are limited to one province or territory
  • Organizations are strongly encouraged to open an account on the secure Government Grants and Contributions Online Service portal, a one-time process that will allow them to apply for this and other funding opportunities across Employment and Social Development Canada.

  • The previous streams of YES, Skills Link, Career Focus and Summer Work Experience have been integrated together to create a more holistic approach to funding and service delivery. The Canada Summer Jobs program has expanded eligibility to all youth aged 15-30—no longer restricting the program to just students.

  • To help youth people gain the skills and work they need to find and maintain good employment, Budget 2019 proposes to build on previous investments to invest an additional $49.5 million over five years to launch a modernized Youth Employment Strategy. Through Budget 2018, the government is providing an additional $448.5 million over five years starting in 2018–19, to modernize the strategy, as well as to continue providing more Canada Summer Jobs in summer 2019.

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For media enquiries, please contact:
Véronique Simard
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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