Providing women with the skills and opportunities needed to build a stronger Canada

News release

March 8, 2021              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

Canada’s economic recovery depends on young people being able to get good, well-paying jobs now and into the future. On International Women’s Day, we recognize that women have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, facing job losses and shouldering the burden of unpaid care work at home. Taking steps to include young women in Canada’s recovery and working to create a stronger, fairer and more inclusive country will continue to be important.

Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced that the Government of Canada is investing over $11 million through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) program to help more than 650 young women get the support and skills training they need to find good jobs.

The West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre is an example of an organization in Ontario that has received funding for their TWIST (Targeting Women in Skills Training) program that will give 200 young women hands-on skills training, job opportunities and supportive counselling.

These investments support the Government’s commitment in the 2020 Speech from the Throne to create an Action Plan for Women in the Economy. The Action Plan will pave the way forward by helping more women get back into the workforce and ensure a feminist response to the recovery.

In its recently published report, Canada - A Learning Nation, the Future Skills Council indicated equal opportunities for lifelong learning as a top priority in Canada’s efforts to upskill workers. This recommendation is a call to action for all sectors to do their part in creating a more inclusive labour market that removes structural and systemic barriers so that under-represented, equity-deserving groups can fully participate in skills training and get good jobs.

The Government’s comprehensive approach to an inclusive recovery is helping to ensure that all young people have the tools, resources and financial supports they need to move forward in their careers.


“Every young person deserves a chance to succeed and move forward in their career. By taking bold action and thinking outside of the box, our government is ensuring that Canada’s recovery is inclusive and sets up young Canadians, especially young women, for success. West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre is a fantastic example of how a community organization can work with the federal government to create long-lasting change in the lives of young Canadian women. When we make the tools and opportunities available to young Canadians, we not only help them build long and fulfilling careers but also strengthen our economy.”
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Canadians and disproportionately certain segments, young women are no exception. Through these investments we are helping to empower and equip young women to be the leaders of both, tomorrow and today. As we build back even better and consciously more inclusive, we must ensure that all youth have equal opportunities to succeed and through the YESS, we are providing those opportunities.”
 – Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Bardish Chagger

“The Targeting Women in Skills Training program at the West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre helps young women lead successful lives by providing them with counselling, life skills, employment opportunities and more. Investments like this are always important, but as we recover from the pandemic they are critical to ensuring everyone is included and given an the chance to thrive.”
– Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Southwest, Bill Blair

“WSNCC fully believes in young women realizing their full potential. With support from our Federal government, we are providing our clients with the training and support they need to own their future and realize their dreams. We are happy to play a small roll in their success.”
– Diana Gatti, Divisional Coordinator, West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre

Quick facts

  • In April 2020, the Government of Canada invested $492 million over three years, through Employment and Social Development Canada’s YESS program, for 269 projects, starting in April 2020, across Canada to help young people facing barriers to employment, including young women.

  • To support youth affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, in spring 2020 the Government of Canada increased funding of up to $187.7 million to the YESS program to create 9,500 more work opportunities for young Canadians, particularly those facing barriers to employment. YESS projects managed by ESDC received up to $40 million for national programs that are providing flexible supports and targeted job opportunities for up to 4,700 youth aged 15 to 30, in the areas of social support services, transport, information technology, research and administration, and other placements that support community needs.

  • To support regional youth employment projects in the province of Quebec, the governments of Canada and of Quebec signed a contribution agreement in August 2019, through which the Government of Quebec will receive approximately $135 million over 5 years from ESDC’s YESS program for projects that exclusively benefit youth in the province of Quebec. A call for proposals was launched by the Government of Quebec in February 2020 to identify projects to be supported through this and other provincial investments to support youth skills and employment.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Marielle Hossack
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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