Call for proposals to help increase skills development opportunities for Indigenous people

News release

February 28, 2022              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

Indigenous people continue to face multiple and persistent barriers to labour market entry and success. At the same time, Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19 is challenged by labour shortages in key sectors. For these reasons, the Government of Canada is working with Indigenous people and organizations to help prioritize their access to targeted skills development opportunities that they need to succeed. 

Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, launched an open call for proposals for the Skills and Partnership Fund (SPF), a long-standing Indigenous labour market program that funds partnerships between Indigenous organizations and employers.

Through targeted projects, the SPF program equips Indigenous people with the skills needed for in-demand jobs.  The goal is to reduce the skills and employment gaps that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and increase Indigenous participation in the labour market.  

Priority will be given to projects that target the following sectors:

  • Green Economy – Industries that support the more efficient use and alternative sources of renewable energy;
  • Information and Communications Technology – Industries that support and contribute to the manufacturing of goods and/or the delivery of services related to broadband, connectivity, computers, software and other communications technology;
  • Infrastructure – Industries that support the construction, function and maintenance of physical infrastructure advancing Canada’s goals. They may also support the development of a community; 
  • Blue Economy – Industries that support long-term growth in ocean-based sectors such as ocean-based energy, marine infrastructure, aquaculture, commercial fisheries, coastal and marine tourism and ocean technology; and
  • Indigenous Public Sector – Indigenous governments and public services owned and operated by Indigenous governments, such as law enforcement, emergency services, infrastructure, land administration, public transit, public education, child care and health care.

To help improve the SPF program, Employment and Social Development Canada engaged with nearly 200 participants through 50 sessions, including Indigenous organizations, industry, provinces and territories, academic institutions and other federal departments. Following this engagement process, a “What We Learned Report” was produced, shared with participants, and posted online. The report provides an overview of the rich discussions that took place and valuable feedback that was provided during the engagement sessions. Highlights include the importance of renewing relationships with partners, and of ensuring Indigenous voices shape the priorities of the program.

Indigenous organizations can apply by May 9 through Grants and Contributions Online Services, by e-mail or by mail. Visit the Skills and Partnership Fund for more information on how to apply as well as details on upcoming information sessions.

Today’s announcement supports Canada’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal #10 of reducing inequalities by promoting the participation of Indigenous people in economic opportunities. The Government of Canada continues to lead implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations to help build stronger, safer, and more inclusive communities that leave no one behind.


“Indigenous people in this country face barriers to employment that many non-Indigenous Canadians do not. Through the Skills and Partnership Fund, Indigenous people will gain in-demand skills and experience in priority areas identified by their communities.  When more people are able to have a rewarding career and participate fully in Canada’s workforce, our entire country benefits.”

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough 

Quick facts

  • Indigenous people represent the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian population, accounting for 5% of the total population according to the most recent census (2016). 

  • According to Statistics Canada’s Labour Market Survey, the employment rate of Indigenous people not living on a reserve reached 58.4%, in January 2022, 2.0% higher than the pre-pandemic rate from January 2020.

  • Since 2010, four SPF calls for proposals have been launched, resulting in 130 projects funded, serving more than 51,500 Indigenous clients. Of these, nearly half of clients (42%) found employment or returned to school following their participation. 

  • The SPF program supports Call to Action #7 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action: to eliminate employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. 

  • The Government is providing an ongoing investment through the SPF of $50 million per year, starting in 2022–2023.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Jane Deeks
Director of Communications
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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