Minister Marci Ien announces supports for Black youth to overcome barriers to employment  

News release

February 27, 2023              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

Progress has been made in recent decades toward inclusivity in Canada, however, more needs to be done to help address discrimination in all aspects of our society – including in our job market. Black and Afro-descendant communities have made and continue to make countless contributions to Canada, both socially and economically. That’s why the Government of Canada is working to build a safer, more equitable and more inclusive Canada where everyone has a fair and equal chance to reach their full potential.

Today, to mark the close of Black History Month, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien, visited the RIWC Regina Immigrant Women Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan, to highlight the Government of Canada’s investments that aim to remove barriers for Black youth.

These investments include funding of over $7 million for five Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) projects, providing close to 700 Black youth with access to the training and opportunities they need to succeed.

For example, the RIWC Regina Immigrant Women Centre has received more than $1.2 million in funding for their project called “Youth Employment and Skills Strategy to Advance Immigrant Youth”. This project will assist 102 racialized youth facing barriers, leading them to permanent employment or to an educational program that will enhance their current and acquired skill sets to meet a future career objective.

In addition to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy program, the Government of Canada supports Black youth and others through such programs as the Student Work Placement Program, Canada Summer Jobs and the Canada Service Corps.

These investments demonstrate the Government’s ongoing commitment to help young Canadians, particularly those facing barriers to employment, while adapting to the demands of an evolving workforce.


“To create a Canada where no one is left behind, we need to address the systemic factors that hold communities back from reaching their full potential. During Black History Black and beyond, our government recognizes how Black communities contribute every day to our economy, and shape Canada’s heritage and identity. Programs like YESS are important because it ensures that Black youth have access to the skills and training they need to succeed in today’s job market. Plain and simple, everyone wins when we build an equitable and inclusive country.”

– Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth 

“Diversity is a fact, and inclusion is a choice. The Government of Canada recognizes the systemic barriers that Black youth continue to face, and we are committed to supporting projects across the country that will help provide them with tools to thrive and succeed. We will continue to build on our progress toward a more inclusive and equitable Canada where no one is left behind.”

– Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion

“RIWC Regina Immigrant Women Centre educates, integrates, enriches and empowers newcomer immigrant women and their families through a suite of programs such as English classes, settlement, employment and recreation supports. We serve over 1800 clients a year and that number continues to grow. Our most popular programs are language classes and employment training but women are asking for computer literacy, which we just incorporated into our programs. Family support and senior programs are also in demand.”

– Neelu Sachdev, Executive Director at RIWC Regina Immigrant Women Centre

Quick facts

  • During Black History Month, Canadians celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada a culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous country.

  • Black youth aged 15 to 34 were more likely to report experiencing discrimination compared to adults aged 35 and 54, and 55 and older (73%, 62% and 48%, respectively). Self-reported experiences of discrimination against Black populations in Canada did not vary significantly by gender.

  • In 2020, the Government of Canada invested $492 million over three years, through Employment and Social Development Canada’s YESS program, for 269 projects across Canada to help young people facing barriers to employment. In the spring of 2020, to support youth affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada provided additional funding of up to $187.7 million to the YESS horizontal partners, departments, agencies and Crown corporations to create 9,500 more work opportunities for young Canadians, particularly those facing barriers to employment. 

  • Budget 2021 commitments include more than $5.7 billion over five years to help young Canadians pursue and complete their education and to create 215,000 new job skills development and work opportunities for youth.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Johise Namwira 
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien

Media Relations Office 
Employment and Social Development Canada 
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