Government of Canada helps employers in key industries attract and retain Aboriginal apprentices

OTTAWA, July 24, 2015 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, announced support to build a more robust and inclusive skilled trades workforce by helping employers recruit Aboriginal apprentices in key industries, including trucking, mining and rail.

Under the Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity (WORBE) program, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum will receive $210,000 for a project that will strengthen partnerships between employers and Aboriginal groups and create sector-specific strategies and best practices for increasing the representation of Aboriginal peoples in the skilled trades workforce.

Through the creation of industry-tailored strategies and partnerships, the WORBE program is providing up to $500,000 annually for projects that improve the representation of persons with disabilities, women, Aboriginal peoples and members of visible minority groups in federally regulated workplaces.

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum will also receive $229,645 in Government of Canada funding through Status of Women Canada for a 36-month project to increase opportunities in apprenticeship programs in skilled trades for Aboriginal, rural and immigrant women living in northern and rural/remote areas.

Through this project, an online network will be developed to review employers' hiring practices, develop tools and best practices for recruiting and retaining women apprentices in skilled trades and create a pool of employers wishing to sponsor women apprentices across Canada.

Quick Facts

  • The representation of Aboriginal people in the federally regulated private-sector workforce has risen since 1987, edging upwards from 0.7 percent to 2.1 percent in 2013. Despite this increase, representation of this group remains below their labour market availability of 3.5 percent.
  • The Aboriginal population could account for approximately 5.3 percent of Canada's population in less than 20 years. Through initiatives such as WORBE, the Government of Canada is helping businesses, not-for-profit organizations, labour groups and other levels of government work together to create an equitable and inclusive workforce that meets employers' needs.
  • The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, established in 2000, is a not-for-profit charitable organization. Its mission is to provide a national forum for apprenticeship dialogue, bringing stakeholders together to share best practices, identify barriers and collaborate on solutions for the Canadian workforce.
  • Since 2007, the Government of Canada has invested over $162 million through Status of Women Canada in more than 780 community-based projects across Canada. This includes over $18 million for projects that support women in skilled professional trades and technical professions.


"Our Government believes that an inclusive workforce that respects and reflects the diversity of Canada's population will contribute to a stronger Canadian economy. That's why we're pleased to provide funding that will help employers in key industries attract and retain Aboriginal apprentices learning a skilled trade." 
– The Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, P.C., O.Ont., M.P., Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women

"With skilled tradespeople in high demand, there is an ever-louder call for workers with the aptitude, interest and skills to undertake well-paid careers in the trades. By collecting insights from employers who are already finding success engaging Aboriginal and female apprentices, we look forward to inspiring others to do the same."
Sarah Watts-Rynard, Executive Director, Canadian Apprenticeship Forum

Associated Links

Workplace Opportunities Funding
Labour Program
Status of Women Canada
Canadian Apprenticeship Forum
Aboriginal Labour Market Programs


The Employment Equity Act aims to achieve equality in the workplace so that no one is denied opportunities for reasons unrelated to ability, and to address workplace disadvantages faced by the four designated groups: persons with disabilities, women, Aboriginal peoples and members of visible minorities.

The Labour Program ensures that federally regulated private-sector employers and Crown corporations report annually on the representation of these designated groups in their workplaces and on the steps they have taken to achieve full representation through the Legislated Employment Equity Program. Employment equity must be included in the employment plans and practices of all federally regulated businesses with 100 or more employees.

There have been varying degrees of progress in improving representation of the designated groups toward achieving equity. However, under-representation persists in a number of occupational groups and industries.

Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity is a new grant and contribution program designed to support employers subject to the Employment Equity Act in their efforts to improve designated group representation in areas of low representation through partnerships and industry-tailored strategies.


SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

For further information: Andrew McGrath, Director of Communications, Office of the Hon. Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, P.C., O.Ont., M.P., Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, 819-953-5646,; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559,; Follow us on Twitter


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