Government of Canada reducing barriers to inclusive employment through Call for Concepts

GATINEAU, QC, June 23, 2017 /CNW/ - Removing barriers to jobs for Canadians who are typically under-represented in our workforce will help the middle class, as well as those working so hard to join it.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, launched the Call for Concepts for a program to help federally regulated, private sector workplaces break down barriers to employment for women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minority communities. The Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity grant and contribution program will provide up to $500,000 a year to help make workplaces inclusive and diverse through partnerships and industry-specific strategies.

The 2017 Call for Concepts will give preference to projects focused on Indigenous people or persons with disabilities, the two designated groups experiencing the greatest overall challenges in representation in the federally regulated private sector. 

The deadline for applications is Friday, August 4, 2017. Organizations whose project concepts are successful will be invited to submit detailed project proposals. Projects selected for funding will begin receiving funds in April 2018.


"Every Canadian deserves the opportunity to work, earn a living and build the lives they want for themselves and their families. Through the Workplace Opportunities program, we're breaking down job barriers for Canadians who are typically under-represented in our workforce, bringing more opportunities to the middle class and to those working so hard to join it."
– The Honourable PattyHajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Quick Facts

  • The four designated groups under the Employment Equity Act are women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.
  • Since 2014, nine projects have been funded under the Workplace Opportunities program, five of which are still active. The five active projects will conclude by March 2018.
  • The most recent data shows that Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities continue to experience greater gaps overall in representation compared to the other designated groups:
    • Indigenous representation in federally regulated sectors was 2.2 percent in 2015.
    • The representation of persons with disabilities in federally regulated sectors was 3.0 percent in 2015.

Associated Links
Workplace Opportunities Funding: Apply Now
Labour Program
Equality and Inclusion

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The Employment Equity Act (EEA) aims to achieve equality in the workplace so that no one is denied opportunities for reasons unrelated to ability. It also aims to address workplace disadvantages faced by the four designated groups: women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities 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.

Provincially regulated private-sector employers with 100 employees or more who receive contracts valued at $1 million or more (including taxes) from the federal government have employment equity obligations under the Federal Contractor's Program. As a condition for receiving these contracts, these organizations are required to report on their progress in achieving a representative workforce.

Despite the presence of legislation and an increased acceptance of diversity in Canadian workplaces, more needs to be done to achieve a workforce that is fully representative of the four designated groups.

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

Currently, five projects are still active under the Workplace Opportunities 2014 funding. These include the BC Centre for Ability Association with a project that aims to strengthen the transportation sector's capacity to recruit and retain persons with disabilities. The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum is working on identifying and disseminating successful workplace practices on hiring and retaining Indigenous apprentices and the National Educational Association of Disabled Students is using a reverse mentorship approach between post-secondary students and employers to identify sector-specific barriers and solutions to hiring persons with disabilities.

The Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation is creating partnerships between federally-regulated employers and Indigenous organizations to identify barriers to employment faced by Indigenous peoples. Trucking HR Canada is working to improve the understanding of barriers faced by Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities in trucking and road transportation occupations.

The 2017 Call for Concepts will be open to a wide range of stakeholders whose submissions will be evaluated and shortlisted by early fall. Those shortlisted organizations will be asked to submit detailed project proposals that will be considered for single or multi-year agreements (up to three years), beginning in fiscal year 2018–2019. 


SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

For further information: Matt Pascuzzo, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P., Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour,, 819-654-4183; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559,

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