Federal government highlights projects that will help reduce barriers to employment for Black Canadians

TO mark the beginning of Black History Month, Seamus O’Regan Jr., federal Minister of Labour, on Tuesday highlighted projects that aim to remove barriers to employment for members of the Black community. The projects are funded through the Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity (WORBE) grants and contributions program.

Black Business Initiative received funding for the Removing Barriers to Equity in the Banking Sector project, which strives to increase representation and access to management opportunities for Black Canadians in the banking sector.

To better understand the barriers that contribute to the under-representation of Black Canadians in senior management in the banking sector, the Federation of Black Canadians will engage with federally regulated employers and other stakeholders through the Representation in Federal Sectors project.

Through the project Diversity Works: Exploring Supported Employment Experiences of BIPOC Who Experience Disability, the Canadian Association for Supported Employment will learn more about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) who experience disability, as they join the workforce and engage with employment service providers.

These projects will help create a more vibrant and diverse workforce that empowers everyone to be part of Canada’s recovery.

On January 18, the Government launched the 2022 Open Call for Concepts for the WORBE program. Canadian organizations are encouraged to submit project concepts that focus on breaking down barriers to employment for one or more of the four equity-seeking groups designated under the Employment Equity Act in federally regulated workplaces. The call for concepts closes on February 15.

O’Regan Jr. said: “Representation matters, but barriers to employment still exist for many Black Canadians. By working hand-in-hand with organizations that are leading the change, we can make federally regulated workplaces more representative, inclusive and fair. Ultimately, it will help businesses succeed. Because when you include everyone, you get the best.”

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, said: “In Canada, diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. This month, as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of Black Canadians and their communities, we also need to acknowledge that systemic anti-Black racism continues to create barriers to employment for people of African descent in Canada. These projects will help to address these obstacles and contribute to creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces across the country.”

Dr. Rustum Southwell, CEO, Black Business Initiative, said: “We are very pleased to be leading this important project. Banking leaders have so much expertise and experience to contribute; the more people we have participating in these discussions, the better we will understand the challenges and potential solutions. We are at a moment in time where we have a great opportunity to build on this momentum and make a lasting difference.”

Christopher Thompson, Executive Director, Federation of Black Canadians, said: “Black Canadians continue to make large impacts in various sectors across Canada, but we know and see that barriers still exist. As a national not-for-profit that strives to dismantle anti-Black racism and advance opportunities for Black Canadians, we are pleased to be able to elevate our work around barriers to employment through this grant. We will work with our partners at RBC Canada and the University of Toronto to engage employers in the banking sector to explore opportunities to dismantle barriers that still exist today.”