Government of Canada announces projects aimed at removing barriers to equality in federally regulated workplaces

An image illustrating diversity in the workplace. Photo: Fauxels/Pexels
By Employment and Social Development Canada

Building more diverse and inclusive workplaces makes Canada’s workforce stronger.

Today, Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan Jr. announced close to $9.5 million in funding for 10 projects that will help break down employment barriers experienced by women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities. Funded through the government’s Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity program, these multi-year projects will help federally regulated private-sector employers make their workplaces more fair, diverse and inclusive.

Minister O’Regan made the announcement with Wayne Sumarah, Chief Executive Officer of Digital Nova Scotia, along with project partners, and Andy Fillmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax. During the visit, they discussed Digital Nova Scotia’s project, called Creating an Inclusive Culture: Building Tech Workplaces that Work, which received over $1 million in funding. The project aims to create a more inclusive culture in Nova Scotia’s technology sector by improving the representation of supervisors and managers from all four designated groups. Digital Nova Scotia will share its final report with employers in Nova Scotia and across Canada to help raise awareness of industry-specific barriers to diversity and inclusion, and how to address them.

The announcement, which takes place during Black History Month, highlighted a number of projects aimed at supporting Black Canadians. Through their projects, Women in Capital Markets and the Black Women Business Network will support Black Canadians taking on leadership roles in the banking and financial services sector. Other projects include the development of an equity, diversity and inclusion toolkit by Toronto Metropolitan University, strategies to accommodate employees with episodic disabilities by Realize, and an inclusion guide for the recruitment, training and retention of women in the transportation sector by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, among others. More information can be found in the backgrounder.

Together, these projects will help create a more vibrant and diverse workforce where every Canadian has a fair and equal chance to reach their full potential.


“When you include everyone, you get the best. So, we’re investing in organizations that break down barriers. That’s how we’ll build a stronger, more diverse workforce, and better workplaces for everyone.”
– Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr.

“Today’s announcement is all about breaking down barriers and creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce for all Canadians. With nearly $9.5 million in funding, these projects will help employers make their workplaces fairer and more welcoming for women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities. When our workforce reflects the diversity of Canada, we all benefit.”
– Andy Fillmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Greater diversity and inclusion in Nova Scotia’s tech sector will directly result in a broader pool of skilled workers that can help address the needs of our companies experiencing systemic labour shortages. We saw a need for this project and appreciate the support and shared vision from Employment and Social Development Canada. To pilot the developed cultural change framework, we will engage 12 to 15 companies such as diversity, equity and inclusion consultants and trainers and industry members within Nova Scotia’s tech sector. The results and framework will be shared following the completion of the project.”
– Wayne Sumarah, Chief Executive Officer, Digital Nova Scotia 

“The Black Business Initiative is proud to collaborate with Digital Nova Scotia and Employment and Social Development Canada on an initiative that will diversify Nova Scotia’s tech sector. We commend Digital Nova Scotia for pioneering this effort to make the digital sector a significantly more diverse and inclusive space.”
– Dr. Rustum Southwell, Chief Executive Officer, Black Business Initiative

“At REDspace, we recognize that building a stronger and more diverse workforce is essential. I believe it aligns with where Nova Scotia and Canada want to be, and digital is at the forefront of that growth. We want to be a change agent, and we’re thrilled to partner with Digital Nova Scotia on this valuable new project to do just that.”
– Mike Johnston, President and Chief Executive Officer, REDspace

“The future is really bright for the digital industry, and the time is now to make these cultural changes within our organizations. At the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office, we bring solutions to the table and are pleased to be a part of this project that will continue to build diversity and inclusion within the tech sector.”
– Alex Paul, Executive Director, Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office

“The path to continued wellbeing, quality of life, and prosperity for Nova Scotians and for all Canadians depends on our ability to innovate—to integrate diverse knowledge, to empower talent from every community and perspective, to do things differently. Mitacs drives innovation by connecting bright minds to the complex challenges and opportunities in front of us, from health care to clean tech. We are thrilled to be partners of Digital Nova Scotia on this critical initiative to make Nova Scotia tech even more inclusive and to continue to create real impact for people across the province and beyond.”
– Tash Ismail, Chief Business Development Officer, Mitacs

Quick facts

  • The Information Technology Industry Alliance of Nova Scotia, operating as Digital Nova Scotia, is a non-profit membership-driven organization that was incorporated in 1989. Its mission is to foster the growth of the digital economy in Nova Scotia through skills development, capacity building and strong partnerships. Carried out in partnership with Mitacs, the Black Business Initiative, the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office and industry partners such as REDspace, the project of Digital Nova Scotia will provide access to HR tools and resources to help increase representation of all four designated groups among professionals, supervisors and mid-senior level managers.
  • Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity is a grants and contributions program that provides $3 million in funding per fiscal year for projects aimed at improving the representation of designated groups in federally regulated private-sector workplaces through effective partnerships and the development of industry-tailored strategies and solutions. Through the 2022 call for concepts (January 18 to February 15, 2022), the Government selected 10 multi-year projects to receive funding over the next three fiscal years.

Related Product

Backgrounder: Projects funded through the 2022 call for concepts for Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity

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