The Ontario government is providing an additional $500,000 in the Investing in Women’s Futures Program, bringing the total funding to $2.7 million this year. Offered at 23 women’s centres across the province, the program provides free employment readiness and violence prevention programming to socially and economically marginalized women so that they can develop the in-demand skills they need to re-enter the workforce.
“We recognize there are additional challenges women are experiencing today such as increased economic insecurity, greater burden of caregiving responsibilities, and a rise in the incidence of domestic violence as a result of COVID-19,” said Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “By increasing investments in programs to help women develop the skills they need to participate in the workforce, we are helping ensure those hardest hit by the impacts of the pandemic can maintain a sense of well-being and safety.”
Over the past two years, the 23 women’s centres offering the Investing in Women’s Futures Program have helped more than 1,900 women find jobs or start their own businesses and pursue further training or education. Overall, 19,000 women have accessed the Investing in Women’s Futures Program over the past three years.
The additional funding will help improve the delivery of online services to increase access for women who are not able to attend in-person due to dependent care responsibilities, mobility and/or living in a rural or remote community and provide greater access to counselling and other wrap-around supports to bolster their physical and mental health and safety.
“Increasing women’s participation in the workforce is a critical part of Ontario’s plan to Work for Workers and build the foundation for economic recovery,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “Informed by the meaningful work of Ontario’s Task Force on Women and the Economy, this investment was one of several announced in our 2021 Fall Economic Statement to address the unique and disproportionate economic challenges women are facing.”
“These funds are imperative in supporting women through their journey of domestic violence. Without these funds Women’s Centres wouldn’t be able to support as many women as they do,” said Kate Holmes, Executive Director, Women’s Centre of Halton. “The programming at the Women’s Centres is vital in helping women out of some of the most dire situations and helping to guide them in making pivotal changes. Thank you for working alongside us to strive for full empowerment for our women.”
On November 4, the government released the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario. The plan lays out how the government will build the foundation for Ontario’s recovery and prosperity by getting shovels in the ground on critical infrastructure, attracting increased investment, restoring leadership in auto manufacturing and other industries, and supporting Ontario workers. The plan also protects Ontario’s progress against the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As a result of COVID-19, women and gender-diverse Ontarians have faced additional challenges, such as increased economic insecurity, greater burden of caregiving responsibilities and a rise in the incidence of domestic violence. Young women, mothers of young children, racialized women, single mothers, Indigenous women, immigrant women, women with disabilities and women without university degrees have been most affected.
- In June 2021, the government launched Ontario’s Task Force on Women and the Economy to provide advice to the Minister of Finance and the Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues to address the unique and disproportionate economic barriers women face.
- The Task Force’s recommendations will be reflected in future policy initiatives that support women as the province rebuilds its economy post-COVID-19 and keeps pace with a rapidly evolving 21st-century workplace.
- In addition to the increased funding for the Investing in Women’s Futures Program, the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario includes grants to help promote opportunities for racialized and Indigenous women entrepreneurs, a 20 per cent top‐up to the Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit for 2021, and expansion of eligibility for the Second Career program which provides financial support to offset living costs, including for child care, and supports families, including women, to enter and re-enter the workforce.