Last day of the Annual Women in Manufacturing Success Forum: Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters calls for government action to increase women’s presence in the manufacturing sector

Ottawa, March 12, 2021 – Today concludes the 4th Annual Women in Manufacturing Success Forum organized by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and attended by more than 500 people. The event aimed to engage and inspire young women to consider careers in manufacturing, help manufacturers attract and retain women in their workplaces, and empower, support, and accelerate women in the industry.

“Since 2017, the Women in Manufacturing (WIM) program added 36,000 new women to the sector, finally budging a number that had stubbornly remained static for decades. We’ve seen that the WIM concept works. However, given the health crisis, we must now ensure that everything is done to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on women’s employment in the manufacturing sector. Together, we can do it!”, said Rhonda Barnet, Immediate Past Chair of CME and President & COO of AVIT Manufacturing.

Even before COVID-19, the manufacturing industry already struggled to attract women. Indeed, in Canada, women account for 48 per cent of the labor force, but only 28 per cent of the manufacturing workforce. However, with the pandemic, the number of women in manufacturing has declined and is not recovering as quickly as employment for men.

CME calls for action

To counter the pandemic’s impact on women’s employment, CME is calling for:

  1. Extra funding for its WIM program, which is set to end in 2021.

With its goal to increase the number of women in manufacturing by 100,000 in the next five years, the program is now more relevant than ever.

  1. Tax incentives to help employers create more childcare options.

One-size-fits-all solutions, such as public/universal daycare, do not meet the needs of the manufacturing workforce. Directly funding companies through tax-code incentives would give them the flexibility to establish the form of childcare that best suits their workforce.

  1. Additional and targeted funding, through the Canada Training Benefit, to women who wish to re-skill and fill in-demand jobs specifically in high-demand fields such as manufacturing.

Tax credit incentives should be provided directly to companies for investments they make in employee training. This credit must cover training by third parties, but also training done internally within a company. The idea is to give companies the most flexibility possible in the training they choose to pursue for their workers to ensure that it is relevant to them and enhances their productivity.

“Women workforce participation rates in manufacturing took a disproportionate hit during COVID-19. Extra measures are therefore required to bridge this gap and so we can dramatically improve workforce participation outcomes for women. The social and economic necessity to do so are clear and action is needed now.” said Dennis Darby, President and CEO of CME.

Learning best practices and better educating women about the manufacturing sector

Every day this week, the Annual Women in Manufacturing Success Forum showcased manufacturing leaders who shared how they are championing inclusion and diversity in their workplaces to increase the number of women in manufacturing. There were discussion panels on a variety of topics and each day also featured “Open doors” virtual visits of manufacturing plants across the country. Participants were able to join virtual tours of modern manufacturing facilities and discover the various career opportunities available in manufacturing.

CME’s complete report, titled “The ‘Shecession’ in the Manufacturing Workforce” is available here.

About Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and, compete around the world. Our focus is to ensure manufacturers are recognized as engines for growth in the economy, with Canada acknowledged as both a global leader and innovator in advanced manufacturing and a global leader in exporting. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.

For more information

Ady Stefan Calin
Manager, Communications & Branding
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
(514) 293-3765