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Government of Canada plan to support hard‑hit sectors, including tourism and hospitality

Workers and businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Workers and businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government of Canada has a plan to support hard-hit sectors, help businesses adapt and give Canadians the skills they need to find good jobs as our economy continues to recover.

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, has announced up to $67 million in funding to support Canada’s tourism and hospitality sector through the Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP). This funding supports 24 projects that will help employers and industry stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality sector to attract and retain skilled workers, build capacity through training and resources, and remove barriers for groups — including women, youth, Indigenous peoples, newcomers, persons with disabilities and LGBTQ2 Canadians — that continue to be under-represented in the labour market. Projects will also provide training opportunities to workers who have been displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic and work to stimulate the economy in Indigenous communities.

Budget 2021 committed $1.78 billion over three years through several new initiatives that support the skills development and training of workers, and provide incentives for employers to hire and retain them. These measures will help create almost 500,000 new job and training opportunities for workers over the coming years. The Government of Canada had committed to creating over one million jobs, restoring employment to pre-pandemic levels, and this was achieved last month (November 2021).

Key takeaways

  • These 24 projects were selected through an open call for proposals process that ran from January 22, 2021, to March 42021.
  • The tourism and hospitality sector has been one of the hardest-hit sectors by the pandemic. According to the Conference Board of Canada’s Briefing: COVID-19 Impact on Tourism Sector Employment and Revenues, it is expected that employment in the sector will remain below 2019 levels until 2023.
  • Outbreaks of COVID-19 that resulted in lockdowns caused tourism employment to drop anywhere from 15 per cent to 23 per cent. As of April 2021, tourism employed 520,000 fewer workers than it had in February 2020, the last month before the pandemic reached Canada, an employment drop of over 25 per cent.
  • The tourism and hospitality sector is a significant source of employment for young workers and newcomers. In 2019, youth (persons age 15 – 24) held more jobs in tourism than any other age group, representing 34 per cent of Canada’s tourism workforce, and 28 per cent of tourism employees were immigrants or non-permanent residents
  • The Sectoral Initiatives Program will be integrated into the new Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program (SWSP), which received $960 million through Budget 2021 to support key sectors of the economy to implement industry-driven solutions to address current and emerging workforce needs.
  • The SWSP will help employers find skilled workers and connect Canadians with the training they need. It will also provide workers who have been displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic with training opportunities. This program will help businesses and workers prepare for workforce transitions in the rapidly changing green economy, address labour shortages in sectors like healthcare, and help our economy grow.
  • The SWSP will have an expanded scope for large-scale projects that offer a broader range of sector-focused activities, including training and upskilling, and developing solutions for workforce challenges.
  • The SWSP is anticipated to launch calls for proposals early in January 2022.