Ontario Appoints Task Force on Women and the Economy

Ontario Appoints Task Force on Women and the Economy

Task Force to advise government on breaking down barriers in a post-COVID economy

June 25, 2021


Children, Community and Social Services

TORONTO — The Ontario government is moving women’s economic empowerment forward through the creation of Ontario’s Task Force on Women and the Economy. The new task force fulfills a commitment in the 2021 Budget – Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy to establish a task force on inclusive economic growth that will seek to address the unique and disproportionate economic barriers women face, particularly in an economy that will look different after COVID‐19.

The Task Force will be chaired by Dr. Karin Schnarr, Associate Professor of Policy & Law at the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, joined by a diverse array of women with successful track records in various private and public sector roles. Dr. Schnarr serves as the Director of the Undergraduate Business Program, and has 15 years of experience in government and private sector management consulting.

Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance, and Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, announced the new Task Force today with the Chair, Dr. Karin Schnarr.

“Our government is committed to ensuring inclusive economic growth and creating opportunities for everyone to thrive,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy. “While the pandemic has challenged us all, women have been disproportionately impacted, facing higher job losses and carrying a greater burden of family care. That is why we have appointed Ontario’s Task Force on Women and the Economy to recommend how to address the unique and disparate economic barriers women face, particularly as we rebuild our economy post-COVID-19.”

“Women have tremendous skills to offer employers, bringing new and innovative ideas into workplaces,” said Associate Minister McKenna. “The creation of this Task Force demonstrates our determination to ensure that women have the opportunity to be strong contributors and leaders as Ontario reopens. The representation on the Task Force speaks to the range of experiences women have across the province in various regions and various sectors.”

The Task Force will meet throughout the summer of 2021 and consider three areas of focus relating to women’s participation in economic growth:

  • supporting women as they enter and re-enter the workforce;
  • supporting women’s entrepreneurship; and
  • removing barriers for women to enter fields in which they are underrepresented, including the skilled trades and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

“We know that from an economic perspective, many women in Ontario were significantly challenged by COVID-19. I look forward to working with the other members of the Task Force to suggest recommendations to support women entering/re-entering the workforce, fostering women in entrepreneurship and small business, and ensuring opportunities in for women in underrepresented areas such as STEM and the skilled trades,” said Dr. Karin Schnarr, Chair of Ontario’s Task Force on Women and the Economy.

The Task Force includes members with a broad range of expertise and experience addressing the unique and disproportionate economic barriers women face, including:

  • Bernadette Sarazin, Data Strategy Advisor, Fasken
  • Chen Xia, CEO & Co-founder, Gotcare
  • Diane Scott, Co-founder & Partner, SX2 Ventures, and Chairman & CEO, JMCC Canada Corp
  • Kimberley Mason, Senior Vice President and Head, Private Banking Canada, Royal Bank Canada
  • Melanie Debassige, Executive Director, Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation
  • Nadine Spencer, CEO & President, BrandEQ Agency and President, Black Business and Professional Association
  • Victoria Mancinelli, Director of Public Relations, Communications, Marketing and Strategic Partnerships, Labourers’ International Union of North America
  • Cheryl Fort, Mayor, Township of Hornepayne, and Locomotive Engineer for the Canadian National Railway

The Task Force’s work will also be informed by direct consultation in the coming weeks with diverse stakeholder groups whose work touches on women’s participation in the economy and Ontario’s workforce.

Recommendations from Ontario’s Task Force on Women and the Economy will help shape the government’s plan to strengthen the conditions for long‐term economic growth that will create jobs and greater prosperity for all people in Ontario.

Quick Facts

  • While employment among men has dropped by 3.1 per cent during COVID‑19, it is down by more than five per cent for women. Young women have been more affected than young men by pandemic-related changes in the labour market. Between February 2020 and May 2021, employment for youth aged 15 to 24 declined by 22.1 per cent for women and 13.7 per cent for men.
  • According to the results of a survey Statistics Canada administered in 2017 to small- and medium-sized enterprises, only 15.2 per cent of businesses surveyed in Ontario were majority woman-owned.
  • While women are more likely than men to obtain a college or university credential, women experience barriers that make them more likely to work in a narrower range of occupations and less likely to enter the skilled trades.