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Quebec aims to enhance the inclusion of women in the manufacturing sector

Jacques Boissinot / The Canadian Press

The under-representation of women in the manufacturing sector has long been known, but it is becoming more of an “acute” problem with a looming shortage of skilled labour in the province.

Sunday, the Quebec Minister of Labour announced financial support of nearly $714,000 for a research project on the inclusion of women in the manufacturing industry.

At a press conference in Montreal, Minister Jean Boulet said the project will be carried out in accordance with Manufacturiers et Exportateurs Québec (MEQ).

According to the agency’s statistics, only 28 per cent of jobs in the industry in Canada were held by women in 2017. In areas linked to production, the rate was even lower, at less than 10 per cent.

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“Women tend to think that it is an environment which is not made for them, where one must be very physically strong to support loads, an environment which is dirty, which is not necessarily very innovative,” said Véronique Proulx, President and CEO of MEQ.

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The research project, which is to take place over two years, will see various approaches tested with companies in Montérégie, Estrie and Centre-du-Québec. The objective is to develop good practices that could be extended to employers elsewhere.

Boulet believes that “the search for better equality between men and women is even more acute in a context of labour shortage” and invites other traditionally male sectors to follow suit in order to fill the “startling” gap in the labour market.

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According to the Institut de la statistique du Québec, the employment rate for people aged 15 and over was last year to 64.7 per cent for men, compared to 58.4 per cent for women.

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On this International Women’s Day, the labour minister made the announcement alongside the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest. The latter wanted to emphasize that the initiative is part of a perspective of economic empowerment of women, one of her ministry’s priorities.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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