Government of Canada and City of Toronto partner with Elevate to support underrepresented workers in tech sector

By: Stephanie Porfiris, June 03 2021

When the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario, made an announcement to support underrepresented workers in the tech sector in 2020, Elevate Talent was born. With an investment of over $5.8 million, Elevate was able to launch this skills training and job placement program. She was joined by Mayor John Tory, who announced additional support for Elevate from the City of Toronto. This comprehensive program will reskill 5,300 job seekers from underrepresented communities, including Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, 2SLGBTQ+, and Francophone professionals in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and match them with job openings in technology and innovation-based organizations, start-ups and the creative industries.

“There is a glut of available tech jobs out there and the issue with filling these opportunities isn’t that the ecosystem is lacking people with talent or ambition; it’s that the system is failing to give them access to opportunities. That’s where Elevate Talent comes in.”

– Claudette McGowan, Global Executive Officer, TD Bank and Elevate Talent Co-Chair

“For too long, members of underrepresented groups have experienced unique and systemic hurdles to their career advancement. Now, after facing disproportionate impacts of the pandemic, individuals in these communities need support more than ever,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister Responsible for FedDev Ontario. “With today’s investment for Elevate, our message is clear: we are here to support a strong, skilled, diverse andinclusive economy for everyone.”

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Complementing FedDev Ontario’s investment, the City of Toronto is providing $350,000 in funding toward community programming and initiatives, including Elevate Talent. This builds on the City’s $350,000 investment towards Elevate programming in 2020, as well as annual support from 2017 to 2019 toward the Elevate Tech festival, which brings the innovation ecosystem together and creates a platform to raise the profile of Toronto’s booming technology sector.

“Collaborating with partners like Elevate will play a key role in the reopening and recovery of our economy post-pandemic. I am pleased that the city is able to support this new initiative and with the help of the federal government’s funding commitment we will see the creation of thousands of new jobs and opportunities for some of our city’s most vulnerable communities,” said Mayor John Tory, City of Toronto. “This innovative approach will allow us to take advantage of our booming tech industry, world-renowned post-secondary institutions and community partners to ensure that everyone is a part of our economic recovery.”

“Increasing representation in Canada’s tech sector needs all the support we can generate. We know there are roles to fill, and we also know we have untapped talent disconnected from opportunities. In 2019, we connected thousands of jobseekers with meaningful employment in the tech sector. Today, we’re excited to expand on that program and focus on groups that have been historically under-served,” said Razor Suleman, Co-Founder and then-CEO of Elevate. “We have a lot of work to do so that our tech and innovation sector reflects the diverse makeup of our communities, and we’re thrilled to launch Elevate Talent to provide pathways to real jobs.”

Elevate, a purpose-driven not-for-profit, supports businesses to scale-up and connects talent to foster a culture of innovation and collaboration across the country.

By piloting a collaborative model with key community, learning, and hiring partners, this project will provide targeted training to build job-specific skills, fill the gaps in technical skills learning and match participants with the more than 70,000 open jobs in the GTHA’s technology sector.

“It’s never been more important to be a values-first leader,” believes Margaret Stuart, Country Manager at Salesforce Canada and Co-Chair of Elevate Talent. “To keep pace with changes to the ways we work andlearn, businesses have a role to play in reducing barriers to reskilling. People need access to the technologies and skills necessary to land a job, regardless of what their background may be. That’s why the Elevate Talent initiative is so important. It shines a light on how we must create equal and equitable workplaces that reflect the diverse communities around us, where everyone feels empowered to succeed.”

Through important investments such as this one, the Government of Canada is taking the next steps towards long-term, foundational change for a more inclusive Canada and to support a vibrant tech and innovation sector that reflects the diverse makeup of our communities.


“Elevate is working with grassroots organizations to connect talent from underrepresented groups with the tailored support they need. This significant FedDev Ontario investment is supporting new opportunities for members of underrepresented communities to participate in, and benefit from, the fast-growing technology sector.
– Adam Vaughan, Member of Parliament for Spadina—Fort York

Elevate understands the importance of promoting diversity in the tech sector. With this new initiative, Elevate will work closely with key community-based organizations to broaden the program’s impact and promote diversity in the tech sector.”
– Marci Ien, Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre

“The incredible thing about Elevate Talent is that it is designed by members of the groups who share the lived experiences of the people this program aims to support. We’re so excited to be a partner in this program, giving participants access to career paths in digital technology and opening up opportunities to competitive earnings that they deserve.”
– Angela Carter, Executive Director at Roots Community Services

“Through Elevate Talent, I secured a permanent, full-time consultant position at Diabsolut, a SalesForce consultancy. I previously had been working as an administrative assistant at a day spa in Brampton that has been closed to due COVID-19 restrictions, but now I have the tools that I didn’t even know I needed to find success in the tech industry.
– Sehar Panjwani, Elevate Talent participant

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