MCAC was pleased to see today’s announcement from the federal government providing funding to organizations to help underrepresented apprentices, specifically women, develop key skills and gain positions in the Red Seal trades. In addition to today’s announcement, MCAC encourages the government to continue exploring programs to offset the cost of gender-specific PPE as an additional measure to encourage female participation.

“Any and all steps taken to encourage greater participation in the trades is welcomed by our industry and our association,” said MCAC CEO Tania Johnston. “We would also encourage the government to look at other creative ways to make the trades a more inclusive career choice. Last year we recommended that the government adopt tax deduction programs to reduce the often-higher cost of gender-specific PPE. This would help support the government’s goal of recruiting and retaining Canadians to the skilled trades, and help fill the labour shortage facing our sector.”

Cost and accessibility of gender-specific personal protective equipment (PPE) is a significant safety issue for women in the trades. A 2022 report from the CSA Group found that:

  • 58 per cent of women use PPE that is the wrong size at least some of the time;
  • 28 per cent don’t wear all the required PPE because of fit issues; and
  • 38 per cent use a workaround to make their PPE fit.

In addition to the challenge of proper-fitting PPE, there is often an economic hardship: gender-specific PPE for women can cost up to twice as much as equipment for their male counterparts.

MCAC urges the federal government to implement a program modeled after the federal tradesperson’s tools expenses deduction, specifically aimed at women in the skilled trades, to help improve occupational health and safety and remove a barrier to entry for women seeking careers in the skilled trades.