Slave Lake one of three communities (in Canada) for business pilot program

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Slave Lake is one of three communities in Canada for a pilot of a workforce development grant.

The project is called Community Action for Workforce Development (CAWD).

“The Community Action for Workforce Development aims to foster rural economic growth by working closely with community, business leaders and new employees to create sustainable, inclusive, and thriving communities,” says Noreen Remtulla, who is running the program for Community Futures Lesser Slave Lake.

Remtulla is in Edmonton, but was in Slave Lake the week of Dec. 8 and will be in Slave Lake again in January.

CAWD provides wage subsidies (of up to $5,500 per employee) to employers to offset the cost of training new employees or to retrain existing employees for promotion. It just started, but applies to training done between June 1, 2023 and February 28, 2024. Employees must remain employed until March 31, 2024.

There is some mandatory training for employers – social justice and clean economy training. They can also develop an action plan and take part in workforce training through the Community Leadership Program.

Remtulla says, “Employers will participate in social justice training to better understand the barriers people from marginalized communities face and how they can support their employees.”

Employers will have access to a new consortium for Rural Community Workforce Development Data portal.

The project also supports employees. They will also take the social justice training. They can take part in an optional mentorship program. They will receive wrap-around supports.

The wrap-around supports are determined on a case-by-case basis, says Remtulla, but could include uniforms, child care, etc.

“Anything to help them be successful,” she adds.

The employees will also talk with Remtulla one-on-one every two weeks, to make sure they are getting all of the supports they need.

There are some limits on what types of employees are eligible.

Remtulla says, “The objective of the Community Action for Workforce Development is to create real, long-lasting change in the Slave Lake Region by supporting employment opportunities and removing barriers for both marginalized communities and local employers. Marginalized communities include: BIPOC communities (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour), 2SLGBTQ+, newcomers, older workers (55+ years old), official language minority communities (French), persons with disabilities, women, and youth (15-30 years).

The project is available for the Town of Slave Lake, Sawridge First Nation, and the M.D. of Lesser Slave River.

“All the communities that were chosen are under 10,000,” she says.

The combined population of Slave Lake, Sawridge, and Lesser Slave River is 9,526 people as of 2022, she says.

The other two communities in the pilot are Golden, British Columbia and Arnprior, Ontario.

Community Futures is running CAWD for the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNET). It is funded by the Government of Canada.

Businesses and people looking for work who are interested can contact Remtulla at nremtulla@albertacf.com.

The area covered by a pilot employment training program run by Community Futures Lesser Slave Lake. Businesses and people looking for work living in the Town of Slave Lake, Sawridge First Nation, and the M.D. of Lesser Slave River are eligible for the project.

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