MP Gerretsen announces federal funding for new Girls Inc. program

Left to right: Chloe Wheeler (Girls Inc.), Michelle Fields (BOLD FUTURES), Lindsey Belch (CEO of Girls Inc.), and Justine Marchand (Girls Inc.) with MP Mark Gerretsen at an announcement on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. Photo via MP Gerretsen’s office.

On the morning of Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024, Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kingston and the Islands visited the administrative office of Girls Inc. on Gardiners Road to make a government funding announcement under the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities (OF).

According to a release from Employment and Social Development Canada, just over $1.9 million will support Girls Incorporated of Limestone, Algonquin and Lakeshore, located in Kingston, as part of the government of Canada’s commitment to improve inclusion and financial security of Canadians with disabilities.

The federal government shared that Girls Inc. put forward an innovative plan to assist persons with disabilities who face barriers to employment in Kingston. The organization, over three years, will run a BOLD FUTURES for Women Program, designed to increase the economic participation and independence of 144 women and gender-expansive individuals with disabilities.

“We are grateful to have been awarded this funding to serve Women+ with disabilities in our community in this time of heightened adversity. Our BOLD FUTURES team has been working hard to ensure participants’ unique needs are met while they work to overcome gender-based barriers to employment and achieve their work and education goals,” said Michelle Fields, Employment Programs Manager, Girls Incorporated of Limestone, Algonquin and Lakeshore.

This funding is in addition to the $118 million announced in June 2023 to support 60 projects, which brings the government’s total investment under the Opportunities Fund 2022 Call for Proposals to approximately $191 million, according to the government release.

“BOLD FUTURES provides an excellent opportunity for women and gender-expansive individuals with disabilities to overcome barriers, acquire skills, and move forward in the pursuit of their educational and employment goals. I am proud that the Government of Canada has contributed funding for Girls Incorporated of Limestone, Algonquin and Lakeshore to deliver this important program in our community,” added MP Gerretsen.

According to the release, the OF brings together employers and employees with disabilities to increase the participation of working-aged persons with disabilities in the workforce. The objective of the program is to assist persons with disabilities to prepare for, obtain and keep employment, advance in their careers, or become self-employed. Through the OF, more Canadians are able to achieve financial independence and participate in all aspects of society, the federal government expressed.

The funding announced today supports the Government of Canada’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan, specifically the employment pillar, and, according to the release, contributes to its ongoing commitment to create a truly inclusive Canada, free of physical, societal, and attitudinal barriers, the federal government said.

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