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OTTAWA LOCAL LABOUR MARKET PLAN 2020/2021 Explore the issues and trends shaping the future of work in Ottawa. Ottawa Employment Hub’s Local Labour Market Plan is our annual report to share local labour market information and insight into challenges, opportunities and trends shaping Ottawa’s industry and employment landscape. The report combines statistical data with input from local employers, service providers and other stakeholders to highlight ongoing and emerging themes in the local economy and labour market, from gender gaps to in-demand occupations to the pandemic’s transformative impact on work. Get the latest on the evolving local economy and labour market, including: • • • • • •

Ottawa’s industry landscape, top sectors and areas of specialty, including sectors and occupations in growth and decline Workforce demographics and education profiles Pandemic impacts on employment, business and work Employment Ontario service use and outcome data Observations and insights from employers, service providers, educators and other stakeholders Highlights from the latest EmployerOne survey

The pandemic hit Ottawa businesses hard, but many are optimistic for a rebound. • •

45% of businesses reported significant pandemicrelated impacts to their workforce. 62% of employers anticipate hiring in 2021.

Key findings Ottawa’s labour market was relatively resilient during the pandemic.

9.5% Ottawa 12.4% Ontario

Ottawa’s unemployment rate peaked at 9.5%, while the rate for the province went as high as 12.4%.

Women are better educated than men—but men still earn more.

49% Women 44% Men EARN MORE


Nearly 49% of women have university degree at the bachelor level or above, compared to 44% of men. But men out-earn women by an average of $10,000 a year.

See the full report https://bit.ly/3rAjtJn ottawaemploymenthub.ca

This service is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

From main street to the tech labs

retailers • small businesses • entrepreneurs • associations • community builders

Supporting Businesses in Kanata and West Carleton Financial Help for COVID-19 Expenses The Provincial Government is providing business owners with grant funding, workplace safety and educational resources, and relief for operating costs — from property taxes to energy bills. Learn more at covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-help-businesses-ontario

Promoting the High Tech Sector Kanata’s high tech scene is turning heads at Queen’s Park — and around the world. MPP Fullerton has established a framework to collaborate with local business leaders on current issues and to profile local technology innovations and success stories.

Shop Local Campaign The MPP awareness campaign encourages residents to buy from neighbourhood stores and local plazas and malls. Shopping at local retailers provides employment, carries the expenses of the store, and our money remains in our community.

Businesses are encouraged to connect with MPP Fullerton

Sueling Ching

Melanie Williams

David Coletto

Merrilee Fullerton

There are regular meetings with local business leaders

Championing Local Interests MPP Fullerton is working to advance business interests in Kanata and West Carleton within the Provincial Government. Contact her MPP Community Office to learn more about her objectives with the Kanata-Carleton’s High Tech and Business Initiative.

Shop local and support your community

Dr. Merrilee FULLERTON, Kanata-Carleton MPP 613-599-3000 • merrilee.fullerton@pc.ola.org • merrileefullerton.ca TH E BUS I N E S S M AG A Z I N E OF TH E OT TAWA BOA R D OF TR A D E   |   S P R I N G 202 1   C A P I TA L   3











What does it mean to be a woman in 2021

COVID From the Frontlines

Dr. Rébecca Robillard uncovers pandemic’s impact on sleep and mental health















Capital Context The Race for Equality

C-Suite View COVID's Terrible Toll on Women

The last word


On the Cover




p.36 WOMEN



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Top: Karla Brione, Dr. Rébecca Robillard, Dr. Thais Coutinho, Dr. Susan Peddle Middle: Sabrina Fitzgerald, Solange Tuyishime, Malini Giridhar, Tova White Bottom: Marie-Pier Faye, Audrey Bond



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OTTAWA BOARD OF TRADE 328 Somerset St W, Ottawa, ON  K2P 0J9 Phone: 613-236-3631 www.ottawabot.ca President & CEO Sueling Ching PUBLISHER gordongroup 55 Murray Street / Suite 108 Ottawa, Ontario  K1N 5M3 Phone: 613-234-8468 info@gordongroup.com Managing Editor Terry McMillan Contributors Jeff Buckstein Jenn Campbell Anna Williams Alje Kamminga Leah Geller Creative Director Louise Casavant

SALES For advertising rates and information, please contact: Director of Advertising Sales Stephan Pigeon Phone: 613-234-8468 / 250 spigeon@gordongroup.com

OTTAWA BOARD OF TRADE Director of Membership Experience, Ottawa Board of Trade Lynn Ladd Phone: 613-236-3631 / 120 Lynn.Ladd@ottawabot.ca www.capitalmag.ca

ISSN 2371-333X. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of the contents without prior written authorization from the publisher is strictly prohibited. PM 43136012. Capital is published three times a year: winter, spring, and fall. Printed in Canada. CAPITAL is grateful to the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sports, administered through the Canada Periodical Fund, Special Measures for Journalism, Department of Canadian Heritage.

Sueling Ching, President & CEO Ottawa Board of Trade


IT WAS MARCH 11, 2020. I started my day early at the Hire Immigrants conference and ended it late at an e-Sax networking event. That day I was named the next President & CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade. It was also the day Ottawa reported its first COVID case and WHO declared a global pandemic. The next morning, only one third of our expected attendees came to the Mayor’s breakfast. And so it began. Thankfully, our team was set up to transition easily to remote working. Two days later, my husband moved in full time with his elderly parents one hour away. My nine year old daughter started March Break, never to return to her school again. And my life became a whirlwind of video meetings, home schooling, take out, TV and single parenting.

Like many businesses, we immediately had to start doing more with less while transforming our operations and delivering greater impact for our business community. All this amidst uncertainty, followed by more uncertainty. Every day provided new announcements from government, new information from health officials and new stories from local businesses. Like many women, work-life balance became virtually impossible. The carefully designed systems I had in place to be a good community leader, a good mother, family member and friend completely fell apart. I was up before the sun at my computer, taking interviews locked in my bathroom and conducting board meetings while our take out was being delivered. Then I started to hear more stories from women; executives, entrepreneurs and employees alike. Every issue previously associated with gender inequality became exacerbated; child care, domestic responsibilities, workplace cultures, access to capital and traditional career paths. Almost immediately, it became apparent that this was a different crisis for women. And I felt it. A year later, facing a third wave of COVID, I still feel it. I battle with doubt, exhaustion, and overwhelm. Then I think about the businesses, the communities and the families that need women to contribute and lead. And I feel determined, hopeful that despite the obvious setbacks, we have created a more compelling case for gender equality. If so, then the future is bright. I hope you enjoy this edition dedicated to truly acknowledging and celebrating the women leaders among us.

The magazine about doing business in Ottawa, created by the Ottawa Board of Trade in partnership with gordongroup.



AFTER 50 YEARS OF LEGAL PRACTICE, AN INDUSTRY LEADER ot everything in downtown Ottawa was closed on New Year’s Day, 1971. At the Plaza Building on Sparks Street, the law firm of Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall was opening its doors for the first time. Four dedicated lawyers had come together with a single purpose – to create the leading independent law firm in the National Capital Region (NCR). Clearly, they succeeded. Thanks in large part to its laserlike focus on client service, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. today is an acknowledged leader in the NCR’s legal community. From their current location on Albert Street, Ildiko Huber the firm’s 60 professionals and 60 support staff offer an everexpanding range of sophisticated services to individuals, businesses and not-for-profit corporations, unions, institutions, charities, and other professionals. Without a doubt, the firm has evolved over the past 50 years, says Anthony McGlynn, Partner and Co-Chair. “We added legal specialties and niches. We moved, not once, but four times. We expanded, consolidated, then expanded again. And, we moved from the traditional managing partner model to a committee Lynda Bordeleau system with non-lawyer senior management. Today, the most powerful force driving the company’s success is its commitment to diversity. “We recognize that building a more diverse workplace, one that fully and accurately reflects the community we serve, benefits both us and the people we serve,” says Anthony. “We’re proud of the progress we’ve made. At the same time, we know we need to do even more.” Among those already ‘doing more’ is Neha D’Souza. Neha joined the firm in 2008 and became the firm’s COO in 2017. She spearheaded many of the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, including the establishment of a diversity committee and the introduction of bias-free recruitment training. “By drawing on my HR Neha D'Souza background,” she says, “I’ve had the opportunity to


help cultivate a supportive environment for employees.” Ildiko Huber, who joined the firm in 2011, says her life at PerleyRobertson, Hill & McDougall is exceptionally rewarding. “I am able to share my experiences with others and to seek and implement changes that improve the entire organization, not just my department,” says the CFO. In fact, when she expressed an interest in helping improve the firm’s IT services, she was encouraged to do so. Others are also making a difference. Women like Lynda Bordeleau, a member of the firm since 1994 and a partner since 2001. She credits the support of other partners – including Karin Pagé founding partner David Hill – for helping her build a strong police sector practice. She’s now continuing what her partners started – mentoring other women in the firm. Then there’s Karin Pagé, Chair of the Diversity Committee, who joined the firm in 2007, becoming a partner in 2018. She says she chose Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall primarily “because it provided an atmosphere where I could grow while balancing a successful career and family.” From the moment she became part of the team, says Karin, she Megan Wallace has felt that she had a voice and that the door was always open for her to contribute. Megan Wallace shares that view. Joining the firm as a summer student in 2008, she says she knew immediately that Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall was the perfect fit. “I felt right away that it would be a collegial and friendly environment that provided a work/life balance and still offered interesting work.” Today, Megan is a partner in the Business Law Group and the head of the Not-for-Profit and Charity Law Group. For Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall, being the top independent law firm in the National Capital Region at the moment isn’t enough. With the contribution of its diverse and talented team, it’s confident it will remain at the top for the next 50 years. TH E BUS I N E S S M AG A Z I N E OF TH E OT TAWA BOA R D OF TR A D E   |   S P R I N G 2 02 1   C A P I TA L   7


The Race for Equality year in a pandemic has taught us many lessons. It has revealed important faults in our systems and challenged our understanding of big issues. Not the least of which is that gender equality is on very tenuous ground. Almost overnight, the countermeasures to control the spread of COVID-19 placed a disproportionate burden on women, reducing their ability to remain in the workforce and run their businesses. In addition, the impact has been even greater on certain groups of women including but not limited to racialized women, Indigenous women, immigrant women, single mothers, and women in rural areas. The long-term impact of the pandemic on women is unknown. However, what is certain is that our race toward gender equality was too slow pre-pandemic and now our progress is at risk. While we have an opportunity to redesign our approach to all the big things, gender equality is a foundational way to move ahead quickly on many fronts. The Ottawa Board of Trade considers women in leadership and gender equality a key opportunity to drive economic prosperity in our community and our county. We appreciate the coordinated efforts of economic partners such as the City of Ottawa and Invest Ottawa who have created programs and resources to accelerate change and drive conversations about why women need to be elevated. We will continue to work alongside all our partners and promote new ways to address the root causes of this community issue. Meanwhile, we deemed it important to keep the conversation top of mind by dedicating the theme of the CAPITAL spring 2021 magazine to women. Thank you to our contributors and sponsors for making this edition happen. Inside these pages, you will find the


stats, stories and sentiments of our local business and community leaders that expose what is really happening and how it will determine our future. You will also learn about the strategies that individuals, businesses, and organizations are creating to ensure the mental and physical well-being of women and how to support them to reach their full potential in innovative ways. The real question is, “what will we all do differently as we go forward to preserve our progress and ensure the acceleration of women’s equality?” Who can make it happen? You can. We can. And we must. Individual men and women must become advocates and lead by example in every aspect of our lives. We must actively challenge our thinking, our company cultures, and the way we manage our homes. Businesses, organizations, and governments must demonstrate their commitment through best practices, transparency, and stated intentions. Resources must be made available to incentivize and inspire change. And policy must be bold enough to ensure a paradigm shift in our behaviours and communications. Thank you to our colleagues at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce for publishing “The She-Covery Project” which outlines specific recommendations for both the Ontario and Canadian governments to make a difference in our communities as we continue to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Now is the time for real change, lest we lose this window of opportunity to place women in the center of our community, our decision making and our economy. Only then will we realize the full potential of our city and set the standard as the Nation’s Capital.


We Are

THE VOICE for Business in Ottawa YOUR Ottawa Board of Trade ADVOCATES for government policy changes by uniting business owners and amplifying influence BUILDS support and provides resources for local businesses as they launch, pivot or grow CHAMPIONS our global iconic city as the best place to live, work, invest, and play DRIVES initiatives that remove barriers, save costs and raise the profiles of local businesses

We hear you. Join us. Become an Ottawa Board of Trade member: ottawabot.ca Access tools, resources, savings and discounts: ottawanext.ca


ALGONQUIN COLLEGE REMOVING BARRIERS FOR FEMALE STUDENTS hen Algonquin College embarked on a pilot project three years ago to increase female graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs, it marked another step forward in removing barriers for women. The resulting We Saved You a Seat program actively recruits women in STEM programs at Algonquin. Up to 30 per cent of available space in the College’s Electrical Engineering Technician, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technician, Computer Systems Technician, and Powerline Technician programs are now set aside for female students. With funding support from Scotiabank, including the Scotiabank Women in Tech Award, We Saved You a Seat has now admitted more than 80 students, and has seen a 75 per cent increase in female enrolment in the Computer Systems Technician (CST) program alone. Ndona R. Wansaula, a recent CST graduate who received financial support through We Saved You a Seat, appreciates how important it is to support women in STEM academic and career pursuits. “There were many men in my program, and it was important to me to prove that I could do this too. We need more women in these roles, to bring their perspectives and points of view to problem solving,” said Wansaula. Chloe Pearson, a Mechanical Engineering Technology graduate from Algonquin who enrolled through We Saved You a Seat, has now entered the workforce and is paying her experience forward.


“There are opportunities within engineering or STEM that aren’t as masculine as you might think they are. But by the same token, if something is super-masculine and you want to put your hard hat on and your steel-toed boots – that kind of thing – it’s a lot of fun. I love the days I get to go down in a submarine. It’s a lot of fun to go down and take a look at the progress we’ve made,” said Pearson, a Junior Systems Integration Technologist at Babcock Canada, who also sits on the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Building on the success of We Saved You a Seat, Algonquin recently announced that the Leacross Foundation has donated $60,000 to support women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs at the College. Algonquin President and CEO, Claude Brulé, welcomed the Leacross support and said having the perspective of strong women leaders at the College helps ensure issues around equality are top of mind in decision-making. “When we look across the current landscape with the added lens of the pandemic, it is clear that there are both unresolved and new challenges to building equality for women in the workplace, the classroom and in leadership roles,” said Brulé. “We Saved You a Seat is one example where the College is enhancing a learning environment that encourages, supports and builds more space for women learners, and fosters their leadership aspirations.” Alongside We Saved You a Seat, Algonquin has also commenced a Leadership Development for Women initiative, including an in-development Future Leaders Award that will recognize and reward a female student who has shown outstanding leadership within her academic studies and/or community.



HOW TO ATTRACT MORE WOMEN IN SKILLED TRADES ith Ontario facing a serious labour shortage as it relates to skilled trades, construction and engineering, governments and post-secondary institutions are ramping up efforts to recruit candidates who will fill those positions. And they are targeting groups that didn’t traditionally enroll in such programs, including women. For Émilie Cormier, coordinator of Collège La Cité’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program, even though women and girls have historically been underrepresented in engineering schools and various skilled trades training programs, the tide is slowly but surely turning. “Back when I was studying, we were less than five girls out of a group of 200 students,” Ms. Cormier says. Today, men still constitute a large majority of the students enrolled in engineering programs, as is currently the case in Ms. Cormier’s classrooms at La Cité. We are however seeing more and more women showing an interest towards such programs. As a matter of fact, this spring, women will graduate from La Cité’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program. “The dynamic in the classroom is also very interesting. When our students have to work on projects as part of a team you Émilie Cormier don’t see women automatically team up


together, which is encouraging,” says Émilie Cormier. She notes that a lot of progress has been made, compared to when she was working in the private sector. However, in order to attract more women towards trades and engineering, we need to educate people through marketing, according to Émilie Cormier. “If I look at mechanical engineering, it is still a widely unknown sector. When people think of mechanical engineering, they immediately believe that it is geared towards math and science. But it is a profession that requires a very creative mind,” says Ms. Cormier. “The same goes for other sectors or skilled trades. To me, the electrical sector seems fascinating but back when I was in high school, never in my wildest dreams would I have envisioned pursuing a career in that field,” she adds. Ms. Cormier concludes that even though ensuring better representation in non-traditional careers and training programs is a long process, having more women study and work in those sectors will undoubtedly have a ripple effect, which La Cité is already starting to observe at its Aviation Parkway main campus or at its state-of-the-art Skilled Trades Institute in Orleans.

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something else: women are everything they could hope to find t’s a loaded question, with as many answers as there are within or outside of themselves, with abilities as numerous as their experiences to make us wonder how others see us and, accomplishments, as far-reaching as their imaginations, as strong more importantly, how we see ourselves. For that reason, it’s not a question any Canadian woman can fully answer— as their will, as powerful as their emotions, and as limitless as their but that’s not really the goal, and trying to generalize experience is not potential. They can do anything they set their minds to. Because potential is not limited by gender, and that is a fact. So how we as a country should spend our time. then, why is opportunity limited based on gender? In fact, time is of the essence as 2021 launches women into a Here are some ideas for what we can all do to open doors. strange jumble of firsts and all-too-familiars. In short: for people who identify as women in Canada, statistical and anecdotal evidence STEP 1: LEARN MORE—ABOUT WHERE WE’VE BEEN, WHERE reveal that as it moves forward, time is rolling back. As the Covid 19 Pandemic spreads, so does its impact on women— WE ARE, AND THE DIRECTION WE’RE HEADED The truth is, women in Canada have been socially distant for some decreasing their economic participation, rewinding advancements in time. The whole time, really. How distant is more than a question of the workforce, increasing caregiving and other domestic duties, and gender. It’s also one of race, age, religion, sexuality, ability status, marital negatively impacting their mental and physical health. These factors status, and many other factors that also affect women unequally co-mingle to determine privilege— amongst each other, based on or lack thereof. considerations such as race, age, Privilege greatly affects how gender, ability status, marital each woman experiences life— status, sexuality, and more— so it’s hard to understand and yes, they affect women completely what any one of us disproportionately compared to is going through. What we do men. In many cases, COVID-19 know is that women tend to have draws attention to pre-existing more barriers to go through, gaps by widening them. and that some have more to go So, what can we do about it? through than others. Much of the What matters most is how we research at our disposal focuses focus our efforts. That means on women as a general group, being inclusive and empathetic, and this is useful in certain educating ourselves on the contexts. But it’s important to diverse experiences of women in note that within this category our community and our country, labelled “woman” exists another and working together to find and system of privilege that varies bridge gaps. experience. Moving forward also means And that shouldn’t be news! It thinking about what we want won’t be for many people reading to bring to future generations this article. But it’s a truth that of women and girls—and then goes unspoken too often. actually bringing it to them. Karla Briones, Founder and CEO of Freshii, Global Pet Foods, and Frida’s Attic “COVID has shown us Easier said than done, right? delivering food to local hospitals. the areas of our community That’s true, but so is 12   C A P ITAL S PRI NG 2021  |  THE BUSINES S MAG A ZINE OF THE OT TAWA BOA R D OF TR A D E



that we’ve been neglecting,” says Solange Tuyishime, Director of Elevate International, Refugee-Turned-UNICEF Ambassador, and my new hero here in Ottawa. “Hopefully, it’s an opportunity to come together to elevate people who are being disproportionately burdened in our society.” So how can we do that? It comes back to being inclusive, empathetic, informed, and active—the Hand, the Heart, the Head, and how we use them. Let’s start with the Head—empowering our minds with facts and stats. *Studies show there are also ears in our heads, and listening to the women around you helps, too!

“Bringing more attention to the contributions that immigrants are making in our local economy and amplifying…the fact that they are…generating jobs and we are making our city a better place to live…would make you an ally for those immigrant-owned businesses. And obviously supporting their businesses is Number 1,” says Karla Briones, Serial Entrepreneur; Founder and CEO of Freshii, Global Pet Foods, and Frida’s Attic; and my other new local hero. “Leaving a good review on a website or on Google Reviews can make the world of difference…Liking their social media posts, sharing their social media—because there are different ways of showing support without exchanging dollars.” They’re strong suggestions—and they’re good for everybody. Another source of strength that’s good for Canadians? Education—and it’s a particular strength for Canadian women. According to Randstad, young women in Canada are among the most educated people in history, with Canada being the most educated country in the world and women earning the majority of post-secondary and tertiary degreesiii. Let’s take a moment to let this information sink in—and appreciate just how much diverse women have to contribute and are contributing to the country’s well-being. It’s no wonder McKinsey found in 2017 that furthering women’s equality in Canada could add a potential $150 billion in incremental GDP in 2026 . In case you’re wondering what that kind of impact looks like, it would be “equivalent to adding a new financial services sector to the economyiv.”

For Context: Before the Pandemic, 2016-2019 Growing Diversity and Chart-Topping Education The stats: Women make up a little over half the population of Canada, according to CATALYSTi. They’re growing in their diversity, and it’s projected that more than 30% of women in Canada will be women of colour in 2031i. Canada’s population is also growing and benefitting as a result of International Migration, which hit a record high in 2018 and accounted for 82% of the country’s population growthi. As a result, Canada’s population grew more than that of any other G7 country, doubling the growth of each country that tied for second place: the UK and the USi. And with 30% of Small and MediumSized Enterprises (SME’s) being run by new immigrants in Canada, the backbone of our economy is only getting stronger for itii. Solange Tuyishime, Director of Elevate International at Elevate Women National So how can we better support Conference in celebration of Persons Day and Women’s History Month in Canada those businesses?

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However That same McKinsey study found that the past 20 years has seen a slow crawl towards gender parity that could take between 30 and 180 years to achieveiv. There are several reasons for this, one being: The Wage Gap It turns out, according to Randstad, that women in Canada make 74 cents for each dollar earned by their male counterpartsiii. This is true of highly educated women too, who, “despite having a higher share of tertiary degrees…[earned] 73% of their male counterparts’ earnings in 2016i,” CATALYST tells us. Looking into the numbers further, however, things aren’t that cut and dried. Also in 2016, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) found that racialized women in Canada are paid an appalling average of 59 cents for each dollar white men make—and 88 cents on the dollar when compared with white women, Huffington Post reportsv. According to Maclean’s, that same study confirmed these numbers haven’t meaningfully improved since the CCPA’s 2011 report, which broke them down to specify that, compared to white men, women of colour average only 64 cents on the dollar and Aboriginal women an even lower 46vi. It can’t go on, period. So, where are the wage gaps living? CATALYST found that occupational segregation is part of the problem—men are being promoted to higher-level roles and have disproportionate representation in higher-paying industries like construction and STEM-related fields such as AIi. According to McKinsey, “women are less likely than men to be promoted to the next level at almost every stage of their careers” in corporate Canada, particularly at higher levels from Director to Vice President and beyondiv. (July 2019 saw female CEOs at the helm of only 3.5% of TSX-listed Canadian companies, says CATALYST)i. So what does women’s representation look like? “Women represent 35 percent of management positions, 28 percent of…(STEM) graduates, 23 percent of STEM workers, 20 percent of small business owners, and 29 percent of elected officials, but they take on 64 percent of unpaid care work and represent 80 percent of single parentsiv.” - McKinsey Women’s representation needs a lot of work. What’s more, McKinsey learned that the low numbers of women in higher-level positions have nothing to do with lack of ambition or a higher likelihood they will leave their positions—in fact, women are actually less likely to leave the company they’re working foriv. There is one level where Canadian women are well-represented at the office: Entry, at 50%, according to a second study McKinsey published in 2019vii. That’s lower than the percentage of women experiencing microaggression at work (almost 60%)vii. And, as if that’s not enough, CATALYST confirms that women aged 25 to 34 see a 48% drop in wages the first year after having a child, and younger women 25-29 find an additional 14% decrease in the five years followingi. So, how much money are women really losing? On average, according to Randstad, the loss of lifetime earnings could buy a house—totaling a jaw-dropping $706,500iii. But, as we know, the average doesn’t tell the whole story. Now, COVID-19 is telling it for us. During the Pandemic, 2020-2021 Old Ways and New Waves Create Growing Concern So, what has changed for women since COVID-19 began? Well, existing disparities have grown, turning time far enough back on women’s advancement to impact their mental, physical, social, and economic wellbeing for years to come, according to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canadaix. Racialized women and

new immigrants are at particular risk in these areas, the Canadian Women’s Foundation learnedx. Let’s take a look at what’s going on. Work Life Becoming Home Life The stats: It happened right away: “More than 20, 000 women left the workforce between February and October while about triple the number of men joined it,” according to a Royal Bank report cited in one CBC articlexi. Two thirds of those women are mothers of children 5 years of age or younger who previously made up 41% of the labour forcexi. Statistics Canada’s take? Part of the reason may be that women had access to more supportive services that allowed them to work before the pandemicix. These include “childcare, senior care, and assistance with domestic duties and meal preparation, the additional household demands that have disproportionately fallen on womenix.” Now, “the pandemic has pushed women’s participation in the labour force down to its lowest level in three decades,” unlike prior recessions which saw more men laid off, says Dawn Desjardins, who co-authored the Royal Bank studyxi. Do you remember that low representation of women in the workforce we looked at? With the pandemic, it’s getting even lower. What’s more, many female entrepreneurs are being inadvertently excluded from eligibility for the financial assistance programs offered by the Government of Canada, according to a report conducted by the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hubxi. Also ineligible for emergency government assistance are many of the immigrant women who “encounter deskilling, downward career mobility, underemployment, unemployment and talent waste, and find themselves in occupations that are not commensurate to their education and experience,” says the Conversationxiii. For the latter, the impacts of COVID-19 also include a delayed start to their careers in Canada, an interruption to or reversal of their career trajectories, and a struggle to maintain work/life balancexiii. These impacts will likely have long-term consequences affecting their abilities to gain experience in their industries—potentially funneling them towards frontline, low-level work often occupied by disadvantaged groupsxiii. Speaking of frontline work, it presents disproportionate risks to women’s health and well-being during the pandemic. Let’s talk about that for a moment. Health and Well-Being While countries across the world see more men die from COVID19, Canada is the notable exception, according to Global News and the Public Health Agency of Canadaxiv. In Ontario and Quebec, the provinces with the highest case counts and the most casualties, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women is even more obviousxiv. A few reasons for this potentially centre around long-term care homesxiv. Women have a higher life expectancy and make up a larger number of patientsxiv. On the flip side, more women gravitate towards care-giving professions and see high representations on the front lines as nurses and PSW’sxiv. Many of these frontline care workers are women of colourxiv. Long-term care homes, as we are all too aware by now, have been badly hit by the pandemic in Canada— other countries by comparison have not experienced this to the same extentxiv. The impacts of COVID-19 on women’s health and well-being, however, go beyond the virus itself, and they’re feeling the effects keenly. Gender-based violence is a growing concern around the world as women isolate at home, and shelters here in Canada are seeing more frequent useix.


What’s more, the Royal Ottawa and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have both presented findings split along gendered lines, with women reporting more heightened feelings of anxiety and loneliness . With what we’ve learned about the increased pressures at work and home, is it any wonder women are feeling a disproportionate decline in their mental health? “I’ve been in business for 12 years but I’m also a woman. I’m also a mom. I’m a partner. I’m a daughter…the best advice I got was that it’s okay to be vulnerable. And actually, vulnerability equals strength. It doesn’t equal weakness as…a person, as a woman, as an anything. It’s okay not to be okay.” -Karla Briones There’s only so much a person can juggle! After a year like this one, it’s Microaggression: a understandable to feel statement, action, or incident overwhelmed. Scratch that— regarded as an instance of it’s human. The bottom line: indirect, subtle, or unintentional take care of yourself, and keep discrimination against members checking in with your support of a marginalized group such system. It’s hard to do much as a racial or ethnic minority of anything when you’re (Oxford English Dictionary)viii. running on vapours. Once you’ve had a breather, you’re ready for Step 2. STEP 2: EMPATHIZE—WITH THE WOMEN IN YOUR FAMILY, IN YOUR COMMUNITY, AND BEYOND Remember that part from earlier, that to uplift each other means being inclusive, empathetic, informed, and active? That it comes back to the Hand, the Heart, the Head, and how we use them… Well, we just used our heads—and I know those statistics don’t exactly feel uplifting. They’re a lot to take in, they’re a lot to sit with, and they were never going to sit well (as they shouldn’t!) A lot of people reading this have probably experienced many of those challenges firsthand. So that heavy feeling in your chest is as expected as it isn’t comforting! That knowledge and feeling are also important for moving forward. And just as important: you’re not alone in this! Which brings us to empathy and community leadership—the Heart.

the people you’re leading. Because I think with time we get to know things that are right or that aren’t right.” So, if you feel you could be better and you’re still trying to make it happen, it doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out to uplift yourself and others. What’s more, if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, it doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out to be a leader. Quite the opposite, actually: leaders understand how to lead people by being human, and that means vulnerability. It’s something Karla really believes in. “Vulnerability can give you power,” she says. “It's okay to be tough and it's okay to be strategic and it's okay to be ambitious, but it's also okay to be soft and intuitive and intentional and heart-centred. So it's like you can wear a tie, but also wear your crown, too. And I just want to make sure that women are not afraid of really leading from that feminine side.” Women may be in a tough spot right now—some even more so than others—trying to navigate circumstances both within and outside of their control. But this doesn’t make them any less capable. In truth, they’re poised to be strong leaders who uplift themselves and their communities, perhaps now more than ever. With knowledge, empathy, and leadership potential through the Head and the Heart, only one step remains: reaching out. STEP 3: LEND A HAND OR ACCEPT ONE—TO LIFT WOMEN UP AT HOME, IN OUR COMMUNITY, AND BEYOND Many hands make light(er) work. Luckily, the National Capital Region has a strong, steady, and caring community of professionals, volunteers, and neighbours making it a better place to live. If you, your business, or your support system need a boost, there are resources at your disposal *See page 30 for more information. Want to lend a hand? You can always donate, volunteer, spread the message, or share some of these resources! Or, you can start with some honest conversations. When all is said and done, learning, empathizing, and reaching out is what this is all about.

i. CATALYST; catalyst.org; August 19, 2020; Women in the Workforce – Canada: Quick Take ii. Karla Briones Consulting; karlabriones.com; About Karla Briones; By Karla Briones iii. Randstad; randstad.ca; May 14, 2019; Surprising Stats About Women in the Workplace iv. McKinsey & Company Canada; mckinsey.com; June 2017; The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Canada

Empathy and Community Leadership Listening and researching more about the diverse experiences of the women around us makes it easier to imagine how they might feel and to offer support. It’s part of why empathy and leadership are connected. Empathy isn’t just about trying to understand someone’s feelings out of solidarity—though that holds tremendous value. Rather, empathy also shows us how to empower individuals and communities. “When we're strong locally and we unite locally and you know what your neighbour is feeling…you’re able to jump in and help at that level,” says Solange. “So how are we making sure that everyone is safe, is healthy and is also thriving? And then we take those tools and we share them with everyone else, because this is all about sharing.” So, empathy on its own may not make everything better—but it does offer some good leads towards progress. It goes to show that great leaders don’t just use their heads: they use Heart, too. “Yeah, heart-centred leadership is my thing!” says Solange, smiling. “It starts right here from within. Who are you as a human being? As a leader, if you’re not continuously seeking to be better, to know more so that you can do better, then you’re sort of cheating

v. Huffington Post; Huffpost.ca; 12/10/2019; Canada's Racial Gap On Income, Wealth Isn't Getting Any Better: Study; By Daniel Tencer vi. Maclean’s Magazine; Macleans.ca; February 8, 2018; For women of colour, there's a gap within the pay gap; By Melayna Williams vii. McKinsey & Company Canada; mckinsey.com; June 2017; The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Canada viii. Oxford English Dictionary ix. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada; jogc.com; December 01, 2020; Women's Issues in Pandemic Times: How COVID-19 Has Exacerbated Gender Inequities for Women in Canada and around the World; By Innie Chen, MD, MPH & Olga Bougie, MD, MPH x. Canadian Women’s Foundation; canadianwomen.org; The Facts: Women and Pandemics xi. CBC.ca; Women exiting workforce faster than men, childcare playing big role; Posted: Nov 19, 2020 xii. Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub; wekh.ca; The Impact of COVID-19 on Women Entrepreneurs Report xiii. TheConversation.com; Posted November 2, 2020; Immigrant women are falling behind during the COVID-19 pandemic; By Amrita Hari & Luciara Nardon xiv. GlobalNews.ca; Posted May 17, 2020; More Canadian women have COVID-19 and are dying as a result. Here’s some possible reasons why; By Olivia Bowden xv. Page22 xvi. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; camh.ca; Posted 14.Oct.2020; COVID-19 pandemic adversely affecting mental health of women and people with children; Ongoing national survey.

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FEMALE LEADERSHIP AT THE HELM OF LOCAL RECOVERY he National Capital Region is privileged to have strong female leadership talent to help steer it through both the good and the challenging economic times. “There are so many female entrepreneurs in our local economy – and it keeps growing,” says Anjali Dilawri, CPA, CA, a partner with local accounting firm Logan Katz LLP and 2020 Businesswoman of the Year Award – Professional recipient. Beginning with fostering a culture where women’s contributions


Anjali Dilawri, CPA, CA, Partner, Logan Katz LLP

She also points to the critical leadership of locally based health professionals like Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical advisor to Health Canada, and Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer. But while Dilawri believes the National Capital Region and Canada are moving in the right direction in terms of providing leadership opportunities for women, she wants to see more done, faster in an effort to rid society of old thinking and stereotypes.

Brenda Valente, CPA, CA - Principal - Logan Katz LLP

are valued, recognized, and celebrated within the firm, Logan Katz branches this out into the community, supporting several initiatives aimed at showcasing successful local female entrepreneurs. Opportunities have increased for women aspiring to leadership roles over the past several years because more and more people in the business community recognize “that we have many of the natural traits that position us as great leaders,” says Christa Gillis, CPA, CA, a Logan Katz tax partner. “We are nurturing and empathetic by nature. We have emotional intelligence - the ability to relate to how others are feeling. We help with team building by promoting members’ skills and strengths,” elaborates Gillis. Those personal and professional attributes are also especially valuable as Ottawa businesses step up to the plate and provide support to a local community that is fighting the devastating effects of the worst global pandemic in more than 100 years. “It’s well known that women are carrying more of the burden of business, children and the home. We’ve always done that. So now fold in a pandemic. Our ability to act as leaders in multiple facets of life is where we shine,” says Dilawri.

Christa Gillis, CPA, CA - Tax Partner - Logan Katz LLP

“We are all products of a patriarchal society. It is loaded with inherent unconscious biases about what is valued in a man and what is valued in a woman. Traits like powerful, successful, and ambitious are considered very positive when you’re describing men, but not women,” says Dilawri. She actively encourages women at Logan Katz and elsewhere to be bold and outspoken about their ambition to get ahead, and to also express pride and take ownership of their success and accomplishments. Brenda Valente, CPA, CA, a principal with Logan Katz, believes that task has become easier with the technology available at everyone’s fingertips. “I think social media over the past number of years has allowed us to be more celebrated, and to make our issues more well known, and to also realize what other women are doing,” says Valente. This creates a virtuous circle because as the growing list of accomplishments by women in business and other fields earns more recognition, this also buoys the optimism of other women about what they too can accomplish, she elaborates.



GETTING WOMEN BACK TO WORK VITAL TO CANADA’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY utcomes matter. This is especially true of individuals in search of gainful employment. Everyone – regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or disability – deserves a fair opportunity equal to their capabilities. For 27 years, Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care (PPRC) has supported this ideal on behalf of people with disabilities, under the leadership of our founder, Linda Simpson. We provide return-to-work services for jobseekers, to prepare them to find a job and enjoy a career. This has always been an all-hands-on-deck effort. We work just as closely with employers and other community partners as we do with our clients. It takes this kind of collaborative approach to overcome the barriers and misconceptions in the workplace that can prevent people with disabilities from finding, and keeping, gainful employment. With the pandemic, this need for cooperation, collaboration and goodwill has only deepened. Women in particular have borne the brunt of having to sacrifice work, income and career progression to care for and school their children at home.


March 8 was International Women’s Day, but we should be mindful every day of how much the pandemic has impacted this half of our labour force and the consequences this will have for our communities and our economy in the years to come. At PPRC, we are proud of the role we continue to play in support of our female clientele (see infographic). But we are just one part of a much larger puzzle when it comes to ensuring fair access and workforce participation for all. As we all look at what comes after the pandemic, public and private sector employers, government policy makers and other concerned stakeholders must continue to work together in a constructive way to drive inclusion and accessibility. Recognizing, appreciating and levering the contribution that each and every individual can make as part of Canada’s labour force is vital to the health of our communities and the recovery of our economy. At PPRC, we will continue to do our part. If your organization needs assistance with inclusion and accessibility, we are here to help.

Outcomes Matter from the Employment Readiness Scale (ERS) Model Employment Readiness is defined as being able with little or no outside help to acquire and keep a job as well as being able to manage transitions to new jobs.

Comparison of Changes in Soft Skills Outcome Expectancy

Comparison of Changes in Employability Factors Ongoing Career Management 40%




Comparison of Changes in Soft Skills 2015-2020 Social Supports 30%



Comparison of Changes in Employability Factors by Equity Groups Ongoing Career Management

Comparison of Changes by Groups: 2015-2020 Social Supports 40%

Comparison of Changes in Soft Skills by Equity Groups Outcome Expectancy 30%



30% 20%








20% 10%

10% 5%

10% 5%




Canada PWD Canada PPRC

Canada PWD Canada PPRC

Canada PWD Canada PPRC

How PPRC is impacting change on the employability factors and soft skills in comparison to others serving persons with disabilities (PWD) and those serving others in Canada.



Women Visible minorities Persons with disabilities


High School diploma Age: 30-45 Women Persons with disabilities


Women Visible minorities Persons with disabilities

How Women clients have Changed since starting service and receiving interventions from PPRC. A change of 10% or higher is statistically significant.

Outcome Expectancy: willing to take responsibility for success On-going Career Management: manage work life changes Social Supports: have a strong network

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Women have been disproportionate affected by the pandemic’s burdens, and frontline workers, even more so than most. BY J E N N IF E R C AM P B E LL

research work [piling up] from the time I was off,” she says. “I s Thais Coutinho is doing an interview with Capital thought I would hit the ground running, but I couldn’t. That magazine by Zoom, her phone rings. She apologizes and administrative burden was significant and with the variants, it’s asks to be excused for a minute. When she returns, she picked up again.” explains, “It was my kid’s pediatrician.” On days like today, when her Today, her children can’t go to daycare, she children, who are 18 months and puts her research on hold again four years old, are both home and manages the children in from school with runny noses shifts with her husband, who is a — a COVID reality for parents remote-working IT professional around the world. It’s the perfect with the Mayo Institute. illustration of how hard the Some weeks, she has no time pandemic has been on women. off and often she’s managing Coutinho is a cardiologist and staffing because although the division head at the University of Heart Institute’s COVID cases Ottawa Heart Institute and chair are low, every time there’s an of the Canadian Women’s Heart outbreak, she loses staff who Health Centre. She’s also an become sick with the virus. associate professor of medicine. “Our hospitals aren’t And, after a year of working overflowing, but staffing is an in COVID-19’s strange issue,” she says. circumstances, this busy Coutinho says her “extremely specialist is exhausted. Work-life engaged” husband has helped a lot. balance is always a challenge with “I have a very good an all-consuming job and young partnership,” she says. “But in children, but the pandemic has terms of the work, I’m super tired made it worse. and exhausted. It’s nights and “Because I’m division chief, weekends. This week, I had no there’s been a significant increase days off. When I’m not working, in the administrative burden,” I try to disconnect. My usual she says. escape is travel, but that’s been She returned from maternity impossible. And we have to do the leave in early April 2020, just in work. People count on us.” time to start managing COVID For her part, radiologist Susan protocols. And, like many doctors, Peddle remembers the Ottawa she had an abridged maternity Dr. Thais Coutinho, Chief, Divison of Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation at Hospital as “a nice place to work.” leave — just seven months. University of Ottawa Heart Institute With COVID, that changed. “I had seven months of



breathe. Or I cry. Or I rage,” she says. “But I take a few minutes for Initially, fear dominated because not enough was known about the myself. I don’t want to bring it home to my family.” virus, but frontline workers still had to go to work. They always wore As a coping mechanism, she often checks in with herself on her masks, but at first, patients weren’t because there weren’t enough of emotional well-being. them. Working collaboratively was strained because of distancing. “I do a lot of meditation “It’s been a work-in-progress now, a lot of breathing,” she and a big challenge,” Peddle says. says. “I’ve trained myself “We just had to keep adjusting. to do these little things to Sometimes I feel like a ping-pong manage the burnout. I find I ball. The vaccine hopes have almost need to rest more.” been overcome by the variants. In addition to COVID in Morale at work is quite low.” hospitals, there’s lockdown She notes that women are fallout. Young people are taking a lot of the burden and that trying to commit suicide, in radiology, there are four female others are abusing alcohol doctors, and four male, and all the and drugs and still others are technicians are female. showing up with advanced “Resilience is low,” she says. cancers because they were too “The interactions with patients scared to address symptoms are more emotionally tiring earlier. In her job, she now because [patients] are scared. has to tell patients biopsies I had a patient last week and it that used to happen within a was the first time she’d left her week are now taking five or six apartment in a year.” Examples weeks. such as the young breast-feeding “What’s overwhelming the mom with newly diagnosed system is all this stuff,” she cancer who can’t have her says. husband at her appointments She advises people to focus with her to hold her hand are on what they can control. heartbreaking. “You can get really Peddle’s husband has taken on overwhelmed and that leads domestic duties while she works to poor decisions,” she says. days, but when she gets home, “I can’t control COVID, but he goes to work and she’s on for I can be good to my body dinner or homework and school by eating well, getting some lunches for her 10- and 12-yearDr. Susan Peddle, Radiologist, The Ottawa Hospital exercise.” old daughters. “Sometimes at work, I sit and TH E BUS I N E S S M AG A Z I N E OF TH E OT TAWA BOA R D OF TR A D E   |   S P R I N G 2 02 1   C A P I TA L   1 9


LOCAL COMPANY TACKLES SPREAD OF VIRUSES AND BACTERIA TO MAKE THE WORLD SAFE Doesn't require PPE. n these challenging pandemic times, a local company is aiming to help protect the public with new and innovative products comprised of safe and natural elements. “We want to make an impact,” says Suzanne Cyr, CEO of Ottawa-based PureFog Canada Inc. “We need to get people and the economy moving again and our products can make that happen.” PureFog Canada’s first product is SkinSafe, a hand, facial and whole-body cleanser approved by Health Canada. SkinSafe is a water based, non-toxic, environmentally friendly hypochlorous acid, found naturally in mammals, including humans. “It is a compound produced by our white blood cells to eliminate pathogens from our body,” says Chief Technology Officer Michael Lautru, who notes that hypochlorous acid was used extensively during the two World Wars to treat wounded soldiers. There is a large body of scientific research and documentation proving that hypochlorous solutions work very effectively against COVID-19 and most other pathogens. Hypochlorous acid is included in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s list of disinfectants which kill COVID-19, Lautru elaborates. PureFog Canada is lab testing a hypochlorous disinfectant, which when dispersed as a dry fog, will sanitize the air and surfaces of commercial and industrial spaces, including health care facilities, schools, public transit systems,


grocery stores, sports arenas, airports, shopping centres, offices, etc. Hypochlorous acid requires no special protective equipment to use, is safe, easy to store and has a reliable shelf-life. “Dry fog is advantageous because it dissipates into the air quickly, settles into even the smallest of cracks, and dries within minutes leaving no residue, unlike other disinfectants that are sprayed and leave surfaces wet”, says Cyr. “In retirement homes, you can prevent outbreaks of flu or other infections. If you can keep such outbreaks down to a minimum, the relief on our entire medical infrastructure will be enormous. This is also true for mass transit. If you can prevent the spread of infection between people, you’re preventing a large proportion of the population from getting sick repeatedly,” says Lautru. “Our mission is to create safer, healthier, productive environments through this venture," says Lalith Gunaratne, Chief Business Development Officer. Hypochlorous dry-fogging solution has been approved and used with success in Europe, and PureFog Canada hopes to receive its approval from Health Canada for use here in the third quarter of 2021. This approval, coupled with dry-fogging equipment manufactured and distributed by PureFog Canada’s parent company, KleenShield Solutions Inc., will uniquely position the companies to offer a safe solution to prevent the spread of harmful pathogens.




Natalie Schuler

Kayla Seipp

Tracy Watters

eing a female Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) in a traditionally male-dominated profession can pose challenges – and some of them come from within ourselves, say three Ottawa-based partners in MNP, a national accounting and consulting firm. The world of accounting is as diverse as the businesses, organizations and individuals CPAs serve. From making sure a client’s tax strategy is effective to planning for growth to exploring succession options, the work is dynamic and ever changing, says Natalie Schuler, MNP’s Ottawa Professional’s niche leader. The responsibility of being a leader has its challenges and rewards, regardless of your gender, Schuler says. However, finding your voice and advocating for yourself often is harder for women. “Be confident in your abilities and surround yourself with those people who support you in your career and are there for you,” she says. “Find those people to have those great conversations to talk through ideas or concerns or problems, whether it’s formal mentorship or someone with leadership qualities you want to emulate.” Having women in leadership positions shows other women they can also be leaders, says Kayla Seipp, leader of MNP’s Eastern Ontario not-for-profit assurance team. “Working with other female partners when I was an articling student made it clear to me that it was okay for me to continue to have this goal of ‘I think I should be a partner and now I can see that I deserve to be a partner.’ You still might feel that you need to work twice as hard to be taken seriously, but you can see things are changing, and there are women in key leadership roles, too.” The trick to success is trying out different things to find the area that speaks to you, and that you can be passionate about, she says. At MNP, she was able to meld her passion for working with not-forprofits and charities with her love of details and numbers.


Mélanie Lefebvre

Lynda Carter

“The things that motivate me are the clients and the important work that they do, while being able to put all the pieces together and finding the solutions they need in the end,” Seipp says. As a partner in MNP Ottawa’s accounting and assurance group, Tracy Watters works primarily with small-to-mid-sized business owners as a general practitioner and enjoys the relationships that develop from that. “Their business is their being,” she says. “You get to know their business, their family, and they start calling you for everything – payroll issues, tax questions, a fund for their kid’s education, and sometimes the questions are more complex, and you help to connect them with one of our many specialists to get them the right information.” Family is important to Watters, and the flexibility MNP offers its people was one of the reasons she joined the firm. “Because I think that’s where females hesitate to jump into a leadership role, that partnership role - they worry about the time they are going to spend in the office,” she says. This past year, Tracy and her husband split parental leave after welcoming their second child. Her advice to young female professionals is to find someone in a role you aspire to and ask all the questions you have. “Get personal, ask about what works for them, how understanding people are about things you might be worried about, and just– if there are things that are holding you back, try and find some of those answers.” In March 2021, the firm welcomed two new partners, Lynda Carter and Mélanie Lefebvre, to the MNP Ottawa office. To get in touch with one of our advisors, please visit: https://www.mnp.ca/en/offices/ ottawacarling

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t’s no longer news that a lot of people are facing "Half of those surveyed showed significant collateral effects of the pandemic. What is astonishing signs of depression, and one in three were is the scale of this phenomenon,” says Dr. Rébecca experiencing anxiety" Robillard, Director of the Clinical Sleep Research Platform at the Royal Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, and Assistant Professor at the School of Psychology at the with mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression. University of Ottawa. The situation is difficult, unusual and unprecedented, but it is also In April 2020, one month into the first wave COVID-19, Dr. an opportunity to demonstrate how sleep can be a good ally to Robillard and her team surveyed 5,000 Canadians to see how the improving mental health.” pandemic was affecting their sleep and mental health. What they Dr. Robillard has always been interested in understanding and discovered was striking. helping people, and is especially fascinated with sleep and how it can “It was a lot more than we expected,” explains Dr. Robillard. “Half be used to foster better mental health. She has been recognized widely of those surveyed showed significant signs of depression, and one in for her achievements in sleep research, receiving the New Investigator three were experiencing anxiety.” The pandemic was taking a serious toll on Canadians’ mental health, Award of the Australasian Sleep Association, the Young Investigator Inspiration Award of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, and the including those with no history of mental illness. For individuals with Emerging Research Innovators in Mental Health award. prior mental health challenges, symptoms were getting worse, in part “Sleep is such a mysterious state and there is still so much we because the pandemic was limiting access to care. don’t understand. We do know that we can use sleep as a therapeutic Dr. Robillard also looked at the impact of the pandemic on target and stop that vicious spiral which worsens mental disorders,” people’s sleep, and the numbers were remarkably similar, with close she explains. “I’ve seen how someone with years of depression can to half of those surveyed suffering from insomnia. come into the sleep lab and, voila, they get better. When a patient is She was especially surprised to see how differently sleep was well-slept, they are also better equipped to pursue therapy and other disrupted in participants, with some struggling to fall asleep, means of improving their lives.” some failing to maintain sleep and others waking too early. Some For now, Dr. Robillard is continuing her study on the impacts participants even found their sleep improving, possibly because they of the pandemic on sleep and mental health, following up on the no longer had to get up early to commute. original participants to see how things are evolving over time. Early More predictable were the kinds of people most negatively affected. observations show that while levels of anxiety are starting to go According to Dr. Robillard, “Three important factors for disrupted down, depression continues to increase. sleep were being female, actively working, and having underage According to Dr. Robillard, “This makes sense according to how children at home. What emerges is the image of the young woman humans fare in sustained who is trying to pull everything stressful situations. To some together over a sustained period degree, we can adapt to it, but of time. They’re confined at if stress levels remain fairly home, managing work and high for a long time, depression family responsibilities, often can kick in and become more with less support from extended chronic. The pandemic is a families.” very unusual situation that is “Add to that the added burden long-lasting.” of worrying about the well-being She is also hoping to recruit of kids and parents. Our survey new participants, to evaluate showed that people’s number the impact of the second and one concern – above worries third waves on Canadians. In of dying from the pandemic or the meantime, Dr. Robillard accessing medical care – was encourages everyone to take how their family would cope.” good care of themselves and to Dr. Robillard is quick to point address any mental health issues out that sleep is essential to before they become chronic. everyone’s mental health, and if it “Efforts to stay connected is disrupted, it can fuel a cascade with each other (even virtually), of negative outcomes. stay active, eat well and “When we have sleep manage our sleep are now problems, we experience more more important than ever,” she fragile mental health, and emphasizes. “If we protect our vice versa. Poor mental health sleep, we are better equipped to disrupts our sleep, and so it face the challenges of our wake becomes a vicious cycle,” she life, including the one we are explains. facing today.” “What we’re going through If you would like to now highlights this phenomenon participate, you can complete on a very large scale. We’re this survey here: www.theroyal. seeing a very strong correlation Dr. Rébecca Robillard, Director of the Clinical Sleep Research Platform, Royal Ottawa Institute for Mental Health Research ca/COVID19survey between sleep disturbances


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Changes in mental healthcare access Changing in daily routine and social life

Sleep difficulties Mental health disorders

Economic hardship

of people without pre-existing mental disorders screened positive for depression and over


screened positive for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Findings from the COVID19survey

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CAPITAL/Paro Centre


s we move into the second year of the global Covid-19 pandemic, we realize now more than ever that supporting each other while staying apart has become vital to the survival of our businesses and indeed our wellbeing. For over 26 years, PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise has provided services to enterprising women with that exact philosophy as our foundation: when women support women, amazing things can happen! PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise is a business development organization with a twist! While we develop and provide programs and services that support women in business from start-up to scale-up; from business planning and marketing to international export strategies, our main approach to strengthening women-owned businesses prioritizes #womensupportingwomen as part of a crossprovincial peer network that has grown to become one of the largest peer lending networks in North America. With 27 Peer Lending Circles Groups and 60 organizational partners in the Ottawa region, PARO has become a beacon of inspiration for many women who wish to dream big! These dreams are realized through education, skills training, and a consistent flow of natural empowerment that comes from the message that, when it comes to your business goals, you can achieve your dreams. To support women


on this journey, PARO prioritizes wellness; we believe that strengthbased assets contribute to thriving successes – we work with each woman where they are, regardless of geography, socioeconomic status, or where they are on their business journey. As part of this commitment to #proudPAROwomen, our intersectional approach to supporting all women appreciates and embraces the diversity that proudly exists in our community of women in business. PARO’s services are designed to highlight and promote this diversity through empowerment strategies that support women in building resiliency in their businesses and their lives. In addition to one-on-one counselling offered by our PARO team members ( six of whom live in the Ottawa region!) PARO provides access to peer mentoring and support, financial supports, online learning, exciting regular events packages with information, tactical tools, and inspiring speakers, as well as tailored programs that support women in starting and scaling their businesses. As the world changes, we need support from like-minded dream chasers, and PARO is the place to find them. To learn more about the exciting assets PARO has to offer, send us an email at info@paro.ca, check out our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, or give us a call at 807625-0328 to start mapping your course to achieving your business dreams by becoming an Enterprising Woman!

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CAPITAL/Fenix Solutions

Count Jennifer MacKinnon among those who believe – strongly – that no company can succeed unless it puts people first. No exceptions. nd no surprise that Jennifer, CEO of the Ottawabased web technology and design firm, Fenix Solutions, credits her company’s enduring success to its excellent client relationships. Relationships, she says, that Fenix strengthens daily by listening and responding to the needs of its clients.


But she is quick to point out, the spotlight that Fenix shines on its client relations also illuminates the dedication and skills of those whose job it is to serve those customers – the 10 professionals who make up Fenix’s elite team. Giving them the time and opportunity to nurture their skills and enhance their knowledge contributes as much to Fenix’s success as customer experience, says Jennifer. And if you thought Fenix brings a high level of innovation to web software development, check out what it does to encourage employee growth.


Start with flow Tuesdays and Thursdays. No internal meetings, no external meetings, no disruptions. These two days belong solely to the employees so they can – as Jennifer describes it – get in the flow. “We found that because employees were often interrupted it was difficult to get work done efficiently. Introducing flow Tuesdays and Thursdays gives employees the chance to focus 100% on their work. That, we’ve found, has elevated the quality of service we provide our clients, and our employee well-being.” Then there are Fenix Fridays. Ten days a year for team members to work on their personal and professional growth. A time to take courses, research work-related tools and processes, or simply to take a deep breath and consider what lies ahead.


But does it work? Yes, according to not only Jennifer, but her clients and employees. “They love it,” says, Jennifer. “It has been all positive feedback from everyone. And it works.”

Our clients tell us our service is impeccable, and that we consistently deliver a perfect balance of client experience and innovation. Simply put, that’s our brilliant team at work.

And what would any female led web agency be without pink champagne? At Fenix, all celebrations include pink champagne. “We’re fortunate to have an exceptionally gifted team,” says Jennifer, “one that combines impeccable customer service with quality deliverables. We want our team to have every opportunity to stay engaged and up-to-date. Flow Tuesdays and Thursdays, Fenix Friday and, yes, even the pink champagne, makes that happen. Employee recognition is key; so, we celebrate.” While Jennifer is clearly proud of each team member, she acknowledges that she is excited when women join the company, as the industry tends to be male skewed. “There are tremendous opportunities for women in technology.” “I started Fenix Solutions 20 years ago. I took the skills I had acquired and used them to start my own agency. Today, I see those same capabilities and skills in the women working at Fenix. I’m thrilled, and gratified, that they have chosen to put their considerable expertise to work at Fenix.” Jennifer’s ultimate goal? “To develop the careers of those around me. To build up the employees by providing learning and development opportunities and empower them to lead.” That approach has clearly paid dividends. “Our clients tell us our service is impeccable,” she says, “and that we consistently deliver a perfect balance of client experience and innovation. Simply put, that’s our brilliant team at work.” That focus has enabled Fenix to attract top-tier clients such as Nokia, Kinaxis and St. John Ambulance. The Nokia Corporation was an especially notable feather in the Fenix cap. Based in Finland, the multinational telecommunications,

information technology and consumer electronic company does business in more than 130 countries. In North America, however, Nokia opted to go with just one vendor – Fenix. “When all is said and done,” says Jennifer, “we emphasize quality over growth. Twenty years ago, we made the decision to do only one thing – wed development & design. Looking back, I think we made the right decision. And we do it very well.”

That kind of success deserves to be toasted. On the cusp of 20 years in business this year, pink champagne anyone?




Account Director

Quality Assurance

Project Manager

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WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS HAVE RESOURCES Ottawa has a number of women’s networking groups as well as numerous government and community-run programs to help women launch, grow and scale their businesses and expand their networks. BY J E N N I FE R CA M P BE L L

information-management and communication platform to help udrey Bond wishes there wasn’t a need for programs that families, caregivers and home-care agencies securely store, manage help women entrepreneurs secure funding. and share vital information, updates, documents, schedules and “As a mother to a daughter who is an entrepreneur tasks. She came up with the idea because she wanted to share her herself — and I mentor a lot of other young women in parents’ — both now her dependants — critical medical information technology — my hope is that when they are out there hustling and with her brother and with her parents’ launching their startups and looking for caregivers. funding that they’re not going to have to go Bond won second prize in the competition, through SheBoot programs and that we won’t taking home $50,000 in non-diluted funding have to have International Women’s Week (meaning that she didn’t have to give up any and Day to bring awareness.” equity in her company.) The program is a But she concedes that at this point, there collaboration between Invest Ottawa and the definitely is a need. Venture capital funding Capital Angel Network. to women in 2020 was down by 27 percent “When you’re a startup, it doesn’t matter and women’s share of dollars has gone from if you’re a male or a female, funding is 2.8 percent — an already very small number essential to help move forward,” says Bond, — to 2.3 percent. whose company was just named startup of Given that, Bond was happy to have been the year by Faces magazine. “There are so selected as one of 10 participants in the 2020 many companies out there that just don’t SheBoot program, a six-week bootcamp make it because they don’t have the funding. that prepares founders to pitch their With that money, we were able to revamp businesses and secure investment. Bond’s our signup and onboarding, which we knew company — Vaultt — has an encrypted Audrey Bond, Founder and CEO at Vaultt.com



native Senegal. “It allowed me to scale my business online.” was pretty friction-y. We were able to put that money into the She applied and three weeks later, she was given a transformation technology and development as well as hiring a director of business development. He’s been out there and calling everyone he knows. It’s team made up of digital marketers, a graphic designer, a copy writer and programmers. been fantastic for us.” “They were all women and they were amazing,” she says. “They Part of that push has resulted in a significant contract with gave me advice about my website.” Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the The team redesigned her website, helped world’s largest pharmaceuticals. her rewrite content, gave her some marketing Marie Pierre Faye, meanwhile, took part in advice and helped her build a solid digital Invest Ottawa’s Digital Main Street program, marketing strategy so that she now sees her which is run by Invest Ottawa through the business moving online more successfully. support of the federal government and “I have a solid marketing plan for the FedDev Ontario through the Regional Relief future and they helped me create content for and Recovery Fund. It was designed to help my social media for the next year,” she says. businesses pivot to online sales and better So far, she’s seen more uptake in online online presence during the pandemic. sales — they’ve already increased by five per “It’s allowed me to gain a lot of knowledge cent in a few months — and she gets more in digital marketing, how to make sales online response to her advertising. and how to have [an online] presence,” says “The team really listened to me and they Faye, co-founder of Jogo Juice, which makes knew exactly what I needed,” she says. “The beverages from super-foods such as hibiscus flowers, many of which are sourced from her Marie-Pier Faye, Founder and CEO of Faye Beverage communication between us was amazing.”

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RESOURCES GOVERNMENT AND AFFILIATES SheBoot: A six-week bootcamp for women entrepreneurs that culminates in a pitch competition with a total of $200,000 up for grabs. https://www.investottawa.ca/sheboot/ Invest Ottawa programs: Invest Ottawa has a number of programs for entrepreneurs, including an accelerator program and a pre-accelerator program. https://www.investottawa.ca/programs/

WOMEN'S NETWORKS Women Immigrant Services Ottawa: A community-based agency helping immigrant and racialized women to integrate into Canadian society, rebuild their lives free of violence and achieve their personal goals. https://www.immigrantwomenservices.com/ Women’s Business Network: This 30-year-old network is for women in business. https://womensbusinessnetwork.ca/

Digital Main Street: Participants in this Invest Ottawa program leave with a redesigned website, new content, social media campaigns and a digital marketing strategy. https://www.investottawa.ca/digital-main-street/

Women in Communications and Technology: WCT is the only Canadian coast-to-coast non-profit organization that offers women in Canada’s digital economy professional development, mentorship, advocacy and research. https://www.wct-fct.com/en

Capital Angel’s Network: This network of angel investors aims to build the region’s entrepreneurial community to make capital the best place to start a business. The network has grown its number of women angels from five per cent to 20 per cent and has funded 11 women-led companies over the same period. https://www.capitalangels.ca/

Native Women’s Association of Canada: This national Indigenous organization represents the political voice of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people. https://www.nwac.ca/bethedrum/

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: The government of Canada has several programs to help businesses facing hardship as a result of the pandemic. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economicresponse-plan.html#businesses Provincial Pandemic Relief: The province has grants to help with the cost of personal protective equipment, property taxes, energy bills, among others. https://www.ontario.ca/page/businesses-get-help-covid-19-costs Trade Accelerator Program: Export Development Canada offers in-depth workshop sessions for enhanced export knowledge. https://www.edc.ca/en/campaign/trade-accelerator-program.html

The Canadian Women’s Network (CWN): Based in San Francisco, it connects Canadian female founders with women leaders globally. https://www.cwnsv.com/about-us Elevate International: This Ottawa-based organization exists to inspire, empower and elevate women and girls locally and globally. It aims to help women advance in leadership and economic growth and it offers mentoring programs for young women. https://www.elevateinternational.ca/ How She Hustles: This is one of Canada’s leading social networks for diverse professional women — from entrepreneurs who are making their mark in the startup ecosystem — to corporate professionals who are changing the leadership landscape. https://howshehustles.com/


GETTING BACK TO WORK: CAUSEWAY’S APPROACH TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY ne of the most significant challenges caused by the pandemic is its impact on employment. As province-wide safety measures came into place, businesses struggled to continue operating and many people lost employment. Causeway, a not-for-profit organization in Ottawa that helps people with barriers to employment including mental illness and disabilities find rewarding work, sees the impact of this first-hand. The increases in both unemployment and mental health challenges as a result of the pandemic places Causeway in a unique position to get people back to work, connect them to community and mental health resources, and equip businesses with the support they need to find talent. By taking a holistic approach to employment, Causeway creates sustainable pathways for people to find work – an approach that ensures those hit hardest by the pandemic, including people with disabilities and mental illness, people of colour, and women are an integral part of the road to economic recovery. “As women in leadership, we can set the stage for building services and systems that are reflective of the people in our community,” says Hailey Hechtman, Executive Director of Causeway. “We know that diversity is a key to generating new ideas, providing insights into creative solutions driven by real experiences and a tapestry of voices at the table. It is our job to co-create a system that is accessible to all people, that can be navigated easily and sees everyone in our world as valuable context experts of their own their lives. “The future for us at Causeway is driven by a combination of organizational selfreflection — where we are intentional in the way we support people, the way we listen to them and the way we showcase their strengths to employers — as well as the establishment of intersections and partnerships with other agencies in spaces like housing, food security, women’s empowerment, youth justice and mental health. Where together, we can create pathways that are person-centered, meet people where they are at and help them to reach their potential.”


In the current climate, many workplaces are taking a harder look at creating workspaces that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Causeway is a resource for employers not just to find talent, but to also learn about ways they can create positive and inclusive work environments to support a diverse workforce. To learn more about Causeway’s employment programs and services and how Causeway can help businesses find job-ready candidates, please visit www.causewayworkcentre.org

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Nepean Point redevelopment


s the largest landowner in Canada’s Capital Region, the National Capital Commission (NCC) cares for and protects vital public places that are unique to our nation’s symbolic, natural and cultural heritage. The NCC continuously improves these assets to ensure that they remain a legacy for future generations. Here are some of many exciting projects that the NCC is currently working on.


Nepean Point redevelopment A historic 1.27-hectare site situated behind the National Gallery of Canada, Nepean Point was last developed for Canada’s centennial in 1967. The NCC is currently redeveloping Nepean Point to create a lively, 21st century park, in the geographic heart of the Capital. For anyone seeking to experience Ottawa’s natural picturesque surroundings, the site offers a panoramic vantage point of the Ottawa River with clear sightlines toward the Capital’s main landmarks, including the Fairmont Château Laurier, the Parliament of Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History. In January 2021, the final site design was approved, and the main construction will begin in spring 2021. The work includes the


Westboro Beach area improvements

Sussex Courtyards rehabilitation

construction of a new pedestrian bridge, which will provide access to Nepean Point from Major’s Hill Park. The design also includes the rehabilitation of the perimeter wall and creation of a landscape ha-ha feature that will offer spectacular views of the Capital. The project is expected to be completed by late spring 2023. Sussex Courtyards rehabilitation Spanning four housing blocks within the historic ByWard Market area, the Sussex Courtyards feature one of the Capital’s oldest neighbourhoods. The courtyards, which have been preserved and developed as part of our architectural heritage, provide a unique urban experience in Canada’s Capital. The Sussex Courtyards are high-traffic, mixed-use areas that link many retail spaces and restaurants, and are surrounded by NCC heritage buildings. Rehabilitation work will allow for the restoration and further integration of the character-defining heritage features of this historic area, as well as inspire opportunities for animation within the downtown core. The rehabilitation work is expected to start in 2022, and the NCC will work in collaboration with stakeholders to minimize the impacts of construction on their operations.

Westboro Beach area improvements Westboro Beach is a key hub on the south shore of the historic Ottawa River. Its revitalization represents a major milestone in the ambitious and collaborative effort to develop a new nine-kilometre riverfront park connecting LeBreton Flats to Mud Lake. Drawing on the rich and diverse feedback provided by hundreds of participants through two rounds of public consultations and stakeholder engagements, we’ve developed a design aiming to create a vibrant and active area that will improve the quality of life of residents, and enhance the experience of visitors. In 2022, the NCC will construct the south side parking lot and services, as well as the parkway intersection and realignment by the City of Ottawa's LRT contractors. Tendering for the design implementation and construction of the new Westboro Beach pavilion and landscape will be undertaken throughout 2021 and 2022. The final design will be presented to the NCC Board of Directors for approval in fall 2021, with construction expected to start in summer 2022. Working with the NCC The NCC welcomes the opportunity to work with new suppliers and contractors. If you are interested in offering your services, please visit https://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/business/contracting-with-the-ncc.

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CAPITAL/Aventine Group

LEADERSHIP IN TRYING TIMES: A LOOK AT MARCUS AURELIUS MEDITATIONS like a journal with reflective thoughts and ideas. It is interesting to t about this time last year, a colleague of mine asked me note that during the last 14 years of his life he faced one of the worst how we can help our clients navigate through this time of plagues in European history. Estimated death tolls reached to 5 uncertainty. After all as change managers, organizational development and transformation experts – we should have million or 2.63% of the entire world population at that time. A heavy concentration of deaths were in Rome. the answers on how to navigate this uncertain terrain. Marcus Aurelius as Emperor We were in the midst of a global brought stability to an unstable pandemic that shut down the entire empire. As Emperor he was world. Everything we knew, changed, responsible for the people under overnight. It affected every aspect of his rule and watched them our lives from how we shopped, worked, suffer and die by the hands entertained, dressed, went to school, not of a military might but worshiped – it permeated through every rather, a plague. All the while facet of our lives. We were unsure of what leading military campaigns and was to come. Some of us were optimistic, expeditions to ensure the safety thinking it would be a mere 6 weeks of of Rome and its citizens. lockdown, others saw it as something Meditations serves as the moral more foreboding. What is certain, is that counsel he availed himself to a year later, there will never be a return and it speaks to the character to “normal”. We will return to a new and mental resilience required normal one that is co-created by all of to deal with the challenges he us. This was further compounded by the faced. Stoics believe that true growing political unrest over the past moral good is derived from our four years culminating events like the character and actions. In the face storming of Capitol Hill. To bear witness of adversity, what one chooses to to the blatant degradation of not only our do or not do is the mark of the institutions, democracy, constitutional person. rights and freedoms but of humanity itself Since this issue is centered has been emotionally devastating at times. on leadership there are 4 main It was during this time that I was gifted points that I would like to Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and what a share with you from Meditations beautiful gift it was. Marcus Aurelius was and that is graciousness, a second century CE Roman emperor and resiliency, connectedness one of the last notable Stoic philosophers. Feryal Khan, Founder, Aventine Group and accountability. Two He penned Meditations for himself much



(graciousness, connectedness) are outward facing, while two (resiliency, accountability) are inward facing. Graciousness Meditations opens with Marcus paying homage to those he admires most among his friends, family, teachers, and presents their characteristics and talents as gifts they gave him. He describes them by their most beautiful qualities and attributes which he reflects upon, learns from and then tries to embody himself. It is a beautiful opening chapter and as I was reading it I longed to live in a world where we spoke of each other in terms of value. The value of our character should be admired and we should not look to diminish one another. Rather, looking for good attributes to emulate in others fortifies us. Imagine if we chose to hold and in doing so be held in esteem Resiliency In chapter 4 Marcus deals with how to manage when the outside world gets tricky, messy, unpredictable or overwhelming. He reflects that the best place to look is inward. That is to retreat into your inner sanctum, which should act as safe harbour for you, where you can engage in self-cultivation. This will provide you with resiliency to deal with the chaos in the outer world, as resiliency is fortified from within not without. To be resilient is to be able to retreat from the world into a protected space that you must create for yourself. Connectedness Throughout Meditations Marcus references the Whole but what is the Whole? Upon further reflection what is implied by the Whole is everything that is, will be, and has been for all of eternity. It is in the interconnectedness, the grand fabric of the Fates so to speak – that is the Whole. This type of interconnectedness sees us as one and the same and as part of this larger fabric. This interconnectedness is inescapable and once you accept it, you can see yourself as the other and you begin to offer yourself to in the service of the other.

Accountability The hallmark of Stoic philosophy is knowing that you only are in control of your actions and your responses to external stimuli. This is why it is so important to fortify your inner-self, so that you can respond in a manner that you would consider morally upstanding. . Even if you are the Emperor of Rome - you may be responsible for many but are ultimately accountable for only one. Each and every one of us leads; be it countries, businesses, teams, families and ultimately ourselves. We get to decide how we will approach each day, how we will choose to behave in the face of adversity, hardship, trials, tribulations, but also in the face of empathy, love and devotion. We need to ask ourselves: how do we honour one another and show gratitude for the love and kindness we are shown? How do we build character and fortify our inner citadel so that we may brave the storm of uncertainty? Good character and moral agency are your tools to use. Remember no one suffers remorse from acquiring wisdom, courage, integrity, honesty, bravery etc. Whatever anyone does or says, I must be good, just as if the gold, or the emerald, or the purple were always saying this, whatever anyone does or says, I must be emerald and keep my color. Feryal Khan is the founder of Aventine Group specializing in Business Development and Transformation. She has success transforming teams, processes and executive leadership with her creative approach to that combines traditional methodologies with divergent thinking. www.aventinegroup.ca

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COVID-19’S TERRIBLE TOLL ON WOMEN Women have struggled through this pandemic as have employers, but some have taken action that’s resulted in positive change. BY J E N N I FE R CA M P BE L L

ttawa’s one year-plus of pandemic living has taken a disproportionate toll on women, revealing that the gender’s progress toward equality is maybe more tenuous than many had thought. But some Ottawa businesses worked hard to reduce that burden, with everything from increased mental health coverage in workplace-based benefits, and paid leave for employees who tested positive. We spoke to three people managers to see what they did.


Tova White, senior vice-president and chief human resources officer at Giant Tiger Giant Tiger has 10,000 employees across the country and 6,700 of them are women, while 42 per cent of the management team and 50 per cent of the executive team are made up of women. Those stats are to be celebrated, says Tova White, adding that maintaining that kind of gender representation is important to the company as its shoppers strongly skew towards women.

Malini Giridhar, vice-president, business development and regulatory at Enbridge Gas Inc.

“Knowing this pandemic has been disproportionately challenging and knowing that more women than pre-pandemic are electing to leave the workforce is concerning for us, so we’ve developed some strategies to help ease the burden for all our employees, but particularly those who are struggling with work-life balance,” White says. They started, she says, by making sure employees felt safe going to work. Because the stores mostly remained open, few could work from home. They provided PPE and added internal supports for those who had to take time off and didn’t qualify for government support. They also ensured employees were getting emotional and professional support through a “robust” employee assistance program and upped the promotion of that resource. They’ve also run workshops. “We had paid leave for any employee who tested positive for COVID,” White says. They also introduced a program called Work Your Way, which will allow people who can do their jobs from home more flexibility.

Sabrina Fitzgerald, certified public accountant with PwC


Tova White, senior vice-president and chief human resources officer Giant Tiger

“It’s alleviated a ton of anxiety,” she says. “It’s been one of the few benefits of COVID.” Sabrina Fitzgerald, certified public accountant with PwC PwC has witnessed the resilience of women, Sabrina Fitzgerald says. “And that should really be celebrated. We’ve seen our women go through quite a bit.” Fitzgerald said PwC is committed to developing an inclusive workforce, a challenging goal, especially in keeping mid-career women on the job. “A recent poll conducted from the Prosperity Project and it cited that mental health concerns are on the rise among working women, especially with mothers as the pandemic persists,” she said. “I would say working moms were more impacted.” Fitzgerald said they’d previously developed network programs, including the Women in Leadership program. “It was developed to focus on empowering women to have the confidence and the skills needed to lead through any disruptive times — it really helps to build their agility and resilience,” she said. “The women who have been in this program focus on taking ownership of their career.” When the pandemic hit, they quickly made the shift to a virtual program. “We often include not just PWC women but also some of our clients,” she says. “That’s brought the ability to truly be open. Feedback from the participants and coaches and even the mentors is that it’s helped tremendously in a year that was super challenging.” PwC also wanted to give its women access to the right support systems and it created a women’s inclusion network to discuss gender diversity and topics relevant to women. Men also participate. “We share ideas, talks around issues, we do try to foster an inclusive working environment that maximizes the talent of our women that are part of that network in a way that lifts them up, not just by other women but by men, too. They also have a parent inclusion network through which people share resources and discuss their various challenges.

Through its employees assistance program, PwC offers backup childcare and it’s enhanced its mental health benefit considerably, with a higher dollar value, and a 24-hour call centre service. Malini Giridhar, vice-president, business development and regulatory at Enbridge Gas Inc. Before COVID hit, Enbridge had already taken on a number of diversity initiatives, some of which involved making sure women were better represented in its workforce. “For two years now, on a quarterly basis, we publish a diversity dashboard on multiple levels of diversity,” says Malini Giridhar. “People can look at this dashboard by location, function and level to see the representation of women in the company. It’s a bit of an eyeopener when people can see what needs to be done, so that has been a game-changer for us in terms of highlighting the need and making sure we monitor progress.” Before COVID hit, the company had made some incremental advances. The number of women in its workforce was up by two percentage points, over a three-year period, for example, and the senior leadership team had greatly increased its number of women. Last November, when the company came up with its environmental, social and governance goals, it made significant commitments on diversity. “We aspire to have 40 per cent representation of women in our workforce and on our board by 2025,” Giridhar says. “We’ve set goals on what we want the future to look like. We are building into our annual business score cards concrete actions we can take.” These actions include unconscious bias training for all employees and hiring managers. In addition, compensation for non-union staff and executives will be tied to achieving the 40 per cent targets and finally, the company has committed to publishing its progress on all fronts. In addition, Enbridge has worked hard to make its employees aware of the resources the company provides, specifically the mental health-related ones that might be useful.

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CAPITAL/Eileen Kerwin-Jones


iscovering that this kind of exploitation was happening right in our own backyard, going back to life as normal was impossible,” explains Dr. Eileen Kerwin Jones, founding member of PACT-Ottawa, People Against the Crime of Trafficking in Humans. In 2004, Dr. Kerwin Jones was invited to speak at a national conference on human trafficking. At the time, she was completing her PhD, studying the role of economic injustice on women’s lives. What she learned during the conference changed her life forever. “Back then, there were very few organizations looking at human trafficking and very little awareness of the problem,” she says. “So, at the end of the conference, seven of us, all women, got together and decided to create PACT-Ottawa, which I’ve been deeply involved with ever since. “At first, we worked on educating and supporting vulnerable groups in Ottawa, and raising awareness in high school and university students, who are often the targets.” In 2014, PACT released a ground-breaking report titled Project ImPACT, focusing on human trafficking of women and girls in Ottawa. The report revealed that 140 females in Ottawa had been trafficked that year, most of whom were young people. It also showed that 90% of them were Canadian and from the local Ottawa area. Today, PACT has grown to 30 volunteers, focusing mostly on policy and legislation, including the federal Modern Slavery Act: Bill B-S-216, which had its first reading last October. This Act would


require Canadian companies to report on the measures taken to prevent forced labour or child labour at any step in their global supply chain. PACT also successfully lobbied to have February 22 named National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Over the years, PACT has educated truckers – our eyes and ears on the road – on how to identify suspected cases of human trafficking. PACT has raised awareness of the human trafficking implications of overseas organ transplants, and worked with Anishinaabe grandmothers to prevent human trafficking in their communities. They also led the creation of the Ottawa Coalition to End Human Trafficking, a group of front-line workers directly supporting victims. Dr. Kerwin Jones adds that the current pandemic has exacerbated the problem. “Children are online more, where the nefarious dark web is increasingly filled with online sexual predators. Many schools are closed, cutting off important support systems for some of our most vulnerable youth. Meanwhile, essential services connected to protecting trafficked individuals, such as homeless shelters, have been limited.” According to Dr. Kerwin Jones, the success and influence of PACT-Ottawa over the last 17 years speaks to the power of women’s contributions. “PACT was started by women and motivated by the issues in their lives. It is just one example of the work women do in the volunteer sector and in informal ways to keep our families, our communities, and our country vibrant and alive.”


CAPITAL/Syntax Strategic

IN A YEAR OF PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL TURBULENCE, WOMEN WANT SOME HONEST TALK year and a half ago, before the world turned upside down, entrepreneurs Jennifer Stewart and Catherine Clark met for a quick coffee date that set in motion plans to build a bold new venture to support and inspire professional women. “That day, Jen and I chatted about how frustrated we were to hear so many female friends and colleagues talk about being burned out and unsure how to adopt changes that would make things better in their lives,” said Catherine, a respected broadcaster and emcee, and the president of Catherine Clark Communications. “We decided we needed to start a conversation that could help women find the support and resources they need to build the lives they want to live, not just put one foot in front of the other in survival mode,” said Clark. And right then and there, The Honest Talk was born.


Catherine Clark and Jennifer Stewart

Originally, The Honest Talk was designed as a live event series which would feature prominent women sharing their stories on stage, with lots of audience questions and numerous opportunities for guest interaction. Of course, the pandemic changed all of that, but not for long. “We realized we could either shelve the idea until we could get back to in-person events, or adapt,” said Jennifer, the President and CEO of Syntax Strategic, a full-service media relations, strategic communications, marketing, and graphic design firm with clients across the country. “So we adapted and created a podcast, because we firmly believed this was an idea that could help other women, especially at a time when we’re all facing even more stress and disruption because of the pandemic.”

The Honest Talk podcast now airs bi-weekly, and the guest list is impressive – from athletes and trade commissioners to authors and politicians. Well-known names like Green Party leader Annamie Paul, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, TV star Mary Walsh, Olympian Perdita Felicien and singer Serena Ryder are just a few of the diverse names the duo have chatted with in recent months. “Nothing is left on the table,” says Catherine. “We’ve had our guests talk about personal issues, transgender challenges, infertility and other medical problems, racism, parenting and career advancement obstacles because we want to take an honest look at the opportunities and challenges these women have encountered in their personal and professional lives in order to give inspiration to other women who might be going through similar situations.” In the space of about twenty minutes, the guests – highly motivated, dynamic and professional women – provide practical tools while sharing their motivations, concerns, objectives and opinions. The hope is that listeners will use those tools and be inspired to streamline, improve and shape their lives. Both Jennifer and Catherine have been thrilled with the positive reception the podcast has received. “We’ve had great response from our guests, wonderful comments on social media, and we’ve seen substantial growth in the number of impressions our podcasts have generated,” says Jennifer. And the two women are very focussed on casting as wide a net as possible for their conversations. “We work hard to ensure our guests represent every part of the country, and we’d like to bring on more inspirational women from the West and from the Territories,” says Catherine, who also notes that they’d soon like to begin reaching out to remarkable women living in other parts of the world. Nor have the two given up on the idea of live events. “Once we put the pandemic behind us, we hope to stage live events in different cities across Canada,” explains Jennifer. “While our podcast is enormously successful, it can’t bring women face-to-face like a live event, and those in-person connections can be such powerful, positive motivators for women.” “We have big plans for The Honest Talk,” concludes Catherine. “We believe that more authentic conversations amongst women can make a big difference in their lives, and lead to positive changes for all us, so that’s our goal – a lot more honest talk.”

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alancing the demands of work with those of home? Difficult, even at the best of times. But during a pandemic? And while working for an essential service provider that is responsible for powering our community’s homes, businesses, hospitals and other essential institutions at a time when it needed it most? A steep challenge for anyone. For Donna Burnett Vachon, Director, Change and Organization Development; Laurie Heuff, Director, Distribution Engineering and Asset Management; and Sarah Green, Director, Planning and Program Management for IM & IT – that’s a challenge that these


Sarah Green

three committed Hydro Ottawa employees met head-on over the past year. Achieving the home/work balance hasn’t been easy, says Donna, acknowledging that some of the goals she set at the beginning of the year eventually succumbed to the pandemic. But, she is quick to add, the most important ones were met. “And even if we didn’t complete a particular project, we generally made substantial progress.” At home, Donna and her family had to deal with a situation many have faced during the pandemic; fulfilling the educational and social needs of their children. Fortunately, at ages 11 and 13, their two kids

Donna Burnett Vachon


Laurie Heuff

were anxious to display their emerging self-sufficiency and tech savviness, giving Donna a little more breathing room to focus on the serious challenge of supporting Hydro Ottawa’s pandemic response and recovery plans, ensuring employees had the information and resources needed to stay safe, connected and engaged whether working in the field, the office or from home. While few clouds have been darker than the pandemic, Donna and her team did find a silver lining. “We learned some things along the way that will benefit us long after the pandemic ends,” she says. “For example, COVID-19 forced us to ramp up efforts to modernize our approach to learning, ensuring opportunities are available to employees anytime, anywhere on any device. This is one change that will help us better meet the learning and development needs of our employees well into the future.” Laurie, too, says she was forced to trim her expectations for 2020. Or, as she puts it, “I had to accept the fact that perfection might not always be possible.” Nonetheless, that didn’t stop her team from completing two major projects – a successful 2021-2025 Rate Application to the Ontario Energy Board and, the big one, securing an ISO 55001:2014 certification, the highest achievement for compliance with best practices in the utility industry for asset management. Not only is Hydro Ottawa the first electric utility in Canada to receive this certification, it is one of only four North American utilities to do so. Then, of course, there was that balancing act between home and work. “I have three very active children (ages 5, 8 and 11),” says Laurie. “Before the pandemic, my husband and I were constantly driving them to various events and activities. Now, we spend our time at home.” Though not always ideal, Laurie says she’s come to

appreciate the pause in their normally active life and the additional time it's given them together. The mother of an 8-year-old, Sarah’s live-in mother-in-law also requires care. “It is definitely stressful at times for my husband and I,” she says, “but we celebrate the moments of success and time spent together. Leave the difficult moments behind and the rest will still be there tomorrow.” For Sarah, one of those welcome moments of success came when she was tasked with overseeing the COVID-19 response plan for IT. “The response plan included ensuring employees could connect securely from home, creating new protocols for touchless support of systems, working closely with our cyber security group to implement responses to emerging threat vectors, and implementing new technology solutions to ensure the safety and productivity of employees.” The goal – in addition to safety and efficiency – was to provide additional value-added services for customers. In spite of the constant disruptions caused by the pandemic, Sarah says all of the IT projects were delivered on time – and delivered the expected benefits. She says she was especially proud of her team’s completion of two key initiatives. “We completed a multi-year strategic initiative to connect our substations via fibre optic cable. This not only improved the reliability of communication but formed the basis for a self-healing grid. We also implemented Google Workspace, enabling our employees to work remotely but still remain connected with their colleagues.” Donna, Laurie and Sarah made their presence felt – in an exceptionally positive way – during a difficult time. But they weren’t alone. Throughout the year, women in various parts of the company contributed significantly to Hydro Ottawa’s business priorities and direction as it adapted to very unique circumstances.

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Anne Graham, chair of The Royal’s Board of Trustees and Dr. Joanne Bezzubetz, president and chief executive officer of The Royal


he Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre has developed a brand new strategic plan for transformative change to meet the growing demand for mental health services in the community, a need greatly accelerated by the devastating global pandemic. And, for the first time in Ottawa’s history, this monumental health care shift is being spearheaded by two women. In their own right, Dr. Joanne Bezzubetz, president and chief executive officer of The Royal and Anne Graham, chair of The Royal’s Board of Trustees, are pioneers. While both leaders were used to forging new paths, they could never have predicted the complex terrain when overwhelming mental health need and a global pandemic converged at the same moment as they set out to lead one of the most significant strategic planning initiatives in The Royal’s history. “This new strategy marks a new era in care and research at The Royal, a vision of a hospital without walls, transforming how specialized care and world class research is accessed and experienced in our community,” says Anne Graham, chair of The Royal’s Board of Trustees, who credits president and chief executive officer Dr. Joanne Bezzubetz and her team with articulating a vision to respond to a rapidly different world. The planning and implementation details for The Royal’s new strategic plan had just begun in March 2020 when the first wave of COVID-19 heralded lockdowns. “The pandemic became a significant

force driving change and accelerated the need for our new strategy to find ways to enhance access and bring services that would otherwise be provided in a hospital setting closer to where clients and family members live,” says Dr. Bezzubetz. Bezzubetz’s team, leveraging the power of Zoom, engaged clients, family members, Board members, physicians, clinicians, scientists and volunteers to build a roadmap for the future that would challenge the status quo and push The Royal to new heights. The conversations that arose from these meetings quickly defined the cornerstone of the plan: lived expertise.

“Clients live with their conditions every day and it is important for us to see clients and family members as active and respected members of their own care team. This became a key driver in co-creating care, research and education with clients and families as partners. Working together, we can foster hope and enhance recovery,” says Dr. Bezzubetz.


Another important theme that emerged in The Royal’s transformative new strategy included integrating future care with leading-edge science and research and advancing specialty mental health care. “As an academic health science centre, we can bring research and care closer together so that when people come to The Royal, they know that they are not only receiving evidence-based care but contributing to research that may unlock new understanding in the brain and new treatments.

Our clinicians, physicians and scientists are passionate individuals who take strides every day to improve the quality of life for people with mental health and substance use and inspire hope,” says Dr. Bezzubetz. The Royal also wants to affirm leadership and collaboration in addressing issues that clients and families experience in the community: stigma and marginalization. “We want to become a beacon of change and work with partners for systemic equity in the mental health system and tackle stigma through science,” adds Graham.

Prompt Care Clinic Established Realizing that the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns was having a highly negative impact on mental health, The Royal opened a new mental health clinic, originally intended to be temporary, named ‘C-PROMPT.’ “As we were going through the early days of the pandemic we realized there was going to be increased demand for mental health services. We very quickly created a service that would be available for prompt access,” says Dr. Joanne Bezzubetz, president and chief executive officer. Approximately 800 people were seen over the first three months of the pandemic’s first wave, resulting in very

positive feedback. The information obtained from that clinic was also eye opening, including the fact that 54 percent of clients had never before received mental health care. “Knowing that more than half the people we were seeing had never been part of the system before was an alarm. It gave us an indication of what the growth would be in terms of clients coming forward. That really grabbed our attention,” says Anne Graham, chair of The Royal’s Board of Trustees. The C-PROMPT Clinic has now become a permanent clinic, called the ‘Prompt Care Clinic.’ You can learn more at www.theroyal.ca/PROMPT.

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GIANT TIGER PANDEMIC TEAM SHOWS ADAPTABILITY OF FEMALE LEADERSHIP n the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic's unprecedented hardships, Giant Tiger Stores Limited, as an essential retailer, needed their response to be quick, well planned, and agile enough to adapt to the changing situation. Here is how five women in key positions helped lead Canada's leading discount retailer’s pandemic response, resulting in the company's continued success and ability to meet the needs of their customers, employees and communities.


Isabelle Messier - Senior Manager of Health and Safety Isabelle Messier, senior manager of health and safety, is Giant Tiger’s pandemic lead, with responsibility for managing the company’s Pandemic Committee. This committee meets several times a week to review the impact of new legislation, provincial restrictions, and internal policies and procedures. Under Messier’s leadership, Giant Tiger stores across Canada have enacted a comprehensive list of measures to protect the safety of their customers and staff. These measures cover the active and passive screening of employees and customers, physical distancing, personal protective equipment, hand hygiene, as well as enhanced cleaning and sanitization. “Giant Tiger works closely with municipal, provincial, and federal regulatory bodies,” explains Messier. With 260 stores across Canada, knowing the intricacies of each region is a tall order but having local franchisees in each community means that there are direct lines of communication between each region and home office. “The work I do has helped Giant Tiger create the policies and procedures that ensure

a safe shopping environment for our customers as well as a safe working environment for employees. As an essential retailer, we take this responsibility to heart; it is core to who we are,” says Messier. Amber Banford - Director of Store Merchandising Amber Banford, director of store merchandising, says the pandemic has greatly expanded her team’s traditional role beyond supplying Giant Tiger’s stores, distribution centres and home office with the fixtures and supplies needed for everyday business. Now merchandising decisions must also consider acquisition of supplies to protect everybody’s health. “In response to the pandemic, we’ve worked collectively to help make sure we’re supplying our teams with all of the personal protective equipment necessary for them to conduct their jobs in a safe and comfortable manner,” Banford elaborates. Having to respond quickly to unfolding events has posed unprecedented merchandising-related challenges. But “I’m extremely proud to say that our team has been quite successful at being nimble and


moving forward to meet all the needs of the business in this everchanging environment,” she says. Laura Lachapelle - Senior Manager of Loss Prevention Laura Lachapelle, senior manager of loss prevention, has watched her team’s traditional role in dealing with risk mitigation greatly expand as a result of COVID-19. “We’re still focusing on critical aspects related to financial loss and risk mitigation but the pandemic has necessitated the team shifting into doing a frontline health and safety role,” she elaborates. A key part of Lachapelle’s team’s role is emergency response. Working under constant pressure in response to the pandemic emergency has forged an even stronger working bond. “Everyone has been there for each other. People have been very resilient,” she says. Lachapelle’s team has also had to work closely with the Pandemic Committee, which includes senior members from Giant Tiger’s Health and Safety team. “They are very supportive in helping us guide our store teams through these difficult times. It’s a good partnership on both sides,” she says. Alison Scarlett - Associate Vice-President of Public Relations and Communications “We have a robust proactive communication cadence in place to ensure that all stakeholders have access to timely internal

and external communications. My role is overseeing that,” says Alison Scarlett, associate vice-president of public relations and communications. The constant challenges presented by the pandemic necessitated urgent communications to all levels of the organization and across the country. “We came out of the gate strong when the pandemic hit. We did everything from webinars to daily e-mails to video broadcasts,” recalls Scarlett. In times of crisis and uncertainty having access to information and knowing who to reach out to with questions is incredibly important, she notes. “This enhanced communications strategy will remain in place after the threat of COVID-19 has receded as part of a robust communications tool kit catered to the needs of the end-user,” she says. Gabrielle Hargrove - Associate Vice-President of Business Transformation. With speed being of the essence, Giant Tiger’s quick and adaptive response to COVID-19 has been a major priority for the company, says Gabrielle Hargrove, the company’s associate vice-president of business transformation. Hargrove’s job, as leader of the team responsible for process improvements and program management, was to quickly focus on how to improve the employee and customer experience, given the dangerous health risks posed by the pandemic. And Giant Tiger responded. For example, “we were one of the first companies to mandate face mask coverings for all of our employees pre the government mandating it,” says Hargrove. Throughout the pandemic, Hargrove says her team and others have been squarely focused on the health and safety of their staff and communities, and on supporting each other – a legacy she expects will “forever be part of our culture.”

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Women Lead With Their Hearts, Show Strength and Resilience Facing Adversity

omen across Ontario have shown strength and resilience in the face of unprecedented adversity. Many incredible women have exhibited their strong leadership skills throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including Christine Elliott, the province’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health. Our doctors, nurses, researchers, and front-line workers have borne additional responsibilities to help fight the worst global pandemic in more than 100 years – with women comprising 81 per cent of the health care and social assistance workforce in Ontario. Traditionally the major care-keepers in the home, many women have also chosen to stay at home to help with their child’s education when schools have closed and online learning is the only option. Women also continue to play a significant role as business leaders. Female entrepreneurs have found innovative solutions and proven adept at being able to successfully pivot, including taking their businesses online to continue operating virtually. But women have also been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, particularly in sectors of the economy where they are over-represented, such as hospitality, tourism, the beauty industry, and retail. Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy recently noted in his fiscal 2021 budget speech that female employment has dropped by nearly five per cent, compared to only 3.3 per cent for men. Moreover, women comprise only four and a half per cent of the skilled trade sectors in Ontario. This provides a great opportunity to transition women into well-paying jobs.


Our provincial government has risen to that challenge. We have provided over $117 million to assist those who have been disadvantaged by the pandemic, including women, find jobs. Minister Bethlenfalvy and I are establishing a task force that will address the unique barriers that women face in the workforce. Our goal is to ensure that women are not only brought back, but also championed to succeed. The post-COVID economy will be one of growth, and one of the key elements in that growth will be women. We are also investing record amounts in mental health to give all Ontarians a place to get the care they need. Women, children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable at this difficult time. We have seen an increase in domestic violence during the lockdown as some people have been inadvertently forced to spend more time at home with their abuser. So we have been running a campaign to let women know that shelters are still open, and have been throughout the pandemic. The workers at those shelters have done incredible work to protect women and children who have been placed in difficult situations. In my Ministry, we celebrate women every day. We know how phenomenal women are and the important role they play in each of our lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made it clearer that Ontario would not operate without the extraordinary women who have stepped up to protect our province. I thank them for all their hard work. They lead with their hearts and have truly shown the Ontario spirit day in and day out. Jill Dunlop is Ontario’s Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues


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Emond Harnden is trusted, not simply as advisors, but as an integrated member of our clients’ HR departments and senior management teams. We are devoted exclusively to advising management on labour relations and employment matters. Our team brings a forward-thinking approach to labour law.



As a boutique labour and employment law firm, Emond Harnden has represented the interests of management in both official languages since 1987.

Emond Harnden est un cabinet d'avocats en droit du travail et de l’emploi qui représente exclusivement les intérêts des employeurs, dans les deux langues officielles, depuis 1987.



Profile for Gordongroup

CAPITAL Magazine Spring 2021  

CAPITAL Magazine Spring 2021  


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