MONTREAL -- The under-representation of women in the manufacturing sector is an "even more acute" problem due to the scarcity of workers. To fight this fact, the Minister of Labour presented $714,000 in financial support for a research project aimed at female inclusion.

At a news conference in Montreal, Minister Jean Boulet announced that this project will be carried out in concert with Manufacturiers et Exportateurs Québec (MEQ).

According to the agency's statistics, only 28 per cent of jobs in the industry were held by women in 2017 in Canada. This rate was even lower - less than 10 per cent - in certain areas linked to production.

"Women tend to think that it is an environment that is not made for them, where you have to be very physically strong to bear loads, an environment that is dirty, and which is not necessarily very innovative," deplored Véronique Proulx, President and CEO of MEQ.

The research project, which is to be spread over two years, includes a section where various approaches will be tested with companies in Montérégie, Estrie and Centre-du-Québec. The objective is to develop good practices which could be extended to all employers.

Boulet believes that "the search for better equality between men and women is even more acute in a context of scarcity of labour" and invites other traditionally male sectors to follow suit.

According to the Institut de la statistique du Québec, the employment rate for people aged 15 and over last year stood at 64.7 per cent for men, compared to 58.4 per cent for women.

Today is International Women's Day and Mr. Boulet made the announcement with the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 8, 2020.