Opportunities Fund (2015-2018)

October 2015 – September 2018

Industry need: BioTalent Canada, in partnership with Employment & Social Development Canada (ESDC), conducted a national study of Canadian bio-economy companies from coast to coast in 2013 to assess the needs of the labour market. Results from this survey show that:

  • 14.3% fewer companies hired persons with disabilities in 2013 compared to 2008 (only 7.6% of companies had persons with disabilities on staff,

However, companies have also indicated that they are experiencing talent shortages:

  • 32% of companies report that they are experiencing skills deficiencies in current staff and,
  • 37% of those companies state these skills shortages have a major impact on current business operations.
  • Statistics Canada has reported an employment rate of only 49% for persons with disabilities in 2011 compared to 79% for persons without a disability. Clearly there is a supply of talent available and with the right recruitment and on-boarding procedures, more people with disabilities could be hired into openings in Canadian biotech and life science companies.


Objective: The Opportunities Fund wage subsidy program addressed low employment of persons with disabilities in biotech by introducing a wage subsidy to off-set the start-up costs of orientation, integration, skills development and accommodations. Innovation is the DNA of the biotechnology sector. As an industry, biotech misses out on reaching its full potential when pools of skilled talent, like persons with disabilities, remain untapped.



Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities (OF) program.