Canada has emerged as a world leader in many science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and many new jobs and career opportunities that have emerged in recent years are STEM-related. As more and more businesses and organizations look to innovate, modernize and grow, the demand for people who can fill STEM-related jobs will only increase. Canada needs a workforce that can continue to meet the challenges of the future.
Additionally, young Canadians today need to think carefully and critically about science misinformation. Misinformation is not new, but the intensity and speed in which it has been spreading is both increasing and concerning, especially within the science realm. Science literacy encourages people to question, evaluate, and understand information. By equipping youth with science literacy skills, they will be better positioned to navigate online information and make better decisions based on understanding the difference between personal opinions and evidence-based conclusions.
The Government of Canada and its federal partners have put forward several new opportunities that are aimed at increasing science literacy and the participation of Canadians in STEM, including under-represented groups like women and Indigenous communities.
Government of Canada STEM initiatives
The Government of Canada and its partners have put many initiatives in place to help young Canadians become involved with the STEM fields. These links provide some resources and materials to get you started or motivate you to continue on your journey:
- Federal Initiatives
- Career tools
- Student programs
- Science fairs, STEM competitions and awards
- Government of Canada science literacy initiatives for youth
CanCode (Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada)
CanCode is an Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) funding program that provides financial support for organizations to equip Canadian youth, including traditionally underrepresented groups, with the skills they need to be prepared for further studies. This includes advanced digital skills, like coding and STEM courses, leading to jobs of the future. For more information on the program and future Calls for Proposals, visit the CanCode webpage.
Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada)
The Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) program, which is run by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), strives to increase the participation and retention of women in science and engineering fields for both students and professionals. It also provides role models for women currently in, and considering, careers in these fields. This program takes into account age, education, sexual orientation, Indigenous status, disability, language, race, etc. to promote inclusion in STEM.
The Government of Canada launched the ChooseScience digital campaign to encourage more young women to consider a career in STEM roles. This includes the Twitter hashtag #ChooseScience, which increases awareness and visibility of women in STEM. It is important to encourage underrepresented groups to pursue careers in STEM, as it increases diversity of talented individuals in growing industries. Empowering women in STEM also helps strengthen Canada's continued efforts of creating a culture of innovation nationwide, establishing Canada as a global leader for innovation, and strengthening our middle class.
Citizen Science Portal (ISED)
The Citizen Science Portal provides information and access to science projects and science experiments happening in various communities for Canadians to participate in. Some may only be available at certain times of year or in certain areas, but with a little exploration, there are exciting ways to take part in science.
Ingenium is a Canadian Crown corporation that oversees national science and technology related museums. It aims to celebrate discovery, creativity and human ingenuity under its 3 museums:
- Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
- Canada Aviation and Space Museum
- Canada Science and Technology Museum
The museums offer sensory experiences that immerse both young and old in the many ways science and technology intersect with Canadians' daily lives.
NSERC Young Innovators
In 2018, NSERC launched a five-year pilot initiative to support the promotion of STEM to Canadian youth as part of helping foster a science and engineering culture in Canada. The NSERC Young Innovators grant is for organizations to encourage youth to be creative in the natural sciences and engineering by supporting their participation in competitions and becoming role models for other youth. Organizations are encouraged to consider using the grant to support youth from groups who are under-represented or disadvantaged in STEM, or those who would otherwise not be able to participate.
Objective: Moon – including Junior Astronauts (Canadian Space Agency)
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) aims to engage young Canadians, to get them excited about STEM and future careers in the field of space through a suite of resources for youth and educators. The CSA also helps them understand how they can play a role in Canada's mission to the Moon. As part of Canada's participation in Lunar Gateway, the Objective: Moon portfolio of activities, including the Junior Astronauts campaign that ended in July 2021, makes learning science fun and engaging for youth in grades K – 12.
The NSERC PromoScience program provides financial support for organizations working with young Canadians to promote an understanding of STEM. These organizations provide hands-on learning experiences for young students and their teachers.
Science Communication Skills grant (NSERC)
The Science Communication Skills grant (pilot) provides financial support for organizations offering science communication skills training to students, fellows, and faculty in STEM from Canadian postsecondary institutions. The training is designed to educate students and researchers in STEM fields on effective communication of science topics for the public.
Science Odyssey (NSERC)
Powered by NSERC, Science Odyssey is a national campaign that celebrates Canadian achievements in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, featuring fun and inspiring experiences in museums, research centres, laboratories and classrooms from coast to coast. Every year in May, hundreds of science outreach leaders deliver fun, engaging and inspiring activities to Canadians of all ages. Science Odyssey demonstrates how discoveries and innovations shape our daily lives and foster a strong science culture in Canada.
Actua is a Canadian charitable organization preparing youth, ages 6-26, to be the next generation of leaders and innovators. It engages youth in inclusive, hands-on STEM experiences that build critical employability skills and confidence. Through a national outreach team and a vast member network of universities and colleges, Actua reaches youth in every province and territory in Canada through summer camps, classroom workshops, clubs, teacher training, and community outreach activities.
Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums
A key part of the mission of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums is to encourage science education as a foundation for species preservation and biodiversity.
Canadian science centres and museums
An interest in STEM can start with a simple visit to a local museum. The Canadian Association of Science Centres lists science-focused learning centres across Canada that focus on hands-on, interactive experiences that demonstrate science in a fun and engaging way. The Canadian Museums Association also provides a list of Canadian museums.
Let's Talk Science
Let's Talk Science is a Canadian charitable organization committed to developing youth who are creative, critical thinkers and knowledgeable citizens prepared to participate and thrive in a complex global environment. For more than 25 years, Let's Talk Science has provided engaging, evidence-based STEM programs at no cost for Canadian youth and educators.
Science and Technology Awareness Network
Canada's Science and Technology Awareness Network enhances the profile and influence of the science and technology education and public awareness sector.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) provides career tools to help users search for opportunities available to people in the STEM fields.
Job Bank is Canada's national employment service, operated by Employment and Social Development Canada. The Job Bank website is the leading source for jobs and labour market information in the country. On Job Bank, you will find:
- Career planning tools: Information about education programs and occupations in STEM fields, including job prospects, requirements and average salaries.
- Canada Summer Jobs: Temporary work placements for young Canadians, including in STEM.
- Natural and applied sciences and related jobs: Various types of jobs in STEM advertised by employers across Canada.
- A Resume Builder tool: An easy and free way to create a professional-looking resume before you apply for jobs.
Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER)
The Business + Higher Education Roundtable is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization bringing together Canada's largest companies and leading post-secondary institutions. Since 2019, BHER has been working with the Government of Canada to promote the value of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) and build a network of partners to advance and strengthen the WIL ecosystem. This partnership is guided by the goal to create 44,000 WIL opportunities for students as well as an additional 5,000-10,000 opportunities through their Canada Comeback Challenge. For more information on WIL, check out their website.
Students can gain valuable work experience in STEM by participating in one of ESDC's Student Work-Integrated Learning programs:
Mitacs is a national not-for-profit organization that designs and delivers internships and training programs in Canada. Working with universities, companies and federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds and maintains partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada. More information on Mitacs' programs can be found here.
Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (ESDC)
The Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) is the Government of Canada's commitment to help young people gain the skills and work experience they need to make a successful transition into the labour market. This includes those facing barriers to employment. Below are YESS funding programs for organizations to encourage youth in STEM related careers:
- Build Canada's green economy from STEM to leaf
- Develop next generation tech with Canada's next generation
- Connect tomorrow's workforce with Canada's digital economy
- Build tomorrow's titans of tech
Science fairs, STEM competitions and awards
The Government of Canada supports the discoveries and the ingenuity of tomorrow's scientists, engineers and inventors.
Canada's science fairs and STEM competitions
- Canada-Wide Science Fair
- Canadian Mathematical Society competitions
- Cyber Titan
- Défi génie inventif (link in French only)
- FIRST Robotics Canada
- Hydro-Québec Science Fair
- Little Inventors
- Prime Minister's Science Fair
- Sanofi Biogenius Canada
- Science Exposed Image Contest
- STEAM Horizon Awards
Canada's science-related awards
- Arctic Inspiration Prize (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency)
- CIHR Gold Leaf Prizes
- Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering (NSERC)
- Governor General's Innovation Awards
- Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence in STEM
- Synergy Awards for Innovation (NSERC)
- The NSERC Awards for Science Promotion
Government of Canada science literacy initiatives for youth
The Government of Canada and its partners have implemented many programs to help young Canadians improve science literacy skills. These links provide some resources and materials to help youth increase critical thinking skills to counter science misinformation:
Climate Action and Awareness Fund (Environment and Climate Change Canada)
The new Climate Action and Awareness Fund will spend $206 million over five years to support Canadian-made initiatives that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country. It is intended to fund programs that will build middle-class employment for Canadians working in science and technology, academia, and community-based organizations. In June 2020, the Environmental Damages Fund accepted applications for projects which encourage youth awareness, engagement and action on climate change issues and solutions. Projects for the youth climate awareness and community based climate action stream are underway, and applications to the advancing climate science and technology stream are currently under review. These projects are important as we work to achieve a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
Digital Citizen Initiative (Canadian Heritage)
The Digital Citizen Initiative's Digital Citizen Contribution Program, which is run by Canadian Heritage (PCH), provides funding to individual researchers and organizations supporting efforts to counter online disinformation and other online harms and threats. This can help Canadians become more resilient and think critically about COVID-19 disinformation. For example, in 2020 the program was provided with funding through the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund to help combat false and misleading COVID-19 information as well as the racism and stigmatization that are often the result. This funding supported youth with activities in countering science misinformation, such as public awareness tools and online workshops, through the following organizations:
- Calgary Animated Objects Society
- Discovery Centre
- Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec
- Science North
- Science Timmins Inc.
Encouraging vaccine confidence in Canada
This funding program was jointly administered by the NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to support organizations with strong track records of science and/or health promotions – such as museums, science centres, etc. The goal of this grant was to give evidence-based, vaccine-promoting information to key communities and groups and/or to build capacity in the community to promote confidence in vaccines. For more information on this program and the importance of vaccine confidence, visit the Encouraging vaccine confidence in Canada webpage, including the results of this competition.
NSERC Student Ambassadors
The NSERC Student Ambassadors grant encourages post-secondary students and fellows, as mentors and role models, to share their science and engineering experience with youth from under-represented and disadvantaged groups in STEM. This is in addition to the NSERC Indigenous Student Ambassadors (NISA) grant which aims to engage Indigenous students and fellows in promoting interest and participation in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) by visiting Indigenous communities and schools in Canada.
Science Literacy Week (NSERC)
Libraries, museums, science centres, schools and not-for-profits come together to highlight the books, movies, podcasts and events that convey the excitement and influence of science in our everyday lives. The 2021 Science Literacy Week theme will focus on climate and how Canadian climates have evolved over time, how those changes have impacted our lives, and how climates might change in the future.
Hackergal is a Canadian, not-for-profit organization that inspires young women and girls across Canada to explore opportunities in coding. With women being underrepresented in the tech industry, they aim to inspire a new wave of Canadian female coders to help bring equality to the growing industry. Hackergal also works to reach and connect with other underrepresented groups including girls in French, Indigenous, and Black communities across Canada. Hackergal is funded through the CanCode program at ISED to support young woman and girls in improving their digital skills. The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) has also supported Hackergal since 2017 in the form of funding, professional support for their cross-Canada hackathons, and the provision of CSE employees as speakers and mentors.
Created in 1996, MediaSmarts is a non-profit organization that develops digital and media literacy programs and resources for Canadian homes, schools and communities. Their vision is to ensure that children, youth and trusted adults have the critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens. There are activities and other tools on their website to equip Canadians with digital and media literacy skills. Since 2019, MediaSmarts has received funding for Media Literacy Week and other projects through the Digital Citizen Contribution Program, which promotes critical thinking in a digital world.
#ScienceUpFirst is a national initiative that works with a collective of independent scientists, researchers, healthcare experts and science communicators. Supported through the Public Health Agency of Canada, they aim to stop the spread of misinformation around COVID-19. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook @ScienceUpFirst, and share their posts with your friends and followers. Visit the #ScienceUpFirst webpage for shareable content and to join the conversation.