Gala Bakery in Hamilton will receive a refugee employment award from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
“They are definitely a model employer,” said Stephanie Taylor, director of neighbourhoods and newcomer services for Wesley.
“This employer is very accommodating with employees. They have hired some of our refugees and they support them quite strongly.”
She said Gala works to ensure training and supports are available to help new workers settle into their jobs.
Taylor said work stability is one of the key factors of success for refugees and other newcomers to Canada. Wesley has worked with between 40 and 50 employers over the past year to help newcomers integrate.
“Through our refugee hiring initiative, we have been able to meet and develop dedicated Gala Bakery employees. We are proud to be leaders in the Hamilton community,” said bakery owner Jacqueline Janosevic in a federal government press release.
She could not be reached for comment Monday.
The rapidly growing Gala specializes in European-style baked goods. Its burek, a stuffed pastry popular in the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa, is sold at Costco.
In a Spectator story last fall, Janosevic said making burek is so specialized, she has to bring bakers from Macedonia, Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia because no machine can replicate the technique.
Gala’s sales have grown 450 per cent since 2002, thanks to contracts with Fortinos, Sobeys, Highland Farms, Longos, Loblaws and a range of independent retailers.
Other winners recognized for the national award are Safeway Operations, Sobeys Inc., nominated by Calgary Catholic Immigration Services, and Dexter Construction of Halifax, nominated by Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.
More than 12,300 refugees settled in Canada last year.
“Our government has taken significant steps to improve the employment and social outcomes of refugees through its programs and services,” said Chris Alexander, minister of citizenship and immigration.
“Employers also have an important role to play in this regard and I am delighted to congratulate Gala Bakery for taking a leading role among the employer community to help resettled refugees in the Hamilton area.”