Return to Newsroom



SAINT JOHN, NB - - On October 3, Atlantic Towing Limited received national recognition for its commitment to employment equity and diversity in the workplace. The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour presented the organization with an Employment Equity Achievement Award at the annual award ceremony in Ottawa.

"When everyone is on an equal footing, they can contribute to the best of their abilities,” says Hajdu. “Employers must stay alert to barriers that can keep members of the four designated groups—women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities—from participating fully in the workplace. By making sure every Canadian has an equal and fair chance at success, employers contribute meaningfully to Canada's economic growth."

 ATL Employment Equity Award
 The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour presented the Atlantic Towing delegation with their 2018 Employment Equity Achievement Award for Innovation.  Pictured L to R: Minister Hajdu, Gilles Gagnon, Tiffany Dalton, Colleen Baxter, Tracy MacPhee, Brittany McGraw, and Bill Pasch. 


Atlantic Towing received the Innovation award, which recognizes employers who have demonstrated creativity in the design and implementation of measures to remove barriers, positive practices and new initiatives.

“Our industry presents unique challenges to inclusive hiring,” says Gilles Gagnon, VP and General Manager of Atlantic Towing. “This forces us to think creatively to expand and diversify our employee base to include underrepresented groups. Our goal is to not only meet legislative requirements, but to develop a mature program focused on the full benefits of diverse and inclusive ideas and experiences.”

Marine industries have traditionally been male dominated.  Despite efforts to attract women to the industry, marine educational institutions across Canada experience low female enrolment.   Atlantic Towing has undertaken various initiatives to remove barriers to employment, particularly among underrepresented groups.  Efforts include a Diversity and Inclusion Committee with related strategic objectives in the company’s annual plan.  Partnerships are vital to succeeding and Atlantic Towing values the strong relationships with its educational partners like the Marine Institute and College of the North Atlantic in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as the community colleges in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  Through groups like Techsploration NS, young women from grades nine through twelve are made aware of the career opportunities and experiences of women succeeding in a marine career.

ATL Employment Equity Panel -2
 Atlantic Towing’s Director of HR, Bill Pasch, sits on a panel discussing employment equity at the 2018 Employment Equity Achievement Awards.


This year, the company made waves as it’s vessel, the Atlantic Willow, became the first tugboat in the Port of Halifax to have an all-female crew.

“We firmly believe that having people of diverse backgrounds leads to better products, services and business results,” adds Gagnon, “We appreciate diverse perspectives, and are focused on evolving further to ensure our employees feel welcome, respected, supported and valued. This award from Canada for innovation is a tribute to the team who across are operations are embracing these goals.”

ATL All female Crew - 3
 Earlier this year, Atlantic Towing made waves with its first all-female tug crew.


Atlantic Towing’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is reflected in its holding company, J.D. Irving.

“Diversity of people and ideas are a vital source of innovation – strengths that we are committed to growing,” says Jim Irving, Co-CEO of J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI).

“We are very proud of the strong partnerships that we have developed with a number of well recognized groups including Women Unlimited, New Boots, Indigenous as well as African Canadian communities to support the training and hiring of individuals in the skills areas that we need,” explains Colleen Baxter, JDI’s VP of Human Resources. “Our focus will be to continue to grow these important partnerships as we look toward hiring over 10,000 people over the next 3 years.”

About Atlantic Towing

Headquartered in Saint John, NB, Atlantic Towing Ltd. specializes in the provision of diverse marine services including port tug services, coastal towing, and offshore oil and gas exploration and product support. Its world class vessels are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and experienced, versatile crews. Both crewmembers and land-based personnel operate with safety, quality of service and team work top-of-mind. Atlantic Towing is a member of the JDI Transportation and Logistics’ family of companies.


Please direct all media requests to:

Mary Keith
Vice President Communications
J.D. Irving, Limited
(506) 650-8209
(506) 632-5122

About the Employment Equity Achievement Awards

The Employment Equity Achievement Awards recognize employers for outstanding achievement in employment equity in their workplaces for the four designated, underrepresented groups (women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities).

About Employment and Social Development Canada

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) works to improve the standard of living and quality of life for all Canadians. We do this by promoting a labour force that is highly skilled. We also promote an efficient and inclusive labour market.


Please direct all media requests to:

Véronique Simard
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada