First Nations communities receive $3.7 million to train 110 construction workers

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

More than 100 members of Treaty #3 First Nations communities will be trained for construction careers with $3.7 million from the provincial government.

Participants are expected to work on the TransCanada Highway 17 twinning project as construction craft workers, heavy equipment operators, general construction workers, and concrete workers. Some of these jobs pay as high as $44 an hour.

“For too long a whole wall of obstacles has kept job opportunities and job experience out of reach of our people. We’re very pleased that Ontario is partnering with our development corporation to secure good job opportunities and begin to overcome some of those capacity and other obstacles, ” said Chief Chris Skead, Wauzhushk Onigum Nation.

Each participant will receive up to $3,000 to cover costs such as transportation, childcare, and other expenses that could act as barriers to participation. Training runs from March 2021 until July 2023.

McNaughton“Our province faces a severe shortage of skilled workers, with tens of thousands of jobs in construction going unfilled daily,” Monte McNaughton, minister of labour said at an event in Kenora.

“Many of these jobs pay six figures, with pension and benefits. Today’s investment will give First Nations people in Northern Ontario the training and skills they need to open the door to these meaningful career opportunities, helping build better lives for themselves and their loved ones.”

The project will a benefit to members of four Kenora area First Nations in Treaty 3 territory, represented by the Niiwin Wendaanimok communities and prioritize those who are unemployed, underemployed, or at risk of losing their jobs. The communities include Washagamis Bay First Nation, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, Wauzhusk Onigum First Nation, and Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation.

“Our government is once again demonstrating its commitment to supporting the skilled trades while promoting inclusion and opportunities in Indigenous communities,” said Greg Rickford, minister of northern development, mines, natural resources and forestry and minister of indigenous affairs .

“Today’s investments will help to further bridge the opportunity gap for Indigenous workers, their families, and their communities. This project will be a game changer for many of Kenora’s Indigenous peoples who can now look forward to a more prosperous, secure future.”

In 2020, the construction industry employed about 500,000 people or 7.3 per cent of Ontario’s workforce. However, in the second quarter of 2021, there were 20,895 vacancies in the construction sector in Ontario.

Large construction projects in the Kenora region often rely on the use of outside labour, leaving First Nations people without the skills and work experience to qualify for these jobs.

“We know from experience that, given the chance, our young men and women can really shine. This project will help them make their contribution,” said Chief Vernon Redsky, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.

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