Ontario helps apprentices impacted by COVID-19 get to work

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

As the economy gradually reopens, the Ontario government is helping apprentices by providing grants to purchase tools, protective equipment and clothing for their trade, along with forgiving previous loans to purchase tools.

The announcement was made last week by Premier Doug Ford and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for many business owners, workers, and families, and that’s why we are doing everything we can to help people through this difficult period,” said Premier Ford. “Tradespeople have been among those hardest hit by this pandemic. This new program will ensure they’re ready to get back on the job and play an important role in our economic recovery.”

The government is providing an Ontario Tools Grant of $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing. This will help new eligible apprentices purchase the equipment they need to start their careers. The funding amounts will be distributed as follows:

  • $1,000 for those in motive power sector trades
  • $600 for those in construction and industrial sector trades
  • $400 for those in service-sector trades

To be eligible for the new grant, apprentices must have:

  • completed level 1 training on or after April 1, 2020
  • an active registered training agreement
  • been registered as an apprentice for at least 12 months

The government is also forgiving more than $10 million in outstanding loans owed by apprentices for tool purchases made at the beginning of their careers. The Loans for Tools Program allowed thousands of new apprentices to buy tools, equipment, clothing, manuals and code books required for their trade. About 19,000 apprentices who participated in the program owed, on average, $495.

“If we are going to rebuild our economy, we must reach out and help the workers and businesses that are suffering as a result of COVID-19,” said Minister McNaughton. “The programs that we are announcing today will leave more money in the pockets of our apprentices and support those hospitality workers who have been laid-off by providing access to the training and services they need to recover and rejoin the workforce.”

Guled Warsame, president of UNITE HERE Local 75 supports the government plan.

“We are very grateful and proud to work with the provincial government to ensure that people are provided with support and the opportunity to upgrade their skills and get back to work as soon as possible.”

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