Ontario spending $75 million to improve training and cover apprentices’ living expenses

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Ontario government says $75 million will make the skilled trades more accessible by helping apprentices pay living expenses during their in-class training. The government is also appointing a five-member Skilled Trades Panel to provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development on developing a new approach to training and certification.

The announcement was made last week at Downtown Toyota Toronto by Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development, Joseph Mancinelli, international vice-president of LiUNA, Patrick J. Dillon, business manager and secretary treasurer of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, and Karen Renkema, chair of the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance.

“This is another step in the right direction. Minister McNaughton and this government have been great partners in our shared pursuit to improve the apprenticeship system in Ontario. We’re excited to continue this work by helping the panel in any way we can,” Dillon said.

Funding includes:

  • The Grant for Apprentice Learning, a $5.8 million commitment to support individuals ineligible for employment insurance (EI) while attending in-class training, including a boost of $1.3 million this year and next year.
  • The Apprentice Development Benefit, a $24 million commitment to increase the maximum benefit rates for EI-eligible apprentices attending full-time in-class training, including a boost of $4 million this year and next year.
  • The In-Class Enhancement Fund, a $211.9 commitment to support training providers so they can deliver higher quality training, including a boost of $11.8 million this year and $22.3 million next year.
  • The Apprenticeship Capital Grant, a $24 million commitment to training providers to upgrade their facilities with state-of-the-art and modern equipment, including an additional $10 million next year.
  • $5.1 million for training delivery agents, and an additional $500,000 for pre-apprenticeship training service providers, to assist them with implementing COVID-19 health and safety measures during the pandemic (e.g. purchase personal protective equipment, cleaning products and digital supports).
  • $4.7 million as part of a multi-year $19.4 million investment in the development of a client-facing digital system to support the skilled trades and apprenticeship system. The portal will provide skilled trades and apprenticeship clients with secure and convenient access to online information and services and will bring Ontario in line with digital delivery channels in other provinces.
  • $2.5 million this year and $7.5 million next year to launch the new non-repayable Tools Grant.

“Demand for workers in the trades will only increase as the province continues down the path of renewal, growth and economic recovery,” McNaughton said.

trades image

“That’s why our government is replacing lost wages for apprentices while they are in training so they can focus on completing their education and not having to worry about paying the bills. This investment will help them earn a higher quality education to ensure they acquire the skills they need to find good jobs and careers in the trades.”

The new Skilled Trades Panel, chaired by Michael Sherrard, will provide advice and recommendations to the government on the replacement of the Ontario College of Trades with a new approach to providing services, including compliance with compulsory training and certification requirements. The panel will also provide guidance on the criteria and process used to make decisions on the classification and training for the trades.

“I am honoured to accept this appointment,” said Michael Sherrard. “This is an important opportunity to modernize, streamline and strengthen the skilled trades system in our Province. With my colleagues on the panel, I look forward to listening to interested stakeholders and contributing to a solution that serves apprentices, journey-people and anyone who may consider a career in the skilled trades.”

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