By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction Report staff writer
The Ontario government has announced new funding to upgrade trades training centres and build new facilities.
“This new program will help boost the province’s training infrastructure, providing more people opportunities to learn new skills and advance their careers into good-paying, in-demand jobs,” Premier Doug Ford said in a June statement. “We’re taking the steps needed to create a bigger pipeline of talent to ensure we continue to have the best workforce in the world to keep attracting investments and to build Ontario.”
Officials estimate 300,000 jobs are unfilled in Ontario. Applications for the $224-million skills development fund (SDF) Capital Stream open on June 30 for projects to build new training centres or upgrade and convert existing facilities into new training centres with state-of-the-art equipment and technology.
“Ontario is facing the largest labour shortage in a generation, and our government is on a mission to help workers train for the well-paying jobs we know are available,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development. “We will continue to invest in innovative training programs and ground-breaking infrastructure to prepare jobseekers in every corner of our province for the future of work.”
In addition, $535,000 will be available for new programs for apprenticeship opportunities for boilermakers in Northern Ontario and across the province. Led by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 128, these free programs will provide 1,350 participants with the opportunity to explore rewarding careers as boilermakers, which can pay up to $38 an hour.
The first project will create hands-on experience in welding, cutting and rigging work for more than 1,000 students interested in apprenticeships in the trade. It will prioritize women, Indigenous people and others in rural Northern Ontario communities interested in learning about work in the skilled trades.
“To meet the demand for skill trades in the province, it is vital that we develop the skills and abilities of those individuals that are interested in a career within the trades, which is our mission with these projects,” said Jonathan White, International Representative – CSO at International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.
“The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers commends the tremendous decision of the Ontario government to further invest in the trades through their Capital Stream of the Skills Development Fund, which will add to and improve training centres that will be used to build the highly skilled workforce needed to support Ontario’s infrastructure and to expand opportunities within industry.”
The second project will provide free lodging, travel and food for 150 new jobseekers to start introductory apprenticeship training. Participants will complete course work covering rigging, working at heights and construction safety as they prepare to become boilermaker apprentices.
Several other construction industry leaders contributed statements to the announcement.
“Today’s launch of the SDF Capital Stream is critically important in addressing the current skills trade deficit that is challenging the future growth of our economy,” said Jack Oliveira
business manager, LiUNA Local 183, LiUNA OPDC. “The SDF Capital Stream investment into the “bricks and mortar” expansion of our training facilities will increase our capacity to meet this growing demand and further add to the increased success of the Skills Development Fund overall.”
Mike Gallagher, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 793 business manager, said: “This funding will allow training institutes like ours to expand and meet the demands of our industry and allow our employers to attract the much-needed talented young people to a rewarding apprenticeship. In turn, we will be able to build the required infrastructure that will strengthen our economy.”
On the employer’s side, Graeme Aitken, executive director of the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO), said: “ECAO applauds the Provincial Government, the Premier and Minister McNaughton for this important step in helping ensure Ontario’s energy future and positioning the province to meet its ambitious energy goals. The SDF Capital Stream provides critical financial support to help ensure our electrical contractors and their skilled tradespersons will be ready for the task.”
From the union side, James Barry, executive secretary-treasurer, IBEW Construction Council of Ontario, said: “The IBEW Construction Council of Ontario (CCO) once again applauds the leadership of Minister McNaughton and his initiative to strengthen the industry’s and IBEW’s labour capital training requirements.
Finally, reflecting the overall organized labour perspective, Marc Aresnault, business manager, Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, said: “These investments represent a common approach by labour, employers, and government to help improve Ontario’s construction industry.”