Premier Doug Ford announced plans to build, upgrade and expand Ontario’s skilled training centre at a press conference in Vaughan Tuesday morning.
“We’re going to need thousands of new skilled construction workers to help build the infrastructure our growing population needs,” Ford said.
The government will invest an additional $224 million into building and upgrading more training centres, as well as $75 million more over the next three years to go toward supporting operations ongoing at existing training centres.
The government said nearly 300,000 high-demand jobs such as electricians, welders and mechanics are going unfilled across the province, costing billions in lost productivity.
The government will start accepting applications for a skills development fund later in spring to allow unions, business associations and other applicants to set up skilled training centres.
LIUNA Local 183, a union representing many Ontario construction workers, runs its own skilled training centres and supports the creation of more.
“We build the homes, highways, hospitals, transit, and public infrastructure that Ontario’s and businesses rely on every day,” LIUNA Local 183 business manager Jack Oliveira said. “But we couldn’t do it without the training received right here.”
Ontario’s Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy hinted Thursday’s budget will contain more details about the investment.
“I look forward to sharing more details on Thursday. Only two more sleeps and our government’s responsible, targeted approach that is building an Ontario that the people of this province can be proud of not only today, but in the future,” Beththlenfalvy said.
However, Jason Ottey, Director of Government Relations at LIUNA Local 183 said it’d been decades since the skilled trades have had this kind of government training investment.
“This announcement really does go a long way to allowing us to provide that additional space and create more training opportunities for people in the trades,” he said.
“It’s a fantastic first step, and we hope, you know, future budgets will include not only just making that permanent but also expanding,” he said.