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Ontario apprentices get a hand up

Province pledging $75 million to cover living expenses while training
(Stock photo)

The province is promising $75 million over the next two years to cover living expenses for apprentices while they complete their in-class training.

Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development, made the announcement on Oct. 7.

The $75 million includes:

• the Grant for Apprentice Learning, a $5.8-million commitment to support those 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-million 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 in Ontario. 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; and

• $2.5 million this year and $7.5 million next year to launch the new non-repayable Tools Grant.

At least some of the funding has been previously announced.

The province said it has also appointed 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.

Panel members include chair Michael Sherrard, a leading employment and labour lawyer and founding member of Sherrard Kuzz LLP; Jason Ottey, director of government relations and communications for Laborers' International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 183; Shaun Scott, director of organizational development at Linamar; Melanie Winter, organizational development advisor with Cascades Inc.; and Melissa Young, executive director of the National Electrical Trade Council.