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Province announces program to help apprentices, hospitality workers

Funds offer training, loan forgiveness
(Stock photo)

In its ongoing efforts to boost the economy in the wake of COVID-19, the province has announced new programs to help apprentices and hospitality sector employees get back to work.

The Ontario Tools Grant will dole out $2.5 million in 2020-2021 and $7.5 million in 2021-2022 and beyond to help new, eligible apprentices purchase equipment needed to start their careers.

The fund will allot $1,000 for those in the motive power sector trades; $600 for those in construction and the industrial sector trades; and $400 for those in the service sector trades.

Eligibility criteria includes the completion of Level one training on or after April 1, 2020; an active registered training agreement; and registration as an apprentice for at least 12 months.

The province also said it would forgive more than $10 million in outstanding loans owed by apprentices for tools purchased 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.

Hospitality workers are expected to benefit from a $2-million investment in a Virtual Action Centre, which will provide virtual job training for up to 7,000 unemployed workers in the hospitality sector.

Examples include stress management and mental health resources through videoconferencing, and technical skills online training.

The centre will be operated by UNITE HERE, a union representing workers in hotels, restaurants, racetracks and casinos, laundry and food service companies, airport concessions and apparel, textile and general manufacturing, and distribution centres.