Premier Doug Ford was the keynote speaker at the 63rd annual convention of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, which took place with a modified agenda this year over one day on Oct. 16
“We are doing everything in our power to prevent another provincial shutdown. Even as we weather the storm, we must see the opportunities amid our present challenges,” Ford said during his address in Toronto. “Now is the time to train our young people, reskill workers looking for their next career and inspire the next generation of tradespeople. When so many students are worried about their future, the trades can offer a good paying career for life.”
The council represents 12 different craft unions and over 150,000 construction workers across the province, Ford pointed out. He said since the outset of the pandemic it has remained critical to keep construction sites operational.
“I know from the outset there were calls from some to shut down all construction sites across the province but that would have had a devastating impact to your industry and to Ontario, putting 500,000 people out of work and we couldn’t do that,” said Ford. “At a time like this we can’t put new hospitals, long–term care homes, schools, highways and transit on hold. We need this critical capacity. We need this modern infrastructure. Our future depends on it. So instead we took a targeted approach and worked with the industry, labour unions and Ontario’s health and safety associations to develop workplace safety guidance to keep construction workers safe on the jobsite.”
Essential investments made
The premier said Ontario recently made a number of investments to support apprentices during this time.
“We invested an additional $75 million to help apprentices pay for living expenses during their in–class training,” said Ford. “This will replace lost wages for apprentices so they can focus on completing their education and not have to focus on paying the bills.
“We forgave $10 million in outstanding loans for tools. That relief was for 19,000 apprentices. We also have the Ontario Tools Grant which offers $600 grant to construction apprentices so they can purchase their own tools they need to start their careers.”
The province also announced $37 million to help train over 15,000 more people for new jobs and upgrade their skills, which includes almost $500,000 for a women in the trades program through the Building Trades Council.
“We are going to continue to make these critical investments to ensure we have the skilled workforce we need to rebuild this province,” said Ford.
Construction at the heart of province’s recovery
“As we look to the future, to Ontario’s economic recovery, construction is at the heart of it. That recovery starts with getting shovels in the ground faster on major projects, projects across our province because we are making big investments in our future.”
The construction industry will play a critical part in the province’s economic recovery, Ford said.
“We cannot do this alone, we need your help,” he told the trades council. “We need more welders, electricians, plumbers and construction workers to build the roads, bridges, highways, transit, long–term care homes.”
“We are going to need that spirit and drive as we start revving up our economic engine once again because I know how challenging the past several months have been,” added Ford. “It’s been difficult for businesses, for our communities and for the people of Ontario.
“When we get through this, Ontario’s building trades men and women will be there to ensure our economy comes roaring back. But until then our government remains 100 per cent committed to supporting Ontario’s construction sector through these extraordinary times.”
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