Recognizing that the skilled trades has been one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic, the Ontario government is providing grants for apprentices to purchase tools, protective equipment and clothing for their trade.
It is also forgiving previous loans to purchase tools.
The announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health, and Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development, during the government’s daily address May 22.
“If you owed money from our Loans for Tools program, you’re not going to owe that money anymore and for all the women and men entering the trades, we are creating a new tools grant to help you get started,” said McNaughton. “Premier Ford and our government want to give you a leg up as you are starting your careers, especially during these very difficult times.”
The Loans for Tools Program allowed thousands of new apprentices to buy tools, equipment, clothing, manuals and code books required for their trade, indicates a release, adding the government will forgive more than $10 million in outstanding loans owed by apprentices for tool purchases made at the beginning of their careers. About 19,000 apprentices who participated in the program owed an average of $495.
The government is also providing an Ontario Tools Grant of $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22. New eligible apprentices will also get help purchasing the equipment they need to start their careers.
The funding amounts will be distributed as follows: $1,000 for those in the motive power sector trades; $600 for those in construction and industrial sector trades; and $400 for those in service sector trades.
“As more construction gets going, we’re making sure our skilled tradespeople are set up for success, making sure they have the tools they need, so this summer we are launching the all new Ontario Tools Grant Program, a program that will help up to 11,600 apprentices get a head start on their careers in the skilled trades,” said Ford.
To be eligible for the new grant, apprentices must have completed Level 1 training on or after April 1, 2020; an active registered training agreement; and been registered as an apprentice for at least 12 months.
“COVID-19 has created a new class of heroes. Electricians, ironworkers, drywallers and so many others serve this province as essential workers just like doctors and nurses continue to do,” said McNaughton.
“The construction industry has stepped up. Today I got a letter telling me that thanks to our hard work together, there were a very small number of cases of infection in the sector and that’s something worth celebrating.
“The point here is very simple. We all work well when we work together – business, labour and government – so thanks to the insulators, the boilermakers, the labourers, the carpenters, the formworkers, the painters, the plumbers, the good people of this province who have stepped up to get us to where we are today.”
The tourism and hospitality industry have also been hit hard by the pandemic so the government announced it will be investing nearly $2 million to open a Virtual Action Centre in partnership with UNITE HERE Local 75, which will offer virtual job training resources.
Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.