By Monte McNaughton
You don’t have to be in Ontario’s construction industry to notice the unprecedented growth that is taking place. From Toronto to Thunder Bay and right here in Barrie, you can see the progress right before your eyes. Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government is making historic investments to build new hospitals, schools, roads, and bridges for families and businesses.
Already over half a million workers are working in construction, and our province will need another 100,000 over the next decade to build the projects we rely on both on time and on budget while delivering on our government’s ambitious plan to build 1.5 million more homes by 2031.
Every job not filled is an uncollected paycheque and a missed opportunity for someone to build a better life. Jobs in construction are in-demand, well-paying careers where you can be proud of what you do while supporting your family.
That’s why our government is on a mission to create more pathways into construction by modernizing and streamlining Ontario’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system. Over the past four years, we have invested $1.5 billion to break the stigma associated with the trades, attract more young people, and make it easier for businesses to hire.
We’re also providing more free training to give workers and unemployed people a hand-up to the skills local employers need. We have invested over $700 million in our flagship Skills Development Fund, which supports innovative projects in communities across our province and has helped more than 500,000 people take the next step in their careers.
We also recently announced the opening of our new $224 million brick and mortar funding stream to build and renovate training centres for workers. If anyone has promising training or building ideas, my office wants to hear them.
I’m proud to say our approach is working. In June, I announced apprenticeship registrations have increased by 24 per cent compared to the previous year, meaning that more than 91,000 apprentices have signed up for careers in the trades across the province. Every day, more young people are waking up to the promise of good pay and purpose-driven work that construction has to offer.
This progress would not be possible without the dedication and partnership of labour leaders and industry partners, like the Barrie Construction Association. Your hard work and dedication to the wellbeing of Ontario’s construction sector, and all its workers, is vital for the long-term health and economic growth of our province.
With such strong voices for the Barrie Construction industry at Queen’s Park – including Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, Andrea Khanjin, MPP for Barrie-Innisfil, and Jill Dunlop, MPP for Simcoe North, I’m confident that by working together, we will spread opportunity from Barrie to every corner of Ontario and build a province that leaves no one behind.
Monte McNaughton is Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development