Ontario PC election platform claims potential to create 200,000 skilled trades jobs by closing OCOT and reducing apprenticeship ratios

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GTA Construction Report staff writer

The provincial Progressive Conservative party has released part of its platform, suggesting that changes to apprenticeship ratio reviews and eliminating the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) will create 200,000 jobs, as part of what it calls it’s “Million jobs plan.”

“Our Million Jobs Plan does away with cumbersome and outdated apprenticeship rules that limit the number of job opportunities in the trades,” the election platform statement said. “We will make it easier for people to get jobs as electricians, plumbers or precision machine operators by making trades training a community college course like any other. We will abolish the College of Trades, a new bureaucracy that creates red tape and new taxes that actually stop many young people from joining the trades. By removing these barriers, our plan will connect workers with 200,000 opportunities in the skilled trades, jobs our young people and our economy desperately need.”

Background observations in the document also assert:

  •  In Ontario today we face enormous unemployment, and at the same time we also face enormous labour shortages.
  • Ontario has 46 per cent fewer tradespeople per person than the other nine provinces. “This costs jobs. It’s not in workers’ interest. And it has to change.”
  • Skilled tradespeople come from training and apprenticeships. And it might surprise you to learn that Ontario has a policy of deliberately limiting the number of apprentices that get trained.
  • By reforming Ontario’s cumbersome and outdated apprenticeship rules, the Ontario PCs will create 200,000 new apprenticeship jobs over the next four years.

“The Conference Board of Canada found the skills shortage costs Ontario’s economy $24 billion in economic activity,” the PC platform said. “The Canadian Federation of Independent Business warned, ‘If ratios are not reduced immediately, Ontario would lose more of its skilled labourers to other provinces.’”
The Tories quoted the president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce as saying that many members view the OCOT as “unnecessary bureaucracy” and “another financial burden on business and workers.”
The C.D. Howe institute concluded, “If provinces want more workers in the trades, they should allow firms to hire more apprentices,” The PC statement said.