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Province's $180M investment in skilled trades important for post-COVID world, says MPP

'If we don’t make investments and we don’t take action today, we’re still going to be paying for it tomorrow,' says Khanjin

Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin was at a south-end business this afternoon to promote the provincial government’s $180-million investment to the skilled trades industry.

As part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, the Ontario government is providing $180.5 million to connect workers to training and jobs. The investment includes a Skilled Trades Strategy, an additional $100 million of dedicated investments through Employment Ontario for skills training, a redesigned Second Career program, and $59.5 million to acquire in-demand skills. 

“It's good to talk to businesses and know that we’re really in touch with reality. The worst thing for a government is to be out of touch with reality,” Khanjin told BarrieToday. “Today’s announcement shows us that we’ve listened and the stuff that we’re delivering is the stuff that people need. We’re not just making this up out of thin air.”

The government will encourage employer participation to modernize Ontario’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system through different programs. 

Ontario will be establishing a new Skills Development Fund, which will provide $30 million over two years beginning in 2020-21, to support a blend of operational and capital enhancements for non-college training providers, businesses and associations that train apprentices. 

There will be an investment of $21 million in 2020-21 to a new Achievement Incentive Grant to encourage small- to medium-sized employers to train apprentices toward program completion and trade certification. 

The government will also be supporting business participation by investing $20 million in 2020-21 for a new Group Sponsorship Grant to encourage small- to medium-sized employers to come together to provide a full scope of training and on-the-job mentorship for apprentices.

Even with the pandemic ongoing and the provincial numbers on the rise lately, Khanjin says the province also needs to focus on the future after COVID.

“If we don’t make investments and we don’t take action today, we’re still going to be paying for it tomorrow,” she said. “It is so important to make these investments in skilled trades now because coming through COVID, there are still going to be job shortages.

"Some people may want to get out of the service sector or not work retail anymore, and they’re looking for another meaningful, high-paying career in the skilled trades," Khanjin added. 

Brotech Precision has been in Barrie for 25 years and the company builds metal components for high precision industries, such as the medical and defense industries. Currently, they are making critical components for Bruce Power for refurbishment of six reactors in the province. 

Brotech president Jerome Horowitz told BarrieToday that while his company has been handling COVID well, he is glad to get the help.

“Our machines are spaced out so there isn't really a need to be close to each other, so that was good for us right out of the gate,” he said. “We currently employ about 65 people and we should be encouraged, through low costs, to keep growing and employing more people.

"Employing more people brings more taxes to the government and puts more money into the community and local economy.”