Ontario allocates $100 million for training workers in 2024 budget

Province also details plans for target pension benefit framework, housing supports

Ontario allocates $100 million for training workers in 2024 budget

Ontario is investing an additional $100 million in 2024–25 through the Skills Development Fund Training Stream under its 2024 budget.

As part of the funding, the provincial government is investing $7.3 million in the Skills Development Fund to support Indigenous workers across Northern Ontario. The investment will fund eight training projects to help prepare 1,700 workers for in-demand jobs in critical sectors such as forestry, construction and health care.

Ontario is also investing over $62.9 million in two of the province’s foundational programs to help more than 18,000 young people explore careers in the skilled trades, including:

  • $21.1 million to expand the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), a specialized high school program that gives students who have completed Grade 10 the chance to explore the trades through cooperative education courses, while completing their Ontario Secondary School Diploma; and
  • $41.8 million to launch about 100 pre‑apprenticeship training projects around the province to help young people get firsthand experience working in trades, including a paid work placement with a local employer.

“This funding for skills development and training programs will help train the skilled workers needed to build transit, hospitals and at least 1.5 million homes by 2031,” said the provincial government.

Target benefit pension framework in Budget 2024

Ontario also said it is also drafting proposed regulations that would support a target benefit pension framework for retirees. 

“Target benefit pension plans provide a monthly stream of income in retirement at a predictable cost for employers. Multi-employer pension plans that provide target benefits are often created by a union or association within a specific industry, especially industries involving the skilled trades.

“This means members of these plans can move from employer to employer while continuing to participate in the same pension plan, which encourages job mobility and will help to attract more people into the skilled trades,” explained the Ontario government.

These proposed regulations will be made available for technical review by the sector in summer 2024.

The government is also proposing legislative amendments that would support implementation of the framework. Ontario intends for the permanent target benefit framework to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

Investments provide on-the-job training support

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) welcomed the additional funding from 2024 Ontario Budget: Building a Better Ontario.

“OTA is pleased to see this investment being made and we will be working with our partners to make sure critical programs like the Explore Trucking Careers Program continue to provide on-the-job training support in our sector,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.

In late 2023, Ontario announced it is investing $4.3 million in four innovative training projects to help Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members prepare for in-demand jobs and transition to civilian life.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan also announced programs to better prepare workers for employment.

Ottawa meanwhile recently launched its Upgrade Your Skills advertising campaign to help Canadians gain the skills needed to succeed in today’s labour market.

Unions unhappy with tax cuts, tax credits

However, some unions are not happy with items detailed in Ontario’s 2024 budget. For example, Ontario is proposing to extend the temporary cuts to the gasoline tax rate by 5.7 cents per litre and the fuel (diesel) tax rate by 5.3 cents per litre until Dec. 31, 2024.

“This would save Ontario households $320 on average since the cuts were first introduced in July 2022. This relief is especially important as the federal carbon tax is set to increase on April 1, 2024,” said the provincial government.

But the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) said that Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s “obsession with tax cuts and tax credits” in the budget “sounds the death knell for Ontario’s languishing public services”.

This will result in the loss of nearly $8 billion in revenue in 2023-24, which is urgently needed to restore public services like health care and education, OFL said.

“This budget will make life harder and more expensive for the people of Ontario,” said Laura Walton, OFL president. 

“When you don’t fund the services people need, it forces them to pay out of pocket – and that makes the cost-of-living crisis worse for workers and their families.”

Also, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is unhappy that the 2024 Ontario budget does not address the cost-of-living crisis and that there’s not enough investment in public service.

“This budget sets up ordinary Ontarians for more years of misery,” said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario.

“The Ford PCs offer no immediate help to Ontarians struggling with the housing crisis; nothing for hundreds of thousands of public sector workers whose wages were stolen under Bill 124; nothing for families waiting for child care spaces; nothing for those exhausted by massive emergency room waits; next to nothing to deal with the staffing crisis in public services; nothing for those desperate for more support in their kids’ school.

Housing targets in Budget 2024

Under the budget, Ontario is investing $1 billion in the new Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program and quadrupling the Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund to a total of $825 million to help municipalities repair and expand the critical infrastructure needed to reach their housing targets, said the provincial government.

“Our responsible approach allows us to support Ontario families, workers and municipalities while retaining a path to balance,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, minister of finance. “We will keep investing prudently to help create stronger communities and better opportunities for future generations.”

In March 2023, Nova Scotia announced it is investing $12 million to provide more modular housing for healthcare workers and skilled tradespeople in communities where housing options are limited.

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