Ontario invests millions anew for Skills Development Fund

Employers were also urged to deliver programmes granting 'second chances'

Ontario invests millions anew for Skills Development Fund

The Ontario government has announced an additional $90-million investment in its Skills Development Fund (SDF) in a bid to strengthen its fight against labour shortage across the province. The SDF is a government initiative that supports programmes helping jobseekers obtain the skills and training they need to find high-flying careers. It offers funding to programmes that address challenges to hiring, training, or retaining workers.

The funding round will open on September 29, according to the provincial government, and will be open to unemployed and underemployed individuals. It will also prioritise programmes that’re helping those with prior involvement in the criminal justice system, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, Ukrainian newcomers, and others facing barriers to employment.

It comes as the province faces over 370,000 vacant jobs, according to the Ontario government, which are costing the province "billions in lost productivity."

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"As we continue to combat the largest labour shortage in a generation, there are tens of thousands of people who need a hand up, including those previously involved in the justice system who have paid their dues and just want to give back," said labour minister Monte McNaughton in a statement. "I believe in second chances and that is why I am calling on Ontario's employers to help us deliver programs that lift people up and give them the tools they need to earn bigger paycheques and lead purpose-driven lives."

The newest $90-million investment is the latest funding round from the government, bringing the province's total investment into skills and development to over $560 million. The previous two rounds supported 388 training projects, which in turn helped more than 393,000 people.

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Businesses welcome the funding

Executives quoted by the Ontario government welcomed the latest investment from the province. Among them was Mitacs CEO John Hepburn.

"Mitacs welcomes today's announcement of the next round of funding under the Ontario government's innovative Skills Development Fund," said Hepburn in a statement. "Ongoing investment in skills is a critical component of ensuring that Ontario has the talent it needs to drive innovation and economic growth. As a proud partner of his ministry's efforts in this area, we thank Minister McNaughton for his ongoing leadership in making skills development a priority."

Read more: Ontario ready to provide jobs and homes for Ukrainian refugees, says Minister

Scott Butler, executive director of Good Reads, also said that the SDF has been "transformational" for its municipal and First Nation members.

"With this funding, Good Roads was able to quickly design and deliver training that responded to market conditions while also providing public works professionals with the skills needed to keep our roads in good repair and get Ontario moving on the road to post-COVID recovery," said Butler.

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