Government of Ontario Releases 2020 Budget

On Thursday, November 5, 2020, the Ontario Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips, released the 2020 Budget titled Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support and Recover. The Budget contains some initiatives and spending plans that are of interest to Local 793 and OETIO: Retraining and Skilled Trades: The Province is planning to invest an additional $180.5 million, to […]

On Thursday, November 5, 2020, the Ontario Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips, released the 2020 Budget titled Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support and Recover.

The Budget contains some initiatives and spending plans that are of interest to Local 793 and OETIO:

  • Retraining and Skilled Trades: The Province is planning to invest an additional $180.5 million, to help people retrain and upgrade their skills, over three years in micro-credentials, employment services and training programs, including apprenticeships.
  • COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Skills Plan: Through Employment Ontario, the Province committed to fund $100 million in 2020-21 for skills training programs for workers most affected by COVID-19. This dedicated funding will help more workers receive the guidance and assistance they need to upgrade their skills and find good jobs.
  • Ontario’s Skilled Trades Strategy: The province came out with 3 pillars of Ontario’s Skilled Trades Strategy, designed to modernize Ontario’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system, and help enable the province’s economic recovery.

 

The 3 Pillars of Ontario’s Skilled Trades Strategy 

1) Break the stigma attached to a career in the skilled trades and attract and train youth by:

  • $17 million increase in awareness of careers in the skilled trades through Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program
  • $6 million boost in funding through Skills Ontario
  • Investing $21 million in Ontario’s Pre-Apprenticeship Training program
  • Providing an additional $500,000 to pre-apprenticeship training service providers
  • Appointing three Youth Advisors
  • Investing $42 million in Specialist High Skills Major programs

2) Make it easier for people to be part of the skilled trades with an investment of $75 million over the next two years by:

  • Appointing a five-member Skilled Trades Panel to provide recommendations on ways to modernize the system
  • Investing $2.5 million this year and $7.5 million next year to launch the new non-repayable Tools Grant
  • Investing $5.8 million in the Apprentice Development Benefit, including a $1.3 million boost this year and next
  • Investing $24 million in the Apprentice Development Benefit to supplement EI benefits, including a $4 million boost this year and next
  • Investing $4.7 million in 2021-22 in multi-year commitment to develop new digital portal to support skilled trades and apprenticeship system in Ontario
  • Committing a total of $211.9 million to the In-class Enhancement Fund in 2020-21 and 2021-22, including a boost of $11.8 million this year and $22.3 million next year
  • Investing an additional $10 million in 2021-22 in the Apprenticeship Capital Grant for a total investment of $24 million
  • Investing $5.4 million to assist training delivery agents with implementing COVID-19 health and safety measures

3) Increase employer participation in sponsoring and hiring trained apprentices by:

  • Establishing a new Skills Development Fund which will provide $30 million over two years beginning in 2020-21
  • Investing $21 million in 2020-21 to support a new Achievement Incentive Grant for employers
  • Supporting business participation by investing $20 million in 2020-21 for a new Group Sponsorship Grant to encourage small to medium sized employers to provide full scope training
  • Working with industry on workforce planning for major infrastructure projects


Ontario’s Infrastructure Plan

The “Recover” component of the government’s action plan includes $4.8 billion in new spending. Highlights include an additional $680 million over four years for broadband infrastructure, and an extra $1.3 billion over three years to reduce electricity costs to industrial and commercial employers.

In addition to the new $680 million broadband infrastructure funding, Ontario’s capital plan currently includes:

  • $62.7 billion over ten years for public transit projects including the Ontario Line, the Scarborough Subway Extension, the Yonge North Subway Extension, and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. The Province indicated that it is accelerating the delivery of its subway expansion projects and calling on the federal government to put up 40% of the total costs.
  • $27.2 billion over ten years for hospital projects including the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority New Replacement Hospital, Unity Health — St. Joseph’s Health Centre Redevelopment project, the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, and the South Bruce Grey Health Centre — Kincardine Site Phase 1 Redevelopment project.
  • $1 billion for the newly established COVID-19 Resilience stream, which provides for the accelerated delivery of priority municipal infrastructure projects, school retrofits, and long-term care facilities.

 

Ontario’s Infrastructure Spending Outlook ($ Millions)

2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 10-Year Total
Transit 4,799 5,457 5,844 62,708
Provincial Highways 2,587 2,561 2,764 22,017
Hospitals 2,064 2,573 2,557 27,229
Education 2,392 2,567 2,388 20,073
Postsecondary Education 634 629 486 4,225
Social 168 232 192 2,351
Justice 615 822 850 4,348
Total* 15,767 17,571 18,007 162,679

Source: 2020 Ontario Budget

*Total includes several smaller sector categories excluded from this table; Total also includes third-party investments primarily in hospitals, colleges and schools.

 

For a complete copy of the Ontario Budget, visit https://budget.ontario.ca/2020/pdf/2020-ontario-budget-en.pdf 

Local 793 meets with the QIA (Qikiqtani Inuit Association)

Local 793 met with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) at the OETIO Morrisburg campus on Monday, February 10th, 2020.   Business manager Mike Gallagher sat down with PJ Akeeagok, the president of the QIA, to speak on shared interests, and establish an amicable relationship going forward.   The meeting, organized by Carla St. Louis the […]

Local 793 met with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) at the OETIO Morrisburg campus on Monday, February 10th, 2020.

 

Business manager Mike Gallagher sat down with PJ Akeeagok, the president of the QIA, to speak on shared interests, and establish an amicable relationship going forward.

 

The meeting, organized by Carla St. Louis the Director of Marketing and Indigenous Affairs, had been long in coming. Prior to his visit, president Akeeagok was attending the Northern Lights Conference in Ottawa and recognized a good opportunity to tack on a site visit to Morrisburg while eleven QIA students were there.

 

The Morrisburg campus is currently hosting and training these students in the 6-week Q-STEP heavy equipment program which consists of loader, haul truck and skid steer.

 

Also in attendance from the QIA was Q-Step Program Manager Romeyn Stevenson, and Director of Communication Sima Sahar Zerehi.

 

Additional members of Local 793 present at the meeting included Executive Director of OETIO and Vice President of IUOE Local 793 – Joe Dowdall, and Assistant Executive Director of OETIO and Area Supervisor of IUOE Local 793 Eastern Ontario – Rick Kerr.

 

Seen here from L to R wearing new OETIO hats is Romeyn Stevenson, PJ Akeeagok, Mike Gallagher, Joe Dowdall, and Rick Kerr.

 

 

The QIA is the Regional Inuit Association for the Qikiqtani Region of Nunavut and represents 51 percent of Inuit living in the territory located in the Canadian Arctic. They are committed to advancing the rights and benefits of Qikiqtani Inuit through protecting and promoting their social, political, economic and cultural interests.

 

“It’s our job to take the holistic approach” said president Akeeagok. “We need to balance our economic goals with our environmental ones”.

 

Proper environmental assessments prior to any proposed projects are an important measure to ensure environmental sustainability. The QIA is committed to ensuring no commitments or decisions are made regarding the Qikiqtani region without conducting studies to evaluate the environmental impact and mitigate negative effects of potential projects.

 

Gallagher could empathize with the environmental concerns of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

 

“I’m not going to lie to you, we always like to see work go forward because it benefits our members.” He confessed. “But not without taking proper measures to preserve the natural environment. Sustainability holds importance to each of us”.

 

The QIA recently received $20 million in program funding from the federal government in atonement for systematic efforts to colonize Inuit of the Qikiqtaaluk region.

 

Akeeagok was eager to see the training facility in person as it serves an example of what can be accomplished with the appropriate allocation of government funding.

 

“We are really impressed with the facility and continue to receive great feedback from our youth about their time here” said Akeeagok.

 

Since the QIA youth joined the OETIO, ‘country food’ – a term for Inuktitut cultural meals – began being shipped to the facility on a regular basis, given that it is an important part of their diet.

 

“It is the little things you do for our youth that make all the difference in their time here” complimented Akeeagok.

 

Here’s a view of the snow covered training yard from the facility’s dining hall.

 

 

After a site tour led by Director of Marketing and Indigenous Affairs Carla St. Louis, Local 793 and the QIA had an opportunity to sit down with the eleven students as they shared about the communities they were from and their positive experience at OETIO.

 

“These are the times of my life that are the most memorable” remarked Patrick, one of the students, before looking over his shoulder at his fellow trainees.

 

Before leaving he scrawled the word ‘Tapiriit’ in pen on a napkin for Gallagher, which expresses the concept of ‘united’ in Inuktitut.

 

 

Local 793 was happy for this opportunity to connect with the QIA and learn a bit about their culture.

 

“I think it’s important we maintain communication like we are doing here today” said Gallagher.

 

In 2014, Local 793’s charter was expanded to include the entire Territory of Nunavut, as well as Baffin Island in Northern Canada. Local 793 and the OETIO have been training Inuit people from the Territory for several years now.

 

Pictured below is the eleven QIA students currently training in the Q-STEP heavy equipment program.

 

Racing to Finish – Jamie Richardson Profile

“I always have a little bit of butterflies.” That was the response Local 793 member Jamie Richardson gave when asked how he feels each time he gets behind the wheel of his race car before a competition. “You’re about to be travelling at high speeds where anything can happen. It can all be over in […]

“I always have a little bit of butterflies.”

That was the response Local 793 member Jamie Richardson gave when asked how he feels each time he gets behind the wheel of his race car before a competition.

“You’re about to be travelling at high speeds where anything can happen. It can all be over in two seconds if you make a mistake.

“The first time getting strapped in, your heart is pounding so fast and you’re nervous,” he continued. “You don’t want to get hurt and you also don’t want to damage the car.

“It’s a lot different than riding a bicycle,” he quipped.

A concrete pump operator from Amhurst Crane Rentals, the 33-year-old Richardson reached out to Local 793 for support and was happy to receive the approval, along with a 100th Anniversary sponsorship sticker for the hood of his race car.

When asked why he chose the union to sponsor him, he said it’s mutually beneficial.

“My goal is to support my union and display their logo each time I get out on the track,” he said.

Richardson grew up in Burketon, Ontario, close to Mosport International Raceway (now named Canadian Tire Motorsport Park), where he could hear the hum of the cars on the track from his house.

Naturally, he became curious about all the commotion and decided to follow a childhood friend down to the track so he could see firsthand what all the fuss was about. He remembers the incredible atmosphere and being able to feed off of the excitement of those around him.

“When you see the cars whipping at you from the cage, it gives you goosebumps,” he said.

Eventually, just spectating was no longer good enough for Richardson. He had to get behind the wheel for himself, which he did for the first time at age 25.

Richardson typically races 6-9 times a season at various competitions across the province. It wasn’t hard for him to keep up with his hobby, having married into a racing family. His father-in-law has been racing for 44 years and funded his current 2018 Chevrolet Super Late Model.

Richardson said he’s thankful to have so much support for his passion, as well as a good paying job, without which he likely wouldn’t be able to keep up with the hobby.

But the sport does not come without its challenges.

“It takes hours and hours on end to be able to get the car ready for each race and if you don’t use that time, it could bite you in the butt,” he said.

“Something like a lose clamp could ruin your whole race.”

Additionally, there’s not always an equal playing field when it comes to racing and sometimes wealthier people can circumvent time and hard work using money. Richardson resents that money plays such a big part in racing and how less dedicated but more affluent people may be able to “bump you out” of placing in competitions.

His car can reach up to 130 mph (209 km/h), making it a bit faster than your average commercial vehicle. But on the racetrack, he counts himself as the underdog and points out how the competition is often equipped with the newest and fastest stock car models on the market.

Richardson fondly remembers a day when his dedication to the sport payed off while participating in the 2018 Canadian Short Track Nationals at Jukasa Motor Speedway in Hagersville, Ontario.

“I came up to my car before the race and there was this one guy kind of hanging around it, looking at the union sticker on the hood. I got to talking to him and, sure enough, he was a heavy equipment operator from our local.”

They were happy to connect over their union membership and the man complimented his car and wished him luck in the race.

But Richardson was still skeptical about his odds of winning, given that there were 21 cars racing – many of which were newer and faster than his own. He responded to his union brother saying he’d be the happiest person in the world if he ever gets in the top 10.

The union member questioned Richardson and asked why he puts himself down like that, to which he replied “well, I’m underpowered by about 180-horsepower compared to the competition.”

In the end, Richardson surprised himself and placed sixth overall in that race, his best yet. He realized that he could attribute his achievement to the amount of care he puts into his equipment.

“Sometimes it’s all about finishing the race rather than stressing over what you do or don’t have,” he admitted.

When asked to compare his race car to the concrete pump truck he operates, he said laughingly “well, with one you lose money and the other you gain it.”

Apart from that amusing distinction, he was also able to identify some parallels between his work and hobby. He noted that quick thinking and common sense are essential in each environment.

“If you don’t respect what you are driving or operating, then you could end up with pretty bad failure,” he said.

When considering the capability of a 38-meter, 56,800-pound concrete pump truck compared with the considerable horsepower of a stock race car, it’s easy to understand what he’s talking about. There is more than enough room for error with both machines, and therefore no room for laziness when it comes to safety.

Overall, Richardson described his favourite thing about both racing and operating to be the opportunity to meet new people. It doesn’t matter if he’s on the jobsite or the racetrack, getting to interact with different people all the time is something he’s thankful for.

Although, as he mentioned, with operating there is the added benefit of being paid.

“With race car driving, you’re doing it for free and you do it because you love it, he said.”

Photos courtesy of Dan Little Jr. Photography