Federal Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Minister Patricia Hajdu has announced $936,162 in funding for the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO).

The funds will be used to purchase an all-terrain crane for the OETIO campus in Oakville and equip a number of dozers with Global Positioning Systems and laser technology at Morrisburg.

Hajdu made the announcement at an event attended by apprentices, Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher and president Joe Redshaw at the OETIO in Morrisburg on April 4.

In remarks at the event, Gallagher thanked the government for the funding and for being a trailblazer in recognizing the important role that unions play in training the workforce.

“The federal funding will greatly benefit our apprentices and members as well as people from Aboriginal and Inuit communities who are referred to the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario for training by mining companies and communities in the far North.”

The money is part of $10.2 million being made available under the Union Training and Innovation Program to help unions purchase new and up-to-date training equipment and materials.

Gallagher said he’s pleased that Local 793 and the OETIO received nearly 10 per cent of the funds.

“One thing that’s challenging for Operating Engineers, as I’m sure you all realize, is that our tools are a little bit more expensive than most of the other trades, so that will help us.”

Under terms of the program, the federal government is providing 48 per cent of the cost of equipment purchases while Local 793 is providing 52 per cent.

Gallagher said the union will use part of the funds to buy a mobile all-terrain crane which should be on site in Oakville by October.

He said a request for proposals is going out April 6. Total cost of the crane will be $1,130,00. The union is contributing $587,438 and the government is contributing $542,562.

The funds will also be used to outfit six dozers at the OETIO campus in Morrisburg with GPS systems. The union will contribute $335,400 and the government will contribute $309,600.

Another six dozers at Morrisburg will also be outfitted with laser capabilities. The union will contribute $91,000 and the government will contribute $84,000.

All in, Gallagher said, with the government commitment of $936,162 and union contribution of $1,013,938, the purchase budget for the crane and dozer systems is $1.95 million.

“I’m very, very delighted,” he said in his remarks. “I can’t say any more about how well the money will be used to make sure we have the best Operating Engineers and tradesmen and tradeswomen in the province of Ontario and in the Territory of Nunavut.”

Hajdu said in her remarks that she was very excited to announce the funding for Local 793 and other unions because it will help them buy the equipment they need to train workers.

“I’ll be very excited to come back and see the crane when you receive it next October,” she said.

Hajdu, who has a son in the trades, praised unions and the work that they do, and encouraged apprentices at the event to continue with their training.

“The only reason we have a middle class in Canada is because of the efforts of organized labour,” she said. “It was labour movements across this country and across many other countries that led to things like decent work and safe working conditions.”

Hajdu said unions fought for decent working conditions and to get workers good pensions so they can retire comfortably after working 20 or 30 years in the field and that’s why the government is focused on ensuring they have the tools to keep growing.

She said there are 65,000 skilled trades positions vacant across Canada right now and the stigma associated with the trades is one of the reasons there aren’t enough applicants.

“We still have a narrative out there in this country that college and skilled trades training is okay, but university is better.”

She congratulated apprentices at the event for taking up training and changing the narrative.

“You have made absolutely the right choice for you and you need to be part of the generation that turns that story around and that teaches people that these trades are noble professions that require intelligence and precision and a degree of discipline.”

Hajdu said it’s exciting to see what the Operating Engineers and other trades are doing to get women and under-represented communities into the careers.

She noted there will be a lot of jobs in future in the resource-rich Ring of Fire area in Ontario and the government wants to ensure there are enough skilled people to fill those positions.

“That’s exactly what the Operating Engineers are doing right here today – making sure people have those skills so that when those opportunities come about they can take advantage of that.”

Hajdu said unions, government, industry and employers must work together to get more people into the trades.

“When we work together, everybody’s going to have an opportunity to thrive and choose a career for them that’s going to support themselves and also their families and I believe it is the unions that are going to continue that drive towards a healthy middle class.”

Hajdu said a job in the trades provides workers and families with a strong foundation for prosperity.

“I’m really excited about the work we’re going to do to make sure that Canada keeps on that track of a really inclusive, prosperous economy where everybody has the opportunity to thrive.”

Business manager Gallagher, meanwhile, said in his remarks to apprentices at the event that a career as an Operating Engineer is a good one.

“You’ve invested in a career that’s going to enable you to support you and your families and your communities for many, many years to come.

“On behalf of Local 793 and our 15,000 members, we really want to encourage you to stick to it and make a career as an Operating Engineer.”

Click here for Local 793 press release.

Click here for story in Daily Commercial News

Click here for Employment and Social Development Canada press release.

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