On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, the Finance Minister of Ontario, Peter Bethlenfalvy, released Ontario’s 2021 Budget titled: Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. The Ontario Construction Sectariat (OCS) has summarized the 2021 Ontario Budget, and it contains some initiatives and spending plans that are of interest to Local 793 and OETIO. Here are some highlights:
Investment in Infrastructure
One of the key drivers of the government’s plan is to create growth through investment in infrastructure. This includes strategic investments in transit, highways, schools, hospitals and broadband. Planned investments over the next 10 years total $145.4 billion, including $16.9 billion in 2021-22. Key highlights include:
- $30.2 billion over the next 10 years in hospital infrastructure.
- More than $21 billion over 10 years to support the planning and/or construction of highway expansion and rehabilitation projects.
- $200 million to provide infrastructure funding to larger, strategic projects and to sports facilities.
- Doubling investments in the Indigenous Community Capital Grants Program, which will help address long-term infrastructure needs and fast-track shovel-ready on and off reserve projects.
Helping Workers with the Cost of Training
Ontario is committed to helping workers learn new skills to further their careers. This includes:
- An estimated $260 million in support to about 230,000 people in 2021, the government is proposing a new Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit, which would provide $2,000 per recipient for 50 percent of eligible expenses.
- $85 million to support the Skills Development Fund to help training and employment organizations assist workers during the province’s economic recovery. The funded projects will give laid-off workers immediate access to training supports or new jobs, improve the quality of training, and support traditionally underrepresented groups.
Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades
Ontario is investing a total of $288.2 million in 2021-22 in its Skilled Trades Strategy, which includes the following improvements:
- Providing an additional $38.6 million over three years to expand the Specialist High Skills Major program.
- Investing $3 million over three years in a new pilot bursary program for hands-on learning in the skilled trades.
- Expanding the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP).
- Developing a digital portal that will enable secure and convenient access to online information and services for apprentices.
Over the past year, Ontario initiated and implemented a wide range of measures to promote workplace health and safety, protect workers and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces. Ontario is building on these efforts by ensuring that resources are available for employers and workers through initiatives that include:
- Providing free occupational health and safety training for health and safety representatives in up to 60,000 small businesses by investing $3.5 million annually over a three-year period.
- Increasing funding for the Ontario Mine Rescue program by $2.9 million in 2021-22.
- Renewing the occupational health and safety strategy for 2021-26.
Providing Employment & Training Supports
Ontario continues to support workers hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by investing an additional $614.3 million during 2020-21 and 2021-22 to provide targeted employment and training supports. This includes:
- $85 million to support Skills Development Fund to help training and employment organizations assist workers during the province’s economic recovery.
- $117.3 million to assist women, racialized individuals, Indigenous peoples, youth and people with disabilities who are facing the highest rates of unemployment during the pandemic.
- $194 million to further support Ontarian workers with additional employment and training programs and services that are responsive to the province’s economic recovery.
CLICK HERE to view the complete copy of the 2021 Ontario Budget
CLICK HERE to view the OCS Bulletin on the 2021 Ontario Budget