Ontario’s 2023 budget represents good news for the construction industry, building on the government’s commitment to invest huge sums of money in key infrastructure, transport systems and training.
Announced on Thursday, March 23, the budget sets aside $184 billion over 10 years for major infrastructure projects – an increase of nearly $25 billion on last year’s figure.
With the construction industry facing a historic labour crunch, the government has also recognized the key role unions play in the recruitment and training of the next generation of skilled trades workers, with $224 million being added to the Skills Development Fund to build and upgrade training centres.
“Investing in the province’s critical infrastructure now will provide long-term employment for IUOE Local 793 members and position the province for future growth,” said Local 793 Business Manager Mike Gallagher.
“The government’s platform to continue tackling affordability and the housing crisis is of particular importance to our members, who are on the front lines every day building the homes, hospitals, and roads that will not only allow the province to keep going but will also improve the lives of everyone who makes Ontario their home.
“The rebuilding of Ontario’s economy requires a highly skilled workforce to get it done, and that is why the government’s ongoing support of the industry’s efforts to recruit more people to the skilled trades and provide them the training they need to succeed is also so welcome.”
The main spending highlights contained in the 2023 Ontario budget include:
• $27.9 billion to support the planning and construction of highway expansion and rehabilitation projects such as Highway 413, a new 400-series highway and transportation corridor across Halton, Peel and York regions, the Bradford Bypass, a new four-lane freeway connecting Highway 400 in the County of Simcoe and Highway 404 in York Region, and the new Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph.
• $70.5 billion for transit over the next 10 years, including continuing to transform the GO Transit rail network into a fully integrated rapid transit network; and the largest subway expansion in Canadian history that includes the Ontario Line, the Scarborough Subway Extension, the Yonge North Subway Extension and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension.
• Over $48 billion in hospital infrastructure over the next 10 years.
• $15 billion in capital grants over 10 years to expand and renew schools.
• In the mining sector, an additional $6 million is being spent over two years in the Ontario Junior Exploration Program to help more companies search for potential mineral deposits and attract further investments. Work is also continuing to build the roads to the Ring of Fire.
• Providing $224 million in 2023–24 for a new capital stream of the Skills Development Fund to leverage private-sector expertise and expand training centres, including union training halls to provide more accessible, flexible training opportunities for workers.