The Ontario government is investing an additional $160 million in the Skills Development Fund (SDF) to tackle the labour shortage.
The investment is intended to help at least 100,000 workers get free training to meet the needs of employers hiring in their communities, according to an Aug. 25 press release.
The funding will prioritize programs that propose innovative training solutions to help people on social assistance and with prior criminal records find meaningful employment in critical industries like healthcare, auto-manufacturing, information technology, hospitality and the skilled trades.
“For too long, too many in our community have been forgotten and treated as second class in their own province. In the middle of a historic labour shortage, we need all hands on deck,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development. “That is why our government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure we give anyone who wants a job and a paycheque they can be proud of a shot at the Ontario dream. Whether you’ve been on social assistance for 10 months or 10 years, we’ll help you.”
The release states roughly 300,000 jobs in Ontario are going unfilled every day, with the potential to hold back the economy and the government’s infrastructure plans. At the same time, more than 800,000 people in Ontario rely on social assistance when the majority are willing, able and eager to work.
“This includes hundreds of thousands of people who made a mistake in the past and carry a criminal record and have not reoffended – almost half of whom are on social assistance even 15 years after release from prison,” stated the release.
In response, the fourth round of the SDF Training Stream will support programs that help them find meaningful work and tackle the labour shortage.
Through its first three rounds, the SDF has supported 596 projects in a variety of sectors, helping half a million people take the next step in their careers, including people with disabilities, auto workers, firefighters and construction workers.
Today’s announcement brings Ontario’s total investment in the SDF Training Stream to over $860 million.