Workforce 2030 Coalition react to Ontario’s 2021 budget

The Workforce 2030 coalition is encouraged by the commitment to a strong recovery demonstrated in the Ontario Government’s 2021 budget. New investments of more than $360 million for training through the Skills Development Fund, the Skilled Trades Strategy and the Ontario Job Training Tax Credit, offer hope for a new generation of tradespeople. The budget also includes supports for COVID-impacted workers, especially under-represented groups including youth, women, racialized individuals, and Indigenous peoples – a key component of the Coalition’s pre-budget recommendations. It is critical that these investments are focused on the significant opportunities presented by low-carbon building. The building sector is a proven cornerstone of economic recovery and can spur significant job creation. Training and employment supports should prioritize the low-carbon skills needed for the jobs of the future, such as working on energy efficiency building retrofits, indoor air quality improvements, and new low-carbon construction.

Coalition partner quotes:

“The investment in training announced in Ontario’s budget 2021 is an important strategy for a fair and green recovery.  Going further, focusing on training and re-skilling for the jobs involved in implementing deep energy efficiency retrofits and near-zero new construction in Ontario will be especially high-value in the shift to a prosperous and low-carbon economy. Equity and access for those most affected by pandemic should be front and centre of the government’s priorities.”

– Julia Langer, CEO, The Atmospheric Fund and funder and Member of the Workforce 2030 Advisory Board of Foundational Partners

“The Toronto Region Board of Trade applauds the provincial government’s workforce and training investments laid out in the 2021 budget, which are aligned with the Board’s policy work on the development of a diverse and inclusive talent ecosystem. The announcement of the expansion of funding for the Skills Development Fund and the Skilled Trades Strategy, the launch of a Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee, and measures to support post-secondary institutions, women and families, are major steps towards ensuring equitable recovery and preparing the region’s workforce for the post-COVID economy and the jobs of the future. Leveraging these and future investments will also be essential to upskilling and reskilling workers for in-demand jobs in the energy-efficient and low-carbon building industry.”

– Roselle Martino, Vice President Policy, Toronto Region Board of Trade and Member of the Workforce 2030 Advisory Board of Foundational Partners

“We congratulate the Ontario government on its budgetary commitment to support a strong post-pandemic recovery. Any meaningful and lasting recovery should involve a low-carbon recovery agenda, investing in worker retraining, upskilling and re-employment for energy-efficient building retrofits and new low-carbon construction. There is a huge labour gap in Ontario’s building sector and now is the right time to build a low-carbon Ontario for tomorrow.”

– Dr. Tony Cupido, Research Chair, Sustainability at Mohawk College; Member of the Advisory Board of Foundational Partners of Workforce 2030 and Board Member of the Canada Green Building Council.

“The OGCA fully supports the investments in infrastructure and training in the 2021 Ontario Budget. These investments will allow construction to continue building for recovery while working to eliminate expected labour market gaps with worker upskilling and re-employment. The 2021 Ontario Budget recognizes that investing in skills-specific training is critical to our economic recovery.  The proposed investments will help develop the robust workforce required to meet expected labour demands in the low-carbon building sector. Without this investment, Ontario risks losing its competitive advantage in a global construction market that is rapidly and irrefutably transitioning to low-carbon construction.”

– Giovanni Cautillo, President, Ontario General Contractors Association

“The Canada Green Building Council noted the Ontario government investment on the employment training and building upgrades announced in the 2021 budget. However, the investments announced in the Ontario budget must be more targeted to enable significant increases in low-carbon new construction and building retrofits. That is where the jobs of the future are. In Ontario, a recovery plan centred on green buildings could create 600,000 green building jobs, accounting for 57 per cent of total construction jobs in the province. Green building and low-carbon skills development are key to a robust workforce recovery, to the growth of Ontario’s construction sector, and to the economy.”

– Akua Schatz, President, Vice President of Advocacy and Market Engagement, Canada Green Building Council, Member of the Advisory Board of Foundational Partners of Workforce 2030

“OSPE commends the focus on workforce training and an integrated, multi-phased approach that equips more people with the skills needed to get quality jobs through apprenticeships. However, more should be done to ensure that engineers, and not only tradespeople have access to these opportunities. Without supporting engineers in upskilling to keep up with evolving trends, it will be very difficult to innovate in the province, creating a loss of opportunities for new job creation for both professionals and tradespeople. As Ontario and Canada transition towards a low-carbon future, the energy efficiency and building sectors will be at the forefront of change. To accelerate this, we need to strengthen the capacity of the existing workforce and attract more people to work in these sectors, especially engineers.”  

– Sandro Perruzza, CEO Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, Member of the Advisory Board of Foundational Partners of Workforce 2030