Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP and Minister of Labour Laurie Scott talked about work done to help increase apprenticeships at a Haliburton County Home Builders Association (HCHBA) meeting March 14.
Scott discussed her work to push through the reduction of journeyperson-to-apprenticeship ratios as part of legislation introduced in the fall.
The change allowed businesses to take on more apprentices by keeping the ratio at 1:1 and was applauded by the crowd of more than 60 people.
“It has been a very long time bringing that to fruition,” Scott said. “I gave lots of input to see that change come about. That’s good for all of our businesses up here. We have lots of experienced people that are in the trades that want to train our young people.”
The event also featured speeches from Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) incoming president Stefanie Coleman and Ontario Home Builders Association (OHBA) director of policy Mike Collins-Williams, who discussed areas of concern for the industry. Scott also addressed the next steps on the apprenticeships file.
When asked about a new bottleneck with large waiting lists for students to get into trades programs, Scott said it is something the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is working on. Collins-Williams added with the changes to apprenticeships, colleges see trades programs as a potential area of growth.
“It’s been recognized there’s a shortage of classroom places. This is a change the government only made in the fall, but the education sector and the colleges see this as a huge opportunity,” he said.
Scott was also asked about the impending closure of the Ontario College of Trades, which will hand off its functions regulating the skilled trades and apprenticeship system.
HCHBA executive officer Aggie Tose asked about the apprentices working under the college and still paying dues to it.
“Where does that leave those apprentices?” she asked.
Scott said the fees are expected to be paid for another year while the system evolves.
“They’ll probably just leave it in a fund for the moment,” Scott said. “It’s a big transformation that’s coming in.”
Scott and the provincial government earned praise from the OHBA. Williams said it had long pushed for changes to apprenticeship ratios.
“It’s great news for people trying to start a career in construction. We’re now looking to work with all of our locals … to help close the skills gaps in Ontario,” Williams said.
Health care reforms
In an interview with The Highlander, Scott also discussed the province’s upcoming health care reforms.
The province has announced plans to integrate multiple provincial agencies into a single agency called Ontario Health. Premier Doug Ford also announced March 13 some management-level jobs will be cut as part of the merger.
Scott, a former nurse, said the integration will help improve the system.
“It’s going to be a big transformation to make it more patient-centred,” Scott said. “So hopefully, patients are actually able to do some of the co-ordination themselves a little easier online.”
The opposition Ontario NDP has said the health system overhaul would open the door to more privatization in the health care system, but Scott said that is not the aim of the changes.
“I don’t think you’ll see that be a big factor in what we’re trying to do. Right now, it’s so siloed it’s horrible. That’s why we’re trying to bring it down so the patient has more control,” Scott said. “You’re going to see a transformation take place that hopefully will deliver faster and closer-to-home services.”