The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and Pam Damoff, member of Parliament for Oakville North-Burlington, joined Local 793 Business Manager Mike Gallagher at the Union’s head office and training campus in Oakville on Monday, March 15, to announce a substantial federal government investment in two projects.
Joining Gallagher and a limited number of guests for the announcement were Local 793 President Joe Redshaw, Treasurer/Executive Director of OETIO Rick Kerr, as well as OETIO apprentices and instructors. All COVID-19 safety protocols were adhered to for the event, including gathering limits, social distancing, mandatory face mask-wearing, and having hand sanitizer stations readily available.
“The overall objective of the funds is to improve the quality of training in the skilled trades and help tradespeople prepare for available jobs in the workforce as our economy continues to grow - especially post-pandemic,” Anand said.
Funding for the two projects comes through the Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. It is part of the Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP) 2020 call for proposals that allocated $63.5 million over five years for 68 projects across Canada.
Both projects are funded 50 per cent through UTIP and 50 per cent through the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO).
The first project provides $698,000 to enable OETIO to purchase new equipment to ensure heavy equipment apprentices can meet the Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Standards and evolving industry standards.
Heavy equipment upgrades include the purchase of a track excavator, a tractor-loader-backhoe, a bulldozer, and an autonomous remote-controlled excavator. These will allow OETIO to adapt to current technology and replace aging capital assets.
The second project is designed to respond to the impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure safety for all staff and students by shifting a portion of its learning to a virtual environment and adapting classroom settings.
The project received $633,700 to support program optimization in a post-COVID-19 environment, promoting innovation through apprenticeships. It will allow for the purchase of video equipment to record instructor lectures, demonstrations and tutorials, migration to Office 365, upgrades to classroom equipment and tablets, WIFI upgrades, classroom furniture and video recording of field exercises.
“We appreciate the support of the federal Liberal government allowing us to continue to provide high-quality training to both new apprentices entering the industry and to existing members seeking to upgrade their skills on the latest equipment,” Business Manager Gallagher said. “This investment is matched by the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario, which represents an investment in OETIO and the entire construction industry to ensure we are able to purchase the latest equipment and train our apprentices.”
The investment from UTIP will also help reduce barriers in the trades among under-represented groups and ensure that skilled trades workers have the supports they require to succeed.
“The funding will also aid the participation of key groups in our labour force, like persons with disabilities, racialized minorities, Indigenous people and newcomers,” Anand said.
Local 793 has a long history of training those from key groups facing barriers and helping them get the training needed to launch well-paying careers in the trades.
“As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, I have been so proud of the work Local 793 has done in the Indigenous communities,” Damoff said. “Keep up the great work. Your reputation is second to none when it comes to training.”