As the economy gradually reopens, the Ontario government is helping people affected by COVID-19 get back to work. The province is investing in Ontario’s first Virtual Action Centre, an online counselling and training portal, to support laid off and unemployed hospitality workers, and is helping apprentices by providing grants to purchase tools, protective equipment and clothing for their trade, along with forgiving previous loans to purchase tools.
The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
The government is providing an Ontario Tools Grant of $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing. This will help new eligible apprentices purchase the equipment they need to start their careers. The funding amounts will be distributed as follows:
- $1,000 for those in motive power sector trades;
- $600 for those in construction and industrial sector trades;
- $400 for those in service sector trades.
To be eligible for the new grant, apprentices must have:
- completed level 1 training on or after April 1, 2020;
- an active registered training agreement; and
- been registered as an apprentice for at least 12 months.
The government is also forgiving more than $10 million in outstanding loans owed by apprentices for tool purchases made at the beginning of their careers. The Loans for Tools Program allowed thousands of new apprentices to buy tools, equipment, clothing, manuals and code books required for their trade. About 19,000 apprentices who participated in the program owed, on average, $495.
The government is also investing nearly $2 million to open a Virtual Action Centre in partnership with UNITE HERE Local 75. This virtual job training resource will provide up to 7,000 unemployed workers in the hospitality sector with access to a wide range of services and supports online and over the phone, including:
- Stress management and mental health resources through video conferencing;
- Immediate health and safety online training for workers who return to work at designated quarantined sites;
- Technical skills online training;
- Online training to upgrade English language and digital skills;
- Peer group facilitation and employment preparation through videoconferencing.
UNITE HERE will operate the Virtual Action Centre. UNITE HERE is a union that represents workers in hotels, restaurants, racetracks and casinos, laundry and food service companies, airport concessions and apparel, textile and general manufacturing and distribution centers.
“We are very grateful for the generous support of the Ontario government,” said Guled Warsame, President of UNITE HERE Local 75. “This support will provide services and skills training to our members who are laid-off due to COVID-19. We know that people are at the heart of the hospitality industry. We are very grateful and proud to work with the provincial government to ensure that people are provided with support and the opportunity to upgrade their skills and get back to work as soon as possible.”
- Online Trades Hub
- Employment Ontario
- Skilled trades and apprenticeship system changes
- Job Bank
- Sector specific business guidelines
The Government of Ontario is making it easier for people to conduct business and practice physical distancing in the new COVID-19 environment. The province is permitting Ontario corporations to conduct virtual meetings and to defer certain annual meetings in specified circumstances and is allowing the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to accept copies of documents, electronic signatures on documents, and electronic filing of documents. These changes are part of COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020.
Providing temporary flexibility to hold meetings virtually, defer annual meetings in specified circumstances, and submit e-filings will help Ontario corporations to safely meet their obligations during the COVID-19 outbreak while reducing the number of touchpoints needed to file documentation. Additionally, the COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020 will permanently allow the Ministry to accept copies of documents signed by electronic signature, providing greater flexibility to businesses moving forward.
The government has consulted with the Business Law Modernization and Burden Reduction Council on these legislative amendments to address corporate and business law issues during the pandemic. The Council is a group of legal experts appointed by the Minister of Government and Consumer Services to advise on modernizing Ontario’s business laws, some of which have not changed in over ten years.
The government also consulted with key businesses, condominium corporation sector stakeholders, and co-operative corporation sector stakeholders.