The Ontario government has created a new non-repayable tool grant to help apprentices return to work.
The grant will help apprentices purchase tools, protective equipment and clothing for their trade, along with forgiving previous loans provided to purchase tools.
The announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
“The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for many business owners, workers, and families, and that’s why we are doing everything we can to help people through this difficult period,” Ford said.
“Hospitality workers and our skilled tradespeople have been among those hardest hit by this pandemic. These new programs will ensure they’re ready to get back on the job and play an important role in our economic recovery.”
The Ontario Tools Grant will provide $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing.
The grant will provide $600 for those in construction and industrial sector trades, $1,000 for motive power apprentices and $400 for in-service trades.
To be eligible for the new grant, apprentices must have completed level 1 training on or after April 1, 2020; be in an active registered training agreement; and have 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.
“If we are going to rebuild our economy, we must reach out and help the workers and businesses that are suffering as a result of COVID-19,” McNaughton said. “The programs that we are announcing today will leave more money in the pockets of our apprentices and support those hospitality workers who have been laid-off by providing access to the training and services they need to recover and rejoin the workforce.”