Facing 'looming crisis' in trades, Ontario kicks in $20M for apprenticeship grant

In a bid to entice more young people into the trades where there's a 'mission critical' labour shortage, the Ontario government is creating a new $20-million apprenticeship program. 

Ontario labour minister says there's a pressing labour shortage in skilled trades

Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton tries his hand at hedge-trimming at TLC, a London, Ont., landscaping company. McNaughton says Ontario is facing a critical shortage of young people becoming interested in the trades. (Andrew Lupton/CBC )

In a bid to entice more young people into the trades where there's a "mission critical" labour shortage, the Ontario government has created a new $20-million apprenticeship program. 

Owners of small and medium-sized businesses can use the program to apply for grants that can in turn be used to cover some of the costs of finding and training apprentices. 

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton made the announcement Friday at TLC, a London, Ont., landscaping company. 

It's the kind of business McNaughton says is facing a pressing labour shortage the grant program intends to address. He said more people are needed to enter the trades to replace a large cohort of older workers who are at or near retirement age. 

Labour 'crisis' looming

"We know that in the construction industry alone, we need 22,000 people to fill these jobs," he said. "One in three journey persons today is over the age of 55 so there's a looming crisis in the skilled trades." 

McNaughton said there's a particular need for welders, machinists, cooks and landscapers. The grant was part of a COVID-19 recovery plan included in the last provincial budgets. 

"It's mission critical and I believe that skilled trades are going to lead the recovery," he said.

Ontario Minister of Labour, Training and Skills on skilled trade shortage

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MPP Monte McNaughton was in London on Friday for a funding announcement and discussed a critical skills trade shortage in the province.

The province says the grant money will be used to help cover training and management costs of the apprenticeships. 

Employers and organizations can apply for the grants at The application is available to existing and new group sponsors. Successful applicants may receive funding for up to three years.

Jay Murray owns TLC Landscaping in London, where the grant program was announced on Friday. 

He said dealing with the labour shortage is a major challenge in his industry. 

"Really there's a war out there for talent, especially in the trades," he said. "You have to go look for people because they have choices. It's not like you can hire something and they can start work the next day. I think it's made us a better employer because you have to hire better, screen better and train better. It really does force you to become a better employer."