Federal Budget 2021 Supports Skilled Trades Training

Canada’s federal budget 2021 lays out some important groundwork for a strong economic recovery including notable investments to recruit and train workers to meet the growing demand in the skilled trades sector.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $470 million over three years, beginning in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada to establish a new Apprenticeship Service. The Apprenticeship Service would help 55,000 first year apprentices in construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades connect with opportunities at small and medium-sized employers.

Employers would be eligible to receive up to $5,000 for all first-year apprenticeship opportunities to pay for upfront costs such as salaries and training. In addition, to boost diversity in the construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades, this incentive will be doubled to $10,000 for employers who hire those underrepresented, including women, racialized Canadians, and persons with disabilities.

“Working primarily with sector associations and employers, funding would help design and deliver training that is relevant to the needs of businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, and to their employees,” reads the budget. “This investment will help connect up to 90,000 Canadians with the training they need to access good jobs in sectors where employers are looking for skilled workers…It will also help diversify sectors by ensuring that 40 per cent of supported workers are from underrepresented groups, including women, persons with disabilities and Indigenous people.”

Creating a program to temporarily subsidize new hiring at $1,100 per month for every new employee and continuing the wage and rent subsidies will help small and medium-sized businesses in Canada’s construction sector contribute to employment, job creation and economic growth.

The budget also commits several changes to improve labour standards, strengthening Employment Insurance and amending immigration rules to help address Canada’s labour needs.

Since 2014, Canada has seen a decline in new apprentices for well-paying middle class jobs. In 2019, it was estimated Canada needs to attract 167,000 new apprentices over the next five years just to align with existing levels of demand.

Every year, the Government of Canada provides about $90 million through 60,000 grants to support apprentices—but more is needed to ensure that those apprentices can find valuable work experiences and that employers can tap into this pool of skilled workers.

Other proposals include increased support for green and trade-enabling infrastructure investment, a commitment to beginning a 25-year infrastructure plan and investment to advance innovation in construction.

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