Ontario Construction News staff writer
Ontario’s fall economic statement tabled Monday at Queen’s Park predicts a $12.9-billion shortfall this fiscal year.
“We’re not on an island here, we’re connected to the global economy,” Bethlenfalvy told reporters. “We are in a time of rising inflation that is straining household budgets by driving up the price of everything from gas to groceries.
“We know that these are challenging times for many, but the most vulnerable are the ones that feel the impact of rising prices first,” he said.
After a $12.9-billion shortfall in 2022-23, he is forecasting an $8.1-billion deficit in 2023-24 and a $700-million deficit in 2024-25.
The statement included an additional $40 million in funding for the Skills Development Fund to increase spots for skilled trades training in Ontario and $4.8 million in new funding for the Dual Credit Program that will provide for 400 new student spots in the tech stream and 400 new spaces in the apprenticeship stream.
That includes $4.8 million to expand the Dual Credit program and encourage 1,800 additional high school students to choose careers in the skilled trades.
“Skills Ontario will continue to partner with the Ontario Government, the Dual Credit program and all of our partners in industry, education and government to inspire more young people in Ontario to pursue in-demand careers in Skilled Trades & Technologies,” said Ian Howcroft, CEO of Skills Ontario. “We are pleased to see that the Ontario Government is continuing to place strong focus on skilled trades and tech careers which will continue to show strong demand.”
The Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) is “encouraged” by the Ontario government’s progress on transit and transportation infrastructure detailed in the province’s fall economic statement. These projects, made possible with funding for transportation infrastructure, demonstrate substantial progress on the enabling infrastructure for the Bradford Bypass, design, environmental assessment and field work on Highway 413, and tendering for the Ontario Line.
“Ontario has made substantial progress on key transit and transportation projects that will provide significant improvements to Ontario’s transportation grid,” RCCAO executive director Nadia Todorova said in a statement. “This continued focus and follow through are critical to Ontario’s future.”
Todorova also commended the government’s focus on recruiting workers and expanding training capacity across Ontario.
“Renewal of Ontario’s skilled and construction trades workforce is necessary for long-term economic competitiveness. Our members cannot wait to welcome new colleagues from all walks of life to help build Ontario.”
However, RCCAO is also asking the Governments of Ontario and Canada to provide funding support to municipalities to address budgetary shortfalls caused by the COVID pandemic. Without concerted support from the Federal and provincial governments, municipal capital and state-of-good repair projects are at risk of being delayed or cancelled.
“Such ramifications would have negative consequences for workers and would add significant strains to critical infrastructure that already operates with a backlog in state-of-good-repair work. Assurances of funding support would allow tenders and projects to proceed, rather than risk losses during construction season,” Todorova said.