Program boost means ‘bigger paycheques’ for more people: Labour Minister

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Ontario will expand eligibility for a popular career retraining program and extend a temporary job training tax credit as part of an effort to connect people to meaningful employment, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says.

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Alongside Premier Doug Ford and Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, McNaughton is scheduled to announce key changes to Second Career Monday, which are designed to allow more people hurt by the pandemic to access the program.  Second Career has primarily focused on helping laid-off workers.

The new categories of eligible individuals will include young people, freelancers, the self-employed, people on social assistance, newcomers, people with disabilities, and gig workers.

“Our entire plan is to ensure that workers have bigger paycheques, safer workplaces, and more opportunities for better jobs,” McNaughton told the Toronto Sun. “And this Second Career program is really around creating more opportunities and spreading opportunity more widely across Ontario.”

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Bethlenfalvy will extend the temporary, refundable Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit into 2022, providing an estimated $275 million more in support to about 240,000 people.

The tax credit refunds up to 50% of eligible training expenses — to a maximum of $2,000 — to help workers upgrade their skills.

McNaughton said there are an estimated 316,000 jobs in Ontario in need of workers.

“So, all of our training that we’re providing workers is tailored to jobs that are actually in demand close to home for them which is important not only for themselves but for their families,” he said. “In the past, governments would essentially train workers for jobs that didn’t exist. Every single training program is for an in-demand job.”

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The government has compiled data based on community need, using sources such as online job posting boards, he said.

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Second Career has begun training about 4,000 workers so far this year in information technology, health care, financial services, and trucking, he said.

The maximum training period is 52 weeks.

Anyone interested in accessing the expanded Second Career program, which helps cover the costs of retraining up to a maximum of $28,000 per individual, should seek out information at an Employment Ontario location or online.

McNaughton said there are possibilities for people with disabilities, as well, highlighting the experience of one man who went to an Employment Ontario location for assistance in finding a job.

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“We bought this guy a PRESTO card, we bought him a pair of work boots, we helped him get to his work for the first few days, so he felt comfortable, and we also check in on a regular basis,” McNaughton said. “And it’s that type of detail we’re paying attention to to really lift people up and get them an opportunity and get them started in a good job.”

In another job initiative already underway in the Hamilton, Peterborough and Peel Region areas, Ontario has helped put 20,000 individuals on social assistance get on the path to a job, he said.

The job provider is rewarded based on the outcome and how long the worker stays in the position, he said.

“So the old ways of doing it in Ontario — the provider would get paid by the government on day one of somebody from OW (Ontario Works) or ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) going into a job,” McNaughton said.

aartuso@postmedia.com

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