Ontario Announces Support for Hospitality Workers and Apprentices

Premier Doug Ford opened his daily press conference today by thanking all of the moms out there, calling them real heroes before announcing new programs that will support hospitality workers and apprentices in getting back to work.

ONTARIO - Premier Doug Ford opened his daily press conference today by thanking some real heroes.

"I have to give a shoutout to all the moms, every day, despite everything you are dealing with, you find a way to make it all work. You're keeping the kids safe and healthy, while home schooling and keeping up with tasks around the house and for many of you, balancing a full day of work on top of all of that and you do it with care and love. I want you to know that your sacrifices, during this time have not gone unnoticed, so to all the incredible moms out there, you are the real heroes, Thank You." 

Ford also announced the Province is investing in Ontario's first Virtual Action Centre, an online counselling and training portal, to support laid off and unemployed hospitality workers, and is helping apprentices by providing grants to purchase tools, protective equipment and clothing for their trade, along with forgiving previous loans to purchase tools.

The government is providing an Ontario Tools Grant of $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing. This will help new eligible apprentices purchase the equipment they need to start their careers. The funding amounts will be distributed as follows:

- $1,000 for those in motive power sector trades;
- $600 for those in construction and industrial sector trades;
- $400 for those in service sector trades.

To be eligible for the new grant, apprentices must have:

- Completed level 1 training on or after April 1, 2020;
- An active registered training agreement; 
- And 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.

The government is also investing nearly $2 million to open a Virtual Action Centre in partnership with UNITE HERE Local 75. This virtual job training resource will provide up to 7,000 unemployed workers in the hospitality sector with access to a wide range of services and supports online and over the phone, including:

- Stress management and mental health resources through video conferencing;
- Immediate health and safety online training for workers who return to work at designated quarantined sites;
- Technical skills online training;
- Online training to upgrade English language and digital skills;
- Peer group facilitation and employment preparation through videoconferencing.

UNITE HERE will operate the Virtual Action Centre. UNITE HERE is a union that represents workers in hotels, restaurants, racetracks and casinos, laundry and food service companies, airport concessions and apparel, textile and general manufacturing and distribution centers.

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