#Ontario; #FirstVirtualActionCentre; #Covid19PandemicImpact; #EconomyRecovery
Ottawa, May 24 (Canadian-Media): Ontario's first Virtual Action Centre was announced May 22 by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Monte McNaughton, Ontario's Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, media reports said.
Ontario Government. Image credit: Twitter handle
An online counselling and training portal, Ontario's first Virtual Action Centre, aims to support laid off and unemployed hospitality workers, and help apprentices by providing grants to purchase tools, protective equipment and clothing for their trade, along with forgiving previous loans to purchase tools.
This new program was created to mitigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on many business owners, workers, and families as well as the hospitality workers and our skilled tradespeople, who were hit hardest and "will ensure they're ready to get back on the job and play an important role in our economic recovery," said Ford.
Ontario Tools Grant of $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing is being provided by the government to facilitate new eligible apprentices purchase the equipment they need to start their careers. The distribution of the funding amounts would be: $1,000 motive power sector trades; $600 in construction and industrial sector trades; and $400 in service sector trades.
The eligibility for this new grant requires the apprentice to complete 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.
An amounting to more than $10 million in outstanding loans owed by apprentices for tool purchases, made through the Loans for Tools Program, made at the beginning of their careers are also being forgiven by the government.
An investing of nearly $2 million was made by the government to open a Virtual Action Centre in partnership with UNITE HERE Local 75 aimed to provide up to 7,000 unemployed workers in the hospitality sector.
They would have 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; and Peer group facilitation and employment preparation through videoconferencing.
The Virtual Action Centre would be operated by UNITE HERE, a union representing workers in hotels, restaurants, racetracks and casinos, laundry and food service companies, airport concessions and apparel, textile and general manufacturing and distribution centers.
"This new virtual platform will make sure that those workers are supported as we gradually reopen the province and prepare our $35 billion tourism sector to welcome visitors back," said Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.
"We are very grateful and proud to work with the provincial government to ensure that people are provided with support and the opportunity to upgrade their skills and get back to work as soon as possible, " Guled Warsame, President of UNITE HERE Local 75.