June 25 News Bulletin

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In this Bulletin

  • Ontario Legislature Passes Bill 6, The Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act
  • Ontario Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program Applications for 2015-16 Now Posted

1. Ontario Legislature Passes Bill 6, The Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act – Bill Offers New Support for Ontario’s Construction Apprentices

On June 4th, Ontario MPPs passed Bill 6, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act. The Act governs expenditure decisions on government infrastructure projects.

Prioritizing Apprentices

For the construction industry, one of the main highlights of Bill 6 is its consideration of, and importance given to, the usage of apprentices. Specifically, the Bill requires that those who bid for work on the construction or maintenance of an Ontario government asset must provide a commitment respecting the intended use of apprentices, a plan for their use, or both.  The plan should include:

  1. the number of apprentices the bidder intends to employ for the job for each trade
  2. how the bidder plans to support the completion by those apprentices of their training under the registered training agreements into which they have entered,
  3. the methods by which the bidder intends to create employment opportunities arising from the construction or maintenance for apprentices who are women, Aboriginal persons, newcomers to Ontario, at-risk youth, veterans, residents of the community in which the infrastructure asset is located or any other persons specified by the regulations;

More detailed requirements for the apprentice plan will be defined in the regulations, which will require Cabinet approval. At its third and final stage in the Legislature, Bill 6 received all-party support, passing by a 95-0 vote. Requiring consideration for apprenticeships on government infrastructure projects is a solid step forward in helping boost the province’s apprenticeship system, particularly as there are a slew of major infrastructure projects in the pipeline.  For more information on upcoming infrastructure projects, please visit Infrastructure Ontario’s website at:
http://www.infrastructureontario.ca/What-We-Do/Projects/AFP-Projects/

Media coverage following the passage of the bill highlighted similar work of Infrastructure Ontario, Metrolinx, community groups and construction unions to develop a community benefits framework to ensure apprenticeship and job opportunities are available for at-risk communities on Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT project.

Bill 6 Particulars

Bill 6 introduces other innovations, including requiring the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure to periodically table a long-term infrastructure plan spanning at least 10 years.  These new, long-term infrastructure plans will be presented at least once every 5 years, with the exception of the first plan which will be tabled no later than 3 years after the day the Bill comes into force.

Bill 6 specifies that the government evaluate and prioritize infrastructure asset construction projects based a variety of criteria, including:

  1. whether the infrastructure asset is planned for in, or is contemplated by, any other provincial or municipal plan or strategy
  2. all related capital and operating costs that will likely accrue over the life of the project
  3. whether the asset can be reasonably expected to,
    1. generate a long-term return on investment,
    2. stimulate productivity and economic competitiveness,
    3. maximize tax assessment values and tax base growth,
    4. support any other public policy goals of the Government of Ontario or of any affected municipalities in Ontario, and
    5. provide a foundation for further infrastructure projects,

Additionally, the government and every broader public sector planning entity must consider several planning principles when making infrastructure investment decisions such as; taking a long-term view of infrastructure decisions, accounting for applicable budgets or fiscal plans, making sure infrastructure priorities are identified, ensuring that projects enhance the economy, training and productivity as well as deliver a core public service and keep workers safe.  Additionally, investment decisions should be transparent, publically available and mindful of other current provincial and municipal laws and strategies that apply to infrastructure.

Bottom Line:

Bill 6 is good for apprentices in that it requires bidders to commit to, and plan for, the use of apprentices on government infrastructure jobs.  Especially heartening is the requirement for bidders to outline how their procurement plan will help apprentices complete their training.  As the government outlined in their latest Budget, completion of apprenticeship programs leads to increased labour mobility, higher earnings and greater entrepreneurship.  Research on apprenticeship completions by the Ontario Construction Secretariat shows that through mechanisms like mentorship, academic upgrading and advanced courses, the unionized construction industry is better able help their apprentices complete their training.  Phase 1 of the research showed that 75% of apprentices (for four compulsory trades) indentured to union-employer training partnerships completed their apprenticeships, significantly higher than those trained in non-union environments.

The OCS is currently in Phase 2 of its research on apprenticeship completions.  Phase 2 involves undertaking a long-term study of apprentices, aimed at understanding who completes, who quits and why.  When completed, the study will offer a wealth of data on apprenticeship completions, which will help those in the industry and policy-makers make better decisions. However, in order to complete the study, OCS requires the help of its industry partners.  To learn more about the study, please contact Katherine Jacobs, OCS Director of Research and Operations at kjacobs@iciconstruction.com

In our view, a long-term infrastructure plan may reduce uncertainty in the industry as stakeholders would, in theory, know the amount of money set aside for infrastructure expenditures as well as what assets the funding would be earmarked for.  This knowledge could help in project planning and improve productivity. Additionally, it may help in labour planning, thereby helping to combat labour shortages, which will likely intensify going forward as a greater number of workers retire.
A long-term plan, if adhered to, reduces the government’s flexibility to respond to economic shocks (such as 2008-2009) if money is specifically earmarked for long-term funds.  However, the fact that the government can table a new plan every 5 years may mitigate this potential negative side-effect.

2. Ontario Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program Applications for 2015-16 Now Posted

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities recently released a call for proposals for 2015-2016 apprenticeship training programs in which participants can have access to $13 million over two years as part of the Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program.  Programs which focus on youth, the unemployed, women, Aboriginal peoples and other traditionally under-represented apprenticeship groups are encouraged.  Proponents can submit a maximum of 3 proposals and the dealine for applications is July 29th.

For more information, please visit:
http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/eopg/programs/preapprent.html

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Katherine Jacobs
Director of Research and Operations, or

Rishi Sondhi
Construction Information Coordinator, or

Perry Chao
Senior Policy Analyst,

Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
180 Attwell Drive, Suite 360, Toronto, ON M9W 6A9
P 416.620.5210 ext. 222
F 416.620.5310
EMAIL:
kjacobs@iciconstruction.com

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