Manitoba government reduces apprenticeship ratio, gets mixed response

Manitoba's apprenticeship ratio is being brough back to 1:1. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Manitoba’s apprenticeship ratio is being brought back down to 1:1.

The provincial government made the announcement Wednesday and said the measure would increase safety and proper training for Manitobans in the trades.

It said the ratio was instituted due to Michael Skanderberg’s death in 1999. He was killed while working unsupervised, the province said.

In the 2020 to 2021 fiscal year, the previous Progressive Conservative government increased the 1:1 ratio to 2:1, according to the Apprenticeship and Certification Board annual report for that year.

“Premier Kinew promised our family he would restore the 1:1 ratio and we’re delighted that he has kept this promise,” said Cindy Skanderberg, Michael’s mom.

But, not everyone is happy with the announcement.

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The Winnipeg Construction Association (WCA) said it has been “strongly advocating against this change.”

In a media release, WCA said: “This change may force apprentices to train under journeypersons who are unwilling to provide their expertise, make it more difficult for rural and northern apprentices to find a journeyperson to train under, cost current apprentices jobs and make it more difficult for apprentices to graduate.”

The WCA said worker injuries have decreased steadily over the past five years.

It added, in a 2024 survey of WCA members, 80 per cent said they would hire fewer apprentices, and 63 per cent said they would need to lay them off, as a result of the ratio change.

Tanya Palson, executive director of the Manitoba Building Trades said, “We know the current apprenticeship program is overwhelmed, and we owe it to Manitobans to make sure that when they enter the training program, they are supported to completion.”

She added Ontario also moved to a 1:1 ratio recently.

The Manitoba government said it would make the changes in consultation with the Apprenticeship and Certification Board, and said special considerations would be given to circumstances, like those experienced in northern and rural Manitoba.

Click to play video: 'Workplace injuries on the rise, as Manitoba unions raise concerns over safety'
Workplace injuries on the rise, as Manitoba unions raise concerns over safety

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