Ontario invests $24M into green construction training

MPP Deb Matthews announces funding for green building skills training at the LiUNA Local 1059 headquarters in London, on August 10th, 2017. Liny Lamberink/AM980

The province is putting $24 million of its cap-and-trade revenues into the development of green building skills.

Liberal London North Centre MPP, and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Deb Matthews, said the money will be used across Ontario to develop low-carbon building curriculums, and upgrading training facilities.

She made the announcement Thursday morning at LiUNA Local 1059 headquarters in London, emphasizing the importance of modernizing apprenticeship programs and investing in green initiatives.

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“It’s important for our planet, for our kids, for our grandkids, that government really takes a leadership role in reducing our carbon footprint. I think this summer is a really good example of how climate change is upon is, it’s not theoretical anymore.”

With around 25 per cent of the province’s carbon emissions coming from buildings, Matthews said the money will go towards training people how to build, renovate, and maintain buildings in an environmentally-conscious way.

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“Imagine an old apartment building that was built in the 70s. The windows are drafty, probably not as well insulated as we would want today…we need to retrofit those buildings,” Matthews said. “This 24 [million] is not about that, it’s about training the people who know to do that work.”

When asked whether Fanshawe College would be among those invited to apply for funding through a provincial request for proposal, college president Peter Devlin said they’re always looking to take advantage of funds available for enhancing college programs.

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“I think a 24 million dollar investment in the trades — and particularly the apprenticeship side of the house — is a marvellous thing. I think that we would benefit from a more mordernized approach to apprenticeship and the green initiatves are super positive,” he said.

“Our economy and the industry is going to be moving more and more in that direction, and to have government support, to have trades grow, learn, and be modern and relevant, is an important aspect.”

Jim McKinnon, a union official with LiUNA local 159, said there’s demand for green construction.

“In renovations now, people are looking at energy conservation and consumptions. It’s not new, but more and more people are looking at it, with hydro rates and costs.”

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The $24 million will be dispersed throughout the province over one year. Matthews emphasized it’s not taxpayer dollars, but a portion of the nearly $1-billion cap-and-trade revenue the province expects this year.

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