Greens promise funded tuition, apprenticeships to young people for jobs in ‘new climate economy’

Sawyer Bogdan/Global News

Marking the first election visit to the city by the leader of a provincial party, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner’s campaign rolled into London on Friday to detail a party pledge to bolster the green economy through free tuition and guaranteed apprenticeships for thousands of young people.

Schreiner spoke Friday morning during a stop at White Hills Animal Hospital alongside local Green candidates Carol Dyck, Colleen McCaulley, and Zack Ramsey.

If elected, the Greens are pledging over the next four years to offer a year of free college tuition and a year of guaranteed work upon graduation to 60,000 young people in order to provide them “the skills and experience to work in the new climate economy,” read a party release.

“We know that the workforce of the present and the future is the green workforce. The workforce that’s going to install solar panels on the roof … of buildings across this province,” Schreiner said during Friday’s announcement.

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“But we also know that if we’re going to take advantage of the huge job and career opportunities in the new climate economy, we have to address the labour shortages that exist, particularly in the trades.”

The initiative will see targeted recruitment of women, Indigenous people, and racialized communities, according to the party.

Asked how the party would ensure that green jobs would be available for the young people who take up their offer, Schreiner highlighted the party’s previous pledge for a $5-billion tech innovation fund and a $4-billion climate bank.

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The $5-billion fund, he said, would support green innovation, green technology, mobility, bioproducts, and biomaterials, while the $4-billion bank would help fund green economy entrepreneurs and start-ups, and help companies scale up and commercialize their products.

“It’s really having government there as a partner with the private sector to create these new career and job opportunities for people, and to help these businesses scale so they can create even more jobs and more prosperity for communities,” Schreiner said.

Ahead of his stop in London, Schreiner appeared as a guest on The Morning Show with Devon Peacock on 980 CFPL. That interview can be heard in full below.

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Other Friday party pledges

The Ontario New Democrats pledged Friday to build 1.5 million homes in 10 years to help deal with the province’s lacklustre supply and ballooning prices.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says her housing plan — which would cost $3.7 billion over the first four years — aims to make it more affordable for families to have their own home, not speculators wanting to make a fortune.

The housing plan would include a mix of starter homes, purpose-built rentals and affordable housing units.

The party also promises to provide help for first-time home buyers and establish a body that would finance and build at least 250,000 affordable and non-market rental homes over 10 years.

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The Ontario Liberals, meanwhile, said Friday that they would reintroduce an optional Grade 13 if elected, to allow students to catch up on learning that was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure that would be brought in if the Liberals were elected next month would not be a “victory lap,” Leader Steven Del Duca said, and would be available for a minimum of four years.

Del Duca said his government would work with teachers, principals, school councils and boards to develop curricula for the extra year. The program would cost $295 million, he said.

Ontario was the lone province to have a fifth year of high school until it was eliminated under the leadership of Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris.

For the Progressive Conservatives, who are seeking re-election, the party promised Friday to extend GO Train service in Durham Region.

Ford says it will help families save time and money.

Ford is connecting the plan to other transportation promises, including Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, as well as removing tolls on Highways 412 and 418.

The Liberals, Greens and New Democrats have pledged to cancel the Highway 413 project.

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Voters head to the polls on June 2.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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