TORONTO - Thanks to improvements in key health indicators, Ontario has entered Step 3 of the province’s reopening plan. That means the easing of Covid-19 restrictions for several public health and workplace measures including capacity limits for indoor/outdoor settings. It also opens opportunity for more Ontarians to return to work.
Since March 2020, Ontario has experienced widespread job loss across all sectors due to large scale lockdowns and pandemic induced restrictions. It has also prompted people to re-evaluate their lives and explore a secondary career path.
Ontario has taken steps to simplify the latter. Effective immediately, the Provincial government is streamlining the process to apply for the Second Career Program while increasing financial supports available through the initiative.
The Second Career Program is one of many training programs offered through Employment Ontario. The Program offers free employment services for job seekers, workers and employers and is designed to help boost training, employment, and economic prosperity in Ontario.
Monte McNaughton (in the pic above), Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development shared the details on July 13, two days before the province entered Step 3. The changes will now make it easier for people who have been laid-off and unemployed to access resources for training in pursuit of new careers.
Since the Program’s launch in 2008, more than 117,000 people have utilized the service to train for and start new careers. Following earlier improvements announced in December 2020, the number of applicants has more than doubled. In the first five months of 2021, more than 2,000 workers have accessed the system, an increase of 109% compared to the same period last year. The previous intake application process was burdensome and slow to navigate. The new measures require less paperwork for laid-off or unemployed workers to apply for and access funding in a more efficient manner.
Over the years, there has been little to no change in the program’s living allowance. That support has now increased to cover basic living supports like rent, mortgage and other expenses up to $500 a week.
As the cost-of-living increases, the government is enhancing transportation and childcare supports to better reflect the increasing costs individuals incur while training. In total, the maximum funding applicants may receive is up to $28,000 to help pay for training programs of 52 weeks duration or less, and all eligible expenses.
Minister McNaughton highlighted the focus of the program’s enhancements saying it gives “hardworking women and men the tools they need to start good jobs and make a better living to support themselves and their families”.
The shortage of skilled trades workers remains ever present. In Ontario, roughly 250,000 jobs stand vacant – waiting for people with the right skills. The new changes to the Second Career program open opportunity for more people to be a part of Ontario’s economic recovery.