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Canadian News Update 18th March 2019

Posted by: Chris Rocheleau
Industry News

$30 billion smart infrastructure project kickstarts in Toronto

The Ontario government has announced a 10-year, $30bn infrastructure funding program under the multi-party Canada Infrastructure Program. 

Ontario’s contribution of $10.2bn equates to 33% of the total funding, with the remainder of the spending being supplied equally by the federal and municipal governments.

The program will cover four key areas: Rural and Northern; Public Transit; Green; and Community, Culture and Recreation.

The Rural and Northern stream will take priority and is open to cities and Indigenous communities with populations under 100,000. Communities will have two months from today (18th March) to nominate road, bridge, air and marine infrastructure projects in rural and northern communities.

Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton said: “When it comes to delivering core services that matter to people, our government is putting people first. Today’s historic infrastructure investment marks the start of billions of dollars in funding that will improve the well-being of the people of Ontario. And it is part of our plan to balance the budget in a responsible, sustainable way while creating and protecting good jobs.”

“Our economy, communities, and families all depend on infrastructure,” McNaughton continued. “This program will bring major infrastructure investments that people rely on. And when we invest in smart infrastructure, we create jobs and grow the economy, shaping the future for hard-working families in Ontario.”

With the provincial budget around the corner on 11th April, the government is expected to announce its full infrastructure spending program shortly which will provide clarity on projects for Public Transit, Green, and Community, Culture and Recreation sectors. Full story.

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Toronto internship program to create Indigenous opportunities

The Toronto provincial government is launching a new Northern Ontario Internship Program to create more opportunities for Indigenous people. The program will also address the skilled labour shortage in the north and encourage more investment into trade sectors.

The Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines released a statement explaining the program will remove the requirement that applicants be recent university or college graduates, which will enable Ontario to support a wider variety of internships, with a focus on skilled trades. This will address the unique needs of other in-demand jobs throughout the region. The statement went on to explain that the change will open the doors to new entrants into the workforce, those transitioning to a new career, the unemployed and underemployed.

The new program will have two funding streams: The Northern Ontario Indigenous Internships and The Northern Ontario Skilled Labour Internships. The former will highlight the north’s Indigenous population’s contribution to the region’s economy and workforce, while providing employers with greater incentive to offer Indigenous internship opportunities. 

The latter Northern Ontario Skilled Labour Internships Stream places an enhanced focus on skills shortages in areas such as the skilled trades.

Greg Rickford, minister of energy, northern development and mines and minister of Indigenous affairs, said: “Changes to the internship program ensure our government is well-positioned to assist northern employers in providing work experience to a broader range of interns. We are removing barriers to participation in the Northern Ontario Internship Program so that more organizations can provide on-the-job career development and address skilled labour shortages.” Full story.

Ontario Energy Board needs an overhaul

In a recent report, a government-appointed panel has said that Ontario's energy regulator is in need of an overhaul to strengthen public trust in its work and to better adapt to technological change.

The panel is tasked with reviewing ways to bolster the performance of the Ontario Energy Board (OEB)and has recommended that it should have more independence in order to better address technological changes in the energy sector. The report states: “Taken together, these recommendations identify opportunities to improve confidence in Ontario's regulatory system and point towards opportunities to strengthen public trust.”

The panel recommended the OEB appoint its own board of directors and establish a chief commissioner to oversee regulation, to ensure fair and impartial decision making. "Reforming the governance structure is a solid first step toward improving trust and confidence in the regulatory system,” the report said.

The panel recommended that the board develop a plan to address the energy sector’s needs as technological change continues. 

“The resulting new business models, changing consumer expectations, and increased interconnection between the energy system and the broader economy will require the OEB to adapt its policies, governance and practices to continue to serve the public interest.”

The overhaul plans to increase public opinion on the OEB and consequently open the industry up to an increased workflow. The OEB said it would provide comment on the report when it is released to the public later this month. Full story.

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