Ontario’s greatest strength is its people. The Province’s highly skilled, diverse and adaptive workforce is a competitive advantage. That is a key reason why, despite global challenges and uncertain market conditions, Ontario continues to create jobs.
The Province has a world-class education and skills training system and is continually striving to improve it. By investing in people today and giving Ontarians the support they need to get the right skills and the right jobs, the Province is developing the strong economy of tomorrow. This principle is the foundation of the first pillar of the government’s four-point plan, outlined in the 2014 Budget. The plan provides a blueprint for excellence in education from early years to adulthood. Key elements include:
The government is continuing to implement its plan by:
Ontario’s plan builds on the progress of successive investments in education and training over the past 12 years:
Despite these successes, more must be done to equip Ontarians to compete in a rapidly changing and highly competitive global economy. That is why the government is taking new measures, including:
The government’s enduring commitment to improving education and training will help ensure Ontario has the best workforce and attracts the best jobs, leading to an even stronger economy and better way of life.
Ontario’s education system is recognized as one of the best in the world and the government is committed to making it even better. Through the implementation of Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario, the Province will continue its progress towards an increasingly responsive, high-quality and accessible system.
Ontario’s vision builds on the progress of the last 10 years and focuses on achieving tangible results for both students and educators through four key goals:
The Province’s plan also includes a focus on 21st century teaching and learning skills, the modernization of early learning and child care, and improving math achievement.
Over the last year, the government has made significant progress towards implementing its vision for education, with the following results:
The Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) element of the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program was delivered to 2,000 students in 2014‒15. The new program was a partnership between the government and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. The government is investing an additional $1 million in 2015‒16 to support expansion of the ICE component of the SHSM program.
Supporting Technology and Innovation in Classrooms
In the first year of the Technology and Learning Fund, the government invested $40 million to support technology and pedagogy for classrooms of the future. Some successes to date include:
Safe, responsive and accessible child care, integrated with early learning programs, contributes to healthy child development and a stronger future.
Over the years, there has been little fundamental change to Ontario’s child care system. The government is committed to modernizing and building a child care and early years system that will enhance programs and supports for children under age 12 by:
Through the Child Care Modernization Act, 2014, enacted in December 2014, the government introduced reforms that will strengthen oversight of the unlicensed child care sector and provide families with increased access to licensed child care options. The Act will also allow the Province to immediately shut down a child care provider when a child’s safety is at risk.
What People Are Saying about the Child Care Modernization Act, 2014 (Bill 10)
“Bill 10 is a declaration that children in our province are valued and that our government cares about their well-being. Protection of our youngest citizens is long overdue and must be the foundation upon which we build our system of education and care. Bill 10 gives us this foundation.”
Sheila Olan-MacLean, President of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.
The online registry of unlicensed child care violations can be found at www.earlyyears.edu.gov.on.ca/Unlicenced
This legislation builds on steps that Ontario has already taken to strengthen oversight of the unlicensed child care sector. They include the creation of a dedicated enforcement team to investigate complaints against unlicensed providers, as well as an online searchable registry — paired with a toll-free number — of unlicensed child care violations.
Since 2004, the government has doubled child care funding to more than $1 billion annually. In 2013‒14, an estimated 447,472 children benefited from Ontario’s child care investments. In 2015, the Province is allocating an additional $44.5 million in child care funding through the funding formula, which will help stabilize fees, improve the reliability of child care, and better meet the needs of child care operators and parents — protecting the gains made through previously announced investments.
A community hub can be a school, a neighbourhood centre or another public space that offers coordinated services such as education, health care and social services.
As part of the Province’s commitment to increase child care spaces, Ontario is investing $120 million over three years in capital funding to create thousands more child care spaces in schools. This investment is another important step towards achieving the full vision of a seamless and integrated early years system in Ontario. It also represents an important component of the government’s commitment to community hubs. See Chapter I, Section F: A Fair Society for more details on community hubs.
Ontario’s Investments Continue to Improve Access to Child Care
With more than $1.5 billion in funding, full-day kindergarten is one of the most significant investments Ontario has made in a generation. The program supports over 260,000 children in approximately 3,600 schools across the province, and saves families up to $6,500 a year per child on child care costs. Program benefits include improved social skills, language and cognitive development, as well as communication skills and general knowledge. Overall, students in full-day kindergarten are better prepared to enter Grade 1 and be more successful in school, compared with those in half-day programs.1
“Children’s early experiences have profound and long-lasting influences on their development and on the kind of learner they become.”
“A Meta-Perspective on the Evaluation of Full-Day Kindergarten during the First Two Years of Implementation,” (October 2013).
Ontario’s students are key to the Province’s economic future. The government is building an education system that is innovative and responsive to labour market demands, producing graduates ready for today’s jobs and tomorrow’s opportunities. The Province is also building a modern and cohesive employment and training services network to help people find jobs and employers find workers.
The government is investing $20 million to launch Experience Ontario. This new pilot program will support graduating high school students to better identify future goals, choose the most appropriate postsecondary education and succeed once they enrol.
Ontario’s colleges and universities play an increasingly important role in preparing students to seize employment opportunities. Studies suggest that seven of every 10 new jobs are expected to require postsecondary education or training.
In 2013, 66 per cent of adults in Ontario had a postsecondary credential, up from 56 per cent in 2002 — higher than the rates for any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Building on one of the best public elementary and secondary education systems in the world, Ontario boasts a leading system of postsecondary education. With higher postsecondary attainment rates than any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Ontario is already leading the world with a globally competitive, highly educated workforce. But there is more to do.
As steward of the system, the government is continuing to invest in an accessible, affordable and student-centred system — one that supports innovative, creative and entrepreneurial graduates. To achieve this goal, the Province continues to transform postsecondary education based on the best evidence, investing in what works and focusing on outcomes.
The government has increased funding for postsecondary education by 83 per cent since 2002‒03. This has resulted in more Ontarians than ever participating in postsecondary education, with over 170,000 more students enrolled in colleges and universities since 2002‒03 and more students graduating every year. This puts Ontario in a position to meet, if not exceed, its target of a 70 per cent attainment rate by 2020.
As a step in the transformation of the postsecondary education system, Ontario is helping all 45 publicly supported colleges and universities build on their unique strengths and specializations to offer students the best possible learning experience. The Strategic Mandate Agreements now in place are helping guide further growth and avoid or limit expansion in academic areas where well-established programs already exist.
Differentiation within postsecondary education means focusing on institutional strengths while preserving and enhancing educational quality for students within a sustainable cost structure. Differentiation leads to more effective use of government and institutional resources to improve overall performance of the system, and to help Ontario compete internationally.
The Strategic Mandate Agreements will also ensure that students continue to gain hands-on experience through opportunities such as co-op programs and applied research. This approach helps students create new businesses or find highly skilled work that will benefit Ontario’s economy.
To ensure quality and sustainability, Ontario will be reforming the postsecondary education system funding model, starting with the university sector. This spring, the Province will begin open, formal and transparent engagement with the sector that will help shape a new model. The government will work with institutions to find ways to better align public funding with desired outcomes and to ensure that Ontarians receive the best possible value from investments made in postsecondary education. Among other things, the new funding model will also support greater differentiation in the university sector.
Giving Students the Skills and Experience They Need to Get the Jobs They Want
George Brown College focuses on its institutional strengths by providing applied research expertise that enhances student learning and supports industry innovation. It embeds applied research through a number of centres including the:
The government is also following through on its commitment to expand online learning opportunities. Ontario Online will give students the flexibility to receive world-class instruction wherever and whenever it works best for them. In 2014, Ontario Online was established as a collaborative Centre of Excellence in technology-enabled learning to give students across the province one-window access to transferable online courses. The government has invested $22.3 million over the past two years towards developing or redesigning 280 high-quality online courses and 56 online curricular content, learner support and credit recognition modules. With all of Ontario’s publicly assisted colleges and universities as members, Ontario Online will start offering state-of-the-art online courses in the 2015–16 academic year.
“Over its history, the University of Waterloo has been a leader in online education and, through the new Ontario Online initiative, we look forward to using this experience for the benefit of students throughout Ontario.”
Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo.
The Province is also continuing to improve the credit transfer system to ensure students do not have to repeat relevant prior learning when moving between postsecondary institutions. Students will know in advance how many credits they can expect to receive before arriving at a new institution.
“Transfer pathway” refers to a defined route from one program or institution to another that clearly sets out eligibility requirements and acceptable credits.
In partnership with colleges, universities and the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT), Ontario has created close to 800,000 transfer opportunities for students from the over 750 pathways now available — more than double the pathways that were offered in 2011.
The bilingual credit transfer website, ONTransfer.ca, was launched to make information on transfer opportunities and institutional transfer processes more publicly accessible. This will make it easier for students to navigate the postsecondary education system, reach their preferred credentials faster, and enter or re‐enter the labour market sooner.
Ontario is helping students with the costs of postsecondary education so that every qualified Ontarian who wants to attend college or university can afford to do so.
Ontario Has Made Postsecondary Education More Affordable
The government is also increasing support for students and modernizing the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) by:
Ontario is the first province to index maximum student aid levels to inflation.
Strengthening Financial Supports for Students
Ontario’s workers, employers and training service providers work better when they are working together. Once Ontarians have the right education and skills, they need to find the right job. Employers will also need the right employees to grow, innovate and take advantage of new opportunities.
The Province invests over $1 billion every year in employment and training programs and services through Employment Ontario that serve about one million Ontarians. These programs:
Ontario is integrating employment and training programs and services across government. This will improve access and provide job seekers and employers with proven, coordinated and targeted services that meet their needs. The government is continuing to engage stakeholders on the design, development and implementation of new initiatives.
Employment and Training Services Integration
The government is consulting on the design and implementation of five priority areas:
As part of the government’s commitment to create more on-the-job training opportunities, Ontario has placed a renewed focus on programs and services that better meet employers’ needs.
The Canada–Ontario Job Fund Agreement, signed by the governments of Ontario and Canada in March 2014, is a source of funding for employer-driven training initiatives such as the Canada–Ontario Job Grant.
By providing two-thirds of total eligible training costs up to $10,000, with additional flexibility for small employers, the Canada–Ontario Job Grant offers employers the opportunity to invest in their workforce. The new program began accepting employer applications in September 2014.
As part of the Canada–Ontario Job Grant, the Province also introduced two employer-driven skills training pilots. These pilots will investigate new ways of working with employers to provide flexible, short-term training. They include the:
While the Canada–Ontario Job Grant supports those who have a strong attachment to the workforce, there is a critical need for funding to support skills development for the most vulnerable job seekers. Federal collaboration to support skills training does not go far enough — far too many unemployed Ontarians are not eligible for skills training supported through Canada–Ontario labour market agreements. Federal investments in skills training for Canada’s unemployed must be increased. See Chapter III: National Leadership — Strong Ontario, Strong Canada.
Young Ontarians face particular challenges in finding rewarding, permanent jobs. High unemployment has economic consequences for the province today, such as loss of revenue and increased cost of services but, more importantly, it can also lead to negative long-term consequences, such as lower wages and a higher likelihood of future unemployment. The Province has made progress in reducing youth unemployment from a high of 18.6 per cent to its current rate of 14.9 per cent; however, too many young people are still out of work. That is why the Province is renewing its Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy. The Province is working to ensure that every Ontarian is able to find the best employment opportunities that match their skills and passions.
Tackling youth unemployment was a key component of Ontario’s 2013 and 2014 budgets. Since launching the $295 million Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy, the government has made significant progress in advancing youth employment across the province.
Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy — Success Stories
However, overall youth unemployment remains unacceptably high. That is why the government is renewing the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy by investing an additional $250 million over the next two years, bringing the total investment in youth employment programming to more than $565 million.
The renewed Strategy will build on successes to date and enhance a comprehensive suite of programs and services that are tailored to the individual needs of youth, including at-risk youth, Aboriginal youth, newcomers and youth with disabilities. The extension of the Strategy will serve up to 150,000 clients and focus on skills development, labour market connections, entrepreneurship and innovation.
Ontario has a world-class education system. However, many youth still lack the specific skills needed to get ahead in today’s competitive job market. Through targeted investments, the government will help enhance the skills of Ontario’s youth by:
The Aboriginal Institutes deliver a wide range of accredited postsecondary programs in partnership with colleges and universities. These institutions also develop curriculum to address the current and future human resource needs of Aboriginal communities.
The government recognizes that businesses all over the province are hungry for talent that will help them grow and thrive. That is why the Province is working hard to ensure the best fit between the skills youth have and the skills employers need. This improved alignment will help Ontario’s youth connect to the careers they are interested in and help businesses find the talent they need.
Programs under the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy are based on the principle that Ontario’s economy needs a culture of startups to drive creativity and competitiveness in this new world economy. These programs also lead to measurable spinoff economic activity in regions across the province.
By expanding support to effective initiatives such as the Starter Company program and Summer Company program, the Province will continue to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs. These programs provide mentorship, specialized training, individualized outreach, and startup capital to young Ontarians who want to start, grow or buy a small business. The government is also expanding its investment in:
Together, these two programs encourage the next generation of innovators by connecting them to training opportunities and regional business support services. They are giving students the chance to develop their ideas while at school and grow their entrepreneurial skills. The programs have been established at 42 out of the province’s 45 publicly funded postsecondary institutions and have helped create 1,749 companies.
Businesses everywhere are seeking to locate in jurisdictions with workers who can drive innovation and productivity through their knowledge and skill. The Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy is designed in part to help Ontario support these workers, starting with young people. The Province is doing this through a number of funding initiatives, including the:
Skilled trades provide rewarding, well-paid work for many Ontarians and are a critical factor to Ontario’s continued prosperity.
The government has demonstrated a strong commitment to Ontario’s apprenticeship system by investing approximately $164.5 million in 2014–15 and by significantly increasing available opportunities since 2002. However, despite these investments, completion rates have remained stagnant, meaning many apprentices are not completing their trade certification. This has a negative impact, primarily on earning and future labour market success, because apprentices who receive certification in a trade receive higher hourly wages than those who do not. That is why Ontario will continue to provide supports for employers, apprenticeships and training institutions to promote access to and completion of apprenticeships, while raising the profile of the skilled trades as a career path on par with other forms of postsecondary education.
Ontario’s Investments Strengthen Its Apprenticeship System
Ontario will further support the apprenticeship system by:
Programs that reach potential tradespeople early have proven to be highly effective in encouraging successful completion of apprenticeship programs. That is why the government is investing an additional $13 million over two years for pre-apprenticeship programs that help potential entrants to the system develop their job skills and readiness to find work as apprentices, through in-class training sessions and work placements. This additional funding will enrich the learning environment for all students, including those from underrepresented groups, such as women and Aboriginal peoples.
One of the key ways that Ontario supports apprentices is by funding in-class training delivered by colleges and other training delivery agents across the province. Funding is provided on a per diem basis, linked to the training requirements of each trade. However, funding levels have not been adjusted since 2008–09, which has led to a decline in the resources available to ensure quality training for students.
The government is addressing this issue by investing more than $19 million over three years, increasing the per diem to $61.36 in 2015‒16 and to $63.09 in 2016‒17 and beyond. This increase will ensure that apprentices continue to receive the highest quality training, through support for equipment upgrades and more opportunities for lab time during their in-school training sessions.
As part of the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy, Ontario is supporting young people by investing an additional $23 million over two years in the Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund. This Fund will help colleges and other delivery agents train more people and deliver relevant, high-quality apprenticeship programs by investing in equipment, technologies and space to meet the evolving needs of the workforce.
Trades play a vital role in Ontario’s infrastructure development and economic growth. In 2009, the Province created the Ontario College of Trades to regulate and promote skilled trades. Then, in October 2014, the government appointed Tony Dean to review issues related to the scope of practice and the process and criteria for the review of the classification of trades as compulsory or voluntary, to support the continued success of the College.
In January 2015, a consultation guide was released and stakeholders, including apprentices, tradespeople, employers, associations and training providers, were invited to provide written submissions. In-person consultations are currently taking place across various regions of the province. The final report will be submitted to the government in October 2015.
Immigrants bring new skills to the Ontario economy, build businesses that employ Ontarians and open doors to global markets. Ontario remains the number one destination for newcomers in Canada. Nearly 40 per cent of Canada’s immigrants land in Ontario.
Ontario Bridge Training helps skilled newcomers get their licence or certificate in their profession or trade, so they can find employment in Ontario that fits their skills and experience.
Successful integration of immigrants into Ontario’s workforce is vital for the province’s continued economic success. This is why Ontario continues to support various settlement and integration programs, including Ontario Bridge Training, with an investment of more than $63 million between 2013‒14 and 2015‒16. To date, the Province’s bridge training projects have targeted more than 100 occupations, helping close to 50,000 highly skilled immigrants.
A key objective of Ontario’s Immigration Strategy is to help immigrants and their families settle and achieve success. Ontario has invested $17.8 million over the past two years in the Newcomer Settlement Program, helping more than 80,000 newcomers each year access the services they need to settle in Ontario.
Ontario needs to be well positioned for an increased role in immigrant selection. In 2015, Ontario is set to receive 5,200 nominations through its Provincial Nominee Program, up from 2,500 the previous year.
In November 2014, the government reintroduced the proposed Ontario Immigration Act, a key element of the Ontario Immigration Strategy. If passed, the Act would:
The Province’s Immigration Strategy lays out a plan to better support and welcome newcomers to vibrant communities throughout Ontario. In that spirit, and at the request of the University of Toronto, the government is seeking to amend The University of Toronto Act, 1971, eliminating the Canadian citizenship requirement for membership on the University of Toronto Governing Council. This would remove a barrier to membership on the University’s Governing Council, which currently excludes international students, as well as faculty and staff who are not Canadian citizens.
The chart shows the Ontario government supports for Ontarians from early years to adulthood.
Under Age 6
Age 6 to 13 (Elementary Education)
Age 13 to 18 (Secondary Education)
Age 18 to 24 (Postsecondary Education)
Age 15 to 29
Strengthening the apprenticeship system
The chart lists the key achievements in Ontario’s education system.
The chart lists the key achievements in Ontario’s postsecondary education.
The bar chart illustrates the total amount of student aid an undergraduate university student receives, by parental income. It compares the amount of student aid, calculated by the sum of grants and repayable loans, received in 2003‒04 and 2014‒15. For eligible recipients at all levels of parental income, total student aid increased between 2003‒04 and 2014‒15 due to an increase in grants, while repayable loans remained stable over time.
The chart lists the key achievements in Ontario’s employment and training in 2013‒14.