2015 Ontario Budget
Chapter I: Implementing the Plan

Section A: Investing in People’s Talents and Skills

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:

  • Continuing to modernize and strengthen Ontario’s child care system;
  • Fully implementing full-day kindergarten;
  • Implementing Achieving Excellence, a new vision for education that prepares learners for a rapidly changing, technology-driven, globalized world;
  • Advancing postsecondary education and training by supporting programs that foster innovative, entrepreneurial and creative graduates; and
  • Renewing the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy.

The government is continuing to implement its plan by:

  • Introducing and implementing the Child Care Modernization Act, 2014, which will strengthen oversight of the province’s child care sector;
  • Completing the implementation of full-day kindergarten across the province;
  • Implementing “Achieving Excellence” and successfully launching:
    • Over 40 experiential learning pilots across Ontario;
    • A Specialist High Skills Major certificate in Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship in every school board in Ontario; and
    • A Math Action Plan to improve outcomes in math.
  • Completing Strategic Mandate Agreements with all 45 publicly supported colleges and universities to ensure postsecondary institutions focus on their areas of strength and avoid unnecessary duplication; and
  • Helping more than 29,000 young people access jobs, develop skills and gain valuable work experience through the Youth Employment Fund, part of the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy.

Ontario’s plan builds on the progress of successive investments in education and training over the past 12 years:

  • 84 per cent of students graduated from high school in 2014, up from 68 per cent in 2004;
  • 66 per cent of adults in Ontario had a postsecondary credential in 2013, up from 56 per cent in 2002 and higher than any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; and
  • 84 per cent of 2010‒11 college graduates and 87 per cent of 2011 university graduates in the labour force were employed within six months of graduation.

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:

  • Renewing the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy by investing an additional $250 million over two years in a suite of programs that will serve up to 150,000 clients and focus on skills development, labour market connections, entrepreneurship and innovation;
  • Modernizing the Ontario Student Assistance Program to strengthen financial assistance for students; and
  • Launching an Experience Ontario pilot that will help recent high school graduates pursue their passions and choose a postsecondary pathway.

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.

Supporting Every Child, Reaching Every Student

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:

  • Achieving excellence;
  • Ensuring equity;
  • Promoting well-being; and
  • Enhancing confidence in the publicly funded education system.

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.

  • Over 40 experiential learning pilots launched across Ontario in 2014‒15 to explore new ways to support the delivery of innovative, student-driven, hands-on learning experiences that are connected to the community;
  • Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) launched in every school board in 2014‒15. SHSMs are bundles of 8 to 10 courses that allow students to focus on a specific economic sector while acquiring their high school diploma. Participants graduate with the 21st century skills of ICE to create the jobs of tomorrow;
  • Math Action Plan implemented, with emphasis on expanding opportunities for teacher and principal professional learning in math; and
  • 31 pilot programs launched in 2014‒15 to develop innovative strategies to improve educational outcomes for students in the care of children’s aid societies.

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:

  • Students in remote communities in the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board are using Skype technology in Grade 4 social studies classes to communicate with students in other parts of the world, and learn about geography and different communities; and
  • In the Waterloo Region District School Board’s Futures Forum program, high school students blog about real-world issues and participate in book studies with one of 12 teachers across the region, using online discussion forums to collaborate with and learn from other students.

Modernizing Child Care and Early Learning

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:

  • Modernizing the legislative and regulatory framework for child care.
  • Increasing transparency with a new funding formula for child care.
  • Enhancing program quality and consistency in child care and early years programs to reflect a focus on safe and healthy child development and well-being.
  • Making full-day kindergarten available to every four- and five-year-old in Ontario. The rollout of this initiative was completed in September 2014.
  • Ensuring that before- and after-school programs are available to six- to twelve-year-olds, where there is sufficient demand.

Legislative Framework

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.

Investing in Results

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

  • Since 2003, licensed child care spaces have increased by 70 per cent to 317,868, providing more than 130,000 additional children with safe and reliable child care.
  • In January 2015, Ontario implemented a wage increase of $1 per hour for eligible child care workers in the licensed child care sector. Another wage increase is set for next year. This investment enhances employers’ ability to recruit and retain highly qualified and talented educators.

Full-Day Kindergarten

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).

Building a Competitive Workforce

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.

Experience Ontario

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.

Ensuring an Accessible, High-Quality and Sustainable Postsecondary Education System

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:

  • Green Building Centre;
  • Health Technology, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Hub (HealthTech);
  • Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt); and
  • Centre for Arts and Design, a digital media and gaming incubator.

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.

Modernizing Student Financial Assistance

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

  • Provided more than $1.3 billion in grants and loans in 2013‒14 — 70 per cent of this aid was in the form of grants that students do not have to repay.
  • Helped almost 230,000 college and university students in 2013‒14 save up to $1,780 in tuition through the 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant.
  • Implemented a multi-year tuition framework that caps tuition fee increases at an average of three per cent per year.

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.

  • Indexing the Ontario maximum student aid levels annually to inflation, starting with the 2015–16 school year;
  • Launching the Ontario Student Loan Rehabilitation Program, a new initiative that will allow past borrowers who defaulted on the Ontario portion of their student loan to bring their loan back into good standing through scheduled partial payments;
  • Indexing the debt cap — the level above which student loans are forgiven — to inflation, ensuring that OSAP remains sustainable in the long term. Repayable debt will remain at 60 per cent of the maximum amount of financial aid available to students;
  • Eliminating the requirement for students to report their vehicle as an asset for OSAP assessment and aligning with the 2014‒15 change in federal treatment of vehicles; and
  • Streamlining and simplifying the back-office administration of student loans by funding student loans directly through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and proposing to terminate the Ontario Student Loan Trust. The process of how students apply for and receive student loans will remain unchanged.

Strengthening Financial Supports for Students

  • In the 2015–16 school year, the Ontario student loan limit increases to $155 per week for single students and $355 per week for students who are married or have dependent children.
  • By increasing the Ontario student loan limit with the rate of inflation each year, a student starting a four-year university degree in 2014–15 is eligible to receive about $1,000 more in financial aid over the four years.
  • Student debt is capped at no more than $7,400 for a two-term academic year for the 2015–16 school year.

Matching Skilled Workers to the Right Jobs

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:

  • Enable Ontarians to access the supports they need to succeed in today’s job market;
  • Deliver relevant skills training; and
  • Deliver employment and planning services to individuals and employers.

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:

  • Youth employment programming;
  • Common assessment for employment-related needs;
  • Pre-employment services;
  • Employment supports for people with disabilities; and
  • Local Employment Planning Council pilots to address local labour market needs and strengths.

Canada–Ontario Job Grant

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:

  • Customized Training pilot to help develop and deliver firm-specific training that meets employers’ workforce development needs; and
  • UpSkill pilot to support essential and technical skills training in specific sectors for potentially vulnerable workers in low- and medium-skilled occupations.

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.

Renewing the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy

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

  • Having completed one year of a college diploma in interior design, Jenny went to an Employment Ontario service provider in St. Thomas for help obtaining work in her field. Through the Youth Employment Fund, she secured a job at a home decor store where she has been mentored in customer service, business, decorating and design. She is taking her skills to the next level by taking the lead on maintaining the online store and, with the support of her employer through the Canada–Ontario Job Grant, is continuing her diploma studies part time.
  • With a Grade 12 education and part-time work experience in retail, Yousif went to an Employment Ontario service provider in Windsor for help finding full-time work. His winning attitude, combined with support from the Youth Employment Fund, helped him land a job at a masonry company, cutting and installing granite and stone finishes. His placement under the program has finished, but his company continues to employ him.

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.

Skills Development

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.

  • Creating Youth Job Connection, an intensive employment support program to help youth who experience multiple barriers to employment;
  • Providing an additional $5 million in funding through the Postsecondary Education Fund for Aboriginal Learners (PEFAL) to ensure that high-quality postsecondary education and training remain accessible to Aboriginal youth through the Province’s nine Aboriginal Institutes; and
  • Supporting the creation of a Mechatronics Simulation and Demonstration Centre at Seneca College with an investment of $651,000. In partnership with Siemens Canada, the Centre will strengthen Ontario’s manufacturing skills and expertise and also support the modernization and regeneration of industries such as automotive manufacturing, plastics, and building technology province-wide.

Labour Market Connections

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.

  • Youth Job Link: For students and youth who do not face significant barriers to employment, access to job search resources and information to help transition to the labour market, including summer employment placement opportunities; and
  • Youth Skills Connections Fund: Funding for programs that bridge the gap between postsecondary training programs and the skills that businesses need today.


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:

  • Campus-Linked Accelerators that are growing and expanding entrepreneurship programs at universities and colleges across the province. Students are getting the skills, tools, advice and support they need to start a business; and
  • On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities programs that are helping to launch initiatives at universities and colleges across Ontario where they currently do not exist.

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:

  • TalentEdge Program, which has produced 328 internships for graduate and postgraduate students. These internships are integral to boosting campus-linked industrial research and development and commercializing the innovative ideas of young researchers; and
  • Youth Business Acceleration Program (Youth BAP), which has created 980 jobs by assisting youth-led, innovative companies with mentorship, startup funding and business development training. Thalmic Labs, a company that received Youth BAP services, was founded by three University of Waterloo engineering graduates. It raised $14.5 million in funding and made Forbes’ list of “Hottest Global Startups.”
  • TalentEdge Program provides the opportunity for postsecondary students and postdoctoral fellows to enhance their skills in industrial research, development and commercialization projects and enhance their technical problem-solving skills through joint industry–academia collaborations.
  • Youth Business Acceleration Program provides training, mentorship and market intelligence for youth starting “technology enterprises” to help them develop and implement business models and address business challenges, such as marketing, human resources, product/service distribution or legal advice.

Supporting Ontario’s Skilled Tradespeople

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

  • In 2014‒15, the government invested approximately $164.5 million in Ontario’s apprenticeship system, including:
    • Over $146.5 million for 17 programs that offer support to both apprentices and employers;
    • Nearly $16 million for colleges and other training delivery agents to make capital upgrades and purchase state-of-the-art equipment essential to the technical training of apprentices; and
    • $2 million in loans to apprentices to buy the tools and equipment they need to begin their careers.
  • The government is also helping apprentices complete their programs and obtain certification by providing:
    • Completion bonuses for both apprentices and employers when training is successfully concluded; and
    • Income supports to help apprentices with the costs associated with attending school.
  • As a result of the government’s investments and support of the apprenticeship system, new annual apprenticeship registrations have grown from 17,100 in 2002‒03 to more than 28,000 in 2013‒14.

Ontario will further support the apprenticeship system by:

  • Investing an additional $13 million over two years for pre-apprenticeship programs;
  • Providing $19 million over three years to increase the per diem for apprenticeship classroom training; and
  • Investing an additional $23 million over two years in the Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund.

Pre-Apprenticeship Programs

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.

Increasing Per Diem Funding for Classroom Training Seats

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.

Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund

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.

Ontario College of Trades

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.

Helping Newcomers Integrate Successfully into Their Communities and the Workplace

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:

  • Position Ontario as a full partner in immigration with the federal government by giving Ontario a framework to design, deliver and manage a larger and more complex selection program;
  • Provide a regulatory framework to respond to Ontario’s responsibilities in the immigration system and support transparency, accountability and consistency in the Province’s selection programs; and
  • Provide the government with the necessary tools to preserve the integrity of Ontario’s selection programs and help protect potentially vulnerable applicants from the risk of program fraud.

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.

1 “A Meta-Perspective on the Evaluation of Full-Day Kindergarten during the First Two Years of Implementation,” (October 2013). Report informed by the Social Program Evaluation Group — Queen’s University, “Final Report: Evaluation of the Implementation of the Ontario Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program,” (Fall 2012); the Offord Centre for Child Studies — McMaster University, “The Full Day Kindergarten Early Learning Program Final Report,” (October 2012); and the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Chart Descriptions

Chart 1.1: Support for Dylan from Early Years to Adulthood

The chart shows the Ontario government supports for Ontarians from early years to adulthood.
Under Age 6

  • Early learning programs
  • Quality child care, including child care subsidies
  • Full-day kindergarten
  • Dental services: Healthy Smiles Ontario and an Integrated Program for children and youth from low income families  
  • Ontario Child Benefit (until 18)
  • 22 publicly funded vaccines for all ages

Age 6 to 13 (Elementary Education)

  • 90 per cent of primary classes with 20 or fewer students
  • Children’s Activity Tax Credit (until 16)

Age 13 to 18 (Secondary Education)

  • Learning options to foster student success including expanded
    co-operative education
  • Specialist High Skills Major
  • Dual credits and e-learning programs
  • Experience Ontario

Age 18 to 24 (Postsecondary Education)

  • Access grants, 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant and Co-operative Education Tax Credit
  • Ontario Online
  • Credit transfer including the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer

Age 15 to 29

  • Renewed Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy
  • Employment Ontario services

Strengthening the apprenticeship system

Return to Chart 1.1

Chart 1.2: Key Achievements in Education

The chart lists the key achievements in Ontario’s education system.

  • Full-day kindergarten is now available to all four- and five-year-olds in approximately 3,600 schools across the province.
  • 72 per cent of elementary students met or exceeded the provincial standards in reading, writing and math in 2013‒14, compared to 54 per cent in 2002‒03.
  • 90 per cent of primary classes have 20 or fewer students.
  • Ontario’s Grade 8 students ranked the highest in reading and second in science and math in Canada based on the results of a nationwide survey.
  • 21,400 students are participating in Dual Credit programs that can count towards a high school diploma and a postsecondary diploma, degree or apprenticeship certification.
  • 84 per cent of students graduated from high school in 2014, up from 68 per cent in 2004.

Return to Chart 1.2

Chart 1.3: Key Achievements in Postsecondary Education

The chart lists the key achievements in Ontario’s postsecondary education.

  • Over 43 per cent increase or more than 170,000 additional students enrolled in postsecondary education since 2002‒03.
  • 60 per cent increase in enrolment in graduate programs between 2002‒03 and 2013‒14.
  • Over 380,000 students received financial assistance in 2013‒14, with over $1.3 billion in grants and loans to students, including the 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant.
  • 77 per cent of university undergraduate students graduated in 2012, up from 73 per cent in 2002.
  • 65 per cent of college students are graduating, up from 57 per cent in 
  • 87 per cent of 2011 university graduates in the labour force and 84 per cent of 2010‒11 college graduates were employed within six months of graduation.

Return to Chart 1.3

Chart 1.4: More Grants for Students

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.

Return to Chart 1.4

Chart 1.5: Key Achievements in Employment and Training in 2013‒14

The chart lists the key achievements in Ontario’s employment and training in 2013‒14.

  • The Employment Ontario network helped approximately one million Ontarians in 2013‒14, including over 150,000 employers across Ontario. These include:
  • More than 28,000 Ontarians registered for training in the skills trades as an apprentice.
  • 10,500 Ontarians were helped through Second Career funding.
  • Over 43,000 learners were helped through the Literacy and Basic Skills Program.
  • Over 92,000 students found summer jobs and services through the Summer Jobs Service.
  • Over 9,000 laid-off workers planned their return to the labour market through the Rapid Re-Employment and Training Service.

Return to Chart 1.5