Training relief for Cornwall construction firms

Cornwall Construction Association Treasurer Nathaniel Cardinal speaking at the association's meeting on Feb. 10, 2015. The CCA has learned more about a grant program to cover the cost of training tradespeople. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)
Cornwall Construction Association Treasurer Nathaniel Cardinal speaking at the association’s meeting on Feb. 10, 2015. The CCA has learned more about a grant program to cover the cost of training tradespeople. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Whether it’s handling asbestos or working on a building six storeys up, construction workers and company owners in Cornwall and SD&G have been brought up-to-speed on a new option of cover training costs.

Around 35 people were at the Best Western Parkway Inn Tuesday night for a Cornwall Construction Association (CCA) meeting, which highlighted the Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG).

Members of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, St. Lawrence College and Job Zone d’emploi talked about the COJG program. It started in March 2014 and has $192 million allotted per year for grants across Ontario.

The provincially-administered program allows businesses with over 50 employees to have two-thirds of eligible training covered by the Ontario government up to $10,000. If a business has fewer than 50 people on the payroll they have the option to cover their one-third cost by spitting it 50-50 between paying for the training and increased wages for the worker. There are some stipulations with the program in order to qualify.

Nathaniel Cardinal of Clean-All Environmental Services Inc. is the treasurer of the CCA. While he likely won’t be using the grant program right away, he sees the value for his fellow tradespeople.

“It is something that’s definitely helpful because a lot of new prospects are asking about carpentry and apprenticeship programs. So it is a mandatory course, especially for employees that are coming forward to these organizations. As part of hiring, these (certifications) are a clause that the employees are discussing, so the grant opportunity is very helpful for some employers because they will be needing it to train over time. It is a valuable incentive for sure,” Cardinal said.

Cardinal believes some employees are not taking the initiative to get trained but, as certification becomes mandatory, the COJG will help a lot.

“The carpentry trade…everybody was able to pick up a hammer and do the work. Now, it’s become more of a compulsory trade, as we are moving forward, so people will have to become certified. So, this grant and this apprenticeship (program) is something that is becoming more and more mandatory and not a lot of people are looking at courses because it’s taking over a year of their time whereas experience in the past has been beneficial. The more you know the better the chances the employer is going to hire you,” he explained.

“Eventually employers are going to be looking for the certification. It is something that will be pushed eventually. Are we there yet? I don’t think it’s necessarily mandatory at this time right now. Personally, I would probably pick somebody that has more experience over knowledge from a course…that’s my take on it,” Cardinal said.

“It’s getting more costly to certify a person, especially in asbestos. Sending somebody over for an apprenticeship is quite costly and devotes nearly a year of their time in school and not to mention about four years after that in training. (The grant) is very helpful…saves on a lot of costs.”

A ministry spokesperson also explained that businesses that band together (25 or more) can get some “buying power” when it comes to training and the province would handle their application as opposed to individual applications, which will be handled by Job Zone d’emploi.

St. Lawrence College Cornwall Campus Dean Don Fairweather also extended an offer to help businesses come up with customized training programs should they want to apply to the grant as a consortia.

The program is scheduled to continue until 2019-20.

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