Ontario Training Indigenous People for In-Demand Jobs

Eight new projects will help over 1,700 workers and jobseekers in Northern Ontario for rewarding careers in their communities

David Piccini, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

The Ontario government is investing $7.3 million in eight innovative training projects to support Indigenous people across Northern Ontario. The programs will prepare 1,700 workers for rewarding careers in their communities in critical sectors like mining, logging, construction, healthcare, and tourism, and help fill the region’s 17,000 vacant jobs.

“Across Northern Ontario, thousands of great jobs are waiting to be filled,” said David Piccini, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Our government is proud to invest in ground-breaking training programs that will connect more Indigenous people to the training they need to find life-changing jobs and build stronger communities for everyone.”

One of the projects is led by the Ironworkers Local 759 in Thunder Bay. It will help 100 workers and jobseekers in the region upgrade their skills to find rewarding careers in Northern Ontario’s booming construction industry. The one-year program will be free to participants and help tackle the critical shortage of ironworkers and welders.

“By supporting innovative skills training projects across Northern Ontario, we are opening the door for Indigenous workers and job seekers to embark on meaningful, lifelong careers within in-demand sectors across a number of industries,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Minister of Northern Development. “Our government continues to reduce barriers for workplace entry, creating an intuitive process that will yield beneficial opportunities for communities, business owners and workers in the North.”

The other seven projects are led by various organizations across multiple industries in Northern Ontario. To help prepare Indigenous jobseekers for in-demand careers in their communities, the programs will offer a variety of tailored supports, including mentorships, paid job placements and mental health resources, as well as transportation and accommodation.

“By honoring the past with time-tested techniques, we forge the future of ironwork as we proudly train our apprentices,” said BJ Sault, President of Ironworkers Local 759. “With the generous support of the provincial government, we’re not only fostering a skilled workforce but also creating opportunities that will leave a lasting impact, honoring the diverse traditions that have shaped the Ironworkers Local 759.”

These projects are funded through Ontario’s Skills Development Fund (SDF) Training Stream, which supports ground-breaking programs that connect jobseekers with the skills and training they need to find well-paying careers close to home. To date, the Ontario government has invested over $860 million in the Skills Development Fund Training Stream, helping half a million people take the next step in their careers.

Quick Facts

  • Skills Development Fund Training Stream applications are now open and will close on November 17, 2023. Organizations with project ideas on ways to address challenges to hiring, training, or retaining workers can apply through Transfer Payment Ontario.
  • Ontario’s Skills Development Fund Training Stream is supported through labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.


“On behalf of the Anishinabek Employment & Training Services (AETS) Board of Directors, Staff and the First Nation Communities, AETS is thankful to the provinces’ support in “Preparing Indigenous Workers for Careers in Mining” which includes Mining Essentials and Heavy Duty Equipment Technician training to help create opportunities as well as build capacity within the North Superior Region First Nation communities.”

– John DeGiacomo
Executive Director of AETS

“We would like to thank Premier Ford, Minister Piccini, and the Skills Development Fund for providing IBEW Local 1687 with $715,000 to develop and deliver continuing digital and on-site in-person training to individuals who reside in remote communities. We have partnered with Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, Mushkegowuk Council, and the Moose Cree Training and Employment Unit to train fifty indigenous youth, of which, ten will receive electrical apprenticeships. We are looking forward to continuing the relationship with the Provincial Government to provide training in the electrical field to the residents of Northern Ontario for years to come.”

– Kevin Gaudaur
Business Manager / Financial Secretary, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, L.U. 1687

“We are excited to partner with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development to empower career-building opportunities for Indigenous Peoples residing in rural and remote areas of Northern Ontario through the expansion of NORCAT’s Development Series program in Thunder Bay. NORCAT’s Development Series program, funded in part by the Skills Development Fund, is comprised of industry-specific, multi-week comprehensive training courses designed to develop and train students with the skills and confidence they need to build a stable and rewarding career, while helping to address the skilled labour shortage in the local workforce.”

– Jason Bubba
Chief Operating Officer, NORCAT

“The SDF project with Indigenous Tourism Ontario helps to support the tourism sector through a customized, workforce development training approach designed with tools that increase adaptability, resiliency, and market-readiness for Indigenous tourism businesses. ITO continues to work with partners who are mutually invested in this work that support the unique needs of Indigenous tourism and the businesses that make up this sector, by prioritizing employer-led training approaches, content, and needs. This ultimately increases Indigenous and non-Indigenous employer capacity to attract and retain First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples within tourism, and where the sustainability of cultural knowledge and perspective remains the most valuable.”

– Sherry Mayer
Vice President of Operations, Indigenous Tourism Ontario

“The Sioux Lookout Friendship Accord is a First Nations community led initiative. Our project, The Sioux Lookout Mining Center of Excellence, has been transformative for our region. Through our partnership with the province we are working to develop the capacity of our local workforce, deepening our relations with our mineral development partners, and creating sustainable and high-paying jobs for our communities.”

– Jake Dockstator
Executive Director, Sioux Lookout Friendship Accord

“To aid with Ontario’s economic recovery, address labour shortages, and increase apprenticeship completion rates, the Apprenticeship Support Program (ASP) supports apprentices, job seekers and populations who self-identify as belonging to an underrepresented group to begin and/or successfully complete an apprenticeship in the skilled trades. The ASP currently supports 36 Indigenous participants with individualized career planning services and employability skills training for success in the skilled trades.”

– Beth Lacher
Manager of Specialized Programs, Sault Community Career Centre

“Investments into Indigenous communities across the North such as these will not only support residents but support our government’s goal of expanding the number of skilled trades workers in our region. This support will strengthen Indigenous communities while spurring economic growth throughout Northern Ontario as we pursue housing targets for the benefit of all Ontarians.”

– Kevin Holland
Member of Provincial Parliament for Thunder Bay – Atikokan and Parliamentary Assistant to Minister Greg Rickford

SOURCE Province of Ontario

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