The Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy today released the 2022 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review – Ontario’s Plan to Build: A Progress Update. It includes the government’s first-ever progress report on its Plan to Build Ontario, as well as new targeted measures that advance its plan to strengthen the economy, address the province’s labour shortage and help families and businesses keep costs down.
As noted in the Finance Minister’s forward, “rising interest rates, supply chain challenges and ongoing labour shortages are putting a strain on our economy…” To address these issues, a key part of the province’s plan involves added support for training by bolstering the Skills Development Fund (SDF), which supports innovative training projects that upskill workers and job seekers. Today’s announcement adds an additional $40 million in 2022–23, for a total of $145 million in funding for the SDF.
The trucking industry, which is experiencing one of the tightest labour markets in the province, welcomes the new training support. Industry data shows the trucking industry recently saw a new record of job vacancies in Q2 – with over 28,000 truck driver job vacancies nationally – up from 25,560 in Q1.
Truck transportation continues to have one of the highest vacancy rates in the entire economy. Of the 28,210 truck driver job vacancies recorded nationally, over 9,000 (or 33%) are in Ontario, reflecting the size and importance of the Ontario market and economy.
“Over the past several months, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has continued to discuss strategies which could help stabilize our workforce and help address the acute shortage of truck drivers,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski. “Improving access to training support and on-the-job training assistance will help in these key areas.”
The Economic Outlook also noted that immigration is a critical strategy and called on the federal government to significantly increase the number of skilled newcomers that come to Ontario to support economic growth and fill targeted labour market gaps through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), which is a key program for Ontario’s trucking sector.
To encourage business investment, the province is also allowing eligible businesses to immediately expense up to $1.5 million per year for certain capital investments. Other measures noted in the Economic Outlook include proposing to extend the cuts to the gas tax and fuel tax (diesel) rates, and continuing their focus on reducing burdens and cutting red-tape for businesses. Major infrastructure projects were also discussed as part of the progress report on infrastructure, like Highway 413, the Bradford Bypass and Highway 401 expansion, among others.
“Premier Ford, Minister Mulroney, Minister McNaughton and the government of Ontario have been consummate champions of the industry and have worked tirelessly to improve business conditions for carriers as well as living and working conditions for our drivers and workers,” said Laskowski. “We look forward to continuing to find ways with the province to bolster employment in our sector, strengthen the supply chain and to make sure Ontarians have access to the goods they need.”
OTA will be reviewing the Economic Outlook in detail and will provide members with a detailed briefing in the coming weeks.