Economic Innovation For A Better Ontario
Ontarians rung in 2020 in a state of virtually full employment – which should be great news. In many parts of Ontario, joblessness is at a 40-year low.
Yet millions of Ontarians don’t feel that way.
Instead they feel cash-strapped, overburdened by the rising cost of everything, and sidelined by a labour market that is evolving more rapidly than ever before.
But the key to positive change is that we lead that evolution, not fear it – while better preparing our workers for jobs in emerging industries, such as AI and zero-emission technologies.
We know the nature of work constantly changes as our economy grows and evolves. Our challenge, and our opportunity, is to capitalize on this.
We’re now in the very early stages of explosive growth in industries related to fighting climate change. Ontario can lead the world in training workers for these industries.
We should be at the forefront of new technologies that provide carbon-free power – whether it’s small modular nuclear reactors, or home-based wind, hydro and geothermal systems to help individual landowners reduce their reliance on the grid.
We also need comprehensive labour-market reform.
Far too many young people with advanced academic degrees are chronically underemployed, while highly paid skilled trades go unfilled.
This skills mismatch is the principal source of the economic malaise that disproportionately affects young Ontarians. This has to change.
We must, once and for all, put an end to the social bias that favours academic education over careers in the skilled trades. We can do this through public education campaigns – but also by preparing young people for trades, earlier in life.
We should ramp up co-ops, internships and apprenticeships, beginning in the first year of high school.
But mid-career workers need education supports, too. We can and should make it easier for adults already working to become licensed in a skilled trade, by “layering” the acquisition of skill sets that can be acquired on the job
Creating a new job does little good if workers can’t reach the job site. So, we should establish flexible transportation supports for tradespeople living within 90 minutes’ drive of major economic hubs – for example, with subsidies for electric car-pooling
And, Ontario absolutely needs a new transit strategy that encompasses the entire province and takes advantage of emerging technologies for electric and automated vehicles.
The sum of these reforms will be a more creative, innovative and prosperous society, for all.