Trudeau reveals plan for skilled trades training while in Waterloo
Waterloo may be known for its tech sector, but it was a more traditional sector of the economy that was the focus of Justin Trudeau’s visit on Tuesday.
Appearing at a union training centre, the Liberal leader outlined his party’s plan to spend $750 million on training in the skilled trades.
Included in that figure is $200 million specifically earmarked for people who are not employed or do not qualify for the employment insurance program.
“This will undo Harper’s recent cuts, and help more Canadians get the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to find a decent job,” he said.
“If you want to upgrade your skills so you can get a better job, we will help make that happen.”
While high-tech industry was not the focus of Trudeau’s message, he did lead off his speech by calling it and the knowledge economy “important drivers” of the national economy.
He also threw in a technological jab at Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s tenure in elected office.
“When he was first elected, Windows 95 was still two years away … and the cutting-edge way to apply for a job was to send in your resume by fax,” he said.
Trudeau’s words received a positive reception from the audience, which included Matt Wayland, a media strategist for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
“In order to do that investment and that infrastructure, we need to make sure that we have trained people across the country,” Wayland said in an interview, accusing the Conservatives of making it more difficult for IBEW members to get work.
Trudeau also took aim at the NDP, accusing leader Thomas Mulcair of making costly promises without knowing how to pay for them.
“You cannot be Tommy Douglas on a Stephen Harper budget,” he said.
The Liberal leader delivered more of his speech in French than either Mulcair or Harper did during their first campaign visits to Waterloo Region, although key points were emphasized in both languages.
The Conservatives have pledged to increase a tax credit for creating apprenticeship positions to a maximum of $2,500, up from $2,000, and extend it to include the third and fourth years of eligible training.
The NDP have not made any campaign promises specific to the skilled trades, focusing instead on funding for innovation and creating internship and co-op placements for young Canadians.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic tweeted that he and Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky also met with Trudeau, with subjects discussed including municipal infrastructure, transit and the ‘innovation supercluster’ encompassing Waterloo Region and Toronto.