ONTARIO NEWS RELEASE: Ontario Launching New Agency to Better Serve Tradespeople

Mississauga Board of Trade
Mississauga Board of Trade


January 25, 2022


Updates on new members, upcoming events, and the latest news.

"*" indicates required fields



Ontario Launching New Agency to Better Serve Tradespeople

Skilled Trades Ontario will address labour shortage by improving training and simplifying services

January 25, 2022
Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development

TORONTO — The Ontario government has launched Skilled Trades Ontario, a new Crown agency, to improve trades training and simplify services. The new agency will promote and market the trades, develop the latest training and curriculum standards, and provide a streamlined user-friendly experience for tradespeople. These changes will result in more workers for in-demand jobs and prepare Ontario for a strong economic comeback.

“We’re redrawing the system to address Ontario’s labour shortage and make the trades a career of choice for more people,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “The skilled trades provide well-paying and rewarding careers that are vital for our economy. By creating this new agency, we are working for workers and delivering the generational change that labour leaders and employers have been calling for.”

The new online services will help apprentices conveniently manage their careers in one place with an online one-stop-shop for scheduling classes and exams, submitting forms, paying fees and more. These changes will reduce the skilled labour shortage the province currently faces – estimated at 350,000 by 2025 – by making it easier for more people to learn about and enter the trades, including reducing processing and registration times for applicants from 60 days to 12.

“The creation of Skilled Trades Ontario is an important milestone, and one I am thrilled to be a part of leading,” said Michael Sherrard, Chair of Skilled Trades Ontario. “The implementation of a successful apprenticeship and skilled trades system is critical to the economic growth and success of our province, and today’s announcement is the next step in securing that future for us all.”

An independent Board of Directors will lead the agency in delivering on the government’s Skilled Trades Strategy to break the stigma surrounding the trades, simplify the system, and encourage employers to hire more apprentices.

“The skilled trades are the backbone of our province – offering 144 well-paying and in-demand careers for people to choose from,” said Chief Executive Officer and Registrar Melissa Young. “I commend this government for bringing generational change that will remove the stigma surrounding the trades, cut down on red tape, and ensure all young people know these jobs offer a clear path to a better life.”

Launching this new agency builds on the government’s ongoing efforts to attract, support, and protect workers, making Ontario the top place in the world to work, live and raise a family.


Quick Facts

  • There are 144 trades in Ontario. By 2025, one in five jobs will be in the trades.
  • Under the Ontario College of Trades, apprentice registrations fell by over 17,000 or 40%. Today, the average age of an apprentice is 29 years old.
  • The previous system had prospective tradespeople mailing documents to offices for one service, calling in for a second and appearing in person for a third. This was confusing and prevented many apprentices from pursuing their interests.
  • Data suggests that the need to replace retiring workers is greater for trades workers than for other occupations. In 2016, nearly one in three journeypersons in Ontario were aged 55 years or older.
  • Over 500 Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development inspectors are now responsible for compliance and enforcement of the trades and apprenticeship legislation.


“On behalf of the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) we applaud Minister McNaughton’s continued dedication and focus on promoting the skilled trades as a viable career path in Ontario and creating numerous opportunities for prospective workers in the industry. The launch of Skilled Trades Ontario is a critical step in eliminating barriers and time-consuming red-tape for apprenticeship training, while streamlining a worker focused approach to empower opportunities for a rewarding and lucrative career path. These welcomed changes will help to ensure that our province continues to respond to growing labour demands while empowering career building opportunities for a diverse and skilled workforce who remain at the forefront of building and strengthening critical infrastructure that our communities and economy rely on.”

– Joseph S. Mancinelli
LiUNA International Vice President and Regional Manager of Central and Eastern Canada

“The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario welcomes the establishment of Skilled Trades Ontario. We look forward to working with their leadership team to promote and strengthen the construction trades, and to ensure that Ontario leads the way with the best, safest, and most up-to-date training standards in Canada.”

– Jim Hogarth
President, Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario

“The IBEW CCO congratulates Minister Monte McNaughton on the launch of Skilled Trades Ontario. We looks forward to working with both the CEO and the Board on the important work of strengthening Ontario’s trades training system.”

– James Barry
Executive Secretary Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction Council of Ontario

“We’re optimistic that Skilled Trades Ontario is up to the challenge of building a skilled trades and apprenticeship system that’s more modern, streamlined and flexible; a system that encourages employer participation, focuses on narrowing the skills gap and showing more high school graduates and job seekers why the skilled trades are such a worthwhile career of choice.”

– Patrick McManus
Chair of the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance


Additional Resources


Media Contacts

Harry Godfrey
Minister’s Office

Kalem McSween
Communications Branch


Strong Leadership to Guide Skilled Trades Ontario

January 25, 2022

Labour, Training and Skills Development

Ontario has created a new agency, Skilled Trades Ontario, to create a more streamlined, user-friendly apprenticeship system for apprentices, workers and businesses in the skilled trades.

The new agency is led by:

Board of Directors

Michael Sherrard, Chair, is Managing Partner of Sherrard Kuzz LLP, an employment and labour law firm. He is one of Canada’s leading employment and labour lawyers, recognized by Chambers Global®, Who’s Who Legal® (Global Elite Thought Leader & Most Highly Regarded), Legal 500®, Best Lawyers® and Lexpert®. He is former Chair of the National Labour and Employment Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, and the Labour and Employment Law Section of the Ontario Bar Association.

Acclaimed for his broad range of expertise, strategic excellence, and ability to identify and broker agreement in the most difficult of circumstances, Michael is the recipient of several awards including the Construction Institute of Canada’s Chancellor’s Award of Excellence and University of New Brunswick Alumni Award of Distinction. He is dedicated to his community, serving as Director on Skills Ontario’s Board, Secretary Treasurer of Support Ontario Youth, and former Chair of the Yves Landry Foundation which advances technological education and skills training for Canada’s manufacturing and business sectors. In October 2020, the Government of Ontario appointed Michael as Chair of the Skilled Trades Panel.

Michael is bilingual and graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Education.

James Barry is the Executive Secretary Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction Council of Ontario (IBEW CCO). He is an active and passionate advocate for the skilled trades and occupational safety for more than 25 years, including his time on the Ontario-Québec Bilateral Construction Labour Mobility Committee for over a decade.

After many years spent on the tools, James became active in his local union, rising through the ranks between 1996 to 2015, and served five uncontested terms as Business Manager and Financial Secretary of IBEW Local 586 in Ottawa representing over 1,700 workers and overseeing all operations, including bargaining with over 200 signatory electrical contractors, and trusteeship of the pension and benefits fund. Since 2012, James has served as President of the IBEW CCO, and shortly after was elected and has continued to serve as the Executive Chair and Secretary Treasurer of the IBEW CCO, made up of 11 local unions and 18,000 members across the province. He also previously served in various capacities on the College of Trades.

James studied Business Management at Algonquin College and is certified as 309A Electrician in Construction and Maintenance. He is the proud father of four children, Sarah, Thomas, Clare and Patrick.

John Breslin is the Skilled Trades National Director for Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union representing over 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including more than 50,000 skilled trades workers and apprentices across Canada working in over 20 sectors.

He leads several initiatives in concert with Presidents of Unifor locals in various sectors including automotive assembly and parts, rail, mining, aerospace, hospitality and gaming, education, shipbuilding, fisheries, forestry, energy, and communications. He provides support to members, bargaining committees and national representatives regarding skilled trades related issues. John is a strong supporter of the “Women in Skilled Trades Program” that helps to promote women and underrepresented groups to have access to a career in skilled trades. He works with all levels of the federal and provincial governments, stakeholders and educational institutions to advance the profile of skilled trades across Canada. John worked at the Chrysler (now Stellantis) assembly plant in Brampton and served in various capacities including Skilled Trades Chair, and participated in the mergers of Daimler and Chrysler, and Fiat Chrysler.

John began his apprenticeship as a mechanical fitter with the British Steel Corporation in Scotland and became certified as an industrial mechanic millwright after immigrating to Canada. He is a Director on the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum’s Board and is a member of the Conference Board of Canada’s Experiential Learning Research Advisory Board.

Lindsay Engel is the Dean of Applied Science and Technology at Sheridan College, where she oversees 8,000 students across 36 programs and three campuses that span from the Magna School of Skilled Trades to computing, engineering, and architectural studies. Sheridan offers apprenticeship schooling for electrician – construction and maintenance, general machinist, tool and die, industrial mechanic millwright, degree and graduate certificates in mechanical and electrical engineering, and diploma opportunities.

Lindsay has more than a decade of experience in Ontario’s postsecondary sector, distinguished by progressively responsible strategic, leadership and management roles in both academic and research settings. Previously as Associate Dean at Fanshawe’s School of Applied Science and Technology, she led the development of a Welding Technician and Fabrication diploma program, helped create a number of pathways programming, and anchored major infrastructure investments. In her role a Research Chair, she built partnerships for research and innovation, leading to significant industry and government investment.

Lindsay holds a Master of Arts from Mount Saint Vincent University and was previously a Board of Governor with the Western Fair Association and board member with the Canadian Manufactures and Exporters – Southwestern Ontario Branch.

Michael Gallardo is the President and CEO of Merit OpenShop Contractors Association of Ontario and brings expertise in areas such as trade advocacy, safety training, workforce and leadership development, employer group benefits, contract/collective bargaining agreement expertise, and labour relations. He is a leading voice for non-union construction contractors across Ontario.

Michael brings over 20 years of industry experience, including his time at the Pipeline Contractors Association of Canada where he supported contract management and collective bargaining with unionized contractors, developed construction safety videos, management-level leadership courses for field-level personnel, business seminars, advocacy and government relations. He also worked for the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, liaising with member dealers of the Industry Relations and Legal Action Committees, automotive manufacturers and associations’ executives to advance equitable Dealer Sales and Service Agreements, and championed the National Dealer Arbitration program. He developed an effective dealer council program to enhance clear communications between dealer councils and manufacturers and played a critical role in supporting new car dealer principals for General Motors during the 2009 restructuring.

Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto and also speaks Spanish.

Lee Greenberg is a Principal at Policy Concepts Inc., a Toronto-based public affairs firm. He has experience on both sides of the media divide – as an award-winning journalist and, later, as a leader on high-profile government and corporate communications files. He specializes in multi-tiered strategies that shape narratives, build positive brands, manage reputation, and garner the right media attention.

For more than a decade, Lee led political coverage for a major Canadian daily newspaper. As Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for the Ottawa Citizen, he established the paper’s provincial political office and led coverage through three elections, two leadership contests and nine budgets. He also broke high-impact stories while covering a range of other subjects, including serving as an embedded war correspondent in Afghanistan. He is the winner of a prestigious National Newspaper Award.

Following his time in journalism, Lee served in progressively senior corporate communications roles in the energy and infrastructure sectors, then in government. He is a proud volunteer in his community, having served in numerous leadership roles and as a youth mentor with Pathways to Education.

Lee is bilingual and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western University, and a Master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh.

Ronald Kelusky was Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer from 2018 to 2021. As CPO, he renewed the province’s occupational health and safety system driven by the mission that “Prevention Works.” He worked closely with industry, labour, the WSIB, public and privately funded training providers to advance a safer workforce, and spearheaded the Ontario Government’s development of hundreds of health and safety guidelines during the COVID-19 outbreak, and the rapid deployment of antigen testing for construction sites, both of which were unanimously endorsed by employers and trade unions.

His decades of experience span the public, broader public, not for profit and private sectors. Ron was CEO of Public Services Health and Safety which is responsible for providing safety consulting and training for government, municipalities, the healthcare and education sectors. Prior to that, he was the Director General of the Canadian Red Cross where he was responsible for all programing in Ontario including health services, disaster management, safety and other programs as well as the National Lead for all health services in Canada. He also served as President of GesturTek, a health technology start-up, and Chief / General Manager of the City of Toronto’s Paramedic Services where he managed 1,200 staff and $120 million budget.

Ron holds a Master of Business Administration from Athabasca University and is a Certified Municipal Manager CMM III.

Jason Ottey is the Director of Government Relations and Communications for Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 183 where he provides direction, advocacy and strategic advice on construction-related issues at all three levels of government. LiUNA represents workers in construction, waste management, show service, and healthcare with more 100,000 members in Canada.

Prior to joining LiUNA Local 183, Jason was the Director of Research and Policy for Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), where he represented the interests of single and multi-family residential builders across the Greater Toronto Area. He was the Managing Director of Ontario Residential Council of Construction Associations and was appointed Executive Director of the Durham Residential Construction Labour Bureau. He previously played a leadership role in the creation of the Construction Employers Coalition for the WSIB and Workplace Health Safety where he was appointed Chair. He also served as Chair of the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association Residential Sector Labour Management Committee.

Jason holds a Master of Arts from McMaster University and Master of Industrial Relations from the University of Toronto.

Kenneth Scott Player, now retired, is a former financial executive with Chief Financial Officer experience from 1997-2006. He has diverse board experience of over 25 years, including both profit and not-for-profit organizations, representing multiple industries, as well as domestic and international geographies.

Scott’s corporate career spans over 30 years with major international organizations, including Enbridge in Canada, overseeing various departments for Enbridge in Eastern Canada, including: Finance, IT, Engineering, Environmental Health and Safety, Property and Facilities, Procurement and Logistics, and Customer Care. He also served on the boards of Enbridge Distribution Management Services, Enbridge Gas New Brunswick, Gazifere (Quebec), Niagara Gas, RTICA, St. Lawrence Gas, and Wirebury. Scott also held various leadership roles with Unilever in the United States, The Molson Companies Limited, the Canadian arm of British-based Rio Tinto Zinc, and the Bank of Montreal.

Scott is the former Chair of the Fanshawe College Board of Governors, former Chair of the Finance Committee of St Joseph’s Healthcare, and a former Audit Committee Chair of Canadian Commercial Corporation. He is a Certified Director (McMaster) and holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration from Western University.

Karen Renkema-Millar is Ontario Vice President of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA), the voice of progressive unionized employers in Canada’s construction industry whose member companies employ more than 25,000 skilled construction workers across Canada. PCA provides advocacy, labour-management advice, networking opportunities, and organizational services to its members.

Karen has spent more than 15 years advocating for employers in the construction industry on issues ranging from skills training and labour force development to procurement, labour relations, and health and safety. She served as an inaugural member of then-Minister Chris Bentley’s Apprenticeship Committee in 2007, an advisor on Buildforce Canada stakeholder committees, and Chair of the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance (OSTA), an association made up of 37 organizations – including the Ontario General Contractors Association, Ontario Home Builders’ Association, Ontario Hair Stylists Association, and Trillium Automobile Dealers Association – who employ over 100,000 skilled tradespeople.

Karen has also worked with the Council of Ontario Construction Associations and the Ontario Road Builders’ Association. Throughout her career, she has been a passionate advocate for advancing careers in the skilled trades. She also spends time in her local community, volunteering on school and community initiatives.

Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts from Calvin University.

Christine Wellenreiter, CM, ICD.D, is Director of Strategy and Market Support for Canada Life’s group retirement area and member of Great-West Lifeco’s Sustainable Investment Council. She has over 20 years of investment and marketing experience with a focus on responsible investing, bringing competitive products to market for group, retail, and institutional wealth and asset management organizations.

Prior to her role with Canada Life, Christine held the position of Vice President of Marketing and Communications for GLC Asset Management Group Ltd., where her capital market insights appeared in nationally distributed pieces for over a decade. Her business acumen and depth of experiences in strategic marketing, branding, and digital strategy adoption are reflected in her straightforward communication style and execution effectiveness. Some notable projects include the launch of Canada’s first sustainable target date funds for the group retirement marketplace, leading the amalgamation rebranding strategy of GLC Asset Management, and developing and executing on commitments to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.

She is deeply rooted in her community, having served as a former provincially appointed member of the London Police Services Board, Chair of the Thames Valley Children’s Centre Board, member of Program Advisory Councils for the Lawrence Kinlin School of Business, and inaugural co-chair of Canada Life’s Young Professionals Employee Resource Group.

Christine is bilingual, earned her Chartered Marketer and ICD.D (Institute of Corporate Directors) designations, Bachelor of Arts and Certificat de Français pratique from Western University.

Melissa Young, Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, is a results-oriented, bilingual change leader who has over 20 years of experience in workforce development and the skilled trades. Her work focused on promoting the trades, harmonizing apprenticeships, developing partnerships with First Nations communities, Indigenous groups, labour and management, and influencing the national landscape for apprenticeship.

Prior to leading Skilled Trades Ontario, Melissa was the Executive Director of the National Electrical Trade Council (NETCO), an alliance of the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to promote national Red Seal standards and safety in electrical skills training. Between 2000 and 2009, Melissa was the Executive Director of the Carpenters Training Centre of New Brunswick, where under her leadership the training institute grew by more than ten-fold.

Melissa has served as past Chair of the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship’s Communication and Promotion Committee and Board member of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum. She was also appointed to the Government of Ontario’s Skilled Trades Panel which consulted extensively and produced a report that informed the development of the Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act, 2021, the landmark legislation which modernized Ontario’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system.

Scroll to Top