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Ontario Premier Doug Ford says this week’s provincial budget will include $224-million more to build and upgrade training centres, as part of a push to boost the skilled trades.

The government says applications for a new Skills Development Fund capital stream are set to open in the late spring for groups including unions, businesses, industry associations and Indigenous centres to build new training centres, or upgrade or convert existing facilities.

Ontario also plans to spend $75-million more over the next three years to support operations at those centres, as Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says the province is facing the largest labour shortage in a generation.

The province’s Financial Accountability Office released a labour market report today, saying that both job creation and long-term job vacancies are at record levels.

The FAO says Ontario’s employment rose by 338,300 jobs in 2022, and when combined with job gains in 2021, it marks the strongest two-year period on record.

However the fiscal watchdog also says that 36.3 per cent of all job vacancies in the third quarter of 2022 were positions that had been unfilled for 90 days or more, the highest on record.