A big thanks goes out to those that laid the groundwork here - including Premier McGuinty and my former boss Minister Brad Duguid. Ontario's sustainable energy technology programs are helping build a skilled workforce to meet the demand for clean energy jobs and strengthen the province's position as a clean energy leader in North America.
Yesterday, Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley visited Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie to speak to students in the Renewable Energy and Green Construction Techniques program, where they are training to be the next generation of highly-skilled workers in the provinces growing clean-energy industry. Ontario has introduced new postsecondary and apprenticeship programs focused on sustainable energy technology. Sault College is one of 13 colleges and three universities that offer programs related to clean energy. Program graduates will be in a position to assist with feasibility assessments, renewable energy system installations, and green construction and renovation.
Supporting the next generation of clean-energy workers, while building a clean energy system is part of the McGuinty government's plan to create and support jobs for Ontario families while ensuring we have the electricity we need to power our homes, schools, hospitals and our economy.
President of Sault College was quoted as saying, "Environmental education is more than a program at Sault College - it is part of the college's strategic focus. Helping to conserve our environment for future learners is no longer a choice; it's an obligation that we strive to fulfil. The rising demand for environmentally-friendly approaches is inspiring the creation of a growing number of green jobs in Ontario and the training we deliver at Sault College prepares our graduates to be successful in this emerging sector."
But this program isn't limited to the Soo. In Ontario, there are 120,000 apprentices learning a trade today -- which is nearly 60,000 more than in 2002-03 - which will help Ontario meet its target for clean, renewable energy from wind, solar and bioenergy of 10,700 MW by 2018 - the equivalent of taking up to 2.9 million homes off the grid. So far, Ontario has brought more than 9,000 megawatts of new and refurbished clean energy online - enough to power cities the size of Ottawa and Toronto.
And the best part? In an attempt to encourage attendees to the program by keeping the cost of postsecondary tuition within everyone's reach, the McGuinty Government is providing a grant to reduce undergraduate college and university tuition by an average of 30 per cent for families earning less than $160,000 per year.