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Green party pledges free tuition for students training for 'green economy' jobs

"The bottom line is we cannot afford to wait.”

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The Liberal and New Democrat environmental policies are not aggressive enough to address climate change, Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner said Friday while announcing free tuition for students pursuing “green economy” jobs.

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With the threat of those two established parties swaying eco-conscious voters with their environmental platform planks, Schreiner said the Greens are the only ones treating climate change with the urgency it deserves.

“Unfortunately the Liberal plan especially, but the NDP plan as well, just lacks the ambition that’s needed to fully address the climate crisis,” Schreiner said at a policy announcement in London Friday morning. “Because of the growth of the Green party, because of how effective we’ve been at Queen’s Park, we’ve seen other parties putting forward plans to address climate change, we just need them to be more aggressive.

“The bottom line is we cannot afford to wait.”

Schreiner on Friday announced the party’s plan to bolster Ontario jobs by offering free tuition to 60,000 students training or retraining in green sectors. The party would target recruitment to women, Indigenous people, and racialized communities.

The Green party initiative would unfold during four years and primarily involve college training programs in the trades.

“That’s where we have the biggest shortage. One of the barriers to unrolling something like a green building retrofit program is the labour force shortages we’re facing in the trades,” Schreiner said. “There are so many young people who want well-paying jobs and meaningful careers in helping to address the climate crisis. Here is a perfect opportunity for them to be able to achieve that.”

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The Green party leader made the announcement at a veterinary office with an on-site solar installation in west London Friday.

Schreiner is the first major party leader to campaign in London during the 2022 election writ period. He was scheduled to speak at a rally in Caledon Friday evening.

The Greens do not yet have candidates in all 124 Ontario ridings but are committed to running a full slate, Schreiner said Friday. The party has four vacancies to fill provincewide, including in Sarnia-Lambton and Essex.

“Every person in every riding in this province should have the opportunity to vote Green and to vote for the Ontario they want to build,” Schreiner said. “We need more Green MPPs.”

Schreiner became the Green party’s first-ever MPP in the Ontario legislature in 2018, winning in an open race in the Guelph riding with 45 per cent of the vote. The New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives in Guelph were in a dead heat with about 21 per cent of the vote each.

The Greens received about 4.6 per cent of the overall vote in 2018 and 4.89 per cent of the vote in the 2015 provincial election.

jbieman@postmedia.com

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