Ontario To Invest In Training For Jobs In Harness Racing

Harness racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park

The Ontario government is investing $2.1 million to train workers for rewarding careers in the horse racing industry. This new training program will provide 250 participants with free training, up to $3,000 to cover expenses, and paid work placements. Employers can also receive up to $1,000 per hire.

Details were shared by Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, joined by Donna Skelly, MPP for Flamborough—Glanbrook, Bob Bailey, MPP for Sarnia—Lambton, Randy Pettapiece, MPP for Perth—Wellington, and Bill Walker, MPP for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, at the Ancaster Fairgrounds in Jerseyville.

“Our horse racing industry is something everyone in our province should take pride in, but many farms, racetracks and training centres are having difficulty finding workers with the skills they need,” said Minister McNaughton. “This investment will ensure these growing businesses can find the talent they need while connecting local people with training for careers they can take pride in.”

The horse racing and breeding sector contributes $2.3 billion annually to Ontario’s economy but continues to face a shortage of workers, with over 1,000 jobs going unfilled in September 2021. Today’s investment will help the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA) develop and deliver a training program that teaches participants about horse behavior, handling and care, nutrition, and safety in stables.

“Grooms and caretakers are fundamental to the health, welfare, and safety of the horses, and therefore are critical to the success of our industry,” said Jim Whelan, President of the Ontario Harness Horse Association. “This project is an incredible opportunity for unemployed and under-employed job seekers in small-town Ontario who are eager for a rewarding career in the equine industry.”

The OHHA is using a training curriculum it has developed in close cooperation with Equine Guelph and local employers. The course includes eight weeks of online academic instruction, followed by paid work placements of six to 12 weeks at local employers.

“These programs open doors to young people who have never worked with horses but would embrace a career in the horse industry” said MPP Skelly. “The equine sector needs to fill job vacancies and this program connects trained job seekers with racing industry employers.”

This training project is supported through labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. People interested in the program can contact Jim Whelan, President, Ontario Harness Horse Association, at 519-770-5184 for more information. The program runs until October 31, 2022.

(Government of Ontario)