The Council of the Federation — comprising Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial premiers — continue to have concerns with the proposed Canada Job Grant.
In the 2013 budget, the federal government announced its intention to change the way it contributes to training programs in Canada. It could potentially provide $15,000 or more per person, including a maximum federal contribution of $5,000 and matching by provinces or territories and employers.
Businesses with a plan to train unemployed and underemployed Canadians for an existing job or a better job will be eligible to apply for the Grant. The federal government said it expects to provide nearly 130,000 people each year with access to training at eligible institutions, including community colleges, career colleges and trade union training centres.
The Canada Job Grant will be introduced as part of the renewal of the Labour Market Agreements in 2014-15.
But, if implemented, it would effectively remove all of the funding for labour market agreement programming, said the Council of the Federation, meeting in Niagara, Ont., this week.
“It would require provinces and territories to find more than $600 million in additional funding to maintain current labour market training programs for vulnerable people as well as funding for cost-matching of federal programs. Furthermore, it is unclear if employers, particularly small businesses, will participate,” it said. “Federal funding agreements or initiatives such as the proposed Canada Job Grant must allow jurisdictions to opt out, with full compensation.”
The federal government should collaborate with provinces and territories and support them in a way they can ensure the most effective and successful programs will continue to benefit Canadians, said the council.
“While premiers support involvement by employers in skills and job training and targeting programs to better meet employers’ needs, they are concerned that the proposed changes would jeopardize the success of current training programs already in place, particularly those programs that help the most vulnerable people who need additional supports to find jobs.
But Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) cited “widespread” support for the Canada Job Grant from several organizations, providing quotes from press releases issued in March:
• "The training and development of Canada's workforce is critical to the country's competitiveness and economic growth potential, and we applaud the government for developing the Canada Job Grant, creating opportunities for apprentices, providing support to underrepresented groups and promoting education and careers in high demand fields to take action on this important challenge,” said Jim Burpee, president and CEO of the Canadian Electricity Association.
•"Thanks to the reforms proposed in this budget, including the new Canada Job Grant, an increased number of unemployed and underemployed Canadians will be able to obtain the training that they need to access jobs that are in demand now, and will be in the future," said Serge Buy, CEO of the National Association of Career Colleges. "The 2013 budget introduced by this government will benefit Canadian job-seekers as well employers seeking qualified and skilled employees.”
"The labour market challenges are the number one concern of our members. We were pleased with the announcement of the Canada Job Grant, and attempts to match jobs with people within Canada, especially with initiatives concerning apprenticeships, internships, and interprovincial and international accreditation. All of these measures will help match people to jobs,” said the St. John's Board of Trade.
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