Provinces call on Ottawa to reconsider changes to skills training

Concerns over diverting current funding toward Canada Jobs Grant

Canada’s provincial and territorial labour ministers are urging the federal government to reconsider proposed changes to current skills training and labour market funding.

The labour ministers recently met to discuss the renewal of Labour Market Agreements that are slotted to expire in April 2014.

The ministers expressed concern that the proposed Canada Job Grant, which would involve diverting current funding, would jeopardize the success of the programming that is already in place.

The federal proposal would take $600 million per year out of current programming that improves labour market participation for underrepresented groups such as youth, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal people, recent immigrants, long-term unemployed, social assistance recipients and older workers.

Current Labour Market Agreements are already effective, the ministers argue, with 86 per cent of clients holding employment after leaving the program compared to 44 per cent before entering the program. There is an increase of $323 per week in average earnings after clients complete the program.

Most small and medium-sized businesses would not be able to participate in the proposed new program because it requires businesses to cost-match the program. Also, the flexibility of tailoring the programs to a specific province would be lost, as the new proposal sets forth a “one-size-fits-all” approach, the ministers said.

The provinces and territories have jurisdiction over skills training and labour market programs, and invested about $22 billion on post-secondary education and skills development last year.

The provincial ministers are asking that federal funding agreements such as the Canada Job Grant allow jurisdictions to opt out and receive full compensation.

The ministers will meet with the federal minister this fall to further discuss the issue.

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