Throne speech has HR spin

Skills training, palliative care and immigration are on Chretien's ambitious social agenda

The recent speech from the throne took aim at a number of issues important to human resource professionals, as the federal government laid out an ambitious social agenda. Among the areas of interest to HR professionals are a focus on skills training, elder care and immigration.

Skills training

Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, reading the speech from the throne that laid out the plans of the prime minister for his final 17 months in office, put the spotlight on the importance of skills training to the future of the country.

“The economy of the 21st century will need workers who are lifelong learners, who can respond and adapt to change. Canada’s labour market programs must be transformed to meet this challenge. To this end, the government will work with Canadians, provinces, sector councils, labour organizations and learning institutions to create the skills and learning architecture that Canada needs, and to promote workplace learning. This will include building our knowledge and reporting to Canadians about what is working and what is not.”

Changing employment needs of young Canadians

Prime Minister Jean Chretien also put training youth on the agenda, warning that government strategies must keep pace with the changing employment needs of young Canadians.

“Working with youth and other partners, the government will redirect its resources in this area to develop skills for the future and to help those who face the greatest barriers to employment. It will also work with the provinces to fast-track a comprehensive agreement to remove barriers to participation in work and learning for persons with disabilities.”

Aboriginal training

The government also plans to help Aboriginal people by increasing support for Aboriginal Business Canada. It plans to tailor training programs to help Aboriginal and Inuit people participate in economic opportunities, and wants to promote entrepreneurial skills and job creation in the community.

Immigration

The speech underlined the government’s commitment to keeping Canada’s doors open to immigrants.

“One of Canada’s greatest assets — and a unique advantage in a globalized world — is our openness to immigrants from every corner of the globe. The demographic realities of an aging population and slowing labour force growth place an even greater premium on this immigration advantage. Canada must continue to be the country that immigrants choose to find hope, hospitality and opportunity.”

The government also plans to make changes to allow skilled workers with jobs waiting for them to enter the country faster.

“The government will work with its partners to break down the barriers to the recognition of foreign credentials and will fast-track skilled workers entering Canada with jobs already waiting for them. It will also position Canada as a destination of choice for talented foreign students and skilled workers by more aggressively selecting and recruiting through universities and in key embassies abroad.”

Palliative care

The government also signalled its intention to help working Canadians care for family members who are gravely ill.

“The government will also modify existing programs to ensure that Canadians can provide compassionate care for a gravely ill or dying child, parent or spouse without putting their jobs or income at risk.”

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