Ottawa promises it will compromise on Canada Job Grant

Provinces, territories and business leaders unite against grant
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 10/09/2013

Jason Kenney, the federal minister responsible for the Canada Job Grant, has reportedly promised provinces and territories the new grant program will be flexible to their needs.

Kenney recently wrote to premiers to assure them the federal government is willing to compromise on its proposed plan after provincial and territorial leaders united with businesses against the Canada Job Grant, the Toronto Star reports.

The grant requires employers as well as provincial or territorial governments to match its contributions toward training and skills development.

The grant will provide up to $5,000 per person for a maximum of $15,000 per person after contributions from employers and provincial government. The money would be used to train an employee for a specific job and the grant proposal estimates that once the program is fully implemented as many as 130,000 Canadians will have access to training every year.

The federal government encouraged employers to pool their resources in order to match the funds supplied through the grant, promoting the formation of employer groups or business consortiums.

The Canada Job Grant was met with significant resistance from provincial and territorial governments. The labour market ministers of every province and territory co-published the report “Building Skills Together” on Sept. 24 to express their concerns.

“When fully implemented, the proposal would take $600 million per year away from programs for vulnerable workers, and the Canada Job Grant is not likely to support these vulnerable clients,” the report read. Because workers need the backing of an employer to be eligible for the grant many workers who benefit from the current system — including youth, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal people, recent immigrants and older workers — could be placed at a distinct disadvantage.

“It would divert funding from existing provincial and territorial programs that are delivering good results.”

The report also expressed concern that smaller Canadian businesses would be unable to produce the funds necessary to participate in the program and would suffer as a result.

“Provinces and territories look forward to working with the federal government to ensure that labour market funding agreements support programs that work for all regions and labour markets across Canada.”

Earlier in October Kenney told CTV, “We hope we can work out a flexible arrangement with the provinces, but if not we’re going to go ahead ourselves and administer directly a federal jobs grant.”

But based on Kenney’s recent comments it appears the federal government is willing to compromise and eager to do so before Kenney meets with provincial and territorial leaders for face-to-face negotiations on Nov. 8.

The Canada Job Grant is scheduled to begin next year.

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