Canada Job Grant deal reached with all provinces except Quebec

posted on February 27, 2014

By Susana Mas, the Globe and Mail | Link to Article

By Susana Mas, the Globe and Mail | Link to Article

After months of back-and-forth negotiations, all territories and provinces with the exception of Quebec have accepted “a compromise” deal on the Canada Job Grant, a centrepiece proposal made by the federal government during last year’s budget, CBC News has learned.

The premiers accepted Kenney’s final offer after discussing it during a phone call Thursday afternoon, sources told CBC News.

The provinces say the final offer is “a good compromise” they can work with, a source close to the negotiations told CBC News on Thursday.

A different source told CBC News, “today was only possible because provinces and territories united as one.”

While some provinces still have concerns that need ironing out with Ottawa, the source told CBC News provinces and territories have “agreed in principle.”

“Though not perfect, this represents an improvement from the original offer from the federal government,” the source said.

The provinces say the final offer Kenney sent them last Friday moved a long way from the original proposal made in the March 2013 federal budget. The proposal came as a surprise because they were not consulted on it.

Quebec will continue to negotiate directly with Kenney as it is still seeking an option to opt out with full compensation.

While a formal response to Kenney’s final offer is currently being drafted, the announcement is not expected to be made public until Friday morning.

The Canada Job Grant has been touted as the government’s effort to match skilled workers with unfilled jobs.

Kenney’s final offer gives the provinces the liberty to choose where the funds for the grant will come from, but the provinces will still have to find internal savings to protect current programs they say are helping Canada’s most vulnerable.

Nova Scotia, for instance, refused to say there was a deal when reached by CBC News on Thursday. The province is still concerned about having enough funding to cover skills training programs which have been proven to work.

Provincial ministers responsible for overseeing the implementation of the grant were positive about Kenney’s final offer earlier this week.

Ontario’s Brad Duguid, one of the grant’s most vocal critics welcomed Kenney’s final offer on Monday, saying it was “a positive development and a positive response.”

Kenney said he had spoken to a number of provincial ministers who said they were very pleased with the flexibility the final offer had shown.

The federal minister said there had been “a gradual meeting of the minds.”

The grant will allow employers to offer workers up to $15,000 in training toward an open job.

Kenney’s final offer gives the provinces an extra three months, until July 1, to get the grant up and running.

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