Canada Job Grant endangers programs for vulnerable workers, Ontario warns

posted on January 20, 2014

By Bill Curry, the Globe and Mail | Link to Article

By Bill Curry, the Globe and Mail | Link to Article

Ontario is warning it will soon have to cut training programs aimed at vulnerable Canadians including youth and the disabled as negotiations drag on over Ottawa’s proposed Canada Job Grant.

The new training scheme was first proposed by Ottawa in last year’s federal budget and was supposed to begin April 1, but there is still no deal with the provinces.

Ontario Training Minister Brad Duguid said the main objection remains: Ottawa plans on paying for its share of the program by cutting transfers to the provinces aimed at “under-represented” groups, including immigrants, persons with disabilities, aboriginal people, youth and older workers.

“The clock is ticking,” said Mr. Duguid, who said provinces must soon decide whether to start cancelling some of these programs as of April 1. “Provinces and territories are in a very awkward position of not knowing whether we’re going to have to cut some of those programs to accommodate the federal government’s Canada Job Grant,” he said.

A spokesperson for federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney said any provincial decision to cut programs would be a “political” move.

“We still have not received a counter offer to the offer we sent the provinces a month ago,” Nick Koolsbergen said.

Ottawa’s original plan was to create a grant worth up to $15,000 that Canadians could use to receive training for a specific job opening. Ottawa wanted the cost of each grant to be shared three ways among the federal and provincial governments and a business.

Ottawa plans to pay for its share of the grants by cutting transfers to the provinces for training by $300-million a year. Provinces were also being asked to find an additional $300-million to pay for the matching share of the grants, but Mr. Kenney waived that requirement in his latest proposal, which was delivered to the provinces on Dec. 24.

That concession was welcomed publicly by some premiers, but provincial labour ministers who took a closer look at Ottawa’s latest offer rejected it during a Friday conference call and are planning to send Mr. Kenney a counter-proposal.

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