By Russell Piffer
Provincial governments are up in arms over the Canada Job Grant announced in Thursday’s federal budget, which they say will hamper their ability to manage their own economies.
“This is an economic sabotage exercise,” Quebec Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau said in a statement Thursday.
The Canada Job Grant, is aimed at training Canadians in sectors like health care and skilled construction trades that have a worker shortage.
According to a statement on the Government of Canada’s website, the grant will provide $15,000 or more per person in job training with up to $5,000 provided by the federal government. That amount will be matched by the province or territory and the employer.
“For the first time, the Canada Job Grant will take skills-training choices out of the hands of government and put them where they belong in the hands of employers and Canadians who want to work,” the statement said.Marceau said in his statement that the grant will slash $70 million annually from transfer payments to Quebec for job training programs and make it more difficult for job-seekers to access funds.
“Why does Canada want to duplicate what Emploi-Québec is doing already and, by the same token, force workers to knock on two doors instead of just one?” Marceau said in the statement.
In Ontario, the government receives $194 million a year from its current labour market agreement with the federal government, to provide skills development and employment services to under-represented groups like immigrants, Aboriginal peoples, youth and people with disabilities.
“Ontario already invests significant resources, supported by existing federal funding, to achieve results for both employers and those looking to upgrade their skills and find work,” Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in a statement Thursday.
“We are concerned that the conditions on a large portion of the renewed funding to deliver the new Canada Job Grant could force the province to divert existing resources that serve under-represented groups, to this new federally-designed program,” Sousa said.
The Ontario Second Career program, for laid-off workers with low education levels provides up to $28,000 per person in education subsidies.
According to Sousa’s statement, more than 290,000 Ontarians received training and employment assistance from Employment Ontario in 2012. The agency also connected over 90,000 employers with qualified employees, the statement said.
The current labour market agreements expire in 2014 and new agreements with the provinces will be negotiated around the Canada Job Grant, the Government of Canada said.
2013 Federal Budget Highlights
No new taxes or tax cuts
Infusion of $14.4 billion over 10 years into urban infrastructure development
Canada Job Grant to train Canadians in areas where more workers are needed
$4 million over three years to for provinces to create opportunities for apprentices
$70 million over three years to support 5,000 additional paid internships for recent post-secondary grads
$241 million over five years to improve the on-reserve Income Assistance Program for First Nations
$8 million to refurbish Toronto’s Massey Hall
Tax relief for manufacturing sector
CIDA to become part of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Elimination of tariffs on most sporting goods and children’s clothing