Canada Job Grants: Provinces, Ottawa Reach Deal On Funding

Read the original article here.

[This deal results in less money overall for people who need training; it still specifically diverts funding away from marginalized groups. But that, clearly, is fine by the Provinces as long as it doesn't increase Provincial debt. Thus, taking money away from the Provinces, but not forcing them to also pay extra for that privilege is what Kenney calls "a win-win for both sides." Incidentally, why don't the corporations who are uselessly sitting on billions of dollars of profits pay for the missing one-third of dollars from the original proposal? *RON*]

By Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press, 02/28/2014

OTTAWA - Ottawa has reached a deal on the Canada Job Grant with all the provinces and territories except Quebec, Employment Minister Jason Kenney said Friday.

"At the end of the day, this will be a win-win for both sides," Kenney told a news conference at the Manning convention, an annual networking conference of conservatives.

He made the announcement during an address to the convention while former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, the conference's namesake, beamed on from the front row of the audience. The crowd applauded when Kenney announced the deal on the crown jewel of the government's 2013 budget.

Yet despite Kenney's triumphant announcement, there are still holdouts.

The feds are still in discussions with Quebec; a source tells The Canadian Press that a deal may be imminent. Quebec has long balked at the idea of the federal government treading on what is seen as an area of provincial jurisdiction.

And Nova Scotia officials still have reservations about the Canada Job Grant as Ottawa works to determine their stumbling blocks. All of the provinces except Quebec still have to work out the details bilaterally with the federal Conservatives, the source said.

Kenney said he planned to have further "productive" discussions on the Canada Job Grant later Friday with Quebec Labour Minister Agn├Ęs Maltais. He added that Quebec has a unique work training program favoured by Ottawa because it so heavily involves employers.

The deal on the Canada Job Grant allows the provinces and territories much more flexibility in how they fund the Canada Job Grant, a previous sticking point during months of negotiations.

Provinces were loath to take their $300-million share of the job grant entirely from the so-called labour market agreement, a federal transfer that pays for job training for the country's most marginalized citizens — those who don't qualify for employment insurance.

"That effectively means that provinces that decide to deliver the job grant would not have to reallocate any money out of the labour market agreement itself," Kenney said.

Instead, the minister added, he's directed the provinces to direct their funds to "employer-led" training. Labour market studies have shown Canadian employers used to provide job training relatively robustly in the early 1990s, but have dropped off significantly in recent years.

Almost all the provinces and territories said earlier this week they supported Kenney's latest offer and the premiers reached an agreement in principle during a conference call Thursday.

Concerns remain, nonetheless, that the deal still represents a cut in funding to the provinces and territories.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, also at the Manning convention on Friday, said he was pleased by the deal because it requires employer involvement.

"There's a better chance that there's meaningful employment if the employer is part of the training investment," he said.

He added Kenney made a "significant move" earlier this month on the job grant that allowed the provinces to sign on.

Originally, the plan aimed to provide $15,000 for each eligible worker, with the cost divided equally between Ottawa, the provinces and employers.

But the provinces and territories refused, saying Ottawa would claw back federal cash for successful job-training programs run by the provinces, while forcing them to find millions more to cover their portion of the grant.