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Canada and the Provinces / New voucher plan for training being weighed by Flaherty to replace agreements

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty this morning met with Canada’s largest trades union, the AFL-CIO, to discuss transferring nearly $2 billion of funding for labour training from the provinces to a voucher system for individuals ahead of the 2013 budget.

The transfer was part of a broader discussion between Flaherty and Robert Blakely, the chief operating officer of Canada’s Building Trades Union, the union’s top government advisor Christopher Smillie told iPolitics. Smillie also attended the meeting. The topic of the meeting was a discussion on possible changes to the way the federal government delivers funding for skills training…

Under the new plan being weighed by Flaherty, that same money would go to provincial labour departments, where it would be given to Canadians in the form of vouchers to enrol in apprenticeship programs at Smillie’s union and trades schools.

The new program would allow any willing Canadian to enter an apprenticeship program — currently restricted to union members — Smillie said.

“If changes are made, we will know where the money is going and how many people are being trained. This will assist in the skills shortage.”

The proposal asked the federal government to transfer federal money for labour training from provinces to unemployed Canadians in the form of a voucher program.

Currently, about $1.95 billion in ‘Labour Market Development Agreement’ funds is transferred annually from the federal government to provincial labour departments, which issue the money to training centers. Critics argue the money receives little oversight and has failed to train enough construction apprentices to supply the booming energy sector. Canada’s growing energy industry faces a shortage of about 100,000 construction workers over the next seven years.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor 

iPolitics Canada

via Flaherty weighing $2B voucher plans for labour training | iPolitics.

Ontario’s Minister of Training Reaction

Reports of federal budget plan to end the transfer of $2 billion to provinces to train those who qualify for Employment Insurance appears to have already cause a rift between Ottawa and the country’s largest province.Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said in an interview with Global News that the reversal would be a waste of resources and would hurt out-of-work Ontarians.

“This appears to be a bit of a trial balloon, potentially, and if that’s the case, my preference would be to shoot it down right now,” said Duguid.

Instead of giving money to the provinces to create programs for skills training, the Conservative government is said to be favouring a voucher system for individuals administered at the federal level.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty refused to address the issue in Question Period Tuesday, saying the upcoming budget will include “positive initiatives to create jobs, growth and long term prosperity, and I won’t speculate on the contents of the budget other than that.”

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor 

Capture d’écran 2013-03-05 à 20.48.29

via Global News | Ontario wants feds to shoot down $2 billion EI budget plan.

Opposition calls for details on $2 billion labour transfer

Liberal leader Bob Rae and an opposition lawmaker are demanding Finance Minister Jim Flaherty reveal details on his plans to transfer nearly $2 billion in labour training funds from the provinces to training schools.

Speaking in question period, Rae called on Flaherty to consult with the House on the plan, which has the support of Canada’s biggest trades union and is expected to be announced in the upcoming budget.

Flaherty discussed the plan Thursday during a meeting with representatives from the Building Trades Union, Canada’s AFL-CIO arm, iPolitics first reported Thursday. The meeting focused on possible changes to the way the federal government delivers funding for skills training.

Little else is known about the deal. Rae called on Flaherty to divulge details about the plan before it is put into law.

“The question is, now that the cat is out of the bag with respect to the $2 billion program which the government is intending to recapture and take away from the provinces, does the prime minister not agree that is now time to consult, not broadly, simply saying it is consulting with all Canadians at all times, but to sit down with the provinces and talk about this program before the government suddenly announces it, springing it on the people?”

Rae said the fact that Finance has not disclosed details of the plan fits the department’s “pattern of secrecy and the abuse of Parliament by the government.”

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor  

iPolitics Canada

via Opposition calls for details on $2 billion labour transfer | iPolitics.


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