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Canada – Ontario – Quebec / A confrontation emerges on workforce training

The Minister of Finance of Canada, M. Jim Flaherty and his colleague Human Resources and Skills Development, Mrs. Diane Finley launched theirs courses of action in workforce training last week. It might be a political football, but Quebec and Ontario were fast to react.

Those reactions are certainly fuelled by the media, as always. Ottawa would ‘cut’ in the amounts allocated to the agreements in this area says a journalist on Radio-Canada.

M. Flaherty and Mrs. Finley statements focus on the need to revive apprenticeship programs, which are badly affected by the devaluation of vocational training. In doing so, they seek to address labour shortages, citing in particular the energy sector in Alberta. We find there the same motives as in the case of the Employment Insurance new provisions.

The problem with apprenticeship is not only the insufficient number of participants. The problem is also that apprentices are, on average, 27 years old, at least a few years ago, and they are hardly likely to complete their studies, less than 5.0% getting their ‘diploma’.

While 95% of apprentices in Canada who do not get a ‘degree’, the last thing the labour market needs is a federal-provincial dispute. With a dropout rates so high, we can say that this way of learning in Canada, including Ontario and Quebec, is in crisis.

Any part of the solution will require a bit of each government. For instance, it is true that education is a provincial responsibility, but provinces must also take into consideration the fact that the income support of the apprentices comes from the Employment Insurance Plan, a federal jurisdiction.

Faced with such dismal results, all actors, from the private sector or the governments involved have to work together to improve the situation. But they must first recognize the problem without hiding behind the constitutional division of powers argument, on the backs of young people who engage in the business of learning.

Michel Cournoyer

Job Market Monitor Editor

En français @

Canada – Québec – Ontario / Un affrontement se dessine en matière de formation sur le dos des jeunes


Le ministre des Finances du Canada, M Jim Flaherty et sa collègue de Développement des ressources humaines et des compétences, Mme Diane Finley, ont lancé des pistes d’actions en matière de formation de la main-d’œuvre. Ballon politique ? Les réactions du Québec et de l’Ontario n’ont pas tardées. Les réactions sont alimentées par les médias qui entretiennent … Lire la suite »

Related article

Ottawa set to cancel $2B in EI training transfers to the provinces

The federal piggy bank is empty, but Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is still obliged to bring down a budget this month. What to do? How about shuffle some money around that Ottawa is already transferring to the provinces to carry out training and call it a skills budget? Bingo.

The downside is that the provinces will howl because the amount in question is not chump change. Ottawa writes cheques worth nearly $2-billion to provinces to train those who qualify for Employment Insurance. It transfers a further $500-million under labour market agreements to train those not eligible for EI. From Ottawa’s vantage point, there are few strings attached and the provinces have carte blanche to spend the money as they see fit.

Mr. Flaherty’s argument is said to be that the provinces are producing uneven results that do not address the skills shortages identified by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce as the number one barrier to competitiveness in this country. He has already lined up supporters for his new initiative from all sides of the political spectrum.

Chris Smillie, head of government relations at Canada’s Building Trades Unions, said that the country faces being left behind unless it can upgrade its skills. “This issue is non-partisan and has broad-based support from employers, purchasers of construction and the skilled unions,” he said.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor 

FireShot Screen Capture #021 - 'Jason Kenney opens door to 3,000 skilled trade workers to fill ‘serious’ labour shortages I Canada I News I National Post' - news_nationalpost_com_2012_12_10_new-immigration-program-will

via Ottawa set to cancel $2B in EI training transfers to the provinces | Full Comment | National Post.

Related Posts

Canada / The Trouble With Apprenticeship / Overall completion rate was 4.9% in 2007


Skilled labour shortages are expected in Canada. Apprenticeship is seen by many as one of the best ways to provide for a supply of skills matching industry needs. The German model is praised around the world, exported and copied elsewhere. What about the system in Canada? Statistics Canada has published a study by Christine Laporte … Continue reading »

Canada / Failure to graduate enough tradespeople has been a constant for decades


Canada’s failure to graduate enough tradespeople has been a constant for decades. While Canada had nearly 400,000 registered apprentices in 2010, less than 50 per cent went on to obtain their certifications. Most dropouts leave because current policies make it impossible for them to stay… The average starting age of an apprentice is 27. Surveys … Continue reading »

Canada / The Government Training Agenda


Speaking at the Canada 2020 Conference on Skilled Trades in the Energy Sector in Ottawa Feb. 28, Diane Finley, minister of human resources and skills development, noted labour shortages and skills mismatches have become a “dominant policy concern.” A number options are under consideration, including: • Helping Canadians make more informed career choices, including at …Continue reading »

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 … Continue reading »

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