When the premiers of the four Atlantic provinces met on April 29, their joint communiqué noted “significant concerns with the recent unilateral decisions of the federal government regarding skills, training and employment supports.”
The four provinces expressed concerns about the Canada Job Grant, “particularly the ability of small-and medium-sized businesses to participate in the program.”
The premiers’ statement said they wanted “clarity on the design of the program” and suggested that opting out was a possibility.
“Premiers will consider if the program meets the needs of the provincial economies and labour markets, and whether the provinces will participate in the program or opt out with full compensation,” the joint statement said.
Finley’s office did not say Tuesday that provinces could opt out with full compensation, offering only that the federal government looks forward to working with provinces and is “still in the negotiation period in terms of how this will work.”
The Atlantic premiers’ statement echoed early reaction to the budget in March, when Quebec’s labour minister quickly indicated that Pauline Marois’s Parti Québécois government would be opting out, incensed at the federal government’s intent to renegotiate the labour market agreements.
“We refuse to go 15 years backward,” Agnes Maltais said.
Ontario and British Columbia also voiced concerns about control over job training funds shifting toward the federal government’s priorities.
In a written statement to CBC News Tuesday, a spokesperson for Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta’s deputy premier and minister of enterprise and advanced education, said that the current labour market agreements had “served Albertans well” and that Alberta had invested the federal dollars well.
“We would look forward to any consultations about the proposed Canada Jobs Grant and learning more about it,” wrote Janice Schroeder.
When asked how many provinces had indicated that they will participate in the new program, Van Loan didn’t say.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor
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