Tentative Job Grant Deal Reached with Canadian Provinces

skp203_Kenney_Manning_20140228 Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney speaking at Manning conference in Ottawa. Globe and Mail/http://www.theglobeandmail.com

Tentative Job Grant Deal Reached with Canadian Provinces

By Nicole Halseth, News Editor

According to the Globe and Mail, “Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney says he has reached an agreement-in-principle with all provinces and territories except Quebec on the Canada Job Grant – but Nova Scotia says that is news to them.”

This goal has been one of Kenney’s main objectives since July, when he became head for the new department of Employment and Social Development. This new department replaced the existing Human Resources and Social Development department.

The announcement of this tentative deal was read at the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa. It appears that participating provinces will now have to bilaterally negotiate concerns directly with Ottawa.

One of the provinces with significant concerns over the deal is Nova Scotia, who will now have to discuss the issue with Ottawa through this process.

Chrissy Matheson, spokesperson for the government of Nova Scotia, said in an email that Nova Scotia has not agreed to anything yet, and that Matheson is “not too sure what Minister Kenney is talking about…nothing has changed since last night. At this moment Nova Scotia is still negotiating.”

Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan, said to reporters that he saw the communiqué, and that Quebec is reportedly singled out in the agreement. Wall claims this is because “the premiers are pleased that this minister, Kenney, has demonstrated flexibility. Did the provinces get everything they wanted from this? No, but there was a significant move from the federal government…what we’ve decided now is to move bilaterally…each province will now seek to set up its bilateral agreement with the federal government. For us, we like the principle of employers being involved in training.”

The proposed job grant could provide individuals with up to $15,000 to pay for necessary job training for available positions. In the last round of negotiations over the grant, Ottawa claimed it would cover up to $10, 000 of the total amount of each grant. The businesses looking to hire would have to cover the remaining costs of training, and the program would ultimately be administered by each province.

This last offer would also reportedly give provinces more control over how the funds they are expected to contribute to the program, $300-million, will be budgeted and used. This means that provinces could decide to use the money Ottawa already transfers for job training delivery, a nearly $2.5-billion, or they could decide to use funds from elsewhere.

According to the Globe and Mail, significant concerns from the provinces over this job grant have previously centered on “Ottawa’s previous insistence that they pay their share of the program using $300-million of a $500-million transfer called Labour Market Agreements meant to help workers who find it difficult to get jobs.” Concerns have also been raised within provinces that this new Job Grant will cut funding to programs aimed at helping people with disabilities find work opportunities. The Collaborative Partnership Network and the Team Work program in Nova Scotia have already been told they may lose their federal funding as early as March, depending on how these bilateral negotiations continue.

As this Job Grant could directly impact individuals looking for employment in BC, it will be interesting to see what our bilateral negotiations with Ottawa will yield.