Federal jobs training fund doomed unless Ottawa makes changes: premiers

TORONTO – Provincial leaders say unless the federal government makes substantial changes to the Canada Job Grant, the jobs training fund is doomed to failure.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and New Brunswick Premier David Alward say if Ottawa pushes it through without talking to the provinces, they won’t participate.

The federal Conservatives want to divert some of the money they give to the provinces and territories to the new program, which would provide a grant of $15,000 per worker.

The provinces and territories, as well as the employers, would each kick in $5,000.

But the provinces worry that it won’t give them enough flexibility to direct the money where it’s needed most and could jeopardize existing provincially run programs.

They say they’d have to come up with more than $600 million to maintain their current programs as well as match the cost of the Canada Job Grant.

A spokeswoman for Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney says he’ll meet with the provincial and territorial leaders this fall.

Kenney said in a statement that the Canada Job Grant was designed in response to requests by employers who want to have more say in job training programs.

“It will bring federal and provincial and territorial governments together with employers to invest in skills training for unemployed and underemployed Canadians so that they are qualified to fill the high-quality, well-paying jobs available.”

While the Conservatives have already spent millions of dollars advertising the Canada Job Grant as part of their budget branding exercise, the program doesn’t exist and must still be negotiated.

Clark and Alward, who have been tasked with studying the program, made the comments Wednesday following a meeting with labour market groups in Toronto.

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