Issues in the Senate dominate news from Ottawa but there is another debacle citizens should be aware of and that is the Canadian Jobs Grant (CJG). The Government announced this new program with much fanfare in the spring during Stanley Cup playoffs. The advertising promised under employed persons “up to $15,000 towards retraining” with the financial assistance being shared equally between employers, the Federal Government, and the Provincial (Territorial) governments.
Unemployed persons were advised to call for further details on the 1-800-ocanada info line. If an aspiring job seeker was to make that call, no information would be available at that time, nor now.
The Government announced the program in order to be seen as being proactive in dealing with the skills gap which they assure us needs to be addressed in order to ensure an adequate supply of skilled workers is available to work within mega projects and emerging technologies. Sounds like a good plan.
There is no plan. The skills gap is not defined, the delivery of the program is unknown, how a person qualifies as a recipient of the program is not defined, and the source of the funding is, to say the least, extremely controversial.
The Federal Government’s share of the funding is to come out of revenue already committed to the Provinces and Territories under an umbrella of funds known as the Labour Market Agreement (LMA). The Province, through local organizations such as Kootenay Career Development Society, directs those funds to assisting the most marginalized residents to develop skills towards self sufficiency within our communities.
This is the point we should be concerned about; the Federal Government is not planning on directing new funding to the CJG but to re-direct existing money that is already earmarked to help those most in need. Current recipients of the LMA funding include persons with disabilities, aboriginal persons, and other citizens who have been unable to make successful transitions to the labour market. Yes, there is a need to encourage training and re-training for high demand occupations, but that should not come at the expense of others who need more basic assistance.
A program to upgrade skill levels to address skill gaps for the emerging economy should be highly flexible, have a fast response cycle, and be adequately funded in order to encourage active participation from both workers and employers. Existing programs could have terms and conditions ‘tweaked’ in order to address the needs of the skill gap and the EI account could provide core funding accompanied by appropriate employer/industry contributions.
Please consider contacting Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment, and protest . The LMA is providing needed opportunities within our community and should not be shorted in order to fund an ill defined initiative.