Flexibility needed in job grant talks: BC Chamber

The federal and provincial governments need to be flexible when it comes to November 8th’s scheduled job grant talks, said the BC Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with other chambers across Canada.

BC Chamber president and CEO John Winter

The federal and provincial governments need to be flexible when it comes to November 8th’s scheduled job grant talks, said the BC Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with other chambers across Canada.

The talks will involve Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney speaking with provincial labour ministers discussing solutions for skills funding issues, the Canada Job Grant and Labour Market Agreement funds.

The controversial job grant would see labour market funds redistributed from the federal level to the provinces to be used by employers looking to train employees. Under the current model, the federal and provincial governments and employers would each pay one-third, up to a maximum grant of $15,000 per employee.

BC Chamber president and CEO John Winter said November 8th’s meeting is critical as skills training is the number one challenge faced by B.C. employers, and that a workable solution is necessary.

“Canada’s business community knows the complexity of these talks, but we also know the driving need to get this right,” Winter said.

“That’s why businesses across Canada have crafted principles that we think can meet all parties’ needs and can create a framework for win-win solutions.”

The chambers have proposed 10 principles for a program that they say will allow the provinces to enable business of all sizes to access the grant, with a mind to fitting a specific regional context. These principles are:

  • each province/territory should determine what programs best meet their local needs;
  • any new agreements should not reduce already-committed amounts in existing agreements;
  • labour mobility should be encouraged;
  • any training should be high quality and market-driven, and should encourage participation by both private trainers and public institutions;
  • the needs of Canadian businesses must be taken into account in all programming and policy decisions;
  • each province/territory should control its programs and provide a public report on their measurable results;
  • training must be focused on outcomes leading to sustainable employment;
  • all training programs must be transparent in terms of processes, costs and outcomes;
  • labour market programs at both federal and provincial levels must be integrated and monitored to ensure they complement each other and do not cause confusion; and
  • labour market programs should be available to all Canadians who can legally work in Canada.

ecrawford@biv.com

@EmmaCrawfordBIV