The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) is engaged in discussions with the federal government about the Canada Job Grant in order to help ensure this new program is successful.
“The way we think this will work based on our consultation is that this will be an employer driven program,” said Bill Ferreira, CCA government relations and public affairs director.
“This is subject to negotiations with the provinces based on the transfer payment worth $500 million.
“Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan have already had consultations and there will be additional sessions throughout the country.”
Ferreira made this statement during a report to the Industry Advocacy and Regulatory Affairs Committee at the CCA’s spring board meetings in Kelowna on May 31.
The federal government began roundtable discussions for the Canada Job Grant last month.
The new initiative is one of the centerpieces of the 2013 budget tabled by finance minister Jim Flaherty in Ottawa on March 21.
The program will provide $15,000 or more for skills training for people, who can’t be trained under Employment Insurance.
The federal government will provide up to $5,000 and that amount will be matched by the employer and the province/territory.
One of the main reasons given by the government for implementing the new job grant program is to ensure there is a better match between labour market needs and the supply of labour.
When the budget was presented a few months ago, it was still too early to know what impact the new job grant would have on skills training in the country.
However, recent discussions between members of the CCA and officials in Human Resources and Skills Development Canada have revealed new details.
For example, officials have confirmed that the intent of the job grant is to give employers more flexibility in determining how training/retraining funds are directed.
National consultations were launched in May and CCA members are being invited to participate.
Officials have also confirmed that designated training providers could include CCA partner associations, if they can demonstrate an academic component exists in their training programs and/or the completion of the training will provide an industry accepted certification – such as some safety programs.
“For those already involved in the delivery of training, this may be an opportunity to participate in this program,” said Ferreira.
“The government anticipates that not all this money would go to the unions and would be used to support all forms of training.”
Members of the CCA were reminded by officials that discussions are ongoing with the provinces and that ultimately they will have considerable input into the specifics governing the job grant.
In addition, the job grant has still hasn’t been approved by Parliament or by the provinces, that must contribute matching funds.
As a result, the grants won’t be available to workers unless their respective provincial governments sign on.
Provinces are not obliged to renegotiate, but they can pull out with one year’s notice.
Negotiations are expected to be complicated, as each province has their own unique training system.
According to Flaherty’s budget, an estimated 130,000 people a year could benefit from the job grant, if all the provinces and territories signed on to new labour market agreements based on the new initiative.
Current labour market agreements expire in 2014, which means the new program is expected to be launched sometime next year.