The first Canada Job Grant should be delivered later this year as Ottawa says it now has positive written pledges from all provinces and territories about delivering the new training subsidy.
Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney provided an update Monday on his cross-country negotiations as he announced a final deal with British Columbia on how that province will deliver the grant.
"I'm pleased to announce then that we have confirmed in writing agreements in principle or memoranda of understanding with all 13 provinces and territories for them to deliver the Canada Job Grant," he said.
Mr. Kenney indicated that there had been one holdout – later confirmed as Nova Scotia – but that a letter had recently been received that Ottawa considers to be similar to an agreement-in-principle. A spokesperson for Nova Scotia's department of Labour and Advanced Education said the letter is an "agreement to negotiate," meaning the province has not yet agreed to deliver the grant.
"We still have some concerns," said Chrissy Matheson.
The Council of the Federation – representing all provinces and territories – announced on Feb. 28 that the group had agreed in principle to the Canada Job Grant, but expressed reservations and indicated that talks would then proceed to one-on-one negotiations between Ottawa and each member of the federation.
Since Ontario and B.C. have signed final agreements – and Quebec signed a final agreement to continue running its own training programs – while the others have all reached some form of interim deal with Ottawa. That means they will not lose out on federal training transfers.
Existing transfers called Labour Market Agreements are worth about $500-million a year and are set to expire April 1. The new deals with each province and territory will replace those transfers.
The new deal requires that $200-million of the $500-million – or 40 per cent – must go to employer-driven training. That can include the Canada Job Grant, which will offer up to $15,000 for individual applicants to receive training requested by an employer who will promise a specific job at the end of the process.
Mr. Kenney made the comments in Ottawa following a meeting with B.C. Premier Christy Clark and representatives of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) sector. The minister said the future growth of the sector could potentially produce 100,000 net new jobs and is an example of the kind of work that require properly-trained Canadians.
"But if there's one barrier to realizing the vision of prosperity through energy exports, particularly LNG off the West Coast, what we've heard today is that barrier is projected skills gaps in those industries," he said. "Look, let's be clear. There is not a general labour shortage in Canada. The aggregate labour market information is clear on that point, as I have consistently been, but there are real sectoral and regional skills gaps."