Budget Overhaul Focuses on Skills Training
The federal budget finance minister Jim Flaherty wheeled out this past Thursday was the usual mix of retractions, readjustments and rewards of a rejigged strategy for getting Canada’s financial house in order. With $900 million in new spending and a projected $6.6-billion drop in the deficit for 2014, the newest financial blueprint is chockablock with measures designed to drive productivity and economic growth.
Prominent among them is the feds’ job skills training program. With an aim to give folks not part of the EI system (including older workers and Aboriginals) a means to find their way back into the labour market, the program features the following highlights:
• Currently, the federal government transfers $500 million a year to provinces to facilitate disenfranchised workers’ entry into the labour force; starting in 2014-15, $300 million of that fund will be diverted to the Canada Job Grant.
• This fund will pony up to $5,000 for individuals, provided the province matches that gift, to spend on retraining for people in industries coping with a shortage of skilled workers.
• All told, the grant will provide up to 130,000 Canadians a year with $15,000 for retraining.
• Of the new initiative, Flaherty told reporters: “For the first time, the Canada Job Grant will take the skills-training choices out of the hands of government and put them where they belong — in the hands of employers and Canadians who want to work.”
• Budget 2013 also includes the provision of $4 million over three years to reduce barriers to accreditation for apprentices.