The sketch: Economic Action Notions™

The notional success of the Canada Job Grant

by Aaron Wherry

Blair Gable/Reuters

Justin Trudeau wondered if the Prime Minister might stand now and—presumably having engaged in some deep reflection over the Christmas break—”abandon” the Canada Job Grant, but Mr. Harper had apparently not been so moved.

“This government remains absolutely committed to the notion that to address some of these problems, we need to get employers and institutions and individuals who are looking for work working together to fill jobs that can be filled,” the Prime Minister explained.

Notions (Jim Flaherty would separately describe the Job Grant today as a “concept“) are, or at least can be, rather great things. Much of governance and politics, at least in its public expression, is notional. ™And a lovely notion the Canada Job Grant is, everyone somehow coming together to make the world somehow better. Why wouldn’t the government remain so committed? Why wouldn’t we all be so committed? Why does Justin Trudeau hate the notion of cooperation leading to the gainful employment of his fellow countrymen? Why is Mr. Trudeau so afraid to dream?

It is a pity only that notions aren’t much more than daydreams unless someone can work out the details. Ten months ago, the Canada Job Grant was “a bold, new initiative” that “would transform the way Canadians receive training.” But as of this moment, it is still basically a notion, one that the provinces have rejected.

Which is not to say that one of the signature promises of last year’s budget has so far been a total loss.

“Mr. Speaker, let us be clear on this. The Canada Job Grant was the government’s signature economic policy of the last budget. It spent millions of taxpayer dollars on partisan ads boosting it, but it is a mess. It was rejected by the provinces. It will cost more and help fewer people,” Mr. Trudeau lamented.

Here the Liberal leader had simply refused to acknowledge one important element of the Canada Job Grant: the basic notion’s ability to cheer people up.

“Mr. Speaker, I noted that the Canada Job Grant was in fact very well received by those in the marketplace,” Mr. Harper enthused, “by people who want to upgrade their skills, want to receive more training, want to gain jobs and, by pluralism, want to create jobs.”

So apparently people who might like to receive a grant to upgrade their or someone else’s skills were, in fact, heartened to hear that they might receive a grant to upgrade their or someone else’s skills.

So there’s that. And presuming Jason Kenney figures out a way to make the notion into something tangible, the government will at least have an actual program to claim, even regardless of whether it angers the provinces or basically makes sense or does, in fact, work. At that point, presumably, the government can announce it again and the marketplace will be newly happy.

But that will still leave to be questioned the small matter of the $2.5 million already spent to promote the Canada Job Grant, an ad buy that seems to stretch the definition of advance warning—a bit like the film industry deciding to promote movies that have not yet been financed or cast.

Of the general topic of the federal advertising budget, the NDP later sent up Mathieu Ravignat to grouse—it having been reported that the government had exceeded its planned envelope for Economic Action Plan™ promotion last year. (You will note in that story that the Globe is still clinging to the quaint notion that the Economic Action Plan™ was a “catchphrase” related to government efforts in regards to the recession. That might’ve seemed to be the idea in 2009, but it would now seem that the Economic Action Plan™ is what we used to call “the federal budget.”)

“Mr. Speaker,” the New Democrat wondered, “how much of our money is the current government going to waste?”

Tony Clement stood here to explain the government’s commitment to fulfilling its obligations.

“Mr. Speaker, the responsibility of any government is to communicate with the population on plans and priorities and policies that are actually passed by this Parliament,” Mr. Clement explained. “It is our obligation and indeed our pleasure to do so. Of course, we want to inform Canadians about the great economic policies that are found each year in the budgets, and we will do so again I am sure.”

It is an obligation that extends even to the government’s notions and concepts (Economic Action Notions™) It is their responsibility to bounce ideas off you.

Here though, presumably, is an answer to the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s quibbles about the lack of information so far provided to explain the state of the nation’s finances and the government’s spending reductions. The PBO need not fret, but simply wait patiently for the inevitable campaign that will explain at length and in detail precisely which expenditures have been eliminated or reduced, how and why and what impact such changes will have on the government’s ability to provide services and so on. An hour-long infomercial might be necessary. But we might forgive the government the expense.

The sketch: Economic Action Notions™

  1. It is interesting that the two key Ministers for the Canada Job Grant don’t like each other much. At some point, Kenney will need to sweeten the pot either directly within the “notion” or more likely as a side deal to the first province(s) to sign up. Flaherty is presumably facing up to the end of PM ambitions and to Kenney being the leadership front runner. How much effort will Jim want to put in to help out Jason?

  2. Well, the $2.5M already spent (advertising a jobs plan that doesn’t exist) could have created 50 $50k/year jobs, with further benefits realized by relieving EI and other social programs of 50 claimants.

    But that would be just silly – such things exist to enrich the electoral prospects of their Conservative government masters, not to help the random unwashed Canadian.

  3. On the other hand, competence and accountability and honour.
    Good stuff, eh ?

  4. Wait a second…. Justin Trudeau actually showed up in the House of Commons? Good for him, that’s a change for the better. Now if only one of his babysitters handlers would tell him that after the Sponsorship Scandal, the Liberals should never bring up government advertising spending, then he might actually be able to look like he knows what he’s doing.

    • lol!!!!hes a sheep just like the people who prop him up

    • If that was the case then after Toews, Wright, Duffy, Gerstein, Porter etc the Cons can never bring up single mums, adultery, deadbeat dads, treason, corruption, perverting the course of justice, fraud etc.

  5. It does not matter if new jobs being created are keeping people in poverty. Please will somebody look at the mistake from 1959 it is in stats can data about poverty lines. The line drawn in that sand was wrong all those years ago; it did not include prosperity. The plan to say average income of x was the marker for average Canadians to be well average in the middle or normal. Canadians love being normal. The discussion my elders had was how do they arrive at this number? The line said if you spent 70% on the necessities of life you were in dire straights. The number did not include education healthcare transportation or retirement. So average middleclass Canadians were actually in poverty but were told they were normal so it has been accepted. Poor folks relying on relief were to realize the horror of a subsistance on even closeto the norm of our society. Welfare reduced the 70% by 67% and then reduced that 67% by another 49% to say they reduced poverty only they made it worse and our low income peoples health has declined. Ask a single mom in Alberta with two kids struggling on 15,000 per yr. While everyone average is supposedly earning 90,000 if she feels stressed unwell hopeless and used by players cheating on their wives. The single mom is an acronym for free whore. Women desperate to find that Knight in shining armour. Middleclass with 20-30′s living at home. No savings or:-)retirement plan. I feel in 1959 this lie was told to Canadians, they believed in CPP. There was no measure for prosperity there is not still. Low income earners struggle even more today. THE WAGES ARE NOT FOR LIVING. my beautiful daughter has an oil gas business admin diploma and works at KFC for:-)10.00 Per hour and gets 5 Hr shifts so they dont have to include her benefits. Her student loan is accruing interest and she can not:-)afford to live never mind pay the loan back. HEALTH IS IN DECLINE BUT THE LARGEST EMPLOYER IN ALBERTA IS HEALTHCARE. THE DR IS WILLING TO SEND FOR ENDLESS TESTS AND NO DIAGNOSIS. No treatment plans no support my daughter has chronic pain she is 29 and because of an undiagnosed infection she will not have children. All of the youg people I know and meet are struggling. The seniors are even worse off. Families need a home to start. Utah is giving homes free to the poor! Vets in the US can apply for 0% int. Homes build an asset and sell it back realizing profits. I paid rent for 30 years because I did not qualify for a mortgage being a single Mom self emplyed artist. B ank managers laughed in my face and said where is your rich uncle? I WORKED MYSELF INTO SICKNESS AND POVERTY LOST MY BUSINESS. I JUST COULD NOT DO IT ALONE AND DID NOT MEET ANYONES CRITERIA INCLUDING QUALIFYING FOR DISABILITY IT TOOK FROM 1992 – 2012 to get diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic pain and to get disability. I lived for years with four kids below below below poverty and fell utterly invisible. My family response when I asked for help was that is what we pay taxes for assuming the gov actually helps enough to live. I do now:-)have a home but I am terrified of interest rates going up. I lost my first home in 1981-82. CANADIAN AVERAGE INCOME IS NOT 100,000 PER YR WITH GLOBAL PURCHASING POWER IT IS MORE LIKE 53,500. HOW CAN YOU EVEN COLLECT GST WITH THESE NUMBERS NEVER MIND HAVE A BUDGET. PLEASE CAN ANYONE IN CANADA DO THE MATHS?

  6. Tony could’ve used the $2.5 million to build a few more gazebos in his riding.

  7. This is why Stephan Harper just trying to make cutbacks on the post office man to fill in their jobs where as he takes them away from all the citizens of Canada don’t worry you’ll create another temp service to help minimum wage slavery continue that is real plan for the citizens of Canada by Heinz and many more big businesses are leaving thanks Stephan Harper

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