Jason Kenney: Provinces who want TFWs should invest more in vocational schools

Federal employment minister says he's raising questions with the provinces about how they're spending the Canada social transfer

OTTAWA — Jason Kenney is taking aim at provinces and territories complaining about Ottawa’s crackdown on temporary foreign workers, asking why they aren’t spending more federal transfer funds on vocational schools.

The federal employment minister says he’s raising questions with the provinces about how they’re spending the Canada social transfer on post-secondary education.

He says he doesn’t understand why polytechnic institutions and vocational schools offering coveted programs for skilled trades are seeing their budgets slashed.

When some provincial governments ask for the green light to turn to temporary foreign workers, Kenney adds, he responds by asking them why they aren’t supporting vocational schools that could help fill skills gaps.

Newly elected Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, a one-time Kenney cabinet colleague, is among the western leaders who have said the government’s overhaul of its temporary foreign worker program has been too onerous.

Prentice says labour policy, including temporary foreign workers, will top his agenda when he gets a chance to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The western premiers say their provinces, with their low unemployment rates, are facing genuine shortages of skilled labour and need temporary foreign workers to fill the void.

Kenney says the government has every right to ask questions about how federal transfer funds are being spent.