Jason Kenney's latest concession - Macleans.ca

Jason Kenney’s latest concession

No provinces have rejected the employment minister’s latest job grant proposal

by

Blair Gable

“We have had very constructive discussions with the provincial governments on the creation of the Canada Job Grant and have made a lot of progress.” —senior government official

Jason Kenney’s mission, when he accepted it last summer, was maybe not impossible. But convincing a stubborn group of premiers to support the government’s proposed job grant would be no small feat. The employment minister apparently doesn’t much care for his portfolio, but the Prime Minister put him there for a reason in the July cabinet shuffle. Get the provinces onside with the Canada Job Grant. Do it.

The policy on the table would change fundamentally the way the federal government funds skills training. Currently, the feds have signed labour agreements that shovel $500 million a year to provinces, who spend the money on whatever training programs they desire. Those agreements expire at the end of March, and Kenney wants his new plan to take effect the very next day.

Initially, the new plan would have reallocated $300 million a year to the Canada Job Grant. Each grant would be worth up to $5,000 in federal money, but here was the catch: if the provinces wanted that money, they’d have to match the federal contribution to each grant. And an employer would have to pony up, too. The provinces unanimously disapproved of such a scheme, which they said both removed flexibility to design their own programs and left them with less federal money for skills training.

Enter Kenney, who sent concessions to the provinces on Christmas Eve, perhaps caught up in the spirit of giving. The big change, as reported by The Globe and Mail‘s Bill Curry this morning, would see the feds cover the provincial portion of the grant—that is, up to $10,000. Doubling the per-grant contribution without adding new money means, of course, fewer grants, but it also means provinces don’t have to dig ever deeper into their own pockets.

Curry does the math. The new plan would still see the feds remove $300 million annually from skills training transfers. The provinces would still have to train workers and fill skills gaps with fewer resources from federal coffers.

But, so far, no province has come out against the revised proposal, even though they’ve had weeks to speak up. They’re wary, sure, but that’s a far cry from last summer’s unanimous stand in opposition. Kenney’s waiting for the dominoes to fall.

ABOVE THE FOLD

Globe: The feds may not require provincial financial contributions to a key job grant program.

Post: A survey of scientists identified formerly revolutionary concepts that have since faded away.

Star: Toronto’s jobless rate rose to 10.1 per cent in December.

Citizen: Legal grow-ops are popping up all over Canada, including in the country’s largest cities.

CBC: An 18-year-old man who was caught with a pipe bomb at Edmonton’s airport still boarded his flight.

CTV: The Supreme Court opens hearings today into the validity of Marc Nadon’s appointment to the bench.

NNW: A Conservative senator didn’t immediately disclose federal contracts granted to her family.

MOSTLY MISSED

Near: The feds are going to study the effect of oil and gas exploration on nearby endangered animals.

Far: Suicide attacks and car bombings in Iraq killed at least 58 and wounded at least 94 civilians.