Federal job training plan bad for Alberta

Canada Jobs Grant will take from the poor, to give to the rich

Edmonton – The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) is asking Premier Alison Redford to refuse the Canada Jobs Grant.

Federal and provincial ministers are meeting this week to discuss the controversial proposal that would see $300 million dollars taken away from existing government-run training programs to help subsidize employer-driven training. On top of seeing federal funds redirected, the program requires provincial governments to come up with additional matching funding. Moving ahead with the Canada Jobs Grant would mean that Alberta’s existing skills training programs would lose $33 million. The total impact to Alberta’s budget would be $66 million.

“There’s no guarantee that these grants won’t just be used for existing training that successful employers are already doing. And to pay for it, they want to scrap programs that are helping disadvantaged people participate in the labour force,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “The Canada Jobs Grant will further marginalize Alberta’s unemployed and underemployed workers. These workers are being passed over for stable, well-paying jobs, and sidelined in today’s economy. They’re robbing Peter to pay Midas.”

In areas with high unemployment rates, the program will be an unmitigated disaster. Employers who cannot afford to hire workers will not be able to afford $5,000 cash for training purposes. If no employers contribute, skills training programs will not otherwise be offered.

“The Canada Jobs Grant is essentially a wholesale privatization of the federal government’s role in skills training,” McGowan said. “There’s no incentive for employers to help train people who have been excluded from the economy, so they’re going to be left behind by this program.”

McGowan also noted that program is limited to short-term training, overlooking the need for workers in health care and the skilled trades, where developing the skills required takes four years or more.

The Alberta Federation of Labour has presented proposals that could help make the proposed grant system more functional.

“It’s key that we make this program work for young workers, for Indigenous Canadians, for women, and we need to see it available regardless of employer’s funding,” McGowan said. “It needs to work for Canadians who are on Employment Insurance, and for areas with high unemployment.”


Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell) or via e-mail

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