POLITICS

B.C. finance minister alarmed skills training changes draw on provincial funds

03/21/2013 08:26 EDT | Updated 05/21/2013 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - B.C.'s finance minister says he's concerned about financial repercussions for the province around skills training changes in the federal budget.

Mike de Jong says that while the initial rumours about the effects of Thursday's budget were worse, the change is a further draw on provincial revenues and that could present a challenge.

The fiscal blueprint lays out a new matching scheme where the provinces foot the bill for a third of the skills training grant, while also redirecting control from the government to employers and job seekers.

De Jong says he's still analyzing the impact Ottawa's decisions will have on B.C.'s financial situation, noting that a new move to crack down on tax loopholes could be positive and the province will also seek to take advantage of the emphasis on public-private partnerships.

The minister said Ottawa's commitment to infrastructure spending — albeit not for years down the road — could also be a boon.

De Jong says he's hoping to speak to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty when he visits the Vancouver Board of Trade on Friday and if so, will discuss securities regulations and Ottawa's position on liquefied natural gas plant infrastructure.