TORONTO - The governing Liberals say Ontario's most vulnerable job-seekers may not get the help they need if Ottawa goes ahead with the new skills training plan outlined in the federal budget.
The federal Conservatives are planning to divert some of the money they give the provinces to the Canada Jobs Grant program.
Brad Duguid — the minister for training, colleges and universities — says it's a shell game that could hurt Ontario because it won't have the flexibility to direct the money where it's needed.
He says Ontario gets $194 million from Ottawa for those programs, but it may not reach the people who need it most, such as youth, older workers, disabled people and welfare recipients.
The Liberals say they're the ones who are best placed to decide how to meet the specific labour market needs of the province.
The provinces are expected to contribute a third of each $15,000 training grant, with Ottawa and the employer providing $5,000 each.
"But the federal government isn't providing one additional new cent in expenditure here for these programs," Duguid said.
"They're just taking money they're already giving to the provinces for very important programs that serve in Ontario our most vulnerable unemployed. So I'm concerned about this right now and I think all Ontarians should be."
Duguid said "there's no question" that some of those provincial programs may disappear under the new federal plan.
"We're talking about $194 million," he said.
"If they take 60 per cent of that over the next few years, and the province has to match it, well, where is the province going to come up with the money?"
But Duguid and Finance Minister Charles Sousa say the provincial government is willing to talk to Ottawa about the plan.
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Revenues for 2013-14 forecast at $263.9 billion, spending at $282.6 billion, deficit at $18.7 billion. Deficit projected to drop to $6.6 billion in 2014-15 and become an $800-million surplus in 2015-16. With files from Althia Raj and The Canadian Press.
The Tories plan to create a Canada Job Grant that will provide $15,000 or more per person -- up to $5,000 provided by the federal government, the rest matched by the province/territory and the employer. Nearly 130,000 Canadians are expected to benefit when the new grant is fully implemented in 2017-2018. Essentially, this is the government saying it is taking training out of the hands of provincial governments because it hasn’t worked and placing it in the hands of individuals. The Canada Job Grant will replace the Labour Market Agreements the feds signed with the provinces, which expire in 2014.
Manufacturing and small business get tax-credits introduced in past budgets extended to help spur investment and growth. There will be $1.4 billion in tax relief for manufacturers by extending the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for new investment in machinery and equipment. And hundreds of millions for small business owners.
The government has pledged more than $53 billion in infrastructure spending, including $47 billion in new funding over 10 years. This includes $32.2 billion over 10 years for a “Community Improvement Fund” to build roads and public transit as well as recreational facilities and other community infrastructure projects. The Fund will consist of an index Gas Tax Fund and the incremental GST Rebate for Municipalities.
Military spending will be re-jigged that it is modeled on the ship building strategy and aimed at creating more jobs in Canada and key domestic capabilities with an eye towards exports.
The budget has cancelled the Canadian International Development Agency, the primary agency responsible for foreign aid. Its duties will be merged into the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The government says it is aggressively going after tax avoiders/and closing tax loopholes. They are launching a “Stop International Tax Evasion Program” where the Canada Revenue Agency will pay individuals with knowledge of “major international tax non-compliance” a percentage of the tax collected as a result of information provided. The CRA will only pay a reward if the information results in total additional assessments exceeding $100,000 in federal tax.
Two departments -- Canada Revenue Agency and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans -- will see big cuts. Departments will see a 5 per cent cut in their travel budgets. The government also says in the budget it intends to work with the public sector unions to “further align overall compensation with other public and private sector employers.”
The federal budget says new projects related to Canada's perimeter security deal with the United States will go ahead as planned, despite budget woes south of the border. The federal budget has given the green light to almost a dozen information-sharing and infrastructure projects related to the Beyond the Border initiative between the two countries. The vaunted deal was announced with fanfare by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama in December 2011 at the White House. The plan aims to speed the flow of goods and people across the 49th parallel while protecting the continent from a terrorist attack.
The government wants to reduce import tariffs on a number of goods including baby clothing, skis, snowboards and gold clubs. But it plans to offset the $76-million revenue loss from that by hiking excise taxes on chewing tobacco and other manufactured tobaccos, to bring them in line with cigarette taxes.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's spring budget commits Ottawa to five more years of funding through the Investment in Affordable Housing program. The level of commitment is the same as in the past: $253 million a year over five years, which needs to be matched by the provinces and territories and can be spent on new construction, renovation, home ownership assistance, rent supplements, shelters and homes for battered spouses. But there's a new twist to the funding. Home construction in the program will support the use of apprentices so that newcomers to the construction trades can build up crucial experience. The budget also commits $100 million over two years to build 250 more units of affordable housing in Nunavut, where homes are so crowded that illness spreads easily and poverty abounds.
The federal Conservatives say the revamped program will take skills training choices out of the hands of the government and put it into the hands of employers and job-seekers.
It won't kick in until April 2014 and is contingent on negotiations with the provinces.
Skills training was moved to provincial jurisdiction in the last decade, so the more direct intervention by the federal government isn't getting a good reception.
Ontario isn't alone in its concerns about the program. Quebec's sovereigntist government says it treads on provincial jurisdiction and duplicates an existing provincial program that does the job.