POLITICS

Jason Kenney's final Canada Job Grant offer gives provinces more flexibility, time

02/21/2014 02:49 EST | Updated 04/23/2014 05:59 EDT
Employment Minister Jason Kenney has made two more concessions in his negotiations with the provinces and territories over the controversial Canada Job Grant, CBC News has learned.

Kenney sent the provinces his final offer on Friday in which he agreed to give the provinces maximum flexibility in the way the grant is funded and delay the start date by three months, from April 1 to July 1, according to a source close to the negotiations.

In the provinces' counter-offer to Kenney, obtained by Radio-Canada, they asked Ottawa to allow them to choose where the money for the grant would come from. 

As CBC News reported on Feb. 4, the provinces had suggested the grant be funded through various funding streams including the Labour Market Agreements, the Labour Market Development Agreements, and other sources of revenue including their own.

Their counter-offer also asked Ottawa to give them more time, an additional six months, to implement the grant which the government wanted to have up and running by April 1. In Friday's response, Kenney has offered to delay the start date by three months.

Kenney had to take the offer to cabinet and convince numerous players to agree to the "huge" concessions, a source close to the negotiations told CBC News.

While the minister was not immediately available for comment, his press secretary confirmed Kenney's final offer was meaningful enough the government hopes it will lead to a deal.

"The federal government has significantly restructured its proposal based on provincial feedback," Alexandra Fortier, told CBC News on Friday.

"We are hopeful that an agreement can be reached on the Canada Job Grant, to ensure skills training actually leads to a guaranteed job and employers are investing more in job training," Fortier said.

Kenney has given the provinces until the end of the month to accept or decline his final offer.

As indicated in this month's federal budget, in provinces where a deal can not be reached, the federal government will go ahead and implement the grant on April 1 directly through Service Canada.

The Province of Quebec has already registered its opposition to this calling the measure a "threat."

The federal minister made his first concession in December when he agreed to fund the provinces' share of the grant, contributing up to $10,000 of the $15,000 grant.