02/20/2014 02:12 EST | Updated 04/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Canada Job Grant reply coming 'shortly' from Jason Kenney

Ontario is worried that Employment Minister Jason Kenney has yet to respond to the provinces' counter-offer to the proposed Canada Job Grant, but the minister's office says a reply is on its way.

Brad Duguid, Ontario's minister of training, colleges and universities, reminded the federal government on Thursday that time is running out on renewing current Labour Market Agreements (LMA) set to expire on March 31 and striking a deal on the Canada Job Grant, which the government wants to have in place by April 1.

"Today, we're only 40 days out from April 1 but as things currently stand, this year's April Fool's Day will be anything but a joke to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable workers across this country," Duguid​ told reporters during a news conference in Toronto.

- EXCLUSIVE | Canada Job Grant April 1 target start unrealistic, provinces say

- EXCLUSIVE | Canada Job Grant counter-offer includes 2-year review

The federal government currently gives the provinces $500 million a year in funding under the existing LMA, but Ottawa wants to take $300 million of that and put it toward creation of the Canada Job Grant. 

The provinces have argued that redirecting that money would put current skills training programs for "vulnerable" Canadians at risk.

"This places at risk programs that serve youth, apprenticeships, recent immigrants, aboriginal people, the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, youth at risk and those that need basic literacy and basic skills training," Duguid said.

Kenney had promised to give the provinces a response by this past Tuesday at the latest after he met with them in Toronto on Feb.4.

"We're submitting our counter-offer shortly," Alexandra Fortier, press secretary for Kenney, told CBC News on Thursday.

The federal government already provides Ontario with "generous support" for skills training through the Labour Market Development Agreements and the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities, Fortier said in an email.

"There is no reason why the government of Ontario could not continue to fund programs it considers a priority." 

Kenney is currently in Yellowknife to promote the government's jobs and skills training agenda.