STELLARTON – It’s been a long and winding road, but over a year after it was first announced in the federal budget, Nova Scotia has signed on to the Canada Job Grant.
Kelly Regan, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, and Peter MacKay, Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada, on behalf of Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, signed the newly minted Canada-Nova Scotia Job Fund Agreement yesterday.
Nova Scotia will get $13.4 million a year for six years for training and employment services under three funding streams.
Regan, who has been working on the file since being sworn in last year, said there were numerous meetings and negotiations with Minister Kenny.
"We worked hard to negotiate the best possible deal for Nova Scotians, one that our businesses could afford and that would preserve funding for proven programs that help our most vulnerable people," she said. "This agreement will allow us to move forward with training and supports that help Nova Scotians find and retain good jobs here in the province."
The current Labour Market Agreements, created in 2007, are being transformed into the new Canada Job Fund. Nationally, the Government of Canada will continue to provide $500 million annually to the provinces and territories for investments in skills training through the Canada Job Fund. Nova Scotia will continue to receive approximately $13 million—its per capita share of the $500 million.
The fund will be for short-duration training provided by an eligible third-party trainer, such as community colleges, career colleges, trade union centres and private trainers. Training can be provided in a classroom, on site at a workplace or online.
That’s something to look forward to, according to NSCC Pictou Principal Dave Freckleton.
“As employers get more into the program, they’ll see what kind of training needs to take place,” he said. “As the skills training agency of the province, we’re ready for more students.”
Yesterday’s agreement also provides funding for the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities, representing an investment of $222 million per year by the Government of Canada in the provinces and territories.
"This new agreement will improve the employment prospects for persons with disabilities and will help Nova Scotia businesses fill jobs," said Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard. "The full inclusion of people with disabilities in our community is one of my highest priorities. It will not only improve their quality of life, it will also help drive our economy and make Nova Scotia a stronger and more diverse province."
Also funded is the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW), a federal-provincial/territorial cost-shared initiative that provides unemployed older workers (normally between the ages of 55 and 64) with employment assistance services, skills upgrading and work experience valued at $75 million over three years.
The TIOW aims to assist unemployed older workers in small communities of 250,000 or less that are experiencing high unemployment and/or significant downsizing or closures to re-integrate into the workforce.
MacKay noted that with free trade agreements between Canada and South Korea and the EU represents a staggering opportunity.
”To ensure the province's prosperity, job openings have to be filled,” he said. “The agreements signed today will not only help create jobs and opportunities for Nova Scotians, they will also help develop the skilled workforce Nova Scotia's economy needs.”
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