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Province signs agreements for federal job training programs

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Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, and  Theresa Oswald, Manitoba Minister of Jobs and the Economy during the Canada Job Grant press conference in Winnipeg today.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, and Theresa Oswald, Manitoba Minister of Jobs and the Economy during the Canada Job Grant press conference in Winnipeg today.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney made a pit stop in Winnipeg today as part of his cross-country tour finalizing job training agreements with the provinces and territories.

At an event at Red River College, Kenney and Manitoba’s Jobs and Economy Minister Theresa Oswald signed three agreements that continue funding from Ottawa for training programs, including the once touchy Canada Job Grant.

The Canada Job Grant is designed to give employers more of a say job training programs and have them contribute their own dollars towards training people for specific jobs.

Kenney and Oswald also signed a labour market agreement for people with disabilities and another for older workers.

"We want to just make sure that we continue to get better bang for the taxpayer’s buck and get employers more involved in this so that the education actually leads to real jobs and better futures," Kenney said.

Kenney said Manitoba will see $18 million annually from Ottawa under the $500 million Canada Job Fund to put towards "employer-led training". A further $9 million will be sent by Ottawa to the province to help persons with disabilities find work. Another $1.5 million will be provided to help older people find employment.

The Canada Job Grant, to be developed by the province over the next few months, will provide $15,000 per person for training. That amount includes up to $10,000 in federal contributions with employers required to contribute on average one-third of the total training costs.

"There’s not new money here, but it is a renewal of money that otherwise would be phased out," Kenney said.

Oswald said despite the earlier fight between Kenney and the province’s over the future direction of the job grant, an agreement was reached to the benefit of each government.

"Yes, I had concerns, but I’m cautiously optimistic," she said.

The provinces and territories first balked at signing the job grant agreement, saying they were fearful Ottawa would claw back federal dollars for successful job-training programs run by the provinces, while forcing them to find millions more to cover their portion of the grant.

However, they dropped their opposition after Kenney agreed to a number of changes, including being more flexibility on how federal money is to be used by the provinces on job training and a review of the program in two years to see if other changes are needed.

"I think we met in the middle," Kenney said.

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