Yesterday marked the first twitter chat on an employment issue that has gained national attention. The Labour Market Agreements (LMA) Works Day, a day of action, was intended to raise awareness of provincial employment programs by profiling success stories from employers who are funded to provide services to vulnerable workers, including those with mental health conditions. Labour market agreements, transfer payments from the federal government to the provinces to fund employment programs for workers not covered under employment insurance training funds, are set to expire in March 2014. In the 2013 budget, the federal government proposed the Canadian Job Grant program to provide skills training to Canadians, a cost shared agreement between the federal government, provincial government, and local businesses. The new program would be financed by cutting $300 million annually (60 percent of today’s $500 million total) out of federal funding to provinces and territories under the federal-provincial Labour Market Agreements. The provinces are not in favour of the Grant in its proposed structure and are working together to negotiate different terms by April 1, 2014.
During the campaign, Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney announced that the federal government will consider taking on the provincial share of the Grant. As this new measure does not address the 60 percent reduction on provincial transfers, negotiations between the federal government and the provinces continue.