The Federal Budget, released yesterday, held few surprises but was a mixed bag for employers. Steps to reduce the skills gap and improve employment prospects in certain industries will be welcomed, but many were hoping to see specific reductions in EI and tax costs.
Federal Jobs Grant
The grant, which was introduced in last year’s budget, has been criticized by provinces and some interest groups for reducing provincial budgets and overlooking vulnerable groups. The 2014 budget confirms the program will go ahead, with Employment Minister Jason Kenney trying to stem provincial concerns by confirming the federal government would cover two-thirds of the training costs. The remaining third is to be covered by the employer.
The 2014 budget says the grant “will encourage greater employment participation in skills training decisions and ensure that training is better aligned with job opportunities, particularly in sectors facing skills mismatches and labour shortages.”
Training underemployed groups
The budget allows for more than $25 million to support the employment of people with intellectual disabilities. This includes $15 million over three years for the Canadian Association for Community Living’s Ready, Willing and Able initiative, which encourages employers to hire youth and working-age people with developmental disabilities.
“The assumption is you graduate high school and you go on welfare. That’s the trajectory for people with intellectual disabilities in this country,” said Michael Bach, the executive vice-president of CACL, adding that the federal funding will help connect another 1,200 people with jobs over the next three years.
On page two: more money to reduce the skills gap