Bridging Canada's Labor Gap

04 May 2013

Immigration News

In spite from its plan for growth, long-term prosperity and jobs, the federal government is taking a step to forward with a three-point plan addressing challenges in relating Canadians with present jobs by providing people with the training and skills needed to obtain well-paying employment and high-quality.

The three-point plan is as below:

1. Creating Job Grant for Canada, this provides $15,000 or more per candidate, including the federal contribution and matching donations from territories/provinces and employers, to take skills-training options out of the hands of government and apply them where they feel right: in the hands of employers and Canadians willing to work;

2. Creating opportunities for apprentices by making it easier and more practical to obtain the experience required to make the increase to journeyperson grade; and

3. Providing support to under-represented groups, this includes people with disabilities, Aboriginal people, youth and newcomers, in order to help them in finding good jobs.

The Canada Job Grant will take skills-training choices out of the hands of government and put them where they belong: in the hands of employers and Canadians who want to work. Job seekers will train at community colleges, career colleges, polytechnics or >union training halls, among other venues. Most importantly, the new grant should lead to one essential thing for unemployed or underemployed Canadians: a new or better job.

The grant will provide $15,000 or more per person, including a maximum $5,000 federal contribution and matching contributions from an employer and province or territory. Businesses with a plan to train Canadians for an existing job or a better job will be eligible to apply for a Canada Job Grant. Once the grant is fully implemented, nearly 130,000 Canadians per year are expected to be able to access the training they need to obtain gainful employment or improve their skills for in-demand jobs.

The Canada Job Grant will be introduced in 2014-15 as part of the renewal of the Labour Market Agreements.

Opportunities for apprentices

To further reduce barriers to accreditation in the skilled trades in Canada and increase opportunities for apprentices, the government will work with provinces and territories to harmonize requirements for apprentices and examine the use of practical hands-on tests as a method of assessment in targeted skilled trades. This will support more apprentices in completing their training and encourage mobility across the country.

In addition, the government will support the use of apprentices in federal construction and maintenance contracts. The government will also ensure that funds transferred to provinces and territories through the Investment in Affordable Housing Program support the use of apprentices. As part of the new Building Canada plan for infrastructure, the government will encourage provinces, territories and municipalities to support the use of apprentices in infrastructure projects receiving federal funding.

Support for under-represented groups Economic Action Plan 2013 will also support labour market participation and a more inclusive skilled workforce with a range of measures, including:

- Introducing a new generation of Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities with an investment of $222 million per year, to better meet the employment needs of Canadian businesses and improve the employment prospects for people with disabilities;

- Reallocating $19 million over two years to promote education in high-demand fields, including the skilled trades, science, technology, engineering and mathematics;

- Investing $70 million over three years to support an additional 5,000 paid internships for recent post-secondary graduates, ensuring they get the valuable hands-on work experience needed to transition into the workforce;

- Dedicating $241 million over five years to improve the on-reserve Income Assistance Program to help ensure Aboriginal youth can access the skills and training they need to secure employment;

- Maintaining funding at $40 million per year, starting in 2015-16, for the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities. The program will also be reformed to provide more demand-driven training solutions for people with disabilities and make it more responsive to labour market needs. Employers and community organizations will be involved in project design and delivery; and

- Extending the Enabling Accessibility Fund at a level of $15 million per year, to support capital costs of construction and renovations to improve physical accessibility, including workplace accommodation, for people with disabilities.

Reforming the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Recently, Canadians have raised concerns about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) being abused by some employers to replace Canadians with foreign workers. As important as the TFWP is for our economy, our priority is to ensure that Canadians get first crack at available jobs - so a review of the program was launched in order to identify and correct any problems that may have prevented qualified Canadian workers from getting jobs.

First, we are mandating that companies must produce a solid plan to transition from the use of foreign workers to Canadians - that means training Canadians if necessary. We will ensure that going forward that temporary foreign workers do not become permanent fixtures and long-term solutions.

We are also ensuring that we hold those companies accountable, by increasing our authority to revoke work permits for those companies that do not play by the rules. We are asking additional questions as part of the application process to ensure that when employers bring in temporary foreign workers no Canadian workers are displaced as a result of outsourcing.

Employers seeking temporary foreign workers cannot make proficiency in a foreign language a job requirement except for special cases such as tour guides or translators. Employers will also be required to pay temporary foreign workers at the job's prevailing wage.

These are just a few of the reforms we are introducing. These changes will strengthen and improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program which remains an important short-term, last resort for businesses when skills shortages are acute, allowing them to continue to grow and contribute to Canada's prosperity.



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