Saturday, March 1, 2014

Canada Job Grant deal reached, Nova Scotia now onside

Employment Minister Jason Kenney confirmed that after months of back-and-forth negotiations, all territories and provinces with the exception of Quebec have accepted a Discount in principle on the Canada Job Grant, a centrepiece proposal made by the federal government during last year's budget, as CBC News reported yesterday.

"I am pleased to announce that we have arrived at an agreement in principle with 12 provincial governments and territories on their delivery of the Canada Job Grant," Kenney said during a speech to an audience gathered for the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa on Friday.

Nova Scotia, which appeared to be offside with its provincial counterparts, now says it also secured an agreement with Ottawa after Premier Stephen McNeil spoke with Kenney today.

"The province has secured an agreement with the federal government to ensure that Nova Scotia's concerns with the Canada Job Grant are addressed," a statement issued by the premier's office said.

"I communicated to Mr. Kenney that the Canada Job Grant must work better for Nova Scotians," McNeil said in the written statement.

"The program must be affordable for our small businesses and must protect employment support for our most vulnerable citizens."

The news of an agreement-in-principle with all the provinces except Quebec appeared to surprise Nova Scotia officials who said they still had concerns.

The provinces plan to iron out whatever concerns remain on a bilateral basis with the federal government.

"We're going to continue working with provinces and territories on the details in the days to come," Kenney said.

After his speech, Kenney told reporters he spoke with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne Friday morning. Wynne is also chair of the council of the federation, a group that brings Canada's premiers together twice a year.

"I understand that the Council of the Federation will be issuing a statement today indicating that 12 provinces and territories appreciate the final federal offer and the flexibility that is shown within it. They apparently will be expressing some concerns and look forward to moving forward with us on a bilateral basis," Kenney said.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who is also in Ottawa for the Manning Conference, backed Kenney's announcement telling reporters there is a deal in principle and that each province and territory, except Quebec, will now move to implement it bilaterally.

"I believe this is good news for unemployed Canadians, it's good news for taxpayers who will get better bang for their buck, it's good news for the economy because we'll increase the private sector investment in skills development," Kenney said.

The terms of the agreement-in-principal have not been made public.

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