A new federal job program could hurt local training initiatives aimed at vulnerable Yukon populations, according to Education Minister Elaine Taylor.
Since 2009, the Yukon has received funding from the government of Canada for training programs under a labour market agreement.
But that agreement expires at the end of March.
The federal government has committed to continuing to fund training, but within three years most of that funding will go towards the newly announced Canada Job Grant program.
Taylor was in Toronto this week with other provincial and territorial ministers to discuss concerns with the program.
The main concern is that the reallocation of funds to the Canada Job Grant program will undermine the success of successful training programs already established.
This fiscal year, over a million dollars from the labour market agreement have gone to local programs, said Taylor in a phone interview.
Programs supported by the funding include Skookum Jim Friendship Centre’s youth employment centre, the Kwanlin Dun House of Learning and Challenge Community Vocational Alternatives’ Bridges employability program.
Those programs focus on training for individuals who might not otherwise easily find work, she said.
When the Canada Job Grant program has been fully implemented, funding for those initiatives could be whittled down to $200,000 per year.
Some of the affected organizations declined to comment, saying that they have not been given enough information on the change and how it will affect their programming.
A second concern is that the Canada Job Grant program will not meet the needs of Yukoners and their employers.
Under the program, an employer, the Yukon government and the federal government would each contribute up to $5,000 towards accredited training for one employee.
The grant would not cover travel or wage subsidies, which are important elements to make training accessible to those who would otherwise not participate, said Taylor.
The lack of funding for travel is particularly relevant to the Yukon, where accredited training is not always available close by, she said.
And the requirement that employers cost-match the funds would shut out many Yukon businesses, said Taylor.
“We don’t have as many large institutions or corporations that they would in other jurisdictions. We’re talking about very smaller-scaled businesses. For an individual business to come up with the $5,000 for one employee to train up to a different position, that’s a significant investment.”
Rick Karp, president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, also questioned whether Yukon businesses would have any interest in this program.
Why would an employer pay for an employee to get training so they can get a better job somewhere else? he asked.
“It doesn’t make sense.”
The chamber of commerce already administers a program that pays for training with funds from businesses, Yukon and the federal government, said Karp.
“It’s already in existence. Why do we need the Canada Job Grant? What we need to do is build on the model of the business training fund. The department of advanced education and ourselves worked very hard for several months to develop the guidelines for that program.”
The business training fund was developed specifically to meet the needs of Yukon employers, said Karp. A large part of the funding goes towards travel.
The office of Jason Kenney, Canada’s minister of employment and social development, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at