New job fund a victory for Yukon: Taylor

The Canada Job Fund agreement signed with the federal government last week includes significant improvements over what was proposed a year ago, Yukon Education Minister Elaine Taylor said this morning.

The Canada Job Fund agreement signed with the federal government last week includes significant improvements over what was proposed a year ago, Yukon Education Minister Elaine Taylor said this morning.

By working closely with other provinces and territories over the past year, Yukon has negotiated a “modest number of changes” that will “help to minimize the negative impact” of the Canada’s initial proposal, said Taylor.

A year ago the federal government announced with great fanfare the Canada Job Grant, a subsidy for employers looking to train employees or potential employees.

The fund would replace expired labour market agreements that paid for skills training for vulnerable populations.

Here in the Yukon, that money paid for things like Skookum Jim Friendship Centre’s youth employment centre, the Kwanlin Dun House of Learning and Challenge Community Vocational Alternatives’ Bridges employability program.

While it’s true that the new deal still reduces, over time, the allotment for those types of programs, the impact has been greatly lessened from what was offered a year ago, said Taylor.

For one, Yukon’s total allotment under the job fund has doubled, from about $500,000 annually to about a million.

Further, the federal government relented slightly on how much of that money must go towards the Canada Job Grant employer subsidy.

Also, Yukon has signed a separate deal that allows an additional $1.25 million for programs that help people with disabilities get jobs, said Taylor. Many of the programs supported under the earlier agreements are eligible to shift to this new funding stream.

Yukon’s MP Ryan Leef, in an interview yesterday, also pointed to that agreement and other ways the federal government is supporting under-served Yukoners beyond the new job fund agreement.

“When you look at our track record and you don’t look at these programs in isolation but you look at the entire suite of what we’re doing, our record is strong, it’s positive and it’s going to pay off for our territory.”

The Canada Job Grant will replace a business training fund that had been managed by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

The job grant requires businesses to chip in a third of training costs, and will not cover travel expenses when programs are not available in the Yukon.

The chamber’s program only required a ten per cent contribution and could be used to offset travel costs.

But the Yukon negotiated some improvements here, too, said Taylor.

Now, businesses with fewer than 50 employees can use the trainee’s wages to cover half its contribution, bringing total investment down to about 17 per cent of training costs.

The Yukon government is also looking at ways that it can use its contribution towards supporting travel expenses, said Taylor.

There also is a new branch of the job fund, still under development, that is intended to provide more flexibility than what is offered under the Canada Job Grant.

“We’re listening and responding to what the employers are telling us they need,” said Leef.

Whether travel might be covered under that program is up for discussion, he said.

So is whether employers may be able to receive some compensation for training programs delivered by business to their own employees, said Leef.

He gave the example a rafting company that requires its guides to achieve a certain certification, and the necessary courses are delivered normally by the company itself.

Under the Canada Job Grant the business is left in the absurd situation where a competing rafting company could receive a subsidy to access that course for its employees, but the company offering the program would not be eligible for any funds offsetting costs to train its own.

The yet-to-be-determined Employer Sponsored Training program could address that and similar issues, said Leef.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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