TORONTO, Nov. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - Canada's Premiers met today to continue their focus on jobs and the economy.
In order to grow the economy, Premiers are united in their commitment to
provide skills training to all Canadians who want to participate in the
workforce. They support evidence based programming that has been proven
to help Canadians. Consultations led by Premiers Clark and Alward
confirmed that the proposed Canada Job Grant will not work for
employers or the most vulnerable Canadians.
As proposed, the Canada Job Grant would focus training funds on those
that already have jobs, and leave unemployed Canadians behind. Premiers
Clark and Alward will lead efforts to develop a counter proposal that
allows Canadians, including the most vulnerable and unemployed, to
receive the training that they need. Premiers reaffirmed their position
that provinces and territories must be able to opt out with full
Premiers also discussed a number of other priorities important to
economic growth including modernizing Canada's fiscal arrangements,
enhancing retirement income security, international trade, and
investments in infrastructure.
Premiers today reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring Canadians have
access to training programs threatened by recent federal proposals.
The proposal by the federal government to redirect funds from proven
skills development programs to the Canada Job Grant will not address
the needs of unemployed Canadians who most need to improve their job
prospects, particularly young people, persons with disabilities,
Aboriginal people, recent immigrants, social assistance recipients, the
long-term unemployed and older workers.
As the federal government has acknowledged, these programs have a proven
track record in helping vulnerable workers connect with the skills they
need to gain and hold employment. The federal government has to date
shown no evidence that the proposed Canada Job Grant will work for
employers or workers.
Premiers are driven by their conviction that every Canadian deserves a
job and that their joint efforts should be directed at getting as many
people as possible into the work place. The proposed Canada Job Grant
as currently structured is about training those already working.
In July, Canada's Premiers called for a meeting of Labour Market
Ministers with the federal government to discuss the Premiers' concerns
with the proposed Canada Job Grant. Premiers are pleased that this
meeting took place on November 8.
Premiers support involvement by employers in skills and job training and
targeting programs to better meet employers' needs. Under the
leadership of Premier Clark and Premier Alward, provinces and
territories have consulted extensively with business and labour leaders
and heard concerns from many business leaders across Canada that this
untested program would be ineffective in meeting the needs of
Premiers Clark and Alward will lead efforts to develop an alternative
that works for the people who need it the most. Canada's Premiers
agree that governments need to continue to serve vulnerable groups with
skills training and employment services by renewing the existing labour
market agreements at current levels of funding; any federal program
requiring provincial-territorial cost-matching must have the explicit
agreement of provinces and territories.
They also agreed that employers and small and medium sized businesses
need flexibility with their participation and that an evidence-based
approach is required to address the diverse needs of the country's
labour markets. We should not replace proven programs with a new
untested approach when the well-being of so many Canadians is at stake.
Premiers are unified in their position that provinces and territories
must retain the right to opt out with full compensation of any
federally funded agreements or initiatives such as the proposed Canada
Job Grant program.
Addressing Fiscal Arrangements:
Premiers noted the recent federal economic and fiscal update projecting
that the federal government will have a larger surplus than
anticipated, perhaps as much as $6.7 billion in 2015-16. The size of
the escalating surplus that could be available to the federal
government reinforces Premiers' concern about the ongoing fiscal
imbalances between governments that are affecting the ability of
provinces and territories to deliver quality public services. This
federal projection comes at a time when Premiers are witnessing an
increasing pattern of federal decisions being made without adequate
consultation, despite serious impacts on provincial and territorial
policy and fiscal planning.
Premiers support the work of their Finance Ministers on modernizing
fiscal arrangements and agreed on the need to update the fiscal
imbalance study. Premiers directed ministers to continue work on
specific modernization options. Premiers noted their desire for an
enhanced federal-provincial-territorial fiscal relationship that
ensures adequate and predictable transfers, which are essential to
maintaining the conditions that promote economic growth and enhanced
productivity in all regions of the country.
Enhancing Retirement Income:
Canada's Premiers agree that Canadians' retirement income security is a
pressing issue for governments across the country. Premiers recognize
the need for a strategy to address the adequacy of retirement income of
today's workers, including both the introduction of Pooled Registered
Pension Plans and options for Canada Pension Plan/Québec Pension Plan
(CPP/QPP) enhancements. Premiers directed their Finance Ministers to
continue to assess options for CPP/QPP enhancement and that this work
be guided by the following objectives:
Be responsible and fully funded and focus on today's workers;
Analyze and evaluate both the short-term and long-term effects on
business, families, and the economy should the enhancements proceed;
Improve the future retirement incomes of middle-income earners; and
Protect lower-income workers.
Premiers want to work with the federal government to enhance the
retirement savings of Canadians. Accordingly, Premiers directed their
Ministers of Finance to discuss the work on objectives and options at
the December 2013 meeting of federal-provincial-territorial Ministers
Strategic Infrastructure Investment:
Premiers discussed the important role that strategic infrastructure
investments play, both in terms of immediate and longer-term economic
benefits, including creating a competitive environment for business
investment, boosting employment, and increasing gross domestic product.
This issue will be a continuing focus of the COF work that Premier
Wynne is leading on strategic infrastructure investment, jobs and
growth that will report back to Premiers at the 2014 COF meeting.
Premiers call upon the federal government to be a full partner in
meeting the infrastructure challenges the country faces. This includes
adequate and predictable funding, respect for provincial and
territorial jurisdiction, infrastructure priorities and fiscal plans,
flexibility in the application of federal funds given the unique
circumstances of each province and territory, and fulfilling the 2011
commitment to establish a distinct Canada-wide disaster mitigation
Rail Transportation of Dangerous or Hazardous Goods:
At their meeting in July, Premiers discussed the tragic consequences of
the rail convoy derailment at Lac-Mégantic. They asked the federal
government to take necessary measures to ensure that such an accident
does not happen again. Today, Premiers discussed measures adopted since
July by the federal government.
They noted that, even if the federal government has recently attempted
to strengthen some of its regulatory requirements regarding the rail
transport of hazardous materials, additional efforts should be made by
the federal government to ensure the effectiveness of its intervention.
Premiers call on the federal government to ensure that it has
sufficient resources to effectively implement federal regulation,
including the deployment of inspectors on the ground.
Promoting Foreign Investment:
Premiers also discussed the importance of attracting investment to
Canada, and expressed concern about the lack of clarity around the new
federal rules related to the review of foreign direct investment in
Canada. Continued foreign investment into Canada is critical to
economic growth, and any doubt or uncertainty regarding Canadian
investment rules may cause that investment to go elsewhere.
Premiers agreed on the need to reassure international investors that
Canada remains open to investment. They want to work with the federal
government to more clearly define the processes and procedures under
the Investment Canada Act (ICA). To increase certainty for foreign investors, Premiers encouraged
the federal government to provide greater clarity for key definitions
under the ICA and publish the reasons for declining or accepting
Expanding International Trade:
Premiers expressed their support for the Comprehensive Economic and
Trade Agreement (CETA) in principle with the European Union (EU), and
emphasized the important role provinces and territories played
throughout these negotiations. Premiers also underscored the importance
for the federal government to formalize its commitments to provide
compensation related to CETA before the agreement comes into force.
Building on the intergovernmental collaboration developed during the
CETA negotiations and stressing the scope of other negotiations
underway, such as those of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),
Premiers urged the federal government to commit to a similar process as
the one used with the EU, which enables provinces and territories to
participate directly in the negotiations.
Premiers are committed to continuing their efforts to facilitate access
to international markets, increase trade opportunities for businesses
and establish the right conditions for increased foreign investment.
Premiers encourage the federal government to now focus its efforts on
quickly concluding ambitious free trade agreements with the TPP, Japan,
South Korea and India.
SOURCE: Council of the Federation
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