Published on October 29, 2013
Wade King, left, owner/operator of Affordable Cleaning, and company manager Kirby Gillingham fill out questionnaires during a public consultation on potential changes to federal skilled trades and employment programs in Corner Brook on Tuesday.
Star photo by Diane Crocker
Published on October 29, 2013
John Boland fills out a questionnaire on the Canada Job Grant program during a public consultation session hosted by the Department of Advanced Education and Skills in Corner Brook on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013.
CORNER BROOK — From what he heard on Tuesday, John Boland believes the proposed Canada Job Grant program will have a negative impact on businesses like his.
“It’s going to be a detriment to taking on employees,” said the owner of Bay of Islands Electrical.
Boland was one of about 16 people to attend a consultation session hosted by the Department of Advanced Education and Skills in Corner Brook on Tuesday. Many of those present represented small businesses from around the area.
The session was led by Lana Bannister, regional manager of employment services with the department, and was held at the Corner Brook office about the pending changes to the federal government’s skilled trades and employment programs.
“We really don’t have a lot of information about this program,” said Bannister, adding it was something that was announced last year and to the department’s knowledge the other provinces have not signed on to it yet.
She said the consultation sessions being held by the province are meant to gather the views of employers to inform the province’s position in upcoming discussions with the federal government.
Bannister said the changes have the potential to divert $600 million, Canadawide, away from current labour market programs and toward the new Canada Job Grant.
In her presentation, Bannister provided an overview of the current Labour Market Agreement, the programs currently covered by it and of the proposed grant program.
Afterwards, those gathered were invited to share their thoughts and pose questions, all of which was recorded by department staff. They were also asked to fill out a questionnaire.
There were questions about why the program has to change, concern over the amount available to employers under the grant and whether current provincial programs will continue, and questions on the impact the change will have on apprenticeship training.
The impact on apprenticeship programs was of particular interest to Boland, who uses the apprenticeship wage subsidy program to hire employees for projects. He considers it an excellent way for people coming out of school to find work and pick up training.
For employers, he said, having the subsidy makes hiring those people worthwhile.
“If I’m getting a wage subsidy you’re inclined to take more people,” said Boland. “But if you got to pay full or almost full wages you’re going to try to get away with a limited amount.”
Boland said from what he heard the new grant program appears geared towards employers who employ people on a more full-time or permanent basis.
“If you want to upgrade a guy who’s working for you on a factory floor you send him to school and he goes back to the floor again, but with construction it doesn’t work that way.”
Wade King also attended the session to find out about the changes and left feeling the grant program was targeted more toward the skilled trades.
“I don’t thing this particular system is targeted towards my type of business,” said the owner/operator of Affordable Cleaning.
“We’re the type of business that when someone leaves us today, we need someone tomorrow.”
King said he’s used one or two provincial programs in the past that have helped him to expand, so attending the session was informative in terms of knowing what will be available.
“Who’s to say that I will not be involved in growing my business to a point where I might have to avail of skilled trades.”
Another consultation session will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Kindale Public Library in Stephenville.