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In April 2014, the Conservative government signed a new six-year labour and training agreement with the provinces and territories: The Canada Job Fund (CJF). Most jurisdictions have started implementing changes over the summer. CUPE commissioned Brigid Hayes, an expert advisor on learning, literacy and labour to take a closer look at the implications and areas of concern.

Hayes’ study clearly shows what we’ve known all along: Harper’s Canada Job Fund represents a step backward for Canada’s most vulnerable workers.

Since employers are now responsible for determining training needs, there are no real incentives to train non-employees. Even more troubling, the program does not specify anything about who can be trained, meaning that there are no limits to training managers and supervisors or to focus on higher skills training.

This was an opportunity for the federal government to show leadership by further helping workers that are non EI-eligible and those with low literacy and essential skills. Unfortunately, they’ve missed the mark.

While the previous agreements allowed for carry-over of unspent amounts, the CJF is designed to cut funding to provinces who fail to meet the complex spending targets. Hayes’ predicts that by the last three years of the CJF, only about 30 per cent of what was spent in the previous agreements on addressing learning and literacy for the most vulnerable workers will be available, effectively returning to the 1996 state of affairs.

For more information, you can read the full reports or the summaries: