Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders voiced opposition to Ottawa’s Canada Job Grant at last week’s Council of the Federation, arguing that the grants would cost them more than half a billion dollars.
Under the grant program, the Harper government would provide up to $15,000 in training dollars per worker, with a maximum of $5,000 coming from the federal government; the remaining two-thirds would be paid for by employers and the province or territory in question.
The premiers’ objections to the program hinged on its cost for provinces and territories, as well as fears that its implementation would jeopardize existing skills training programs. The leaders called for an opt out with full compensation.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark and New Brunswick Premier David Alward are investigating the issue and will report back to the other leaders in the fall.
Also at the Council of the Federation, Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford announced that they have appointed a working group led by the two most senior energy officials from each province to develop recommendations related to energy exports and opening new export markets. In creating the working group, the Alberta and B.C. premiers identified the goal of opening new markets and expanding export opportunities for oil, gas and other resources.
Other key discussions at the Council of the Federation included health and infrastructure policies.
Building on a bulk purchasing agreement on six generic pharmaceuticals implemented earlier this year, the Premiers’ Health Care Innovation Working Group (HCIWG), led by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz, announced that negotiations with suppliers have been completed for bulk purchasing of 10 brand name pharmaceuticals, with an additional 17 still under negotiation. In total, joint purchasing on these 27 pharmaceuticals will result in approximately $60-70 million savings annually.
Two other significant priority areas for the HCIWG over the next year are appropriateness of care and seniors care. Premiers asked the working group to examine opportunities within the team-based model framework to increase the role paramedics and pharmacists play in the provision of front line services, as well as in which cases diagnostic imaging tools are to be used.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, with the support of the other premiers, challenged the federal government’s infrastructure funding model and has been tasked with drafting a new infrastructure plan as part of the Fiscal Arrangements Working Group. Currently, the federal government determines infrastructure funding on a case-by-case basis; instead, Premier Wynne proposes that provinces should determine ahead of time what must be built and have the federal funding dedicated to it.
Finally, Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford today announced they have appointed a working group led by the two most senior energy officials from each province to develop recommendations related to energy exports and opening new export markets. In creating the working group, the Alberta and BC Premiers identified the goal of opening new markets and expanding export opportunities for oil, gas and other resources.