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Federal budget commits to skills training: minister

The 2014 federal budget shows the government’s commitment to the workforce of the future, according to a federal cabinet minister.

Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne Findlay spoke to the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce last week about the federal budget, which she said adhered to three points, including a focus on supporting jobs and growth.

“We have created the Canada Apprentice Loan to help register apprentices in the Red Seal trades with the cost of training,” Findlay said. “They already have some help and support but this will be loans up to $4,000, interest free, for those registered in those Red Seal apprentice programs.”

She said the budget includes the introduction of the Flexibility and Innovation and Apprentice Technical Training pilot project, which she said will support apprentice programs across the country.

Of interest to non-trade-related small and medium-sized businesses is a commitment to internships, which Findlay said would promote mentoring and on-the-job training and as well, there would be a focus on general and federal investments in youth employment to provide real-world work experience in fields where there is high demand for workers.

The government dedicated $40 million for 3,000 internships in high-demand occupations over the next two years and an annual amount of $15 million a year will support 1,000 internships for recent university graduates for small- and medium-sized businesses.

The budget also takes older workers into consideration, as Canada has a “varied workforce,” according to Findlay. A $75-million investment over three years has been made to help older, unemployed workers and $15 million has been pledged over three years to help workers with disabilities.

“We all know people [who] have been out of the workforce for a little bit [and] they want to get back in or they need to upgrade their skills – this is going to help with that,” she said. “We’re also supporting Canadians with disabilities who are looking for work by making key investments in the Ready, Working and Able initiative.”

Along with employment initiatives, the budget will also reduce hurdles that have been hindering small businesses, including a reduction of tax compliance for small- and medium-size businesses and a revision of the remittance thresholds for employer-sourced deductions in order to reduce the number of payments that is a business is required to prepare.

The move will eliminate 800,000 payroll remittances, which will help 50,000 small businesses across the country, Findlay said.

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