When Jim Flaherty presented the Conservative’s 2013 budget to the House of Commons yesterday, many in the region were put at ease to learn that it aimed to increase both jobs and skills training.
“We’re certainly pleased that the federal government has initiated a skills training program that will help Windsor Essex businesses maximize their output [and] productivity and wealth in this region,” said Windsor and Region Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Matt Marchand in a telephone interview with OurWindsor.ca.
“One of the key issues the Windsor Essex Chamber [of Commerce] has been advocating on in consultation with its members is the issue of skills and we have a number of businesses in town that are looking for skilled workers, but can’t seem to find them,” stated Marchand who explained that the chamber had been working with counterparts across the province lobbying the government on the issue of skills training.
“We do have a skills shortage in this community, we do have a high unemployment rate, so we have an opportunity to help bring the unemployment rate down, generate some more wealth and income for our region,” said Marchand.
The morning after the budget was presented, the chamber invited a representative from KMPG to present an analysis of the federal budget to their membership.
“I can’t say I was totally surprised, the one thing I was surprised [about] was that there were no surprises in it,” said University of Windsor political science professor Dr. Cheryl Collier. “This government has been pretty good at having an interesting nugget in [the budget] that people didn’t really know about ahead of time, to grab headlines and I didn’t really see that with this budget.”
Collier explained that the government has been upset with the way that their job training fund has been spent as roughly 74% of it has gone to basic job employment skills instead of to trying to match up people with jobs that require certain skill sets.
“The focus on job training, skills training [and] trying to fill a gap that they’ve identified in the job market is not brand new. If you read the budget and think it’s brand new, then you might think it’s good for Windsor because it’s brand new, but it’s not … what is brand new is that the government is going to try to put a little more parameters around the money that they’re spending.” said Collier.
MP Brian Masse wasn’t impressed by the budget and expressed in an interview with OurWindsor.ca that it was “a disappointing budget to Canadians” which “didn’t focus on the economy and jobs enough.”
Masse doesn’t believe that funding for jobs creation will be paid out by the federal government as it is contingent on a two-thirds funding requirement from both the province and private sector.
“The jobs program they’re offering … there’s no guarantee it’ll take place,” said Masse.
“The reality is, the Minister of Finance has been off by his projections by thirty-five per cent this year alone, so I just don’t have any confidence with these projections,” expressed Masse who would have rather seen more of a focus specifically on training and job development and more infrastructure investment.
“They’re making financial commitments far past their mandate and on top of that we’re going to continue to see cuts in government services and I think those things can create inefficiencies,” said Masse.
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.