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Unifor: Canada Job Grants deal overdue

OTTAWA, Feb. 28, 2014 /CNW/ - Word that provinces will not have to cut existing job training programs to access the federal government's Canada Job Grant program is a welcome step forward, Canada's largest union in the private sector says.

"We need more job programs so that our youth can get a start in life, not fewer, and we certainly don't need one program cannibalizing one another," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

"Freeing the provinces to decide for themselves how to find the funding to participate in the program was always the way to go," Dias said.

When the federal government first announced the Canada Job Grant in its 2013 budget, it immediately came under criticism for requiring that any province wanting to take part must fund its share through previous federal job creation transfers, and for not discussing the plan with the provinces before announcing it.

"It was a divisive policy that only served to divide groups that should have been working together to reduce unemployment," Dias said.

"We can't forget that much time was lost - and youth unemployment only got worse - while the Harper government played chicken with the provinces," Dias said.

"Only by working together can we create the jobs that Canada's middle class families and young people need."

In that spirit, Unifor will host a Good Jobs Summit next fall in Toronto, bringing together stakeholders from labour, business and government to find ways to create more jobs.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, with more than 300,000 members. It was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.