Ottawa moves to confront skills challenge

OTTAWA, March 21, 2013 /CNW/ - The measures announced in today's budget are a significant step forward in the federal government's attack on Canada's skills challenge.  The Canadian Chamber of Commerce welcomes a more activist approach by all Canada's governments to confront a growing problem.

"The skills problem leads our Top Ten list of critical barriers to Canada's competitiveness," says Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "It's showing up all across the country, in every industry. We are pleased to see the government is moving to confront it, and to include business directly in the solutions."

Mr. Beatty said the Canadian Chamber has long believed training programs should be designed and run by those closest to the workforce. "We believe in the leadership role of the provinces and territories, which these measures respect, but we're pleased to see business and educators will now have a central role as well. Of course, small and medium-sized businesses have specific challenges when it comes to training their employees and we are pleased the government recognises that."

"Mr. Flaherty reiterated the government's commitment to erasing the federal deficit by 2015. We think that's going to be tough, but it's essential. Much of our recent economic success is tied to our reputation as a prudent country which follows through on its fiscal plans."

The Chamber President also expressed strong support for new federal measures to improve training and education for Aboriginal peoples.  "Although these are very modest measures, they are a step in the right direction. Most Aboriginal peoples are young. They represent a huge potential workforce, but we have to support them more. Funding for Aboriginal education at all levels has lagged for many years, and education results have, too. It's not hard to see the connection."

Finally, Mr. Beatty expressed disappointment with the Budget's plan for research and innovation funding. "Last year Ottawa made a $770 million reduction to the incentives available for research in Canada. We urged the government to have a dialogue with the leading research corporations in Canada, to make sure the replacement model met their needs. Reviewing today's budget, many of Canada's most important innovators will be disappointed.  It will be hard for those companies to maintain their commitments to research in Canada when other jurisdictions are more supportive."

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 420 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 192,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. News and information are available at Chamber.ca or follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.

SOURCE CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE



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