Liberals owe adult learning organizations straight answers about LMA funding

April 9, 2014

Organizations such as the Dartmouth Learning Centre say the lack of clarity around funding from the Labour Market Agreement (LMA) as a result of the Canada Job Grant program is having a negative impact on their ability to provide programming that helps people enter the work force.

“We are trying hard to understand the different perspectives between the Federal and Provincial governments on the Canada Jobs Grant and the required contribution from Nova Scotia which Minister Kenney advised in Question Period to be 2% of the Skills Training Funding from Ottawa to Nova Scotia,” said Leslie Dunn, Executive Director of the Dartmouth Learning Centre.

“From our perspective if the 2% contribution is the truth then we should expect that the impact to us would be a 2% or less reduction in our funding. Right now the impact is considerably more. Trying to get clarification on the information presented by the two levels of government has been difficult, and time consuming. We wish the issue to be resolved so we can eliminate the stress and anxiety for our learners who fear that their learning and their access to the labour market is not a priority.”

In January, Labour Minister Kelly Regan wrote to organizations that receive funding through the LMA to inform them the Liberal government could not commit to funding beyond April of this year as a result of the LMA being replaced by the Canada Job Grant. After being pressured by affected organizations and the NDP the province provided $2.2 in short term funding to affected organizations with no long term commitment.

“Organizations continue to be told by the province that they can’t afford to back fill federal dollars, but they’re not getting the whole story,” said Frank Corbett, NDP Labour critic.

On March 31, the Chronicle Herald obtained a letter from Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney to Premier Stephen McNeil that paints a much different picture. In the letter Kenny states: “I am perplexed by media reports indicating that Nova Scotia service providers have been told by your government that their (labour market agreement) funded programs are being cancelled due to the creation of the Canada Job Grant,” The letter goes on to say the Liberal governments’ actions are “inexplicable” because 98 per cent of funding from the previous year is still available for the upcoming year.

“While the federal and provincial government go back and forth, groups that provide valuable programs to hundreds of Nova Scotians are being kept in the dark,” said Corbett. “It’s time for someone to show leadership and let these organizations know exactly what they can expect over the coming year.