MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
“Delivering Employment Help NOW and in the Weeks Ahead”
Prince George-Peace River was among the first areas of Canada to feel the effects of the global economic downturn. Forest workers and their families and our forest communities, like Mackenzie, McBride, Fort Nelson and Chetwynd, began experiencing layoffs and mill shutdowns over a year ago.
My point is not to add to the doom-and-gloom headlines by repeating what you already know to be true. Rather, I would like to provide more details on new federal initiatives that give “hope” to local workers by responding to their specific needs and suggestions by local companies, union leaders and community representatives.
When you’re laid off or facing a job loss, you begin by exploring your options. How can I pay the bills? Where can I find another job? What can I do to improve my chances at getting another job – and one that will last?
Significant resources are being directed towards helping you answer those questions. Some new programs are already underway.
Last week I attended the launch the new Labour Market Partnership between the United Steelworkers Local 1-424, the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada. Local 1-424 is coordinating the delivery of employment and training services to job-threatened workers and those ineligible for Employment Insurance.
Participants in the program will receive skills assessments, assistance with personal portfolio plans and job search skills, one-on-one career and education counselling, specialized training and upgrading courses.
Other new programs under the Canada Skills and Transition Strategy will be available upon the passage of Budget 2009:
For EI recipients, there will now be eligibility for an additional five weeks of benefits.
For mills on the verge of shutdown, EI Worksharing Agreements will be extended for an additional 14 weeks, averting further layoffs.
For EI recipients, an additional $1-billion over the next two years will expand training available through EI.
For workers who’ve spent their entire career in one industry, such as forestry, or often in one mill, a new $500-million program will extend EI income benefits so they can participate in longer-term training.
For older workers, a $60-million increase to the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers will provide $50-million each year in training and employment activities to help them stay in the workforce.
For contractors or the self-employed not eligible for EI, or those out of work for a prolonged period of time, a new $500-million program will support their training needs.
For those just entering the work force, the Youth Employment Strategy will provide an additional $20-million over two years through the Canada Summer Jobs program to enable more employers in the not-for-profit sector to hire summer students.
For our hard hit resource communities, the new $1-billion Community Adjustment Fund will help restructure and diversify our local economies.
With the exception of the NDP, the opposition parties are cooperating with our Government to get the budget passed and get this much-needed help delivered to you by Service Canada, Service BC, WorkBC and other partners like USW Local 1-424. I will continue to keep you updated on when you can begin accessing the services listed above.
Meanwhile, you can check out: www.servicecanada.gc.ca, www.workbc.ca or www.assessingplanningtraining.com.