The following is OCASI’s preliminary comments on the federal budget, focused on areas that directly impact our sector (broadly defined):
There are no cuts or increases to the National Settlement and Integration program funding envelope. Ontario Region’s allocation will depend on landing numbers for 2013 and the application of the settlement allocation model which uses three years rolling landing numbers, as well another considerations to determine funding level.
- The Budget puts $14.0 million over two years and $4.7 million per year on an ongoing basis, to implement the Expression of Interest (EOI) economic immigration system. Under the EOI interested economic immigrants would submit an online application, which would be ranked and sorted and made available for consideration by Provincial/Territorial governments and employers, according to immigration and labour market needs. The EOI is expected to come into effect in 2015. The Budget proposes to cancel the immigrant investor program, which allows immigrants to gain permanent residency in exchange for financial investment in Canada.
- The Budget introduces a plan to launch a Job Matching Service, with investment of $11.8 million over two years and $3.3 million per year on an ongoing basis. The service is intended to support a skills match between job seekers and local employment openings. The Budget also provides $11.0 million over two years and $3.5 million per year on an ongoing basis to strengthen the Labour Market Opinion process, so that Canadian residents are considered first for any job openings. The two measures are a response to concerns that employers are recruiting workers from overseas through the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, instead of looking first at the domestic labour market.
- The Budget proposes to expand the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers for a three -year period. The Initiative is to assist unemployed older workers in smaller vulnerable communities affected by downsizing or closure, or significant unemployment. Program costs are shared with provinces and territories. The measure can potentially provide relief to Ontario workers who have been unable to find employment after losing their jobs to plant closures.
- The Budget includes a small investment to support youth employment by providing internships for up to 4,000 youth, including 1,000 through the Youth Employment Strategy. It also includes a small amount - $15 million over three years – to support labour market access for people with developmental disabilities.
The Budget is titled “Creating Jobs and Opportunities”, yet does not contain targeted employment initiatives for unemployed or underemployed workers who are excluded from Employment Insurance programs. Immigrant and racialized workers as well as Youth 15-24 are over-represented in these numbers.
The Budget states that Canada Job Grant is to be launched in April 2014. The government intends to proceed with the implementation whether or not there is agreement from provinces and territories, and plans on $10,000 from the federal government and $5,000 employer contribution. The government will be re-negotiating the Labour Market Agreements (LMA) which expires March 31, 2014. There is widespread concern that Canada Job Grant program will be resourced through cuts to the LMA funding.
A small amount of monies - $25 million over five years - has been earmarked for violence against women programming with a focus on First Nations women. Given the increasing number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women it is time that the Federal government acknowledged this critical issue.
The budget missed the opportunity to address childcare needs, a challenge that is faced by many Canadian residents, and missed the opportunity to reverse cuts to the Interim Federal Health program for refugees.
There are other considerations in the Budget that apply to the broader non-profit sector. Please review the following link for analysis: