“Our economy is being held back because the Prime Minister refuses to work with all major stakeholders to develop a comprehensive national skills development strategy." - James Clancy, NUPGE National President.
Ottawa (21 March 2013) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is concerned that the federal government is missing an opportunity to respond to Canada's underlying economic problems by continuing its hands-off, short-term approach in its 2013 budget.
“The impact of the drop in oil prices should be a warning to the federal government that just exporting more raw materials is not enough. This budget could have been the start of a long-term, active approach to building a balanced economy,” said James Clancy, NUPGE National President.
NUPGE argues that a first step in a long-term strategy to deal with Canada's economic problems should be broad-based consultations with key stakeholders from labour, business, government, educational institutions and research institutes.
“These stakeholders could work together on a framework to improve the long-term prospects for Canada's economy,” said Clancy. “The framework should recognize that people and nature must be at the heart of a modern economic strategy. And it should address questions such as which sectors have the greatest potential and how can they be developed to ensure good jobs are created in Canada while protecting our environment.”
Instead, as the government's approach to skills training in this budget shows, there has been no consultation with most stakeholders. The result is cosmetic solutions that create conflict with the provinces and fail to address fundamental problems.
“Improving skills training so Canadians looking for work are able to get the skills they need to fill the jobs that are out there requires that the federal government sit down with the provinces and other stakeholders,” said Clancy. “Our economy is being held back because the Prime Minister refuses to work with all major stakeholders to develop a comprehensive national skills development strategy.
“That strategy should encompass school-to-work, as well as retraining and skills upgrading for existing workers. Apprenticeship needs to play a major role,” said Clancy. “The barriers and challenges for apprentices and employers are well known and there are a number of practical steps governments can take - if they are willing to work together - to increase the number of apprentices and apprenticeships.”
NUPGE has worked with Canadians for a Modern Industrial Strategy (CMIS) to produce a discussion paper on how improving apprenticeship can help solve Canada's skills crisis. This paper expresses the issues in concrete terms and provides possible solutions. A copy of the paper can be downloaded here and is also available at www.industrialstrategy.ca.
The continued attack on the public sector in this year's budget is another example of the federal government's refusal to consider the long term impact of its policies.
“Cutting public services, eliminating public sector jobs and attacking public employees' benefits has a direct negative impact on the economy in the short-term and deprives families, communities and businesses of the quality public services they need to succeed in the long-term,” said Clancy. “Reforms intended to make the public sector run more like a business have backfired by reducing accountability and effectiveness. The government needs to take a different approach and look at options to raise more revenue to protect and strengthen quality public services for all Canadians.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE