Yesterday’s budget announcement underlined the need to improve employment rates across the country, but according to the Parti Québécois, the proposed Canada Job Grant is not the way to do it.
The PQ is formally asking Ottawa to exempt the province from the federal skills training program and the strings that come attached to it.
Quebec finance minister Nicolas Marceau argued that Quebec has its own human resources development programs in place — ones that work well without federal intervention.
"We have our own ways of doing things," he said.
The grant proposed by finance minister Jim Flaherty will provide $15,000 to help job seekers adapt their skills to the needs of the labour market, with the employer and federal and provincial governments each providing a third of the money.
But the PQ sees it as an attempt by the federal government to undermine Quebec's provincial autonomy.
"It's a real provocation to Quebecers. Obviously they don't even understand their own constitution," said Alexandre Cloutier, Quebec’s intergovernmental affairs minister.
Meanwhile, other provincial parties are wary of the PQ’s reaction.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec’s finance critic Christian Dubé said the PQ government is overlooking other parts of the budget that will deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to Quebec for infrastructure, and research and development.
"I think there are a lot of good measures, and they should at least be thankful that there is something in there for Quebec," Dubé said.
Liberal critic Sam Hamad said the PQ is simply itching for a fight and is using the federal budget to try to build more support for sovereignty.
"The PQ wants to fight with the government," he said.