David Alward questions Harper's new job training plan

Premier David Alward says he and the other premiers will fight the federal government's plan to overhaul a labour funding agreement.

Canada Job Grant plan will cost New Brunswick $8M, Premier David Alward says

Premier David Alward and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark were chosen at the annual premiers' meeting last week to study skills training and report back to the Council in the Federation in the fall. (Aaron Lynett/Canadian Press)

Premier David Alward says he and his provincial counterparts will fight the federal government’s plan to change a labour funding agreement.

At the annual premiers’ meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. last week, Alward and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark were named to study skills training and report back in the fall.

The premiers are upset about the $900-million Canada Job Grant initiative announced in the federal budget last March, without any consultation with the provinces.

Alward said the current program provides federal funding to provide training to people who don't have a work history.

He said the new federal program would see that money cut and a new program that would be cost-shared between the federal government, the provincial governments and businesses.

"There's a lot of concern that, especially small- and medium-sized businesses don't have the capacity or the ability to participate," Alward said in an interview on Monday.

"So at the end of the day, there's a lot of questions whether or not the money is going to be used well."

The new program is expected to take $300 million out of funds that have annually gone to the provinces over the past six years through what was called Labour Market Agreements, an arrangement that allowed each province to tailor-make its own job-training program.

It also expects provincial governments to ante up $300 million of their own in matching funds, money that could force them to cut established programs, some premiers have said.

Alward said the change will cost the New Brunswick government roughly $8 million.