A Nova Scotia MLA is speaking out against the federal government`s plan to replace Labour Market Agreements with a new skills training program.

The Canada Job Grant is scheduled to come into effect on April 1. But some, like Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Kelly Regan, say the program should not come at the expense of existing training programs for Canada's most vulnerable workers.

In a statement, Regan called the federal government’s description of the program “misleading.”

“I understand and share the concerns of the many groups and individuals who benefit from and offer Labour Market Agreement programs. These programs are not only valuable, they work,” said Regan.

She reiterated comments Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil made about the cuts last week.

“We can’t afford to pick up the fiscal slack if Ottawa reduces its support for certain programs,” said Regan.

“We can’t pick up all of the places where the federal government is divesting themselves of their responsibility.”

Hundreds at risk of losing funding

Programs like Skills Up are one of the many adult workforce training programs at risk of losing federal funding.

Skills Up is an employment program that provides financial assistance to eligible African Nova Scotians to help them obtain the skills training they need to find employment.

The program has made a big difference in John Tollivers’s life, first through adult literacy training, then by paying tuition for a business administration course at the Nova Scotia Community College.

“Without this program I probably wouldn't [have gone] back to school,” he said. 

'We can’t pick up all of the places where the federal government is divesting themselves of their responsibility.' - Kelly Regan

When the new Canada Job Grant comes online, 90 African Nova Scotians at NSCC will have to find money elsewhere to finish their courses.

The provincial government has frozen the Skills Up program. It has stopped taking applications as it sorts out what to do next about this program and others like it that are losing federal funding.

Ottawa sent an offer last week to the provinces on a funding deal for job training and they have until Friday to accept it.

The provinces have said they want to keep their existing programs under the so-called labour market agreements, while Ottawa has proposed to shift millions of dollars into its employer-directed Canada Job Grant program.

The employees in the nine agencies under the Collaborative Partnership Network rely on an annual budget of $500,000 that came from federal funding for training.

With files from The Canadian Press, Paul Withers