The provincial government has sent a letter to Ottawa expressing concern about reports Ottawa could take back money it provides the provinces to provide the unemployed with training.


A national labour training program may not meet the needs of individual provinces, says P.E.I. Innovation Minister Allen Roach. (CBC)

A column in the National Post recently talked about the possibility of Ottawa taking control of administering $2.5 billion in training money that currently go to the provinces. P.E.I. gets a $30 million share of that through two programs operated by Skills PEI. The Labour Market Agreement provides training for people who qualify for Employment Insurance, and the Labour Market Development Agreement provides training for people who don't.

In a letter to Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, P.E.I. Innovation Minister Allen Roach said the province needs to be able to control its own training programs to meet its economic goals.

"The Labour Market Agreements are critical supports for our province's employment growth and economic development," said Roach.

"These agreements assist the labour needs of employers and organizations while helping to improve the skills and employability of Prince Edward Islanders."

Roach expressed concerns a national program may not meet the particular needs of P.E.I.

"It is vital that these agreements rest in the hands of the provinces," he wrote.

"A nationally run program may negatively impact our ability to diversify and strengthen our economy."

Roach said the programs are evaluated annually against federal government criteria.

Roach was not available to talk to CBC News about the issues, but an Innovation official said 5,000 Islanders use the services funded through the agreements every year.

The Labour Market Agreement was signed in 2008 and is set to expire in March 2014. The Labour Market Development Agreement doesn't have an end date, but instead has a clause that says if either party wants out it has to give two years' notice.

The federal government hasn't confirmed the story, saying it won't talk about its economic plan before the budget.