NDP attacks skills development funding freeze

The government’s decision to cut skills training is a bad economic move that will leave unemployed British Columbians without the means to retrain to meet labour market demands, New Democratic Party MLAs said Wednesday.

Late last week, the provincial government ordered the Skills Development Employment Benefits program to rein in spending on all retraining programs and to cap all tuition funding effective immediately.

“The SDEB program provides invaluable support for unemployed British Columbians on Employment Insurance to retrain so they can transition within the labour market,” said Nicholas Simons, NDP critic for social development. “However, service providers were told late last week that the program is out of money, with no word of further funding. In typical B.C. Liberal fashion, this came through quietly on a Friday afternoon with total disregard for the people impacted.

“By capping funding the B.C. Liberals are not only putting up major road blocks for unemployed British Columbians, but forcing those already in programs and without the financial means to quit mid-semester.”

Simons’ comments echoed those of Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald who said the decision smacked of government mismanagement.

“Particularly in this time, when so many forest-workers are facing unemployment, we must invest in retraining,” Macdonald told The Revelstoke Current. “But instead of focusing on that priority, the Liberal government has completely dropped the ball.

“In years past, the federal government would ensure that the program ran all year, providing support from the beginning of the fiscal year until the end.  The provincial government has so mismanaged this file that this fiscal year this program will only be funded for about eight months.”

New Democrat MLAs across the province have been raising their concerns with Rich Coleman, the Minister responsible.

You can read The Revelstoke Current’s original story on this issue here: https://legacy.revelstokecurrent.com//2009/12/09/funding-freeze-shocks-employment-service-providers