Decentralization and Workforce Development Programs for Unemployed Working-Age Adults in Canada
Alison Bramwell examines the evolution of active labour market programs in Canada.
Dramatic changes to the nature of employment over the past twenty-five years underscore the increasing importance of active labour market policy in Canada. There are mounting concerns that Canada lacks the adult training system to facilitate adjustment to 21st century economic realities because a large proportion of unemployed adult workers who are ineligible for Employment Insurance have not been able to access the training they need. This paper examines the evolution of how active labour market programs for unemployed adults in Canada are designed, funded, administered, and delivered with a particular focus on Ontario. It argues that the decentralization of active labour market policy under the Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs) and Labour Market Agreements (LMAs) that make adult training a de facto provincial responsibility and expand eligibility for training programs is a step in the right direction. Recent research on workforce development suggests that training and employment programs are most effective when delivered in a regionally sensitive way.
This paper outlines three possible directions for reform of Canada’s workforce development system: harmonize Employment Insurance and Social Assistance income support systems and make a single order of government responsible for its administration; permanently devolve policy responsibility and funding for training of all unemployed and low skilled workers to provincial governments under existing LMAs; and create a multi-level policy framework that integrates the local level for strategic policy, program delivery and planning purposes.View PDF
September 7, 2011