Immigration deemed necessary for federal training scheme

The St. John's Board of Trade is welcoming a new federal plan to help businesses train employees, although its head says the money will be useless in Newfoundland and Labrador without people to fill the jobs.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced details of a skills development scheme on Thursday during the annual budget.

Denis Mahoney, the chair of the St. John's Board of Trade, said the demand for workers in the province continues to mount as large construction projects come online.

"We need more people in this province," Mahoney said.

"Immigration is part of that solution and we were disappointed to hear that the government of Canada didn't address that in the budget this year."

Newfoundland and Labrador Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy all but shrugged as he reacted to the budget, seeing nothing exciting or surprising.

Kennedy, however, did applaud the training program, which calls on Ottawa, the provinces and businesses to contribute $5,000 each to train a worker.

"We get so little money from the federal government, approximately 10 or 11 per cent of our revenue, [so] any time we can receive money with matching funds we generally invest in that," Kennedy said.

The details of the program will be worked out over the next year.

Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour president Lana Payne was not impressed by Flaherty's budget speech.

"This is an austerity budget, there's no doubt about it," she said.

"This really is not about delivering change for the economy, it really is a budget about one thing and that's how do we get to surplus in time for an election."

Payne said the situation is especially grim for those who need training to get a job.

"The federal government is also taking back a good portion of the money that it had allocated to the employment insurance fund to deliver training," she said.

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