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Budget to stress skills training, infrastructure: Flaherty to Tory caucus

Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty.

ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Skills, infrastructure and manufacturing will be major themes in Thursday's federal budget, according to a letter Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has written to the Conservative caucus.

The one-and-a-half page letter indicates the budget will be branded as "Economic Action Plan 2013" and will have three main themes centred on job creation. The letter is light on details, but confirms the overall focus of the budget.

The first theme is titled "Connecting Canadians with Available Jobs."

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"There are too many jobs that go unfilled in Canada because employers can't find workers with the right skills. Training in Canada is not sufficiently aligned to the skills employers need," the letter states. "We can do better… we will take steps to address this important issue."

The Globe reported on Tuesday that the government wants to renegotiate the terms of the $2.5-billion it transfers to the provinces for skills training.

The second theme is titled "Building on our unprecedented investments in infrastructure." The budget is expected to renew and expand existing infrastructure programs, which are scheduled to expire in 2013-14. "We will do more," Mr. Flaherty writes.

Canada's cities are expecting Mr. Flaherty to renew existing transfers worth about $4.25-billion a year, provide a small additional increase and commit the funds for a longer period than the last deal, which was a seven year pledge.

The third category listed in the minister's letter is "Supporting high-quality, value-added jobs in important sectors of the Canadian economy."

The letter notes that Canada's manufacturers and processors employ approximately 1.8 million Canadians in a wide range of industries.

"The manufacturing sector has started to rebound following the global recession due, in part, to measures taken by our government," Mr. Flaherty writes. "There is more we can and will do to support this important sector of the Canadian economy."

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