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Provinces to make Ottawa a counter-offer on job grant

Employment Minister Jason Kenney speaks in Toronto on Oct. 8, 2013.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

The provinces are poised to make Jason Kenney a counter-offer on the Canada Job Grant that they hope will result in a deal on the proposed national job training program.

Officials from emissary provinces New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia will sit down Tuesday with Kenney, the federal employment and social development minister.

The meeting in Toronto comes after all the provinces and territories reached an agreement on a counter-proposal last week.

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They've agreed to measures that would give them more leeway in how they fund the program, and also make it less financially onerous for small businesses to take part in the program.

A spokesman for Kenney says the minister has listened to the provinces and "significantly" restructured the offer based on their feedback.

Under the original proposal, the government would have issued $15,000 grants to eligible Canadians, with the cost divided three ways between Ottawa, the provinces and interested employers.

Ottawa currently provides the provinces with $500 million a year in funding under existing labour market agreements that expire on March 31. Under the job grant, the provinces would have lost $300 million of those funds, or nearly 60 per cent.

Amid vehement opposition from the provinces and territories, the government then revised the original proposal by offering to cover the provincial share, bringing its own contribution up to $10,000 per grant.

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