As you can see, I’m catching up on budget announcements that happened while I was lying on a beach getting away from winter.
British Columbia announced in its February 20, 2018 budget an additional $19 million annually to end fees for Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning. This confirms the elimination of a key barrier that will lead to greater participation in post-secondary education and in the economy. Many literacy advocates had protested against the introduction of fees by the previous government.
The budget also provided permanent funding to the Indigenous Skills Training Development Fund of $30 million over 3 years. The fund is used for projects led by First Nations communities who identify labour market opportunities and work with accredited training providers to deliver the appropriate training.
BC’s version of the renewed Canada Job Grant/Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities is called the Workforce Development Agreement (WDA). BC will invest $95 million annually on training and employment services, primarily for those not eligible for Employment Insurance. According to Budget 2018,
“much of the programming will be repurposed to focus more on the Indigenous population, persons with disabilities, youth, and vulnerable groups. Two separate additional allocations within the WDA will be devoted to communities requiring access to skills training to respond to sudden labour market shifts such as natural disasters, closure of a major employer, or new economic development opportunities, and to employers who are upskilling workers or providing training for newly hired vulnerable workers to be job-ready.”
No mention is made of literacy and essential skills in the context of the WDA in the budget. Hopefully, the WDA will set aside funds for those with weaker skills.