© Canadian Press photo
Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty speaks at to reporters following a post-budget event in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
OTTAWA — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is scoffing at provincial complaints about the April 1 deadline for the contentious Canada Job Grant imposed in Tuesday’s federal budget.
Flaherty says the money being put into job creation and job training across the country is federal money, not provincial money.
He says it’s not for a provincial government to tell the federal government how to spend federal tax money.
Flaherty says billions of dollars of federal money flow to the provinces each year, and some of them don’t even report the results and fail to use the cash for job training.
He says provinces and territories should report not only who gets training with the money, but the names of employers and the nature of the training they’re providing.
If the provinces can’t do such reporting, he adds, the federal government will.
Several provincial officials have taken issue with the deadline imposed in Tuesday’s budget.
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois has expressed outrage that Ottawa is insisting it will enforce the Canada Job Grant in just six weeks, without any stragglers among the provinces and territories if necessary.
In the Quebec legislature today, Marois accused the Conservative government of acting like “a real predator.”
Flaherty, however, says provinces have their own taxation powers and can raise their own taxes.
In a pointed jab at Quebec’s dire economic situation, Flaherty described himself as “the finance minister of a government that is solvent.”
Flaherty’s tone is at odds with that of Employment Minister Jason Kenney, who has reached out to the provinces in recent months in an attempt to get a national deal on the job grant program.