Montreal — For decades, the federal and provincial governments have both been involved in Canada’s labour market policies and programs. A new study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy takes stock of major developments in this area since the election of the Liberal government in 2015 and reviews the current state of intergovernmental relations.
“Recent cooperation on labour market policy has been remarkable, given past tensions in this area. Historically, the two orders of government have jostled for influence against the backdrop of contentious constitutional politics,” says author Andrew McDougall, who teaches political science at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
According to McDougall, governments have moved to a new phase focused on developing pragmatic solutions to shared problems. This was reflected in particular in the Workforce Development Agreements, which have been signed with each province and territory in order to simplify the allocation of federal funding and allow greater flexibility in program delivery.
In addition, the Labour Market Information Council was established in 2017 to improve the timeliness, reliability and accessibility of labour market information. The council’s board of directors includes representatives from the federal government and all provinces and territories. In 2018, the Future Skills Centre was created to identify emerging workforce trends and to test various approaches to skills development.
Based on these and other developments in the past few years, McDougall concludes that strong intergovernmental cooperation has become the norm in this sector. “What was at times a zero-sum federal-provincial fight has shifted to a situation where governments work in concert to address enduring problems.” Moreover, he adds, they have been keeping political disagreements largely out of the public eye.
All Together Now: Intergovernmental Relations in Canada’s Labour Market Sector, by Andrew McDougall, can be downloaded from the Institute’s website (irpp.org).
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