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Provinces, Kenney, meet to discuss counter-offer on Canada Job Grant

TORONTO - The provinces and territories have wrapped up a meeting with Employment Minister Jason Kenney after presenting him with a counter-offer to his Canada Job Grant.

A spokesman for Kenney called the meeting "productive" but provided no further details about whether the feds and the provinces and territories are any closer to a deal on the national job training program.

Officials from emissary provinces New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia met with Kenney in Toronto. All the provinces and territories agreed to the terms of the counter-proposal last week.

They're united on measures that would give them more leeway in how they fund the program. The provincial proposals would also make it less financially onerous for small businesses to participate in the Canada Job Grant.

An official close to the talks said earlier this week that the provinces are seeking flexibility in funding that goes beyond what Kenney offered them in a revised Job Grant proposal in late December.

The Canada Job Grant is slated to take effect on April 1.

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.

Kenney later revised the original proposal when the provinces complained that they would lose $300 million meant for other job training programs. He offered to cover the provincial share, bringing Ottawa's own contribution up to $10,000 per grant.

Brad Duguid, Ontario's minister of training, colleges and universities, said the revised offer would still divert $300 million from existing programs aimed at helping aboriginals, immigrants, women, youth, older workers, people with disabilities and those with low literacy levels.

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