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A PROVINCIAL Liberal plan to send welfare recipients up north to work makes no sense, says a member of the official NDP opposition.
The province should instead focus on training people already living in the north, says Carole James, the NDP critic for social development.
James was reacting to statements from provincial finance minister Kevin Falcon that his government is readying a program whereby southern welfare recipients would receive plane tickets and accommodation and training in the north.
He said the plan is based on the growing number of jobs coming open in the north thanks to large projects already underway or slated to start soon.
“If the government does have the money for training, there’s plenty of people in the north,” said James, adding that the aboriginal community would be a beneficiary of government programs.
“What’s really needed is for people to access jobs where they are. There are people in the community already who need supports,” James added.
In any event, James said that while Falcon is talking about moving people north, a fellow cabinet minister is saying there is no money for a program of this kind. “I asked the minister,” said James of social development minister Stephanie Cadieux. “There is no money. There is no program. I’d be thrilled if this government would actually have a jobs strategy.”
As it is, the northwest has the highest unemployment rate of any region in BC.
According to Statistics Canada, the jobless rate as of February is 12.2 per cent, a clear jump over the 9.8 per cent in December 2011 and the 8.8 per cent for February 2011.
The rate in the northeastern BC was 3.7 per cent in February, a large decline from the 9.1 per cent in February 2011. The provincial average in February 2012 was 7.1 per cent.