TORONTO - Employment Minister Jason Kenney says the Conservative government is willing to be flexible when it comes to the centrepiece of its jobs agenda.
Kenney was in Toronto on Tuesday talking about the proposed new Canada Job Grant.
The Conservatives want to divert some of the job creation money now given to the provinces to the new program, which would provide a grant of $15,000 for every new hire.
The cost would be split three ways between the provinces, employers and the federal government.
But the provinces worry that it won't give them enough flexibility to direct the money where it's needed most and could jeopardize existing provincial programs that help disadvantaged groups.
They say they'd have to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars to maintain their current programs and match the cost of the Canada Job Grant.
The Conservatives want to divert $300 million from provincial labour training programs to help pay for the job grants.
Kenney calls that a reasonable proposal.
"To make it very simple, we're saying to the provinces that after the thing is fully implemented, they would keep 40 per cent of that — $200 million of the $500 million — to invest in programs they think are most effective," he said.
"But the other $300 million will be redirected to the jobs grants. So it's a balance."
The government chose not to divert the entire amount, he said.
"If we were being unreasonable, we would have come into this and said the whole half billion has to go in the jobs grant. We're recognizing they've got some legitimate programs," Kenney said.
"I just say to them, let's sit down and talk about this in good faith. It shouldn't be a big argument, it shouldn't be a conflict. I hope at the end of the day we all have the same objective, which is getting Canadians into good jobs."