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Breaking down local impact of federal budget

The Canada Job Grant is worth $500-million per year to help the unemployed or under-employed, but local skills development groups don’t believe its impact will be felt immediately.

“There’s a lot of catch up to do,” said Ryan Miller of Teamworks Training Institute. “How is each province going to implement this program? Where are those funds coming from? How are the training institutes going to align their services with what industry is looking for?”

Miller adds it will likely be a year until it’s decided how the money will be spent.

The budget also hopes to put more Aboriginal people to work, with new funding for young people on First Nation reserves, however some believe the program requires more support.

“We see with individuals coming into our office that financial literacy or literacy in general is not at a level it might need to be,” said Jacinda Weiss of the Aboriginal Council of Lethbridge. “We almost need pre-training supports for individuals wanting to become skilled.”

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Weiss is also skeptical about support for women entering trades, and adds that it is too early to pinpoint how much support individuals can receive.

“Say a thousand dollars to $1200?” Weiss estimates. “Depending on the individual’s dependence, it varies, some can be as low as $565.”

There is good news for parents buying baby items, with an end to import tariffs. You could also save up to 18 per cent on some purchases including sporting goods, bringing parity with retailers in the United States.

“We do have a lot of people in Lethbridge, with our proximity to the border, shopping online or going to communities in Montana,” said Dan Court of Bert & Mac’s Source for Sports.

Price changes won’t happen overnight, though. Like many parts of the budget, their full impact may not be felt until this time next year.

The City of Lethbridge is expecting more predictable federal funding through renewal of an infrastructure deal for 10 years.

The Building Canada Fund provides money for projects funded equally at the provincial and municipal level. The grant has contributed $20-million to Crossings Ice Complex and $6-million to CASA Community Arts Centre.

Ottawa is also renewing its commitment to the Federal Gas Tax Fund, which in Lethbridge has helped pay for transit buses and installation of LED street lights.

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