Flaherty sets priorities for budget: skills, infrastructure, manufacturing

OTTAWA – Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is signalling he’ll concentrate on skills training, infrastructure and the battered manufacturing sector in Thursday’s budget.

The finance minister outlines the three priorities in a letter to the Conservative caucus, but offers few specifics.

The letter is no surprise as the minister has also signalled he believes a major difficulty with the economy is that current training programs and post-secondary education do not sufficiently prepare Canadians for the jobs that are available.

“There are too many jobs that go unfilled in Canada because employers can’t find workers with the right skills,” the letter states.

“Training in Canada is not sufficiently aligned to the skills employers need. In Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013 we will take steps to address this important issue.”

Recently, the minister said that while provinces remain the best place to deliver programs, the federal government wants a place at the table and believes provinces should be accountable for some $2.5 billion it gets from Ottawa to administer the programs.

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Ottawa is also expected to extend and possibly expand funding for infrastructure projects and tax breaks for manufacturers that are due to expire.

While the letter does not mention the subject, Flaherty has also said the budget will look to close tax loopholes in order to increase revenues.

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