Kellie Leitch

Kellie Leitch

Skilled labour dominates budget talk

Federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch meets with the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce

Input from Greater Vernon business leaders is being taken back to Ottawa.

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch held a 2015 federal budget consultation with the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce and the issue of training skilled workers dominated the session.

“We are making substantial investments in a number of areas,” said Leitch of funding apprenticeships.

However, many of the participants in the consultation told Leitch there’s a need to focus on  education and immigration to address a labour shortage.

Tom Hoffman, Tolko Industries’ manager of external and stakeholder relations, made the pitch for funding so skills are expanded among women and First Nations.

“There needs to be an opportunity to identify candidates and take them through training and mentoring beyond the first year of employment,” he said.

Accessing foreign workers was also raised by Silver Star Mountain Resort.

“Where we are lacking is skilled Canadians to train people to ski,” said Anne Haight, the resort’s director of sales and marketing.

Leitch, an Ontario MP, says she’s aware of the challenges facing ski resorts.

“We are happy to help facilitate getting them here,” she said of foreign workers in the ski sector.

Other questions revolved around migrant farm workers, child care and expanding trade markets.

Leitch is also minister of status of women and she says her goal is to expand the role of women in the economy.

“We want to make sure more women have opportunities and Canadians have more jobs,” she said.

About 14 per cent of Canadian businesses are owned by women employing 1.5 million people.