Casey rushing to douse jobs fire

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - Bill Casey is busy trying to put out a fire he did not start.

AMHERST - Bill Casey is busy trying to put out a fire he did not start.

Since last week, the veteran Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP has been talking to community organizations whose summer student applications were turned down by Service Canada. He's also fielded a lot of phone calls from upset constituents.

"It's very disappointing the way this has unfolded," Casey said. "They've announced a second tier of funding and hopefully they'll be able to come back quickly to help those groups who were turned down the first time."

When the department announced changes to the program, Casey said, it created a shortfall in the program by moving the decision-making process to Ottawa and basing it on a mathematical equation. As well, jobs were allocated by province as opposed to by riding, which had been the case for many years.

In previous years, the Skills Canada offices in Amherst and Truro would allocate the jobs evenly throughout the riding with most groups getting something. That didn't happen this year and the new standards weren't realistic in rural areas.

"Every community got some jobs. No one got all the jobs they needed, but everyone got some," Casey said. "All the organization that really needed the jobs to survive got them, the students got great training and the system worked."

When determining who got jobs this year, Casey said officials didn't take into consideration the impact of these jobs on the community and they only did their scoring based on the benefit to students.

"It may be an admirable goal, but the people who made the decisions did not understand many of these organizations depend on these summer jobs for their survival," he said.

Organizations: Service Canada, Skills Canada

Geographic location: AMHERST, Ottawa

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