29 September 2006

Well, We Know Where They Stand on Collaboration and Inclusion

Just arrived in my email:
A message from the Canadian Labour and Business Centre's Chief Executive Officer Shirley Seward

Dear Friends of the Canadian Labour and Business Centre,

On Thursday, September 28, 2006, the Board of Directors of the Canadian Labour and Business Centre (CLBC) voted unanimously to dissolve the organization in light of the funding cut by the federal government to CLBC’s Workplace Partners Panel (WPP) initiative.

The federal government’s expenditure review, announced on September 25, eliminated all funding to the WPP, which constituted the sustaining element of CLBC’s overall funding. With existing WPP funds running out December 1, and in order to ensure that all liabilities are met, including those to the staff of CLBC, the Board of Directors, with deep regret, made the decision to close.

The closure of CLBC brings to an end Canada’s longest standing business and labour forum, which included the full participation of the provinces, territories, education organizations, and the federal government. Since 1984, CLBC has been Canada’s only on-going national forum for partnership and dialogue on labour market and skills issues. The development of partnerships among these various stakeholder groups takes time to nurture, and the effect of the federal government’s decision leaves a vacuum at the national level.

Throughout CLBC’s 22-year history, we have been recognized for our balanced and inclusive approach. Whether exploring human resource issues in different sectors of the economy, analyzing new workplace arrangements, or surveying private and public sector leaders about their policy priorities and practices, the Centre has engaged all parties constructively.

This collaborative and inclusive approach was a keystone of the WPP initiative, which was developed in consultation with the federal government, and whose purpose was to enable business and labour to take a leadership role in addressing Canada’s labour market and skills challenges. In its first year of operation, the WPP completed task forces in Atlantic Canada and Saskatchewan, which involved the input and participation of hundreds of individuals and organizations. We sincerely thank all those who contributed their expertise and ideas. Regrettably, the Manitoba task force scheduled to be launched in October, has been cancelled. The expenditure review deemed this type of engagement of workplace partners as not providing value for money.

Over the next few weeks, we will be working towards an orderly closure of CLBC. On behalf of our co-chairs, Perrin Beatty and Ken Georgetti, the Board of Directors and all the staff at CLBC, I want to thank you all for your support over the years and for your commitment to partnership and dialogue.


Shirley B. Seward
Chief Executive Officer
I added the emphases, of course. Unlike some of the other initiatives that were cut by the Harper government (like funding for medical marijuana research), this one cannot be said to be placating the Americans. This decision is, in my view, a manifestation of pure, neo-liberal, political economic ideology. It cannot be good for the country or for unity among the various regions and economic interests. It is good for the elites. In that aspect, at least, Harper is consistent.

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