Chapter 6. Key findings from the OECD Local Job Creation Dashboard

This chapter highlights findings from the local job creation dashboard in Saskatchewan and the Yukon. The findings are discussed through the four thematic areas of the study: 1) better aligning policies and programmes to local employment development; 2) adding value through skills; 3) targeting policy to local employment sectors and investing in quality jobs; and 4) being inclusive.



Each of the four thematic areas of the study is presented and discussed sequentially, accompanied by an explanation of the results. The full results of the OECD Local Job Creation dashboard in Saskatchewan and Yukon are presented in Figure 6.1 and 6.2 below.

Figure 6.1. Local Job Creation Dashboard for Saskatchewan
Figure 6.2. Local Job Creation Dashboard for Yukon

Theme 1: Better aligning policies and programmes to local economic development

Figure 6.3. Dashboard results for better aligning policies and programmes to local economic development

Flexibility within employment services

The OECD defines flexibility as “the possibility to adjust policy at its various design, implementation and delivery stages to make it better adapted to local contexts, actions carried out by other organisations, strategies being pursued, and challenges and opportunities faced” (Giguère and Froy, 2009). Flexibility here refers to the latitude that exists in the management of the employment and training system, rather than the flexibility in the labour market itself.

It is important to differentiate between operational and strategic flexibility. Operational flexibility applies to the delivery of programmes, and refers to the leeway given to individual case officers to decide on the type of policy intervention that should be used to serve an unemployed client. Strategic flexibility applies when the local employment service takes a leadership role in adjusting programmes and policies to their local labour market. The achievement of strategic flexibility requires that national governments provide sufficient latitude when allocating responsibilities in designing policies and programmes; managing budgets; setting performance targets, deciding on eligibility, and outsourcing services (OECD, 2014).

Looking at flexibility between the federal and provincial/territorial level in Canada, both Saskatchewan and Yukon exercise a considerable degree of flexibility in determining how services are organised and delivered. They are provided funds from the federal government to design and administer active labour market programmes. However, flexibility in the use of federal funding is limited in determining client eligibility. Skills development and training delivered under the Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDA) is limited to active and former EI claimants. LMDA funding also supports the provision of employment assistant services for unemployed Canadians, regardless of EI eligibility. Further federal funding for non-EI eligible clients is provided through the Canada Job Fund (CJF) Agreements. The CJF Agreements support a broad range of employment programs and services designed and delivered by provinces and territories, including support to: unemployed persons who are not eligible for Employment Insurance benefits; and employed persons who do not have a high school diploma or recognised certification or who have low levels of literacy and essential skills. These bilateral agreements, as well as the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, and the Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities each allow for the province or territory to establish priorities and service arrangements within broad criteria that are designed to avoid making payments for services covered by other arrangements.

As both Saskatchewan and Yukon have significant indigenous populations, additional specialised services are provided through ESDC’s Aboriginal Labour Market Programmes. For First Nation communities that have achieved self-government, there are services provided to local residents by the applicable First Nation’s administration.


In Saskatchewan, basic services are available to all job seekers including access to job boards, assistance with preparing CVs and some counselling by Labour Market Services. For those job seekers who qualify for Employment Insurance or Jobs First as part of Saskatchewan’s Transition Benefits (T-Program) Income Assistance, counselling is more extensive and can include testing and referral to employment and training programmes offered by not for profit or educational providers under contract to Labour Market Services. In Regina, there is one central Labour Market services location in the downtown area.

A team of client service consultants in the Labour Market Services office develop contracts with organisations that provide employment, and specific skills development opportunities. Individual referrals for training are made by case managers. In addition to Labour Market Services operations, job seekers of indigenous background and from rural areas may choose to use facilities at the Newo Yotina Friendship Centre that are funded under the Urban Aboriginal Strategy by INAC to assist them in adapting to city life. Some of the programmes and services of the Centre are directed to helping people prepare for employment and find a job.

For indigenous clients, there is also an additional service point through The Gathering Place operated by The Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services Board of Directors, in co‐operation with the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council and Touchwood Agency Tribal Council. Services include directions in career planning, employment and training. Clients can develop and update resumes and covering letters as well as research job opportunities through the Internet and job postings.

Whitecap is an example of how employment services operate in an indigenous community. The Whitecap administration provides basic employment services to all residents and counseling and training services to members of the First Nation. At Whitecap there is an integrated approach between Income Assistance, Employment and Education and Training staff facilitated by a small number of cases. Services can be much more tailored to an individual’s requirements. Should an indigenous citizen decide to look for employment in Saskatoon (a community of 200 000, which is 20 kms from Whitecap) they are supported by the Saskatoon Tribal Council under Urban Labour Force Development programmes.

Programmes and services for non-indigenous job seekers are by and large formulated at the provincial level and applied locally. There is little by way of research on the local labour market that would permit adjusting employment services to Regina’s specific local labour market conditions. As the community is relatively small, some adjustments are made in the non-government services through direct contact with employers. It should be noted that this could also be related to lack of awareness or knowledge on what is available from other organisations in the community, such as Regina Chamber of Commerce.


Services and programs outside of the self-governing First Nations are developed at the Ministry of Advanced Education and administered locally. Local input is gathered through the Labour Force Framework working groups. There is relatively little strategic flexibility devolved to the local level, which may be reasonable when looking at the relatively small numbers of clients involved.

Yukon contracts out basic employment services to not-for-profit organisations. In Whitehorse, there are three service providers offering basic employment services to all job seekers. Employment Central provides services to the majority of job seekers, with the Association Franco-Yukonaise providing similar services in French and Challenge’s Work Information Hub providing services to persons with disabilities. Included in these services are basic job search skills, employment counselling and referral to funding programmes offered by the Advanced Education Branch of the Department of Education. Employment Central and Challenge employment services are located in close proximity, which is seen by staff at Employment Central as a positive opportunity for collaboration in service delivery.

The two self-governing First Nations in Whitehorse (Kwalin Dunn and Ta’an Kwäch’än) each provide services to their citizens including a job board for positions within the First Nation administration and associated development corporations. Counsellors can also approve training for job seekers if that is judged to improve employment prospects. First Nations citizens can also use Employment Central. The Skookum Jim Friendship Centre provides employment services to all youth between 15-30 years and in transition to work. Services offered include job search tools and resources, career development workshops, and case management by onsite employment co-ordinators.

In Dawson City, Klondike Outreach offers basic employment services including a job board and space to prepare a resume. For EI eligible clients, the staff provide case management. Under the recently signed LMA for persons with disabilities, staff may also provide services to this group but would require additional training. Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in (the self-governing First Nation in Dawson City) provides employment services to its citizens. A job board is accessible at the administrative offices and counsellors can authorise training and short-term placements to gain work experience.

Flexibility within vocational education and training


Saskatchewan Labour Market Services counsellors can organise training for EI qualified clients and participants in Saskatchewan under the Income Assistance T-Program. The most generous funding is provided under the LMDAs and individuals must qualify under the provisions of Employment Insurance. Vocational training can take three broad forms: work preparation, basic skills development and polytechnic level training. Under the Saskatchewan T-Program (Work First), basic preparation for work can be authorised as well as some entry-level training. Both of these types of training are provided by not-for-profit organisations under contract with Labour Market Services. More extensive training provided by Saskatchewan Polytechnic is generally only available to EI eligible clients.

In terms of the future planning of training, local organisations in Regina rely on their Board and connections with the Chambers of Commerce to identify growth occupations and sectors. The CEO of the Regina Chamber of Commerce has been effective in motivating members to contribute to a number of local initiatives. Saskatchewan has a unique system of vocational education. Since September 2014, Saskatchewan Polytechnic operates 4 campuses in the larger population centres (e.g. Regina, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert). Smaller communities are served by the system of community colleges. Because of the provinces small population, programme planning is conducted at the provincial level. This will mean that some students in Regina may need to take programmes in Moose Jaw or Saskatoon. For Moose Jaw, a bus service is provided from the Regina Campus but for Saskatoon students must board in that city. The planning for changes in local conditions can see some flexibility in locating programmes but this process is necessarily slow.

For indigenous groups, vocational education and training can be authorised by employment and education councillors for those living on the First Nation or by offices run by the Tribal Council operating in the urban centres. In Regina, they are operated by the File Hills Tribal Council and in Saskatoon, the Saskatoon Tribal Council. Training can be for work preparation, entry-level skills, pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship or technical training.


Local employment office staff may refer a client that qualifies and will benefit from training to staff at the Ministry of Advanced Education who assess the case and make a decision. Training at several different levels is available through Yukon College including Skills for Employment, pre apprenticeship and apprenticeship, technical training. In Dawson City, the local campus is limited by its size and offers adult basic education and college preparation courses. It tries to respond to local business needs by offering specialised short courses.

Capacities within employment and VET sectors


Labour Market Services appears to be adequately resourced to handle the volumes of clients. Staff are well trained and motivated and engaged in new initiatives such as outcomes based contract management. During this OECD review, some contractors noted that some clients require a longer time frame to acquire basic skills and the pressure to get people into employment may be counterproductive as people are cycling back into programmes when they are placed in employment without proper skills. Whitecap uses intensive case management and has had an exceptional track record on reducing dependency on income assistance.

The vocational education sector in Saskatchewan is well organised and funded. The arrangement of the Polytechnics and colleges and co-operation between different postsecondary institutions is an example of how a small jurisdiction can develop breadth and depth in the system. The system appears to be responsive to a rapidly growing economy and has proved effective in responding to market demand.


Resources at Employment Central and Klondike Outreach appear to be adequate for the client volumes. Klondike Outreach was expecting to receive training before handling Labour Market Programmes for Persons with Disabilities clients. Box 6.1 provides a strong example of efforts that are being made to build local governance capacities within indigenous communities in the Yukon.

Box 6.1. Building local capacity in Yukon’s Indigenous Population

With the signing of First Nations Self Government Agreements, many First Nations communities realised that a wide variety of leadership, governance and public administration skills specific to Yukon First Nations and their context would need to be developed in order to ensure their success. To meet this need, new programmes were created in partnership between Yukon First Nations, Yukon College, the Yukon Government and the federal Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

First Nations Leadership Training (FNLT) is a collection of five integrated courses designed to provide Yukon First Nation leaders, either elected, appointed, or future, with a basic grounding in governance and public administration. The top priority of the programme is to help prepare current and future citizens for their roles as government leaders and community advocates. Each course within the FNLT programmes involves approximately eight hours of instruction. The emphasis in course delivery is on flexibility and responsiveness to the requirements of Yukon First Nations. Yukon College works with individual First Nations to deliver instructional materials in the manner best suited to their needs. The College improves access to this programme by offering both community delivered and Whitehorse-based deliveries to general audiences to develop and improve First Nations governing capacity.

The First Nations Governance and Public Administration (FNGPA) programme (Yukon College, 2011) is a joint initiative between Yukon First Nations, Yukon government and Yukon College and is focused on building capacity and providing senior management staff the tools to enhance the operations of governments in Yukon. It is a made-in-Yukon approach that incorporates local knowledge and experience and recognises the unique Yukon governance landscape.

The programme was developed and expanded from an earlier Executive Development programme which was spearheaded by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) and focused on CAFN citizens. The certificate programme covers the following course topics: Public Administration; Governance and Land Claims; Community and Economic Development; Human Resource Management; Communications; Management and Strategic Planning; Power and Influence; Accountability and Financial Management; Public Policy; and Intergovernmental Relations

Programme content has been well received across Canada, with the courses being transferable to a number of academic institutions, including Camosun College, Simon Fraser University, and the universities of British Columbia, Victoria, Lethbridge, and Northern BC. Discussions are currently taking place with the University of Saskatchewan about building on this programme to develop an integrated degree programme in Northern Governance and Development.

Course delivery is varied and may include lectures, seminars, presentations, group discussions, hands-on document use, and other participatory activities. Guest speakers and current and past First Nations leaders share personal experiences and contribute additional perspectives.

Policy co-ordination, policy integration and co-operation with other sectors


At the provincial level, overall direction is provided through the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth: Vision 2020 and Beyond. In Saskatchewan, the Premier is focused on this plan, which emphasises building “on the strength of Saskatchewan’s people, resources and innovation” and has ensured its communication throughout the Province. During this OECD review, interlocutors from the government, private sector and non-government organisations all referenced the plan. The Plan has resonance for two reasons. First, Saskatchewan is a comeback story; having been a province of declining population and prospects, it has become an engine in recent years with above average growth and below average unemployment. The second is strong leadership, as during the course of this OECD review, several interviewees cited leadership as a significant factor in the province’s current position as a top performing jurisdiction.

The Saskatchewan Plan for Growth has specific actions that guide Ministries in formulating their individual plans and signal areas of horizontal activity. Labour market services, some vocational training functions, and economic development are located within the Ministry of the Economy. The integration of these activities at the provincial level provides the opportunity for the integration of policies and programmes locally. The Ministry of the Economy 2014-15 Annual Plan describes the following strategies:

  1. Increase investment and international engagement in Saskatchewan

  2. Create a sustainable competitive business environment

  3. Increase entrepreneurship in Saskatchewan

  4. Increase resource production and manage industry activity

  5. Manage resources to ensure conservation, fairness, public safety and environmental sustainability

  6. Develop the knowledge and skills of Saskatchewan’s people

  7. Attract skilled and knowledgeable workers from across Canada and the world

  8. Retain knowledgeable and skilled workers in Saskatchewan workplaces and communities

Looking more specifically at Regina, there are no formal mechanisms for bringing together local employment and training actors. The Regina city administration does not play an active role in the city’s labour market activities; and the Saskatchewan Government does not have local community based mechanisms such as work force planning boards or community based tables to coordinate local activity. Labour Market Services has significant contact with individual operations through contract issuing and monitoring but does not play a convening role at the local level.

Looking at the co-ordination between Service Canada offices, which administer unemployment benefits through EI Part I funding and the active labour market programmes, recent changes have resulted in the processing of claims in multiple locations and in some cases local Regina staff report to supervisors in locations outside the Province. Contact between Service Canada and Labour Market Services is sporadic. In cases where individuals wish claims to be reviewed and seek the assistance of an advocate, it can be difficult to connect with the right people in Service Canada.

There are a number of policies and programmes affecting Saskatchewan’s indigenous population that are handled at the Federal, provincial and local levels. There does not appear to be a mechanism to bring the various actors together to discuss common objectives and co-ordinate activities in Regina around indigenous activities.

In Whitecap, the single administration makes the integration of various participants in the community easier (see Box 6.2). The First Nations Community has a land use and economic development plan that drives its labour force development activities. For those who leave the community to go to Saskatoon or Regina, they may choose to use services provided through Labour Market Services, those of a nongovernmental organisation such as a friendship centre or a dedicated service provided by the Tribal Council.

Box 6.2. Policy Co-ordination in Whitecap First Nations

One of the most significant differences between Canada’s indigenous population and the general population is the rate at which students successfully complete high school. Twenty years ago, the Whitecap Dakota First Nation high school completion rates were not at the provincial standard. The recently elected chief at that time saw education as one of the important reforms that would make a difference in his community. Whitecap operated the school on-reserve with funding provided by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. After grade six, students would be bussed to a high school 20 kilometers away in Saskatoon. Many Whitecap First Nation students did not perform well at high school as they were not prepared and lacked the essential literacy and math skills to master new material. As a first phase of reform, primary school children were given extra tutoring to help ready them for the transition. Both high schools and elementary schools transitioning the WDFN students were making an effort to become more welcoming places of learning. Teachers at both schools, tutors and parents worked to make educating Whitecaps’ children a priority.

This level of collaboration has produced a significant increase in the student success rate. Looking for additional improvements Whitecap approached the Saskatoon Board to have its primary school included as part of the Saskatoon Board. This was a complicated process that involved the federal government filling a funding gap of CAD 3 000 per student per year – the difference between what the Saskatoon Board spends and the funding allocation for the Reserve school. Importantly, the Saskatoon Board had to ensure that curriculum provided education in the culture of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation.

Benefits of the partnership include:

  • Students are part of a fully integrated primary and high school system with the resources of the Saskatoon Board; and

  • Teachers at Whitecap as employees of the Saskatoon School Public Schools are part of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation with the professional development and career mobility benefits of that system.

A further noteworthy benefit of the partnership is the enhancement of early learning for the youngest citizens of the WDFN. An Early Learning Center is under construction that will provide a learning and care centre for 56 of the youngest WDFN members, The entire elementary school has been brought to provincial standards as a facility.

The student success rate for Whitecap citizens is now approaching those of the general school population with many graduates continuing on to postsecondary studies. An increasing number of Whitecap First Nations university graduates are taking on management positions in the community as well as in larger companies and in the broader Canadian labour market.


Yukon’s labour market activities are based on a Labour Market Framework, which was initiated in 2008 and combines a far-reaching series of stakeholder committees covering four thematic areas of the territory’s labour market strategy, including comprehensive skills and training; immigration; labour market information; and recruitment and employee retention

Stakeholders play an active role in informing the on-going policy discussion around labour market issues and programme design and implementation. One of the key features of the framework is to look for greater vertical (between different orders of governments) and horizontal integration (among different Ministries in Yukon). A good example is recent efforts to increase the employability and job prospects for those on income assistance. The Ministry of Social Services has recently added a caseworker to strengthen efforts in employment and training assistance. There are about 800 non-indigenous persons on social assistance in Yukon. Currently, it is not clear how many of these individuals are able to find work. The caseworker’s role is to strengthen connections with the college to increase training, labour market services like Employment Central and employers to find job opportunities. The programme is generous both in terms of its training and subsidy level (e.g. wage subsidies can last for up to one year).

The framework approach is a promising practice that could be looked at by a number of Canadian jurisdictions as well as international partners in this OECD study. There are challenges in developing the approach. Originally, the Framework consisted of five focus areas but has more recently been reduced to four. The smaller number makes for a more manageable series of working groups. Getting the right balance of participants both in terms of breadth of actors but as well as level of actors is important. During this OECD review, some interviewees from both governmental and non-governmental organisations were accompanied by supervisors or deferred to supervisors suggesting that some working group members may be quite junior. One person interviewed suggested that discussions did not usually lead to a decision and this affected on-going interest in the process.

The Framework covers all of the Yukon, which is rational given the small size of the jurisdiction but there are increased capabilities at the local level in the two communities studied. As some of the challenges of these communities are uniquely local such as high levels of seasonal employment in Dawson City, there may be some scope to build a local dimension into the framework.

Each First Nation in the Yukon has its own employment and training division as part of its administration. Services are loosely connected to those offered through the Yukon government and citizens can choose to use general services or those specifically connected to the First Nation administration. Services tend to be highly integrated and may involve tight co-operation between the First Nation development corporation and the employment and training division. The administration can even act as the record keeper for apprenticeships. Education while provided through the College responds to the requirements of the First Nation administration that works closely with the College to ensure sufficient enrolments and support for students.

Evidence-based policy making


Information is mostly available at a provincial level of aggregation. The Saskatchewan Bureau of Statistics is the authoritative source of data used by government agencies. The Bureau collaborates with Statistics Canada and uses the Census and Labour Force Survey for its principal statistics on employment. Industry data uses both Statistics Canada surveys as well as those from Industry Canada.

The City of Regina provides some demographic information on its web site; however the most extensive report is from 2008. Focusing on People is a report developed jointly by the City, the United Way, Police Services, the Health Region and the Regional Inter-sectoral Committee. The focus on provincial statistics reflects planning for Labour Market Services, Advanced Education, Economy and Social Services and the fact that these services are delivered by the province rather than by the City. The Economic Development area has a stronger local focus with the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission that has an economic development plan for Regina, which is based on the City of Regina population, housing and employment forecasts, as well as an analysis of those industrial sectors that offer the best opportunities for the city.


Information is available at both the Yukon-wide level and community level through the Yukon Bureau of Statistics. Data is used to inform government initiatives on a territory wide basis. Because of its small size, Yukon collects data to supplement Statistics Canada’s regular surveys.

In both Whitehorse and Dawson, local plans have been produced using data relevant to those communities. These local plans address concerns such as employment, skills development and economic activity. In Whitehorse, the plan was developed by the city, led by the economic development department, in Dawson the city plan has been put together by the Klondike Development Organisation which is a partnership between the city of Dawson, the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, Klondike Visitors Association, the City Arts Society and Chief Isaac Inc.

The Yukon Government has a well-developed evaluation culture and uses the results of its evaluations to modify programmes and activities. Specific changes to the employment development activities in the income assistance programme were as a result of a recent evaluation. The orientation of Northern Research Institute is being fine-tuned based on findings from a 2013 evaluation. Other relevant evaluations to this study include School of Visual Arts 2015, Labour Market Agreements Evaluations 2013, and Yukon Nominee Programme Evaluation 2011.

Local capacity to acquire data is limited and the ability to draw down and use data from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics is also somewhat limited. However, given the small size of the jurisdiction. Whitehorse and indeed Dawson City can base their activities on local relevant information.

Theme 2: Adding value through skills

Figure 6.4. Dashboard results for adding value through skills

Flexible training open to all in a broad range of sectors


Saskatchewan has a unique postsecondary system that is organised around skills disciplines, geography and has a specialised capacity for indigenous students. In the four major urban centres, there are Polytechnics. Polytechnics offer predominately certificates, diplomas and degrees in professional and technical disciplines. For courses offered in Moose Jaw there is a shuttle service. Saskatoon is two hours from Regina and it is possible that students would be required to board in Saskatoon for some programmes. In communities without a polytechnic organisation, there are community colleges. However, no community in Saskatchewan can have both a college and a polytechnic.

In addition to the polytechnic schools, Regina has an entry level trades facility at Regina Trades and Skills. At this school, students must go through a competitive process to gain entry and follow a programme developed in close collaboration with Regina businesses and are assured a job on graduation. Tuition is free and students are paid while they learn. A normal year sees 2 cohorts of students: one from January-June designed to release qualified graduates for the construction season; and, one from August-January. Each course takes a maximum of 14 students and focuses on instructor-led hands-on training. Regina has two universities: the University of Regina and the First Nations University of Canada.

The Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trades Certification Commission manages apprenticeships. The Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Act 1999 authorises the Commission to manage the Apprenticeship and Trade Certification system. The Act gives the Commission the authority to make regulations to ensure the efficient and effective operation of the apprenticeship system to meet the needs of industry in a timely manner. A small percentage of the Polytechnic students (about 15%) are in apprenticeship programmes. Most students in the Regina Skills and Trades programme can move into apprenticeships.

Indigenous people have additional pathways through the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (see Box 6.3). SIIT Regina has approximately 200 students and a total of twenty-four staff between two campus locations, Regina Campus and Construction Careers Campus. Many of the students are from diverse backgrounds that include Metis, Lakota, Dakota, Nakoda, Saulteaux and Cree.

Box 6.3. Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology

Established in 1976, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) is one of the four Saskatchewan educational institutions with credit granting authority. The Institute is governed by First Nations leaders and representatives from across the province.

SIIT offers certificate and diploma programmes in the trades and industrial areas, business and technology, health and community studies, and adult basic education to over 2 400 students annually. Programming is delivered through three principal campuses in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert, plus eight Career Centres and a number of learning centres located throughout the province. SIIT also operates the Saskatchewan Aviation Learning Centre at the Saskatoon airport.

SIIT strives to be the institute of choice for First Nations learners. Approximately 93% of current students are indigenous, First Nations, Metis or Non-Status Indian. SIIT is also committed to building and maintaining strong relationships and partnerships with a growing range of provincial and national industry leaders, professional associations and academic institutions.

In Whitecap, the vision has been to build a strong attachment to education (see previous Box 6.2). This facilitates the transition to high school in Saskatoon where all students continue their education. Additional support is offered to students to ensure high graduation rates. Whitecap residents have access to facilities that are organised in a similar fashion to those in Regina. Saskatoon is Saskatchewan’s largest city and has a greater postsecondary population so each of the institutions has a larger student population. SIIT main campus is in Saskatoon.


Yukon has one college that handles the complete range of students from adult basic education through technical and trades training and even some courses that can be articulated into a bachelor’s degree. In order to meet such a broad mandate, the college has had to make important decisions about where to invest in programing and where to partner with other institutions. The college is part of both British Columbia’s and Alberta’s credit transfer programmes allowing students to transfer from the college to any college or university in those two provinces. Yukon College is unique in having an agreement with two provinces. Most students moving on from Yukon College will study in the provinces of British Columbia or Alberta.

The college offers a wide variety of technical and trades training that is focused on growth areas in Yukon’s economy. For those that are looking for a pathway back into higher education there are adult education and pre-apprenticeship courses. The college has a large and innovative First Nations programme mandate that is focused on supporting self-government among Yukon’s fourteen First Nations (see previous Box 6.1). The First Nations leadership training is unique in its focus and is widely seen as an important part of building long-term success at the community level and ensuring the depth of leadership needed to govern all aspects of devolved responsibilities. All staff and students irrespective of their role at the college must take a one-day class on Yukon’s First Nation’s history and culture. This is seen as important in promoting broad cohesion in Yukon’s work force and among its citizens.

There is a small campus of the College at Dawson, Tr’odëk Hätr’unohtän Zho (Klondike Learning House). Learners can upgrade their adult basic education skills and take college preparation level courses, offered on campus or by videoconference, enabling students to pursue their career goals. A variety of short and long-term training programmes are offered with a priority given to trades training to meet local employment needs. Finally through the Dawson City Campus’ affiliation with the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) and the Yukon School of Visual Arts (YSOVA), its sister campus, dozens of artistic, creative and special interest options are available to community members. There are still a significant number of students who chose to study at the main campus in Whitehorse or outside Yukon.

Working with employers on training

With skills shortages being increasingly reported in a number of Canada’s industries, there is more emphasis being placed on employers and their role in the overall performance of the labour market. Demographic effects are suggesting Canadian workers will need to be increasingly productive in order to ensure a continued high standard of living. Shortages are a regular and important feature of the rapidly growing economies of both Saskatchewan and Yukon.


Labour Market Services in Regina work primarily with job seekers. During interviews conducted for this OECD review, staff indicated a desire to do more work with employers but as of yet employer contact is limited. Non-governmental organisations under contract with Labour Market Services do engage local employers as part of their placement services following employment preparation and development activities. Local stakeholders indicated that they most often work with employers where they have well developed relationships.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s hallmark is its focus on labour market demand. For new programmes, a requirement is an assessment of labour market need supported by employer demand. For existing programmes, there is an annual review of all activities. The Polytechnic uses 800 industry experts to make recommendations on the optimal sizing of programmes and on curriculum. The metrics that Saskatchewan Polytechnic focuses on are graduate employment (currently 95% employed six months after graduation) and employer satisfaction. In addition 92% of graduates stay within the province indicating that the mechanisms employed by the Polytechnic to anticipate employer requirements are working. Saskatchewan Polytechnic works at a province wide level rather than being focused on particular local labour markets.

Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology has processes similar to Sask Polytech and in fact partners with the Polytechnic on delivery of a number of courses. The critical difference for SIIT is that in addition to employer requirements, it focuses on the unique requirements of its indigenous student population.

Regina Trades and Skills Centre is focused on the Regina labour market and is quite responsive to employer needs (see Box 6.4). Working closely with the Regina Chamber of Commerce, it has a board of local business owners. Trades and Skills looks to place all graduates and uses the specific requirements of hiring companies as a way of adding specific employer value around courses that qualify for apprenticeship under the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Certification Commission.

Box 6.4. Regina Trades and Skills Centre

Regina Trades and Skills Centre (RTSC) opened in 2007 when the Saskatchewan government provided funding, which had been announced as part of the Revitalizing Neighbourhoods initiative in 2006, for industry led, short-term trades and skills programmes aimed at employment and/or further postsecondary training. The Regina Trades and Skills Centre was established as a not-for-profit Corporation overseen by a community board composed of 14 business and public sector leaders. RTSC has two main goals:

  • Deliver short-term trades and skills training that lead to entry-level jobs in industries where workers are in high demand; and

  • Work with industry to develop and deliver relevant and recognised programmes that are responsive to industry needs for trained and skilled workers.

Regina Trades and Skills Centre courses are taught by experienced tradespeople. Course offerings change throughout the year and stay attuned to the demands of the current labour market. Courses run from 8-10 weeks in length and follow an “earn while you learn” model. Current offerings range across such fields as culinary arts, flooring installation, commercial concrete, electrical, carpentry, bricklaying and scaffolding. All RTSC courses include specific occupational training, both practical and theoretical and training in Occupational Health and Safety and Workplace Essential Skills. Programme Co-ordinators work with employers to link course participants to jobs prior to the completion of training.

Many of the courses at the Centre lead to jobs that are in high demand in the province. For example, participants often go on to apprenticeships with their employers. There are about 100 individuals who go through the programme each session. Completion rates for students top 90% with many programmes experiencing 100% completion rates. Average employment rates top 90% as well, with many experiencing 100% employment upon graduation.

Whitecap is focused on employer requirements. It is itself a large employer (300 employees on the First Nation) and as such can signal requirements directly through its education and training division. Its economic development corporation looks for partnerships that can produce employment opportunities for its citizens.


The contracted employment services have only limited contact with employers. During interviews conducted for this OECD review, Employment Central expressed that this is something it would like to expand. Social Services expressed the same desire and Challenge contacts employers in the context of its employment development efforts with the view of placing clients.

Yukon College is developing its employer network as part of strengthening its internal culture of planning and performance management. The College must respond to a broad series of priorities that include high public sector job demand for professional, technical and administrative personnel and an emergent need for leadership development among self-governing First Nations communities. The other pull for the college is its status as Yukon’s College and needing to focus broadly on those areas of the territorys’ economy where there is strong demand. This creates tensions between local Whitehorse employer priorities and broader territorial priorities. A demand driven initiative that is associated with the College and funded under ESDC’s ASET programme is the Yukon Mine Training Association (YMTA). YMTA is a collaboration between Yukon First Nations and the mining industry to increase the number of indigenous peoples who work in Yukon mines.

In Dawson City, the College has limited flexibility as it primary mission is to prepare students for higher education programmes and deliver programmes with strong local needs, driven primarily by the mining and tourism sectors. Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in works closely with the Dawson City campus to create training opportunities for its citizens (The City of Dawson and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, 2007). One innovation is that the First Nation contracts apprentices from its community and can keep the record of hours towards the apprenticeship irrespective of what job site or supervising journeyperson working with the apprentice (see Box 6.5). There are no private providers of training in Yukon. One company that had investigated the possibility of opening a school in Whitehorse indicated that the small population and high levels of subsidisation for publicly offered programmes would make it diffcult for a private operator to function.

Box 6.5. Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in apprenticeship registration

Finding skilled trades in Dawson City can be challenging because of its remote location. In spite of the demand, it is hard to encourage trades people to settle in the community. As most businesses in Dawson City are small, it is equally difficult for an apprentice to complete a programme with a single employer. A number of residents in Dawson City have begun but not completed their apprenticeship training.

To help increase the number of apprenticeship completions and to make it easier for both apprentices and employers, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in administration registers apprentices and keeps the apprentices log. The programme is starting small and has around 10 individuals registered. It is hoped that by minimising the administrative burden for employers and recognizing that apprentices will move between employers to get their necessary training the overall number of completions in the community will increase.

Matching people to jobs and facilitating progression

In both Saskatchewan and Yukon, employed and unemployed individuals have access to the Job Bank (, which is administered by Service Canada. This web portal provides an electronic listing of jobs provided by employers from everywhere across Canada. It includes training, career, and worker information to help provide individuals with information on potential career opportunities as well as the required skills and knowledge to work in various occupations and sectors. In some interviews, it was felt that the national service represented a poor reflection of the local job situation and that many employers would not post positions on the national system. For jobs where temporary foreign workers may be sought, there is a requirement to post and it was stated that locals would ignore these postings knowing that they would not get serious consideration.


Saskatchewan is shifting to outcomes based contracting that will focus on people being retained in employment six months after placement. This will focus attention on effective placements for those NGOs who are under contract to Labour Market Services. The fact that Saskatchewan has been a tight labour market for a number of years does create some distortions that may result in longer-term problems. Because wages can be relatively high for semi-skilled workers in the extraction industries, workers who have reached an age where their bodies cannot take the stress of this labour face difficult transitions. Youth may forgo education in favour of an immediate good paying job that can result in limited career mobility. For public employment services, more of their clients face multiple barriers and placements can be more challenging or employment preparation may take longer. During this OECD review, interviewees pointed to all of these challenges and suggested that some additional flexibility could be helpful in better serving clients.

Career guidance is well established in Saskatchewan’s secondary schools as part of a provincial effort to retain young people in the province. Postsecondary institutions, government departments and industry ensure young people have good information to make labour market decisions and to ensure that postsecondary educational pathways are clearly articulated into either college or university. Efforts are made along with high school career counselling often in the second year of secondary education to create awareness of college offerings. A number of dual credit programmes are being offered that allow high school students to complete their studies while at the same time begin a Polytechnic programme. Dual credit allows you to earn a Saskatchewan high school credit and Saskatchewan Polytechnic credit at the same time.

Generalised labour market information plays a less important role in high demand sectors that engage in active recruiting. Companies use recruiters and social media as tools in their search for qualified talent. The Skills and Trades Centres are examples of where employers are becoming more active in training and in return get the opportunity to offer promising students work placements on graduation. During this OECD review, interviewees indicated that tightening the link between employers training is an effective way to ensure job readiness on graduation.


The Yukon labour market is characterised by high demand for skilled employees in particular in public and First Nations administrations, demand in some skilled trades and selective requirements for entry-level personnel in the retail and service sectors. The other feature of the labour market is a high rate of seasonality. This is particularly apparent in Dawson City.

For skilled workers, there are significant incentives for employers to recruit individuals with a good fit for jobs. The tightness of the labour market promotes internal mobility within organisations. For unskilled workers the situation is less attractive. Without EI qualification, they have little access to training and are more likely to resort to seasonal work.

Yukon has invested in a local labour market information system called YUWIN. During this OECD review, it was indicated that employers seem to like the system for its simplicity and ease of use as do employment services personnel who see it as an effective product. The Yukon government is considering dropping YUWIN in favour of the national job bank. Concern was expressed during the interviews that the national system will not work as effectively.

There are three programme streams under the Canada-Yukon Job Fund Agreement; the Canada-Yukon Job Grant, Employment Services and Supports, and Employer-Sponsored Training.

  1. Canada-Yukon Job Grant (CYJG): This programme supports employers interested in investing in training for current or future employees. Training may be offered by colleges, trade union centres or private trainers. Training can take place in a classroom, a workplace or online. Costs are shared by the employer and Advanced Education.

  2. Employment Services and Supports (ESS): This programme continues the services that were offered under the Labour Market Agreement. This program helps unemployed or low-skilled individuals who need support to enter the labour market. Eligible programmes may include, but are not limited to skills training, such as training in literacy and numeracy or advanced skills training, on-the-job training, job readiness assistance, financial supports and benefits such as loans, grants and living allowances, employment counselling and services, labour market connections and services that promote and enhance labour market efficiency.

  3. Employer-Sponsored Training (EST): This programme has a broader scope for training activities and costs. It provides more diverse opportunities than the Canada-Yukon Job Grant. Yukon is first implementing the Canada-Yukon Job Grant and Employment Services and Supports. Employer-Sponsored Training will be developed at a later date. The Yukon-Canada Job Grant replaces a preexisting Yukon grant so it is not possible to tell at this early point whether a broader reach of benefits has been achieved in the new agreement.

Joined up approaches to skills


Saskatchewan has a strong focus on developing skills across the province. As highlighted earlier in the report, the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth integrates skills development in the broader context of economic development but also in terms of increasing earning power and well-being of the provincial labour force. Bringing together labour market and economic development programmes in the Ministry of Economy is one way in which the province is operationalising this vision. The postsecondary institutions – in particular Saskatchewan Polytechnic and SIIT – organise programming around labour market demand. As mentioned earlier, during this OECD review, interviewees routinely referred to the Plan for Growth as a cornerstone of operational planning.

Despite the success of the Plan for Growth, local co-ordination in Regina is weak. In part, this is the result of having services such income assistance administered by the province, which creates less incentive for the city to convene various employment service providers. During this OECD review, service providers indicated at one time the province was active in convening local agencies but this has not happened in recent years. There exists good capability in the city as demonstrated when the municipality took on the issue of inadequate housing. Efforts are beginning on the local economic development front with RROC looking to build an economic development plan linked to the city’s Official Community Plan: Design Regina (City of Regina, 2013).

Design Regina contains a comprehensive policy framework that will guide the physical, environmental, economic, social and cultural development of the city. As such, it plays a key role in setting the long-term direction for Regina and is essential to managing future growth, development and change in the community. The RROC 2015 Business plan is starting the process of identifying key employment growth areas for the city and the skills profile needed to foster that growth. It is still at early stages and this is the time to join up various elements of local employment and inclusion with economic development.

During this OECD review, three specific areas of potential benefit for joined up activity were identified in the local interviews. The first relates to the number of employment service operations that are now serving Regina’s indigenous community. Here there may be potential for local operators to identify constructive collaborations. Among organisations that may be interested in looking at synergies are the Friendship Centre, File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, SIIT Career Centre, Regina Work Prep, and Labour Force Services.

The second relates to changes in the client profile in particular among “multi-barriered” clients. Here two dimensions of work were identified as changing and needing collective attention: Co-ordination of services provided by multiple organisations and varying flexibility between programmes in particular around the total length of time support may need to be provided. A second dimension is around employer engagement and building a network of supportive employers.

The final dimension is aligning locally provided training to key employment growth areas and further strengthening what are already good employer training provider relations. The area identified for development is the link between economic planning and institutional planning. Included in this dimension would be connections between the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) and employment and skills planning.


Co-ordination in Yukon occurs through the Labour Market Strategy Framework. The Framework brings together key federal, territorial and municipal agencies in addition to local non-governmental organisations. The working committees for the framework are connected directly to the policy units in the Ministry of Advanced Education and provide a tight feedback loop for consultation during policy formulation/co-ordination and programme design.

The Framework represents a significant effort to join up the many elements of labour market strategy both vertically and horizontally. From all points of examination, it has merit and has helped move Yukon forward both in coordinating policy coming from different levels of government and across Ministries in Yukon. Additionally and perhaps more interestingly from a longer term perspective, it represents a platform that could be used to structure innovative approaches with the participation of stakeholders (policy co-production).

Yukon’s economy is driven by public expenditure. In the future, the private sector and nongovernmental sectors will need to develop a greater place in the territory’s economy. The framework and its committees could play a role in promoting this shift by increasing the business and non-governmental voice on the committees. Part of what would be needed to do this is to structure meetings that are more familiar to a business culture (e.g. they are tightly focused and proceed to a decision point).

There appears to be some tension between the use of the Yukon Nominee Program (YNP) for entry-level service and retail jobs and efforts to train and connect those residents who are distant from the labour market with employment opportunities. During this OECD review, some interviewees reported that jobs that used to be available to clients are now routinely given to Temporary Foreign Workers. This issue might offer an opportunity to use the platform for innovative collaborations.

There is emerging capacity and strength at the local level that are not fully exploited through the Framework in its current form. Both Whitehorse and Dawson City have developed plans for their local economies. Recognising the mechanisms of local co‐ordination explicitly in the Framework would help advance local development. There may be missed opportunities to localise some policy and delivery flexibility locally. One example is the dominance of seasonal employment in Dawson City and a need to look at and plan for both the long-term consequences on individuals as they age in a seasonal work environment as well the short-term impacts of periods of high unemployment. Whitehorse has just produced its Integrated Community Sustainability Plan and there are opportunities for local Whitehorse level co-ordination within the overall Framework (City of Whitehorse, 2015).

Theme 3: Targeting policy to local employment sectors and investing in quality jobs

Figure 6.5. Dashboard results for targeting policy to local employment sectors and investing in quality jobs

Relevance of provision to important local employment sectors and global trends and challenges


Saskatchewan plans at the provincial level and takes a “jurisdictional advantage” approach to its innovation strategy. This approach identifies the core engines of the economy, those areas that drive growth and sustain the province over the long term. It is an evidence-based process that identifies the unique strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that define the province’s sustainable advantage. The focus on government investments in innovation is driven from this framework. Three broad sectors are the focus including mining; oil and gas; and, agriculture with selective entry in a few other areas. In each of these areas the province has world-class technologies and companies with global scope.

Innovation Saskatchewan is the government’s innovation focal point working closely with the Universities and Saskatchewan Polytechnic. At the local level in Regina, RROC is looking to develop the city’s economy by focusing on ecosystem strengths within the city’s business community. This top down bottom up approach appears to have merit and can be effective if sufficient flexibilities exist to make necessary accommodations for Regina’s unique needs. A concrete example of activity is the construction of the Global Transportation Hub and its attendant requirements for innovation in the logistics sector.

Whitecap is pursuing its strategy along similar lines of looking for jurisdictional advantage which is expressed in two areas: its proximity to Saskatoon; and, its special status with respect to being able to establish partnerships where indigenous content matters. In Whitecap’s case, it is in the highly competitive field of resort and entertainment management, having constructed a casino and golf course on its lands.


Yukon realises that its efforts in innovation will be small in scale and therefore need to be focused. The Yukon Research Centre looks to make its contributions in the area of cold climate technologies looking to the natural advantage of its location and the multiplier effects that innovations in northern technologies will have on the Yukon economy and Yukon citizens (see Box 6.6).

Box 6.6. Collaboration among Industry, Accademia and Governments to develop cold climate technology

Two of Yukon’s innate characteristics, climate and remote location – have created a necessity to adapt and to innovate. In the process of overcoming unique challenges, Yukon has leveraged its knowledge sector into world leaders in cold climate technologies. Local Industry, academic research and government support for innovation and entrepreneurship have worked together to produce some outstanding successes. A good example is Icefield Tools in Whitehorse. Borehole drilling is a common technique for determining the size of ore bodies in mineral exploration. Holes are drilled into the ground, pulled out and the core samples examined to see what is inside.

The difficulty is that when you attempt to drill straight down, the hole does not end up being perfectly straight and errors of 45 meters are common even over short drilling distances. This means the ore body may be far from where it was expected to be. Similar challenges exist is positioning drill bits for oil and gas exploration.

It was the early 1990s, when glaciological researcher Erik Blake was drilling through ice in pursuit of his PhD he developed a tool that was so effective at pin pointing the drill bit that it sparked immediate demand. By the early 2000s, he had created technology for the mining industry under the name “Icefield Tools” leading a new standard of sophistication in borehole survey technology. Erik continues to push the boundaries of science to create tools that are forever more versatile and accurate. Still at the company’s helm, he hires people who bring the same passion, innovation and purpose to their work, and who like him, are as dedicated to creating great tools as they are to supporting their customers in reaping all the benefits in the field.

Research and business development support have been a critical part of the success story. Cold Climate Innovation (CCI) of the Yukon Research Centre at Yukon College partnered with Icefield Tools, to further advance borehole drilling technology. This partnership developed technology and software that support the mining, oil and gas industries, providing real time data for greater drilling accuracy while significantly reducing overall survey time and associated costs.

The Yukon Business Development Project (YBDP) is an innovative and efficient programme to provide advice, coaching and other services to selected Yukon businesses including technology-based companies, giving them the knowledge and resources to develop to the next level of commercial success and the opportunity to become export capable. This Project carried out by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, the Yukon Technology Innovation Centre, the Yukon Government, INAC, CanNor and the National Research Council selected local technology-based Yukon companies which had high expansion potential and provided to those companies with the human resources and business counsel they needed to help them to reach their full market potential.

YBDP provided Icefield Tools with assistance in the development of business and marketing plans and significantly, with business advisory boards tailored to their individual needs. These boards, consist of local and out-of-territory domain experts, that provide the client companies with the expertise they need to overcome obstacles and promote the rational growth of their operations and market potential. Icefield underwent a period of mentorship and development lasting approximately about one year. During this period, the Business Advisor and Project Manager audited, advised and coached the company and helped them to implement the recommendations of the Business Advisory Board. Icefield Tools has become a nimble team of specialists and global leaders in the field of precision borehole survey technology. An educated labour force, a government-supported research centre at Yukon College and targeted business development have all contributed to Yukon’s sucess.

Yukon has been an active contributor to world cold climate technologies, developing expertise that has contributed to the development of ice-field drills for NASA and a remote airstrip in Antarctica. As resources become scarce and eyes turn to more remote locations such as the Arctic, Yukon will be a role model with its research and development teams leading the way.

The Research Centre is housed at Yukon College. Cold Climate Innovation (CCI) is focused on the development, commercialisation and export of sustainable cold climate technologies and related solutions for subarctic regions around the world. CCI supports the partnership between applied scientific researchers, industry and government dedicated to addressing cold climate issues affecting northerners. CCI project areas include alternative energy, building construction, climate-related research, environmental remediation, food security and mechanical innovation.

Work with employers on assuring decent work and skills utilisation

Skills utilisation approaches look at how the workforce is structured and the relationship between an individual’s skills and the needs of business. Skills utilisation approaches focus on how well employers are utilising the skills of their employees, which can improve productivity and profitability. Individuals also gain from the better utilisation of their skills through greater job satisfaction and autonomy. This approach avoids supply-side or “provider driven” training solutions, which may not address the breadth of an enterprise’s organisational context. Instead, providers are encouraged to take on a workforce development role (Froy, Giguère and Meghnagi, 2012).

In 2013 the federal government announced changes to its Labour Market Development Agreements. At the same time the Government in conjunction with the Provinces and Territories announced a new Canada Job Grant designed to help employers train new or existing employees for jobs that need to be filled. This flexible programme is designed to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, in all industries and regions. The scheme requires matching funds from employers as well as provinces and territories. Businesses with a plan to train Canadians for an existing job or a better job are eligible to apply for a Canada Job Grant. The Grant provides access to a maximum CAD 5 000 federal contribution per person towards training at eligible training institutions. This means the Grant could provide CAD 15 000 or more per person, including provincial/territorial and employer contributions.


Similar to findings under OECD LEED’s Leveraging Training and Skills Development in SMEs study in Canada, Saskatchewan recognises the importance of increasing demand for training in SMEs, which are a vital employer base for competitiveness (Bélanger and Hart, 2012). There are two dimensions of the province’s efforts. The skills and training centres in Regina and Saskatoon organise their course offerings, develop their course content and deliver training in conjunction with local employers. Employers who work with the centres have the first chance to hire graduates. A number of policies create obligations for companies to hire indigenous workers. Organisations like SIIT and Saskatchewan Polytechnic work with employers to match training to the firms’ requirements. Whitecap forms formal partnerships with companies that include skill development components. However, like in many other places, smaller firms have developed a habit of relying on responsive employment services and colleges to provide them with the desired workforce. A tight labour market has tended to keep the system responsive.

The Canada-Saskatchewan Job Grant is the mechanism used in Saskatchewan to support alignment of training with skills needed by employers. Through this programme, employers and government will partner to fund training for unemployed or underemployed individuals leading to a new or better full-time job. The Canada-Saskatchewan Job Grant is open to businesses and non-profit organisations in Saskatchewan. Training must result in a new hire, or a better job. The grant supports new investments in training and is not intended to replace an employer’s existing investment in training.


The situation in Yukon is somewhat unique. A very large share of the economy is in the public administration. Outside of mining, there are relatively few large firms. Yukon has focused significant attention on working with the 14 First Nation communities to build governance and leadership capability to ensure strong self-government. The other policy directly related to skills utilization is found in the Territory’s economic development policy. This translates into connections with Yukon College in the selection of courses and development of curriculum.

The Federal Government under Skills and Partnership Fund (SPF) looks at improving indigenous labour market outcomes through skills development and training, and investments in opportunity-driven projects focused on training for specific job vacancies in high demand sectors. In Yukon, the Yukon Mine training Association (YMTA) works with the industry and First Nations to offer workshops, life and career coaching and specific skills development training to increase the numbers of indigenous people who choose mining as a career. First Nations are also developing programmes through their education and employment services to create opportunities for local First Nations citizens to have greater access to jobs created through self-government.

The Canada-Yukon job Grant launched in September 2014, and is directed by individual employers and organisations acting on behalf of employers (e.g. employer consortia, union halls, industry associations and training coordinators) in the private and not-for-profit sectors. First Nation Governments and selected crown corporations are also eligible recipients.

Promotion of skills for entrepreneurship


Saskatchewan Polytechnic offers programmes in entrepreneurship ranging from discovering entrepreneurship to full 32 week programmes in Entrepreneurship and Small Business (Saskatchewan Polytechnic, 2014). A significant focus is placed around supporting individuals in trades programmes who may wish to start their own company. Clients who are eligible for Employment Insurance have access to the Self-Employment Programme, which provides unemployed people with income and entrepreneurial support while they develop and start their business. Successful applicants experience intensive business skills development training while completing a comprehensive business plan that fully supports their business idea. In addition, participants are provided with on-going business advisor counselling services and income support for up to 42 weeks while they develop and implement their business plan.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has rated Regina as a top tier entrepreneurial city. The Chamber of Commerce provides useful guidance for those starting a business as well as on-going support and mentorship. RROC has a Business Resource Development Centre to help promote new businesses. The business ecosystem approach employed by RROC sees smaller local business providing services to larger enterprises as a way of capturing as much possible value for the local area. Whitecap looks to build a business ecosystem including locally developed start-ups. To date these are mostly trade and service businesses that serve the First Nation and its larger business ventures.


Yukon has a small but vibrant business community focused on providing goods and services to Yukoners and supporting the mining, energy and infrastructure developments in the Territory. Yukon College has developed a number of courses to support entrepreneurship (Yukon College, 2012). Introduction to Entrepreneurship is designed to assist students with determining what they need to build a successful private business. In addition to supporting students in their effort to expand upon their ideas and develop a roadmap for their business career, the course is also designed to provide mentorship opportunities to participants.

Yukon Upstarts, a not-for-profit, runs conferences and seminars to promote entrepreneurship in the territory. In early May 2015 Yukon Upstarts held a three-day programme in Whitehorse. Because of the small business community in the territory, there is also a view that more needs to be done. The CFIB has been calling for a vision for entrepreneurship in the Territory that includes a focus on solutions to labour shortages, competitive taxation, reducing the red tape burden and improving the overall costs of doing business in Yukon.

Entrepreneurship is an important feature of First Nations Development. Specific numbers are not available for Yukon but the Business Development Bank of Canada reports that there has been a 30% increase since the 1996-2001 period (BDC, 2015). Toronto Dominion Bank notes that indigenous small business is growing at a rate that is six times faster than in the non- indigenous market and that indigenous entrepreneurs tend to be about 10 years younger than non- indigenous entrepreneurs.

Tourism and providing the wide variety of services needed by self-governing First Nations offer extensive opportunities. In 2009, the International Centre for Governance and Development provided a comprehensive overview of the existing drivers and barriers of entrepreneurship in the north and argued that Northern entrepreneurs must be supported in order to capitalise on advantages unique to the north, which include: limited competition; the chance to provide essential services to communities; a rich and active cultural heritage; and economic spin-off opportunities from the strong government presence.

The paper concluded that: the conditions in the north and the issues facing the north are ripe for entrepreneurism; the challenges facing entrepreneurs are unique when compared to their southern counterparts; Northern entrepreneurship shares much in common with social and environmental entrepreneurism; the promotion of entrepreneurism must involve local communities if it is to be successful (Buckler et al., 2009).

Economic development promotes quality jobs for local people


The Saskatchewan Plan for Growth establishes the goal of creating an additional 60 000 jobs by 2020. The focus of that job growth is in the non-renewable resource extraction business; agriculture and food related businesses; as well as investments in public infrastructure. These are all sectors where there are plentiful good paying jobs. The challenge for Saskatchewan is seen as ensuring the necessary supply of skills to support the pace of growth expected in the province. While there has been some slowing of the rate of growth in recent months, the provinces diversified economy has tempered the impact of falling energy prices.

Planning for Saskatchewan’s postsecondary sector is driven from the plan for growth, as are the skills development activities for the trades. In fact, the province sees a requirement to increase the cap on provincial immigrant nominees from 4 000 to 6 000. Specific attention in the Plan for Growth is paid to increasing the participation of indigenous in the economy in part as a way of remedying the historic lower participation rates of Saskatchewan’s First Nation and Métis peoples and in part reaching out to the most rapidly growing segment of the provinces population. The Saskatchewan Government has set goals to reduce the disparity between indigenous graduation rates with those of non-indigenous people. Whitecap is an example of where this can make a difference (see Box 6.7).

Box 6.7. First Nation Economic Development

Whitecap Dakota First Nation has been a leader in economic development and has created jobs for its members as well as employment opportunities for people in neighbouring communities. Much of what has contributed to the community’s economic success was the inclusion of Whitecap under the First Nations Land Management Regime and developing the Whitecap Land Code. Controlling its own land the Chief and Council created an integrated land use plan, established relations with financial institutions to gain access to capital and created long term lease arrangements that allowed companies to establish operations in the community. Whitecap Dakota First Nation has zoned 1 000 acres of reserve lands for commercial development. The resulting business development has created long term revenue streams for the Whitecap government including land leases, property taxes, consumption taxes and utility payments

The Chief and Council recognised that increasing wealth and opportunity for the community and securing future prosperity would require making investments that would deliver economic benefits over the long term. They made that vision a reality by incorporating the Whitecap Development Corporation in 1990. The Whitecap Development Corporation is solely owned by the Whitecap Dakota First Nation but since its inception has put a strong emphasis on developing partnerships that bring the right combination of skill and experience for successful investments. The Corporation has used this strategy to complete several major projects that continue to produce financial benefits for partners and substantial economic growth within the Whitecap Community.

Current business investments have focused on two main streams. The Dakota Hospitality strategy is developing a destination resort that includes Dakota Dunes Golf Links, Dakota Dunes Casino, Tatanka Bison Ranch, Whitecap Trail Gas Plus and proposes the development of Dakota Dunes Hotel and residential resort. The Whitecap Industrial strategy includes six partnerships under the Whitecap Industrial Services Group, Whitecap Commercial Real Estate, and proposes the development of a light industrial business park.

The Development Corporation various activities have resulted in the employment of some 600 people, most in the hospitality and tourism sectors. Hiring is starting to diversify to other sectors such as manufacturing, and employment opportunities are offered beyond the immediate community with recruitment for some positions being province-wide to find employees with the skills they need. Approximately 500 employees commute to Whitecap each day from outside the community. Whitecap has become a major economic player in the region making positive contributions to Saskatchewan’s economy.

The federal government has a programme of funding for indigenous people. Under the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business (PSAB), qualified indigenous firms can bid on government procurement contracts through several business arrangements, such as sub-contracting and joint ventures with other firms. The PSAB is open to all indigenous businesses, including sole proprietorship, limited companies, co-operatives, partnerships, and not-for-profit organisations. Since PSAB’s establishment in 1996, more than 100 000 contracts have been awarded to indigenous suppliers with a total value of CAD 3.3 billion.


Economic development strategy in Yukon is outlined in Pathways to Prosperity. It outlines Yukon’s key endowments as its natural wealth both in terms of resources but also in its natural beauty and its advantageous location between Alaska and British Columbia. The strategy is to encourage incoming investments in the natural resources and tourism through focusing on five enabling factors. In practise, the way the inward investment has worked is that companies moving to Yukon bring a lot of the human resources with them. This can range from virtually all personnel in “fly-in, fly-out” mining operations to management resources in other industries. Yukon’s strategy is to either get those people to choose to reside in Yukon or to look for opportunities to replace transient labour with locals. In addition Yukon looks to capture a high proportion of jobs in what are termed supporting industries. These are typically small business that directly supply larger players with product and services or benefit from downstream wage expenditures such as retail.

First Nations have their own strategies that are driven through their development corporations and administrations. Tourism has been a target for two of the three case study First Nations with Kwalin Dunn building a large conference facility in the city of Whitehorse and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in leading efforts to have Dawson City designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, 2013; Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Council, 2013).

Theme 4: Being inclusive

Figure 6.6. Dashboard results for being inclusive

Employment and training programmes are geared to local “at-risk” groups


Saskatchewan administers Income Assistance at the provincial level. There are a number of dimensions to the Programme. Saskatchewan Assistance provides for basic needs while Saskatchewan Assured Disability Assistance covers individuals for whom work is not possible. There is also Temporary Assistance (the T-Program) which is provided for those who could find work with the provision of skills or work preparation training. In addition, there are a series of supports and supplements to cover special situations such as the need for childcare or housing.

There are about 2 000 Income Assistance Recipients in the Province – half of which are in the T-Programme. Specific figures were not available for Regina but as the employment rates are quite high there are fewer recipients on the T-Programme and a larger percentage have multiple barriers. During this OECD review, interviewees confirmed that there are an increasing number of their clients who require more intensive interventions over longer periods before becoming work ready.

The Saskatchewan Plan for Growth specifically targets literacy as a key priority to address disadvantage. The Plan calls for an elimination of wait time for adult basic education programmes. There are two other “at risk” groups which include unemployed youth and First Nation/Metis. There are a number of programmes for each of these groups in place in Regina funded through federal contribution agreements; Saskatchewan contribution agreements and community based funding.

It is difficult to assess whether the programme response meets the need as there does not appear to be a good source of base information and there is an absence of planning bodies examining and co-ordinating the various responses on the ground. During this OECD review, interviews did confirm that there is informal co-ordination among the various agencies and that there used to be greater formal organisation among the various players but that there has been a decline in network activity over the last several years.

Because of its small size and administration, Whitecap has a clearer understanding of community members who are “at risk” and takes an individual case management approach for the provision of income assistance and interventions. Whitecap represents a success story of having moved from nearly 90% unemployment in 1990 to rates comparable to the provincial average, and having income assistance levels come down from 100 cases to less than 20.


Yukon Health and Social Services administer Income Assistance. There are about 800 non-indigenous individuals receiving income assistance in the territory. A small team at the ministry manages programmes to assist individuals into work. Currently there are about 60 individuals who are receiving support to transition into work. For persons with disabilities there are provisions under the Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities that was signed in February of 2014. Programing and enhanced services supported by the agreement were being rolled out in Whitehorse but were yet to be initiated in Dawson City.

For First Nations communities, a large numbers of individuals on Income Assistance is a critical challenge. High assistance rates represent significant costs for self-governing First Nations. Employment and training are being expanded but there are structural constraints that make the transition from income assistance to work difficult. These include the same level of income between entry level jobs and the income assistance rate; some jobs such as mining are seen as in conflict with traditional values; and, there remains socio-cultural resistance among some employers to employ indigenous people.

In the Yukon region, the Ta’an Kwach’an Council is working closely in collaboration with the Council of Yukon First Nations to deliver the Income Assiststance Reform in the Whitehorse catchment area. Through the Enhanced Service Delivery, the Ta’an Kwach’an Council provides eligible Income Assistance recipients, aged 18-24, access to a range of services and programmes, aimed at increasing their employability and guiding and supporting them as they move into the workforce. The First Nations Job Fund is delivered through the Council of Yukon First Nations and provides jobs and skills training needed to support recipients in securing employment.

Childcare and family friendly policies to support women’s participation in employment

Administered through the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, the First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative aims to increase the supply of quality childcare services in First Nations and Inuit communities to a level comparable to the general population in communities (The Muttart Foundation, 2013). Through the First Nations and Inuit Childcare Initiative, participating Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy Agreement Holders transfer funding to child care centres in order to support culturally appropriate child care spaces in First Nations and Inuit Communities. In Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Indian Training Assessment Group receives FNICCI funding. In the Yukon, both the Aboriginal Labour Force Alliance and the Council of Yukon First Nations receive FNICCI funding.


One in five Saskatchewan families have children five years of age and under (79 470 children in the province under 6 years of age). Between the 2006-11 census, the number of children aged 4 and under grew by close to 20% and the province’s fertility rate reached 2.06; the highest among Canada’s provinces.

Saskatchewan has a complex mixture of policies around childcare. In 1996, for example, the province introduced publicly funded prekindergarten for vulnerable children. In 2000, it implemented operating grants for child care services. In 2004, it moved to a regional delivery model and increased the educational requirements for early childhood educators. In 2006, Saskatchewan was the first province to move regulated child care into the education department (then Saskatchewan Learning).

The province has favoured not-for-profit provision of childcare through targeting its programmes of subsidies to non-profit centres. Cost is affordable based on a generous subsidy structure however availability can be a problem. About 48% of families in the province (just above the overall national use level) employed childcare services. Female participation rates in Saskatchewan were 63.6%, above the national average of 61.6% (Statistics Canada, 2014). Female participation rates are in some measure a reflection of the availability of childcare and other child friendly work policies. In Regina, the rate is slightly higher at 64.2%.


Yukon Health and Social Services, Child Care Services delivers 7 service programmes designed to help individual families and licensed child care facilities. These services include childcare subsidies and direct operating grants to licensed child facilities. The unit provides administrative, consultative and support services, and licenses child care facilities to ensure they follow legislated standards (Government of Yukon, 2014).

The Child Care Subsidy Programme assists families who need childcare for their children and may not be able to afford the cost of child care. The amount of subsidy is based on an income test, which is the combined net income of the family. This test takes into account family size, income, and the community in which the family lives. In recent years, high rates of childbirths in Whitehorse have put pressure on local childcare providers a number of whom were operating at capacity. Dawson City suffers a similar problem. Dawson City’s only public daycare has just 20 spaces and a waiting list of as many kids.

The participation rate among women is quite high at 77.1% in Whitehorse (NHS, 2011). This is in part because of the large share of Yukon’s economy that resides in the Public Sector that has historically higher rates of female employment and a higher level of professional jobs that allow for families to pay for privately provided childcare. Yukon is focused on engaging all segments of the society including business to promote a strong wellness oriented society that includes workplace balance that allows for family. On The Path Together: Wellness plan for Yukon’s Children and Families (2014) is the comprehensive plan that guides government actions in this area.

Box 6.8. Focusing on the early years in the Yukon

Having a good education is increasingly a necessary foundation for success in the labour market. Historically primary and secondary schooling has been the responsibility of the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. In the early 1990’s an Umbrella Final Agreement was developed for Yukon First nations to become self-governing. By 2005, 11 of Yukon’s 14 First Nations were self-governing.

As each First Nation reached their Final Agreement, they also signed a Self-Government Agreement (SGA). The agreements provide for funding which support the delivery of programmes and services at the First Nation level. Under the SGA the First Nation has the power to make and enact laws in respect of their lands and citizens, to tax, to provide for municipal planning, and to manage or co-manage lands and resources. Each self-governing First Nation has a constitution that contains the membership code, establishes governing bodies and provides for its powers, and protects the rights and freedoms of its citizens. As self-governing bodies, First Nations are not precluded from asserting any of the rights of any Canadian citizen or corporation. Each Yukon First Nation also has the power to make laws with respect to the provision of training and the provision of education programmes and services for its citizens.

In 2013, 9 of the 14 Yukon First Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Canada, and the Yukon. The context of this MOU differs from other education agreements in Canada, as there are no band operated schools in the Yukon (all First Nation students attend schools operated by the Territorial Government). The benefits of being part of the greater system are similar to those outlined for Whitecap Dakota. The MOU establishes a partnership in education between the three parties and commit to creating and implementing a joint action plan, for the success of First Nations’ learners. Provisions are made within the MOU to recognize the diversity of Yukon First Nation peoples, communities, language, culture, traditions and spiritual practices and the need for culturally-appropriate education.

At the same time the Council of Yukon First Nations established First Nations Education Commission (FNEC) to provide technical support, advice and recommendations to Yukon First Nations that are members of FNEC with respect to education matters relating to Yukon First Nation citizens and communities. These education matters include early childhood education, primary and secondary education and employment training. The Commission works toward common and unified strategies and recommendations aimed at advancing YFN education; improving student learning outcomes for YFN students and improving the involvement and engagement of YFN students, parents, families and communities in the school system.

There still remain significant differences between First Nations and non-First Nations in Graduation rates. The graduation rate for Non First Nations is 79% in Yukon and 48% for First Nations. The Yukon first nations Education Action Plan 2014-2024 sets eliminating this difference as a high priority. The areas of priority state “Closing the academic achievement gap between First Nations students and non-First Nations students in Yukon and in Canada is a long-standing priority for First Nations people throughout the country. It is a priority for Yukon First Nations that Yukon First Nations students attain and exceed academic requirements. It is widely understood that eliminating the education gap will contribute positively to the social, economic, cultural and political landscape of the Yukon and Canada.

Their remains considerable work to do to bring the First Nations graduation rate up to that of Non First Nations Yukoners but as one senior Education official put it there is a significant incentive for the Territorial Government as First Nations could, if dissatisfied with the progress create their own school system.

Tackling youth unemployment


Saskatchewan’s youth unemployment rate has been creeping up over the last twelve months from 9.2% in May 2014 to 11.7% in May 2015. This is slightly faster than the increase in unemployment for those over 25. When examined by gender the rate for young women in nearly twice that of young men (men 8.3%, women 15.5% [Labour force survey estimates, table 282-0003]). In May 2015, Regina recorded a slightly higher rate of youth unemployment than the rest of the province at 13.1% (Labour force survey estimates, table 282-0128). For Indigenous youth, the unemployment rate in Regina reached 25.3% in the same period.

Saskatchewan does not have a separate strategy for youth unemployment. Efforts have been directed at providing multiple pathways to higher education and in particular making it easy for young people to enter the trades. Labour Market Services have counsellors to provide assistance to those unfamiliar with the labour market. In addition the Rainbow Youth Centre and First Nations Employment Centre offer services tailored to youth.


Whitehorse has a Youth Employment Centre-Skookum Jim that has the objective to help youth develop the necessary skills to successfully gain and maintain meaningful employment. The Centre works on assisting youth who struggle with employment through tailored support and training on an individual basis. Programmes are divided into general services that include Job search tools and resources; drop-in Centre with access to computer lab, fax machine, photo copier, phone; and career development workshops (resume & cover letter writing, interview prep, job search strategies).

Special services are available for those who have not completed high school. Services for this group include: meaningful paid 3 month work placements; life skills training (First Aid, How To Stretch Your Money, WHIMIS); and case management with onsite youth employment coordinators.

4.4. Openness to immigration


Immigration plays an important role in the labour market development strategy for the province. The Plan for Growth calls for an increase in the population of the province by 60 000 people with a significant portion of that coming from immigration. The province wishes to increase the cap on the provincial nominee programme (the part of the federal immigration programme where provinces identify immigration requirements to the specific labour market needs of the province) by 50% from 4 000 to 6 000 per annum.

In Regina immigrants represent about 7% of the city’s population slightly higher than the province as a whole (5%) but lower than that of Canada which is 18%. The immigrant share of Regina’s population has declined between 1986 and 2001. Immigrants represented 9% of Regina’s population in 1986, 8% in 1996 and 7% in 2001. Saskatchewan’s immigrant population has remained at 5% since 1996, a decrease from 7% in 1986. The proportion of immigrants in the population of both Regina and Saskatchewan is well below that of Canada which has increased from 16% to 18% over this same period. While the relative share has decreased the absolute numbers while declining modestly in recent years remain at about 3 000 per annum (RROC).

Regina Region Local Immigration Partnership (RRLIP) is a Citizenship and Immigration Canada funded initiative. This community based initiative assesses current community resources and services for newcomers as well as identifies local priorities from extensive consultation with newcomers and the general community. The RRLIP works to facilitate closer collaboration, co-ordinate activities, create efficiencies and build capacity in Regina. The RRLIP is a new structure having been started in April of 2014.

The Regina Open Door Society (RODS) is a non-profit organisation that provides settlement and integration services to refugees and immigrants in Regina. RODS is committed to meeting the needs of newcomers by offering programmes and services that enable them to achieve their goals and participate fully in the larger community.


The Government of Yukon administers immigration programmes in partnership with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This partnership allows Yukon to nominate qualified foreign nationals to the federal government for permanent residency.

The Yukon Nominee Program (YNP) is run by the Yukon Government in partnership with Citizenship and Immigration Canada under the “Agreement for Canada-Yukon Cooperation on Immigration.” The YNP streams for Skilled Workers and Critical Impact Workers is locally driven and based on the needs of Yukon employers. When eligible Yukon employers cannot find Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill permanent full-time jobs, they can find workers from outside of Canada. They select internationally trained and experienced foreign workers who have the skills needed in the local labour market, and nominate them to receive Canadian permanent resident visas to settle and work in Yukon.

In Whitehorse the Multicultural Centre of the Yukon welcomes immigrants to Canada and to the Yukon. Services are available to assist in the settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees into the social, economic, cultural, and political life of their community. Programmes offered are in the areas of settlement services, language instruction, employment services, and community networking.

The total immigrant population in Yukon is small about 4% of the total population, and concentrated primarily in Whitehorse. An important part of this community are Filipinos who are about one quarter of immigrants and supply an important part of labour to local Whitehorse big box retailers and fast food franchises.

During interviews conducted for this OECD review, there was anecdotal evidence that there may be some crowding out occurring in entry-level jobs between foreign workers and other groups trying to access the labour market in particular younger workers and individuals transitioning from income assistance to work. Employers have a preference for the stability that foreign workers offer and the reduced payroll costs associated with foreign workers. Recent changes to the temporary foreign worker programme are seen as putting considerable pressure on employers in Whitehorse who have seen foreign workers as essential to running their business. Local groups and some citizens view the extensive use of foreign workers by some employers as removing an important source of jobs for entry level workers that were available in the community in previous periods.


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