The Workplace Partners Panel (WPP) brought together business and labour leaders to focus on the skills challenge facing Canada. Announced in the 2005 Federal Budget, the Workplace Partners Panel was to be a key element in the Workplace Skills Strategy. It was announced as a response by the federal government to concerns from business and labour leaders that Canada must develop a more collaborative approach to labour market and skills issues.
The Workplace Partners Panel engaged business and labour leaders in a deliberative dialogue on labour market, skills, and skills shortage issues. The mode of operation of the Panel was to fashion regional task forces that ensured that perspectives and ideas reflected local economic and demographic circumstances. Each regional task force was co-chaired by senior leaders from the business and labour communities, while drawing on the experience of other business and labour leaders, educators, community groups, and representatives of all levels of government.
The WPP was an independent initiative, governed and managed by the Canadian Labour and Business Centre (CLBC), itself, a bipartite organization founded by the federal government in 1984. The Board of the CLBC constituted the WPP Board and included representatives of business and labour from across the country, augmented with representation from provincial, territorial and federal governments and postsecondary educational institutions.
The first round of regional task forces considered the broad question of Canada’s ageing workforce and its implications for regional labour markets and skill needs. Business and labour leaders were invited to explore this issue with a view to focusing their attention on aspects of the skills challenge that were of most consequence to their region.
In addition to the work undertaken by the Task Forces, the WPP also engaged business and labour leaders in other projects, including an examination of how the federal government could further develop its Workplace Skills Strategy.
The national co-chairs of the Workplace Partners Panel were Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) President and CEO Perrin Beatty and Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) President Ken Georgetti. The WPP received financial support from Human Resources and Social Development Canada.
The federal government's expenditure review, announced on September 25, 2006 eliminated all funding to the Workplace Partners Panel. “At a time when our country, particularly Western Canada, is faced with critical skills shortages, it is extraordinary that our federal government has chosen to dismantle this important program," stated Shirley Seward, outgoing CEO of the CLBC. “It means the government will address Canada's skilled-worker shortages without the concerted advice of the workplace partners -- business and labour.”