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Chapter 3.3 - Training a Highly Skilled Workforce
Training the Workforce of Tomorrow
- Supporting provinces and territories to facilitate the harmonization of apprenticeship training and certification requirements in targeted Red Seal trades.
- Providing $1 million over five years to promote the adoption of the Blue Seal Certification program across Canada.
- Making a one-time investment of $65 million to business and industry associations to allow them to work with willing post-secondary institutions to better align curricula with the needs of employers.
- Expanding eligibility for the Low- and Middle-Income Canada Student Grants to short duration programs.
- Making the Canada Student Loans Program work for families by reducing the expected parental contribution under the needs assessment process.
- Removing the penalty on post-secondary students who work by eliminating in-study student income from the Canada Student Loans Program needs assessment process.
- Investing $248.5 million over five years in Aboriginal labour market programming.
- Investing $2 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to expand the Computers for Schools program, extending access to refurbished computer equipment to non-profit organizations such as those that support low-income Canadians, seniors and new Canadians.
Supporting Canadian Workers
- Investing $53.8 million over two years to extend the current Employment Insurance Working While on Claim pilot project to August 2016.
- Enhancing labour market information, including the launch of a new one-stop national labour market information portal.
- Pursuing negotiations with provinces and territories on the $1.95-billion-per-year Labour Market Development Agreements to reorient training towards labour market demand.
- Providing $35 million over five years to make permanent the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans pilot project.
Ensuring a Safe and Healthy Workplace
- Strengthening Canada Labour Code protections for all employees and interns under federal jurisdiction.
- Providing $4.8 million over five years to increase compliance with the health and safety provisions of the Canada Labour Code.
- Modernizing the Government Employees Compensation Act to simplify and accelerate claims processing and clarify coverage.
- The Government will make every effort to reach agreement with bargaining agents within a reasonable timeframe on necessary reforms to disability and sick leave management.
Canada’s labour market, like many other countries’ labour markets, is shifting towards high-skilled employment. Employment growth over the past three decades has been highest for those with post-secondary education. These trends are expected to continue: about two-thirds of the job openings in Canada over the next decade are expected to be in occupations that require a post-secondary education.
The demand for skills development beyond high school appears particularly pronounced in the skilled trades. Employment in the skilled trades has grown at a robust pace since 2000. The job vacancy rate in the skilled trades has surpassed pre-recession levels and is currently above all occupations (4.9 per cent in the skilled trades compared to 3.9 per cent in all occupations in 2014).
Overall, Canada ranks well internationally in developing its workforce and providing it with skills and education. Canadians are among the most highly educated in the world, placing at the top of all the members of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in terms of post-secondary educational attainment. Canada’s labour force participation rate also compares favourably with that in other OECD member countries. Since 2006, the Government has taken action to ensure the development of a skilled, mobile and productive workforce, action which has contributed to the resilience of Canada’s labour market despite the challenging global economic environment of recent years. In fact, the Canadian economy has experienced one of the best performances among the Group of Seven (G-7) economies in terms of output growth and job creation, with over 1.2 million net new jobs created since the recovery began in June 2009. Moreover, high-wage, full-time, private-sector employment has been the main source of job creation over the recovery.
Over 2 million students were enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions during the 2012–13 academic year. According to the OECD, over half of Canadians aged 25 to 64 have completed some form of post-secondary education.
The Government of Canada invests over $10 billion annually to support post-secondary education. This includes cash transfer support to provinces and territories through the Canada Social Transfer, direct financial assistance to students through Canada Student Loans and Canada Student Grants, and specific programming targeted to First Nations and Inuit students. The Government also provides significant tax assistance to students and those who support them, including through tax credits for enrolment in post-secondary educational programs.
The Government invests significant funding in training and education. This includes $2.7 billion annually through the Canada Job Fund Agreements, which include the Canada Job Grant; the Labour Market Development Agreements; and the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities. A number of targeted federal programs also exist to support the labour market participation of underrepresented groups, including youth, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples and older workers. In addition, over $10 billion annually is invested by the Government in support of post-secondary education, which includes providing students with financial assistance such as Canada Student Loans and Canada Student Grants.
The Government has also created targeted federal programs to support apprentices and the employers that hire them, including, in Economic Action Plan 2014, the creation of the Canada Apprentice Loan to provide apprentices in Red Seal trades with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year. Overall, new registrations in apprenticeship programs increased by 23 per cent between 2006 and 2012.
In 2014–15, the Government transferred $2.7 billion to support labour market programming through:
- $1.95 billion to provinces and territories through the Labour Market Development Agreements.
- $500 million to provinces and territories through the Canada Job Fund Agreements as part of the introduction of the Canada Job Grant, which was announced in Economic Action Plan 2013.
- $222 million to provinces and territories through Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities.
Over $10 billion annually is invested by the Government in support of post-secondary education, which includes providing students with financial assistance such as Canada Student Loans and Canada Student Grants, the Canada Apprentice Loan, and specific programming targeted to First Nations and Inuit students.
Since 2006, the Government has provided support for skills training for:
- Youth through the Youth Employment Strategy, with investments of over $330 million per year.
- Persons with disabilities through the Opportunities Fund, with investments of about $40 million per year.
- Aboriginal peoples through annual investments of over $400 million, including:
- $350 million per year provided through the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy to Aboriginal organizations to provide training and employment services to Aboriginal peoples.
- $210 million over five years through the Skills and Partnership Fund, announced in 2010, to provide Aboriginal peoples with project-specific training that responds to the demands of the Canadian labour market.
- $241 million over five years announced in Economic Action Plan 2013 to help ensure young, on-reserve First Nations Income Assistance recipients who can work have the incentives and training necessary to gain employment.
The Government has also taken actions to support the labour market participation of older Canadians who wish to remain in the workforce:
- Economic Action Plan 2014 provided $75 million over three years to renew the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, a federal-provincial-territorial employment program providing assistance to improve the employability of unemployed workers aged 55 to 64.
Announced in 2006, the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers assists workers aged 55 to 64 living in small communities affected by significant downsizing, closures, or ongoing high unemployment to improve their employability and reintegrate into the labour market. The initiative is cost-shared between the federal and provincial and territorial governments under bilateral agreements.
Economic Action Plan 2014 announced the renewal of the Initiative for an additional three years, starting in 2014–15, representing an investment of $75 million and bringing the total federal investment in the Initiative to an estimated $345 million by 2016–17. Program eligibility was also expanded to communities where employers are experiencing unfilled demand and/or skills mismatches. This demand-driven approach is designed to tailor projects to local needs and further enhance the labour market participation rate of older workers.
To date, more than 35,500 unemployed older workers living in small communities across the country have been targeted to participate in the Initiative.
Despite these significant investments, some challenges remain. Many Canadians are still out of work or underutilized at a time when there are skills and labour market shortages in certain sectors and regions. Most notably, the labour market in the skilled trades has tightened considerably over the economic recovery and Canadian employers are experiencing increasing difficulty hiring skilled trades workers. At the same time, a number of groups are struggling to reach their full potential in the labour market, in particular recent immigrants and Aboriginal peoples.
To this end, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes a number of concrete actions that respond to current labour market challenges and meet longer-term labour market needs. The Government is also taking steps to strengthen protections under the Canada Labour Code and to modernize the occupational illness and injury management system for federal employees. In addition, the Government will make every effort to reach agreement with bargaining agents within a reasonable timeframe on necessary reforms to disability and sick leave management.
Training the Workforce of Tomorrow
Like many other countries, Canada’s labour market is shifting towards high-skilled employment, with virtually all net job creation over the past decade in high-skilled, high-wage occupations. Overall, Canada ranks well internationally in developing its workforce and providing it with the skills and education needed to meet this shift in demand.
However, while Canadian youth are participating in post-secondary education at record levels, many struggle to find and maintain suitable employment. Compared to other OECD countries, fewer Canadian students graduate in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and from apprenticeship programs. Employers also report difficulties in finding skilled workers, particularly those with the right combination of technical and “soft” skills, such as the ability to communicate clearly, think strategically and work in teams. These skill shortages speak to a need to better align the education and training system with the skills sought by employers.
This is why the Government has taken steps to help Canada’s next generation gain the skills and experience they need to successfully transition into the workplace. As announced in Economic Action Plan 2014, the Youth Employment Strategy is being improved to provide youth with more practical and real-life work experience including through internships in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the skilled trades, and to help youth make more informed career choices that prepare them for the transition into the labour force. Economic Action Plan 2014 also announced further support for apprenticeship training, for example by creating the Canada Apprentice Loan and the Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training pilot project, and renewing the Computers for Schools Program, which provides students and interns with access to information and communications technology equipment and skills training.
The Government is committed to ensuring that youth have access to employment opportunities in high-demand fields and that they are provided with the supports they need to be trained and informed labour market participants who achieve their full potential.
Since 2006, the Government has provided support for youth to develop skills and obtain real-life job experience though the Youth Employment Strategy, with current investments of over $330 million per year. Through this Strategy, more than 600,000 youth, including recent post-secondary graduates, summer students and youth at risk, have benefitted from programming designed to enhance their employability skills and facilitate a successful transition into the labour force. Of this amount, more than 74,000 post-secondary graduates and youth at risk have obtained valuable career-related work experience through internships under the Career Focus and Skills Links streams of the Strategy. Another 390,000 youth aged 15 to 30 have obtained summer work experience under the Canada Summer Jobs stream.
In addition, in 2014–15, the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program funded about 1,000 internships with innovative small and medium-sized companies, involving total support of $20 million, including $15 million from the Youth Employment Strategy as announced in Economic Action Plan 2014.
Since 2006, the Government’s support for Mitacs’ Accelerate program has allowed graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to apply their specialized expertise to business-related challenges, translating into over 10,000 internships being awarded across Canada.
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to build on these initiatives with a number of targeted measures that will help youth obtain training and education that aligns with the evolving needs of the Canadian labour market and ensure that they are equipped with work-ready skills. The Government will also introduce further measures to better support apprentices.
A skilled and engaged Aboriginal labour force can improve the lives of Aboriginal peoples, mitigate employment gaps due to Canada’s aging population and contribute to the growth of the Canadian economy. Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide funding for Aboriginal labour market programming, including the Skills and Partnership Fund, which provides skills development and training for Aboriginal peoples, in partnership with businesses and other levels of government, in order to equip them for jobs in high-demand sectors of the economy, including in high-skilled occupations.
Supporting Apprenticeship Training
Apprenticeship training plays an important role in Canada’s post-secondary education system, providing skills and knowledge necessary to power and grow the Canadian economy. Supporting the take-up and completion of apprenticeships, followed by certification, contributes to increasing the supply of skilled labour.
Since 2006, the Government has recognized the importance of apprentices to Canada’s economy and has committed substantial financial support to apprentices and the employers that hire them.
Federal government support for apprentices includes:
- The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant, introduced in Budget 2006, is a taxable grant of $1,000 per year, up to a maximum of $2,000 per person, available to registered apprentices once they have successfully finished their first or second year/level (or equivalent) of an apprenticeship program. Over 387,000 Apprenticeship Incentive Grants have been disbursed since 2006.
- The Apprenticeship Completion Grant, introduced in Budget 2009, is a taxable grant of a maximum of $2,000 available to registered apprentices who have successfully completed their apprenticeship training and obtained their journeyperson certification in a designated Red Seal trade. Since 2009, approximately 137,000 Apprenticeship Completion Grants have been disbursed.
- The Tradesperson’s Tools Deduction, introduced in Budget 2006, allows tradespersons to deduct from their income part of the cost of eligible tools they must acquire as a condition of employment. About 20,000 tradespersons claim this deduction each year.
- The Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit, introduced in Budget 2006, encourages employers to hire new apprentices in eligible trades by providing a tax credit of 10 per cent of the wages payable to eligible apprentices in the first two years of their apprenticeship program (up to a maximum credit of $2,000 per apprentice, per year). More than 11,700 businesses benefitted from the credit in 2013.
- The fees eligible for the Tuition Tax Credit were extended starting in 2011 to include occupational, trade and professional examination fees required to obtain a professional status, or certification or license in order to practice a profession or trade in Canada. It is estimated that more than 30,000 individuals are benefitting from this enhancement each year.
Economic Action Plan 2013 created additional opportunities for apprentices by:
- Reallocating $4 million over three years to work with provinces and territories to harmonize requirements for apprentices, as well as examine the use of practical tests as a method of assessment, in targeted skilled trades.
- Introducing measures to support the use of apprentices through federal construction and maintenance contracts, the Investment in Affordable Housing and infrastructure projects receiving federal funding.
Economic Action Plan 2014 further supported apprentices by:
- Creating the Canada Apprentice Loan, which provides interest-free loans of up to $4,000 per period of technical training to help registered apprentices in Red Seal trades with the costs of training. It is estimated that at least 26,000 apprentices per year will apply for over $100 million in loans.
- Introducing the Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical Training pilot project to expand innovative approaches to the delivery of apprentice technical training aimed at reducing non-financial barriers to completing training and obtaining certification.
David is registered in a four-year apprenticeship program at his local community college in Ontario to become a Heavy Duty Equipment Technician, which is a Red Seal trade. The apprenticeship program consists of a combination of workplace-based training and two months of in-class technical training per year over three years. David’s expenses for this year include $400 in tuition and $2,500 in tools. David’s workplace-based training allows him to earn $25,000 annually.
In recognition of the costs he incurs as an apprentice, David is able to receive $447 in federal tax relief in 2015, including:
- $60 under the Tuition Tax Credit for his annual tuition of $400.
- $120 under the Education Tax Credit (based on a credit amount of $400 per month for the in-class portion of his training).
- $20 under the Textbook Tax Credit (based on a credit amount of $65 per month for the in-class portion of his training).
- $172 from the Canada Employment Credit, which provides a non-refundable tax credit based on an amount of $1,146.
- $75 from the Tradesperson’s Tools Deduction, which allows tradespersons to deduct from their income up to $500 of the total cost of eligible tools acquired in a taxation year that exceeds the amount of the Canada Employment Credit.
In addition to the personal income tax relief that David receives, his employer is eligible for a tax reduction of $2,000 per year, the maximum credit under the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit, during the first two years of David’s apprenticeship program.
David may also claim the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant of $1,000 during each of the first two years of his apprenticeship program, and when he successfully completes his apprenticeship program and obtains his provincial/territorial journeyperson certification, he can apply for the Apprenticeship Completion Grant of $2,000.
In addition, David may apply for the Canada Apprentice Loan of up to $4,000 per period of technical training to help pay for tuition, tools, equipment and living expenses.
Because he has paid premiums and meets all the Employment Insurance (EI) program eligibility requirements, David can receive EI regular benefits when he begins his in-class technical training. Although there is a normal two-week waiting period as an apprentice, the waiting period would be waived for David’s subsequent in-class technical training sessions.
David could also be eligible for EI Part II support delivered in partnership with the province under the Labour Market Development Agreement. EI Part II support could cover training-related expenditures such as basic living expenses, relocation/commuting costs, training materials and child care expenses.
Providing Support to Provinces and Territories to Harmonize Apprenticeship Training
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to extend further support to the provinces and territories to facilitate the harmonization of apprenticeship training and certification requirements in targeted Red Seal trades.
The Government recognizes that skilled trades are essential to Canada’s economic prosperity. To reduce barriers to accreditation in the skilled trades and improve labour mobility, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to extend further support to the provinces and territories for implementing recommendations made by the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship to harmonize apprenticeship training and certification requirements in targeted Red Seal trades. For example, jurisdictions will work towards adopting common sequencing for technical training curriculum content and similar total hours for training, both in-class and on-the-job.
This measure will directly benefit apprentices by ensuring that they are able to have their credentials recognized in all Canadian provinces, making it easier to relocate to work and train where the jobs are.
Promoting Blue Seal Certification
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $1 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, to promote the adoption of the Blue Seal Certification program across Canada.
The Blue Seal Certification program is designed to encourage journeypersons in skilled trades to improve their business skills after they have achieved journeyperson status. Under the program, journeypersons can obtain a Blue Seal by completing 150 hours of study in one or more of 18 business-related subject areas offered by an approved training provider. Blue Seal Certification can help entrepreneurial tradespeople succeed and encourage more journeypersons to start or expand their own business, increasing the number of employers able to offer apprenticeship positions. Currently, the Blue Seal Certificate is only awarded in Alberta and Saskatchewan, with a similar certificate offered in the Atlantic provinces through the new Atlantic Trades Business Seal Program.
In line with the Government’s commitments to encourage entrepreneurship, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $1 million over five years to Employment and Social Development Canada’s Red Seal Secretariat to promote the adoption of the Blue Seal Certification program across Canada.
Increasing awareness of Blue Seal certification nationally will increase chances of business success for entrepreneurial tradespeople, [offer] more succession planning options for retiring tradespeople, and [provide] additional incentive for apprentices to complete their certification.
Fostering Training That Responds to Employer Needs
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide a one-time investment of $65 million over four years, starting in 2016–17, to business and industry associations to allow them to work with willing post-secondary institutions to better align curricula with the needs of employers.
In recent years the Government has taken important steps to reform the skills training system to help Canadians acquire the skills that will get them hired or help them get better jobs. Building on these actions, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide a one-time investment of $65 million over four years, starting in 2016–17, to business and industry associations to support partnerships between employers and willing educational institutions. Through these partnerships, groups of employers and industry organizations will work with willing post-secondary institutions to develop curricula and programs that are aligned with the specific skills needs of the labour market.
For example, during the first phase of this initiative Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Canada’s largest trade and industry association, will work with Siemens Canada and several post-secondary institutions to develop a new curriculum in support of an advanced manufacturing skills certification. This initiative would be subsequently expanded to other industries, such as mining and forestry; employers, including SMEs; and willing post-secondary institutions. This action will support the productivity and competitiveness of Canadian employers while ensuring that post-secondary students and recent graduates have the necessary skills to successfully transition into the workforce.
Expanding Eligibility for Canada Student Grants
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $184 million over four years, starting in 2016–17, to expand eligibility for Canada Student Grants to students in short-duration programs.
Since 2006, the Government has made significant investments in post-secondary education to remove financial barriers and to streamline and modernize the Canada Student Loans Program, including launching the new, consolidated Canada Student Grants Program which took effect in 2009. During the 2012–13 academic year, the Canada Student Loans Program disbursed approximately $2.6 billion in loans to over 480,000 post-secondary students. During the same period, nearly 357,000 students received a total of $695 million in Canada Student Grants, of which approximately $515 million was provided to students from low- and middle-income families.
Building on these initiatives, as announced by the Prime Minister on April 7, 2015, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to expand the eligibility for the Low- and Middle-Income Canada Student Grants to help Canadians acquire or upgrade their skills for quick entry into the labour market.
Beginning in 2016–2017, Canada Student Grants will be made available to qualifying low- and middle-income students enrolled in educational programs with a minimum duration of 34 weeks. Currently, students must be enrolled in an educational program with a minimum duration of 60 weeks to qualify. The expansion would help approximately 42,000 additional students per year, including approximately 22,000 students at private career colleges, gain eligibility to Canada Student Grants.
This measure will help ensure that more students can pursue short duration post-secondary programs that focus on practical skills and provide a quick transition from education to employment.
Tara is registered in a one-year dental assistant training program at her local career college in British Columbia. She is from a family of four and is currently living at home. Her parents’ combined income for 2014–15 was under $43,000.
Under the proposed program changes, Tara will be able to receive a Low-Income Canada Student Grant of $125 for each month of study or the equivalent of $1,000 for the duration of her training program.
Making Canada Student Loans Work for Families
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $119 million over four years, starting in 2016–17, to reduce the expected parental contribution under the Canada Student Loans Program needs assessment process.
The Canada Student Loans Program currently assumes that parents will contribute a specific amount to their dependent child’s education. Many parents of children in post-secondary education are in a position to contribute to their child’s education, but not all have the financial flexibility to do so. Canadian families can face competing financial pressures as they care for aging family members while raising children, or balance other obligations on the family budget. As a result, some post-secondary students receive less support from the Canada Student Loans Program, or none at all, under an assumption that their parents can contribute a specific amount.
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to reduce the expected parental contribution under the Canada Student Loans Program needs assessment process. Reducing the parental contribution better recognizes the financial realities faced by Canadian families. This measure would provide increased support to approximately 92,000 students.
Enhancing Canada Student Loans
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $116 million over four years, starting in 2016–17, to eliminate in-study student income from the Canada Student Loans Program needs assessment process.
Whether it is to help cover the costs of tuition, housing and basic necessities, or gain valuable job experience, many students work while studying at post-secondary institutions. The Canada Student Loans Program currently reduces support to working students for every dollar earned above $100 per week. Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to remove this penalty for working by eliminating in-study student income from the Canada Student Loans Program needs assessment process. This change ensures that students can work and gain valuable labour market experience while attending school without having to worry about a reduction in their financial assistance. An estimated 87,000 students would receive increased loan amounts as a result of the elimination of in-study income.
Marc is registered in a four-year Bachelor’s degree at McMaster University. He is from a family of four living in Ontario. His parents’ combined after-tax income for 2014–15 was $75,673. Marc works part-time while studying and earns approximately $200 per week.
Under the current program requirements, since Marc earns more than the $100 in-study income limit, his financial assistance is reduced on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Under the proposed changes, Marc will be eligible to receive an additional $100 per week in Canada Student Loans. By eliminating in-study income from the Canada Student Loans needs assessment, Marc will be able to continue working at his part-time job without having to worry about a reduction in his financial assistance.
In addition, the amount of financial resources that Marc’s parents are expected to contribute will be reduced. The current Canada Student Loans Program needs assessment assumes Marc’s parents contribute $1,079 for each year of study. Under the proposed changes, his parents will no longer be expected to contribute to his post-secondary education, and his loan amount will increase by up to $1,079 per year.
Investing in Aboriginal Labour Market Programming
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $248.5 million over five years beginning in 2015–16 to support Aboriginal labour market programming.
Over the next decade, approximately 400,000 young Aboriginal peoples will join the approximately 900,000 Aboriginal peoples across Canada already of working age. However, Aboriginal peoples continue to face barriers to employment, with many requiring additional education and training to meet the needs of the Canadian labour market. Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $215 million over five years beginning in 2015–16 and $50 million per year thereafter to the Skills and Partnership Fund, which provides skills development and training for Aboriginal peoples, in partnership with businesses and other levels of government. This training equips Aboriginal peoples for jobs in high-demand sectors of the economy, including in high-skilled occupations. The proposed funding would complement the $350 million provided annually for the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy.
Economic Action Plan 2015 also proposes to provide $33.5 million over five years beginning in 2015–16 for administrative support for Aboriginal labour market programs and to launch a pilot labour force survey on reserve in order to improve available labour market information.
Improving Canadians’ Access to Computer Equipment and Digital Skills
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $2 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to expand the Computers for Schools program, extending access to refurbished computer equipment to non-profit organizations such as those that support low-income Canadians, seniors and new Canadians.
The Computers for Schools program supports the refurbishment and reuse of surplus government computer equipment so it can be donated to schools and other learning organizations across the country. The program also provides students and recent graduates with market-relevant skills and experience in information and communications technology fields.
Recognizing the important social and environmental benefits of this successful program, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $2 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to expand the Computers for Schools program and extend access to refurbished computer equipment to a wider group of not-for-profit organizations, including those that support low-income Canadians, seniors and new Canadians. The program will be renamed to reflect its expansion to enable more Canadians to fully participate in the digital economy.
Supporting Canadian Workers
Canada’s skilled and highly educated workforce is one of our key advantages in competing and succeeding in the global economy. That is why, since 2006, the Government has placed a strong emphasis on promoting labour force attachment, enhancing skills training, building a fast and flexible economic immigration system, and developing untapped potential in the labour market.
Through Economic Action Plan 2012, the Government took action to connect unemployed workers with available jobs that match their skills and provide them with additional support to find work through the introduction of the Connecting Canadians with Available Jobs initiative. This initiative:
- Enhanced labour market information including online job postings to support job search activities.
- Clarified the definition of “suitable work” and “reasonable job search” for Employment Insurance claimants.
- Better connected the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the Employment Insurance program to help ensure Canadians are considered before temporary foreign workers.
Economic Action Plan 2013 announced that the Government would transform skills training in Canada, ensuring that federal funding responds to the hiring needs of employers. Most notably, Economic Action Plan 2013 announced the introduction of the Canada Job Grant, which provides employers with the opportunity to participate meaningfully as partners in the skills training system. The Canada Job Grant provides up to $15,000 per year for training costs, including training and training materials, with employers contributing on average one-third of the total costs of training. The Grant is now available in all provinces and territories. Further, in 2014, the Government introduced a new generation of Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities to better meet the needs of persons with disabilities and employers. The Government is continuing the transformation of Canada’s skills training system through the renegotiation of the $1.95-billion-per-year Labour Market Development Agreements.
The Canada Job Grant has provided funding to Oxygen Technical Services Limited, an information technology service provider in Winnipeg. The support given to Oxygen Technical Services through the Canada Job Grant will allow the company to provide skills training and certification for 15 employees. Another recipient of the Canada Job Grant is DynaIndustrial, a heavy industrial custom fabrication company in Saskatchewan. Funding will support skills training in a wide range of areas, including leadership, sales and crane operations.
In addition, the immigration system as a whole has undergone a significant transformation since 2006, making it more efficient, flexible and responsive to ensure it supports the needs of the Canadian labour market. As announced in Economic Action Plan 2014, recent initiatives include:
- Significant reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure Canadians are considered first for available jobs and temporary foreign workers are only used as a last and limited resort when Canadians are not available.
- The implementation of Express Entry, a new application management system that allows the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, and employers to actively target skilled immigrants under key economic immigration programs. The new system was launched in January 2015.
Economic Action Plan 2015 builds on these recent initiatives with new measures to: promote labour force attachment through a renewal of the Employment Insurance Working While on Claim pilot project; assist employers in meeting their skilled labour shortages through improved labour market information and support for labour market mobility; and better integrate new Canadians into the labour market by providing access to foreign credential recognition loans.
Removing Disincentives to Work
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide up to $53.8 million over two years, starting in 2015–16, to extend the current Employment Insurance Working While on Claim pilot project to August 2016.
The Working While on Claim pilot project helps individuals stay connected to the labour market by changing the way earnings are deducted from Employment Insurance benefits in order to ensure that claimants always benefit from accepting work. Under the current pilot, claimants can keep 50 cents of their Employment Insurance benefits for every dollar they earn, up to a maximum of 90 per cent of the weekly insurable earnings used to calculate their Employment Insurance benefit amount.
The current Working While on Claim pilot project has demonstrated that it removes disincentives for Employment Insurance claimants to accept available work and encourages them to maintain a stronger attachment to the labour force. While these results are encouraging, more information is necessary to support a permanent, legislated approach. To this end, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide up to $53.8 million over two years, starting in 2015–16, to extend the current Employment Insurance Working While on Claim pilot project to August 2016.
Improving Take-up of the Working Income Tax Benefit
Economic Action Plan 2015 reaffirms the Government’s commitment to making work more attractive to low- and modest-income individuals who face obstacles to joining or staying in the workforce.
In Budget 2007, the Government introduced the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), a refundable tax credit that supplements the earnings of low-income workers. The WITB helps to reduce the “welfare wall” by ensuring that individuals are in a better financial position when they secure employment. The WITB is a central part of the Government of Canada’s objective of improving work incentives for low-income Canadians.
Building on this important first step, the WITB was enhanced in Budget 2009 by $580 million, effectively doubling the total tax relief provided by the WITB. About 1.5 million Canadian families currently benefit from the WITB. This includes about 900,000 single individuals receiving average benefits of about $700 and about 600,000 couples and single parents receiving average benefits of approximately $1,000. However, some eligible workers may not be receiving benefits due to a lack of awareness of the credit or difficulty in making a claim. The Government of Canada will examine initiatives to further increase awareness and take-up of the WITB.
Enhancing Labour Market Information
Economic Action Plan 2015 confirms new investments in enhanced Labour Market Information and proposes to reallocate $4 million over two years, starting in 2015–16, to support the launch of a new one-stop national labour market information portal. In addition, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to reallocate $7 million over two years, starting in 2015–16, to support improved labour mobility.
Easy access to accurate, timely and comprehensive labour market information is critical to the efficient matching of workers with jobs. It not only helps mitigate labour shortages and avoid mismatches in the short term, but also helps students make informed choices so that they train for jobs that will be in demand.
This is why the Government of Canada launched a new Career Choice Tool to inform young people about fields of study that are in demand. It is also why the Government is making substantial new investments in labour market information, including, as announced in June 2014, $14 million per year for a new Job Vacancy Survey and a new National Wage Survey to provide timely and detailed information on occupation demand and wages at the regional level.
In addition, in November 2014, the Government of Canada, along with its provincial and territorial partners, endorsed a Framework for Labour Market Information for Canada to ensure that governments work together to provide Canadians with the high quality, easily accessible labour market information products that they need. As a first step, the Government is proposing to reallocate $4 million over two years to support the launch of a new one-stop national labour market information portal, developed under the guidance of a national panel of experts with representatives from governments, employer associations and other key partners. This investment will lay the groundwork for a new way of developing and disseminating labour market information, where partnerships are front and centre.
At the same time, the Government is supporting the mobility of Canadian workers across provinces and territories so that they can move to where the job opportunities are and employers have a larger pool of qualified skilled workers through:
- The launch of a new labour mobility portal which will provide comprehensive information to Canadians who wish to move for work.
- An improved Job Bank that makes it easier for workers to find information on job opportunities outside their local geographic area.
- Proposing to reallocate $7 million over two years, starting in 2015–16, for targeted programming to support the relocation of youth and immigrants to areas where job opportunities exist.
- Taking steps to ensure that Employment Insurance claimants are aware of their job search responsibilities when moving or considering moving for work. The Government will also ensure that individuals willing to move are not excluded from Employment Insurance training opportunities across the country.
- Funding to provinces and territories to support the implementation of recommendations to harmonize apprenticeship training and certification requirements in targeted Red Seal trades.
Ensuring Training Reflects Labour Market Needs
As announced in Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government is retooling the $1.95-billion-per-year Labour Market Development Agreements with provinces and territories to reorient training towards labour market demand.
The Government is transforming Canada’s skills training system. In addition to implementing the Canada Job Grant and a new generation of Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities, in the last year progress has been made towards retooling the $1.95-billion-per-year Labour Market Development Agreements with provinces and territories to ensure that labour market programming is responsive to the needs of both employers and job seekers and that the unemployed are being connected with available jobs to get them back to work sooner.
The Government has consulted broadly with employers, industry groups, regional economic development groups, education and training institutions, service providers and subject-matter experts. Employers indicated that they welcome an increased role in training decisions, and stakeholders suggested new ways to better train Canadians for available jobs.
The Government is continuing to work closely with provinces and territories towards the implementation of retooled Labour Market Development Agreements that will encourage greater employer participation in skills training decisions and ensure that training is better aligned with job opportunities.
Removing Financial Barriers to Foreign Credential Recognition
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to reallocate up to $35 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, to make the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans pilot project permanent to support internationally trained workers in their pursuit of foreign credential recognition.
Internationally trained workers, including skilled immigrants and Canadians with international training or education, make an essential contribution to Canada’s labour market and economy. However, 36 per cent of immigrants encounter financial barriers to completing the foreign credential recognition process. In 2011, the Government introduced the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans pilot project to provide loans to foreign-trained individuals to help cover the costs of the credentialing process. Under the first two years of the pilot project, nearly 1,500 loans totalling $9 million were disbursed with average loan amounts of approximately $6,000 nationwide. This shows that the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans pilot project is meeting a demonstrated need encountered by newcomers to Canada trying to get jobs in their field. Building on this success, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to make the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans pilot project permanent. This further action will help foreign-trained individuals get their credentials recognized faster and obtain jobs in their fields sooner.
This pilot project brings government, non-profit organizations and private stakeholders together to provide financial assistance to internationally trained workers. It helps newcomers follow their career paths in Canada and integrate into Canadian society.
Labour Market Integration of New Canadians
Economic Action Plan 2015 reaffirms the Government’s commitment to the labour market integration of new Canadians by committing to explore ways to respond to the recent report of the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians.
The Government remains committed to supporting the economic prosperity of new Canadians. In October 2014, the Government appointed a Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians to consult with immigrant-serving organizations, regulators, employers and other stakeholders. Consultations were held in Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax, as well as online, with over 750 stakeholders sharing their experiences and feedback on ways to help transition new Canadians into jobs aligned with their skills and experience.
Released in April 2015, the Panel’s report, Survival to Success: Transforming Immigrant Outcomes, indicates that more can be done to make the foreign credential recognition process faster and easier, and to connect immigrants with the right jobs.
Economic Action Plan 2015 reaffirms the Government’s commitment to improve the labour market integration of new Canadians. The Government is closely reviewing the Panel’s findings and exploring how to best respond to its recommendations.
Reforming the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Economic Action Plan 2015 confirms the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program continues to promote Canada’s economic and labour market interests.
The Government remains committed to reforming the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure the program is used as intended and that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs. In 2014, the Government announced significant reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and introduced the International Mobility Programs.
The Government will continue to implement these reforms, including introducing legislation to allow the Government to set relevant fees in a timely manner, to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program continues to promote Canada’s economic and labour market interests.
Since 2006 the Government of Canada has put in place a number of measures to ensure that Canada’s immigration system is fast, flexible and supports Canada’s labour market by promoting job creation and economic growth:
- As of January 1, 2015, skilled foreign workers have access to Express Entry, a new electronic application management system for Canada’s key economic immigration programs. Express Entry selects the top economic immigrants who are most likely to succeed in Canada and contribute to the Canadian economy, the labour market and communities. In turn, Express Entry helps newcomers participate more fully in the economy and integrate more quickly into Canadian society. Express Entry will help ensure the immigration system addresses Canada’s economic and labour market needs while reducing backlogs and improving processing times.
- As of April 1, 2013, Canada’s Start-Up Visa, the first of its kind in the world, is targeting a new type of immigrant entrepreneur who has the potential to build innovative companies that can compete on a global scale and create jobs. The Start-Up Visa links immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups.
- The Foreign Credential Recognition Program is a key component of the Government of Canada’s commitment to attract, select and integrate skilled immigrants into the Canadian economy and society. Achieving Canada’s economic potential requires that immigrants and newcomers have the opportunity to use their skills and talents to the fullest. The Foreign Credential Recognition Program offers strategic financial support to provincial and territorial governments, regulatory bodies, national associations and credential assessment agencies to facilitate the assessment and recognition of credentials acquired in other countries.
- The Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications sets out a shared national vision by federal, provincial and territorial governments to improve the foreign credential recognition processes across Canada and enhance the labour market outcomes of internationally trained individuals. The Framework applies to all regulated occupations but targets certain occupations to ensure that processes and supports are in place to enable the timely recognition of foreign credentials. Targeted occupations include dentists, engineering technicians, licensed practical nurses, medical radiation technologists, physicians and teachers (K-12). Skilled trade occupations are also integral to the Framework.
Ensuring a Safe and Healthy Workplace
The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring safe, fair and productive workplaces. It has taken important steps in collaboration with employers to help support and protect Canadian workers. Building on this, Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to amend the Canada Labour Code to strengthen protections related to occupational health and safety, labour standards and industrial relations for all employees and interns under federal jurisdiction. It also proposes measures to improve the administration of the occupational illness and injury management system for federal employees to ensure ill or injured employees return to work in a safe and timely manner. The Government will also help ensure a healthier and more productive public service by working with bargaining agents to implement a disability and sick leave management system for federal public servants that is modern, comprehensive and responsive to their needs.
Modernizing the Canada Labour Code
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to strengthen Canada Labour Code protections for all employees and interns under federal jurisdiction.
The Government of Canada recognizes that supporting and protecting employees is a sound decision for the well-being of workers, their families and communities across the country, and for business productivity, economic growth and long-term prosperity. This is why Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to introduce amendments to strengthen and simplify administration and enforcement of the Canada Labour Code. These amendments will provide for new short-term and long-term unpaid leaves for family responsibilities, and increase bereavement leave to provide employees with increased flexibility to balance work and informal caregiving obligations in times of need. These amendments will also address violence and sexual harassment in federally regulated private-sector workplaces to ensure that employees are treated fairly and protected from harm in the workplace.
Internships can provide important workplace-based learning experiences and support youth in making a successful transition from school to work. However, many Canadians are concerned about the potential for abuse and lack of protections offered to unpaid interns. This is why Economic Action Plan 2015 also proposes to amend the Canada Labour Code to ensure that interns under federal jurisdiction, regardless of pay, receive occupational health and safety protections and are subject to basic safety standards, and to clarify the circumstances under which unpaid internships can be offered.
…Federal workplace laws are unclear regarding the status of interns….Parliament needs to amend the Canada Labour Code to extend employment standards to protect interns.
Strengthening Compliance With the Canada Labour Code
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide $4.8 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, to increase compliance with the health and safety provisions of the Canada Labour Code.
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to increase the number of health and safety officers responsible for promoting compliance and enforcing the occupational health and safety provisions of the Canada Labour Code. Funding will support the hiring of 10 health and safety officers, bringing the total number of officers across Canada to 100. This measure will provide more adequate coverage of workers in areas of federal jurisdiction, especially in remote, high-risk sectors, helping to prevent workplace accidents and fatalities.
Modernizing the Government Employees Compensation Act
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to modernize the Government Employees Compensation Act to simplify and accelerate claims processing and clarify coverage.
Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to amend the Government Employees Compensation Act, which provides benefits and services to federal employees suffering from work-related injuries and illnesses. These amendments will simplify and accelerate claims processing and clarify coverage, ensuring that ill or injured employees receive compensation and return to work in a safe and timely manner, and that the program is delivered more efficiently and effectively.
Ensuring a Healthier and More Productive Public Service
The Government will make every effort to reach agreement with bargaining agents within a reasonable timeframe on necessary reforms to disability and sick leave management.
A new round of collective bargaining between the Government of Canada and federal public service bargaining agents began in 2014 to renew the Government’s collective agreements. The Government’s overarching goal in these negotiations is to reach agreements that are fair and reasonable for both employees and taxpayers. The negotiations held to date reflect the Government’s commitment to good faith collective bargaining.
The Government’s priority in benefit negotiations continues to be to provide for a disability and sick leave management system that is modern, comprehensive and responsive to employees’ needs. The Government’s antiquated existing system of bankable sick days is failing both employees and taxpayers:
- Over 60 per cent of employees in the core public administration do not have enough banked sick leave to cover a full period of short-term disability (13 weeks).
- 25 per cent of employees have fewer than 10 days of banked sick leave.
- Many employees, especially new and younger employees, have no banked sick days at all.
- In contrast, a select few long-tenured individuals, including many executives, have far more banked sick days than they will ever reasonably need.
A modernized disability and sick leave management system would lead to a healthier and more productive federal workforce serving Canadians. A new disability and sick leave management system would seamlessly connect sick leave with disability benefits and supports. In this manner, employees could return to work healthy and productive. It would focus on early and active case management including rehabilitation and return to work supports.
The Government will make every effort to reach agreement with bargaining agents within a reasonable timeframe on necessary reforms to disability and sick leave management, including introduction of a formal short-term disability plan to replace the existing bankable sick day system. The Government continues to negotiate with bargaining agents to identify mutually acceptable design parameters for the new system and is prepared to consider reasonable improvements to its tabled proposals. In the event that agreement cannot be reached, the Government will take the steps required to implement a modernized disability and sick leave management system within a reasonable timeframe.
|Training the Workforce of Tomorrow|
|Promoting Blue Seal Certification||1|
|Fostering Training That Responds to Employer Needs||10||10||20||25||65|
|Expanding Eligibility for Canada Student Grants||34||50||50||50||184|
|Making Canada Student Loans Work for Families||21||32||33||33||119|
|Enhancing Canada Student Loans||21||31||32||32||116|
|Investing in Aboriginal Labour Market Programming||20||57||57||57||57||249|
|Improving Canadians’ Access to Computer Equipment
and Digital Skills
Workforce of Tomorrow
|Supporting Canadian Workers|
|Removing Disincentives to Work||36||18||54|
|Enhancing Labour Market Information||5||6||11|
|Removing Financial Barriers to Foreign Credential Recognition||7||7||7||7||7||35|
|Subtotal—Supporting Canadian Workers||48||31||7||7||7||100|
|Ensuring a Safe and Healthy Workplace|
|Strengthening Compliance With the Canada Labour Code||1||1||1||1||1||5|
|Subtotal—Ensuring a Safe and Healthy Workplace||1||1||1||1||1||5|
|Total—Training a Highly Skilled Workforce||68||176||189||200||205||840|
|Less funds existing in the fiscal framework||55||55||55||55||55||276|
|Less funds sourced from internal reallocations||13||13||7||7||7||47|
|Net Fiscal Cost||1||108||127||138||143||517|
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