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Highlights from Budget 2017

Highlights from Budget 2017

March 23, 2017

On March 22, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the 2017 federal budget. Below are some highlights of interest to the Canadian library and information management community:

Accessibility

Giving Canadians Living With Disabilities an Opportunity to Succeed

Canadians living with disabilities have the same ambitions as all other Canadians—they want an opportunity to find good, well-paying jobs, make a contribution to their communities and the economy, and build a better life for themselves and their families.

In the coming year, the Government will explore options to improve work opportunities and employment outcomes for persons with disabilities. This will include the development of new planned federal accessibility legislation, which will promote equality of opportunity and increase the inclusion and participation of Canadians who have disabilities or functional limitations by increasing accessibility and removing barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction. The Government sought input from Canadians on this planned legislation through consultations held between July 2016 and February 2017.

Enabling Accessibility Fund

The Enabling Accessibility Fund supports the construction and renovation of public spaces to make them more accessible, making it possible for Canadians with disabilities to participate more fully in their community and the economy. Since its creation in 2007, the program has provided funding to over 2,300 projects across the country, leading to significant improvements in the lives of Canadians.

However, more needs to be done to improve the safety and accessibility of community spaces and workplaces. Budget 2017 proposes to provide $77 million over 10 years to expand the activities of the Enabling Accessibility Fund. Eligible projects will include constructing and renovating infrastructure (e.g., adding ramps, automatic door openers and accessible washrooms), providing accessible information and communication technologies and retrofitting vehicles.

Copyright and Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Strategy 2017

Canada’s intellectual property regime provides a framework that supports innovation across all sectors of the economy. Intellectual property rights incentivize creativity and the development of new ideas and technologies by helping companies, academics and inventors recoup their investment once new products reach the marketplace.

In recognition of the importance of a well-functioning intellectual property regime, Budget 2017 announces the Government will develop a new intellectual property strategy over the coming year. The strategy will help ensure that Canada’s intellectual property regime is modern and robust and supports Canadian innovations in the 21st century.

Culture

Building Strong Indigenous Communities

Taking Steps to Preserve, Revitalize and Enhance Indigenous Languages and Cultures

The restoration of Indigenous languages and cultural traditions is fundamental to recognizing Indigenous identity and strengthening Indigenous communities. For this reason, Budget 2016 provided $55 million per year on an ongoing basis to support language and cultural programing in primary and secondary schools on-reserve. More recently, the Prime Minister announced that the Government will enact an Indigenous Languages Act, to be co-developed with Indigenous Peoples, with the goal of ensuring the preservation, protection and revitalization of Indigenous languages in this country.

Budget 2017 is proposing to invest $89.9 million over the next three years to support Indigenous languages and cultures. This includes:

  • $69 million to significantly enhance the Aboriginal Languages Initiative. This new funding will support a range of activities such as developing learning materials, funding language classes and culture camps, and archiving Indigenous languages.
  • $14.9 million for Library and Archives Canada to support the digitization of existing Indigenous language and cultural materials. Funding would also support the development of an Aboriginal Oral Testimonies Project to document Indigenous heritage.
  • $6 million for the National Research Council Canada to develop, in collaboration with Indigenous stakeholders, information technology to preserve oral histories by converting speech to text, and creating other interactive educational materials.

The Government will continue to work with Indigenous Peoples on the development of a long-term comprehensive strategy to preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages and cultures, centred on the principle of Indigenous control.

Data

Delivering Results With the Canada Infrastructure Bank

Better Decisions Through Better Data

To help municipalities better track, collect, use and share the data needed to measure the impact of infrastructure investments, the Government of Canada and the Canada Infrastructure Bank will work in partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities and Statistics Canada to undertake an ambitious data initiative on Canadian infrastructure.

The data initiative will help all levels of government by providing intelligence to better direct infrastructure investments, and will support efforts to:

  • Provide comparable data and information on issues such as infrastructure demand and usage for jurisdictions across the country.
  • Provide a national picture on the state and performance of public infrastructure across asset classes.
  • Deliver high-quality data analytics to help inform policy and decision-making, and promote fact-based dialogue between all orders of government.
  • Track the impacts of infrastructure investments so that governments can report back to Canadians on what has been achieved.

Further details on the initiative will be announced in the coming months.

Digital Economy

Preparing for the Digital Economy

More and more aspects of Canadians’ lives are touched by digital technology on a daily basis. Digital skills are increasingly relevant—in school, at home and in the workplace. To ensure that Canadians have the digital skills they need to succeed, the Government intends to invest in developing and supporting the digital skills of younger and older Canadians, and groups that are underrepresented in the digital economy.

Teaching Kids to Code

Providing educational opportunities for digital skills development to Canadian girls and boys—from kindergarten to grade 12—will give them the head start they need to find and keep good, well-paying, in-demand jobs. To help provide coding and digital skills education to more young Canadians, the Government intends to launch a competitive process through which digital skills training organizations can apply for funding. Budget 2017 proposes to provide $50 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, to support these teaching initiatives.

Expanding Digital Learning Opportunities

Digital skills widen Canadians’ access to a world of possibilities. Budget 2017 proposes $29.5 million over the next five years for a new Digital Literacy Exchange program. The program will support non-profit organizations to implement initiatives that teach basic digital skills, including how to use the Internet safely and effectively, at pre-existing facilities such as public libraries, refugee housing complexes and seniors’ homes. The program will focus on vulnerable groups such as low-income individuals and families, and seniors.

Developing Assistive Technology

Assistive technologies such as screen readers, alternative keyboards and refreshable braille displays can make it easier for Canadians with disabilities to more fully participate in the digital economy. To expand the range of assistive technologies, and to give more Canadians better access to digital services, the Government proposes to establish a new Accessible Technology Development program. This program would co-fund innovative projects led by private sector firms, non-profit organizations and research institutes, to develop new assistive devices and technologies. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $22.3 million over five years to establish this program.

Making Home Internet Access More Affordable for Low-Income Families

Access to the Internet opens up a world of opportunities—from social connections with friends and family to new ways to learn and work. Most Canadians are already online, but many low-income families face financial barriers to access, such as the cost of purchasing a computer and the high cost of an Internet connection at home.

Budget 2017 proposes to invest $13.2 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, in a new Affordable Access program, which will help service providers offer low-cost home Internet packages to interested low-income families.

As the cost of computer hardware is also a barrier for some families, a target of 50,000 computers refurbished through the existing Computers for Success Canada program will also be distributed to families, along with the low-cost Internet packages.

To better understand how Canadians use digital technology, Budget 2017 also proposes to allocate $5 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, for Statistics Canada and private sector-led surveys on the impact of digital technology in Canada.

Canadian Digital Services

The Government has an opportunity—and a responsibility—to lead the way when it comes to digital innovation to support more widespread adoption of digital tools, and to better serve Canadians.

Informed by similar initiatives in the U.S. (the U.S. Digital Service/18F) and the United Kingdom (the Government Digital Service), the Government will adopt new ways of serving Canadians. Better use of digital technologies could improve the ways in which businesses can access government services, speed up immigration processing times through better-integrated information, or make it easier for Canadians to access benefits or tax information online.

Some work already underway that could be further advanced by the Government to support better digital services to Canadians includes:

High-Speed Internet for All Canadians, No Matter Where They Live

In Budget 2016, the Government committed to invest $500 million to bring high-speed Internet to rural and remote communities in Canada. A new program, Connect to Innovate, is focused on investing in backbone networks—the digital highways that carry traffic between communities—with support also available for last-mile applications. The program’s competitive application process is open until April 20, 2017.

In 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) also updated its standards for minimum Internet speeds, and announced recommended measures to achieve its ambitious goal.

The Government is committed to working with the CRTC to coordinate targets and to establish effective ways to meet them.

A Real Opportunity to Be Part of the Digital Economy

Technological change brings with it tremendous opportunities but not every Canadian is able to access the benefits that are part of an evolving digital world.

To make sure that all Canadians can be full participants in the digital economy and experience its benefits first-hand, the Government is investing in programs to better help underserved Canadians.

These investments include making home Internet access more affordable for low-income families, helping working adults upgrade their skills, and investing in the development of new assistive technologies to help Canadians living with disabilities.

An Open, Transparent and Innovative Internet

Over the past year, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has consulted with Canadians on the future of the Internet, the future of news media, and the role of Canadian content in an increasingly digital world.

For its part, the Government believes in an open and transparent Internet environment that emphasizes freedom—freedom to innovate, freedom to connect with others, and freedom of discussion.

This is a future that must include Canada’s creative entrepreneurs and cultural leaders, who are essential to building an inclusive and innovative Canada. From advertising and design to television and film to fashion and publishing, Canada’s creative industries are facing rapid and disruptive change, including the shift to online technologies, the push for new business models, and increased competition due to globalization. Along with these risks comes the opportunity for Canada—and its creative sector—to lead the way in creating new experiences, new technologies, and new, well-paying jobs for Canadians.

Over the next year, the Government will outline a new approach to growing Canada’s creative sector—one that is focused on the future, and on bringing the best of Canada to the world, rather than a protectionist stance that restricts growth and limits opportunities.

The Government also recognizes that Canada’s media industries, and the systems that allow for broadcasting, distribution and the exchange of ideas, are fundamentally changing in the digital age.

To ensure that Canadians continue to benefit from an open and innovative Internet, the Government proposes to review and modernize the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act.

In this review, the Government will look to examine issues such as telecommunications and content creation in the digital age, net neutrality and cultural diversity, and how to strengthen the future of Canadian media and Canadian content creation. Further details on the review will be announced in the coming months.

Early Learning

Supporting Families Through Early Learning and Child Care

For too many families, the lack of affordable, high-quality child care means difficult choices—some parents may have to sacrifice retirement savings to pay for child care, while others may leave their careers because child care is unavailable or unaffordable.

Recognizing the connection between child care and family economic security, Budget 2017 proposes measures that will increase support for early learning and child care, so that more Canadian parents can pursue new opportunities to learn and to work. With stronger skills and more work experience under their belts, families can focus on what matters most—building a better future for themselves, and their children.

To help Canadian children get the best start in life, and to better support Canadian families, Budget 2016 provided an initial $500 million in 2017–18 for early learning and child care.

Building on this commitment, Budget 2017 proposes to invest an additional $7 billion over 10 years, starting in 2018–19, to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care spaces across the country.

A portion of this investment will be dedicated to early learning and child care programs for Indigenous children living on- and off-reserve.

Over the next three years, these investments could:

  • Increase the number of affordable child care spaces for low- and modest-income families by supporting up to 40,000 new subsidized child care spaces.
  • Make it more affordable for parents to return to work, with thousands of parents more likely to enter the labour force once child care is made more affordable.

To ensure that Canadian families have better access to high-quality, affordable child care, the Government is working with the provinces and territories to develop a National Framework on Early Learning and Child Care, focusing on best practices and new approaches to best serve families.

In addition, a distinct Indigenous Framework on Early Learning and Child Care, will be created in cooperation with Indigenous partners. The distinct Indigenous framework will reflect the unique cultures and needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children across Canada.

Indigenous Peoples

Building Strong Indigenous Communities

Taking Steps to Preserve, Revitalize and Enhance Indigenous Languages and Cultures

The restoration of Indigenous languages and cultural traditions is fundamental to recognizing Indigenous identity and strengthening Indigenous communities. For this reason, Budget 2016 provided $55 million per year on an ongoing basis to support language and cultural programing in primary and secondary schools on-reserve. More recently, the Prime Minister announced that the Government will enact an Indigenous Languages Act, to be co-developed with Indigenous Peoples, with the goal of ensuring the preservation, protection and revitalization of Indigenous languages in this country.

Budget 2017 is proposing to invest $89.9 million over the next three years to support Indigenous languages and cultures. This includes:

  • $69 million to significantly enhance the Aboriginal Languages Initiative. This new funding will support a range of activities such as developing learning materials, funding language classes and culture camps, and archiving Indigenous languages.
  • $14.9 million for Library and Archives Canada to support the digitization of existing Indigenous language and cultural materials. Funding would also support the development of an Aboriginal Oral Testimonies Project to document Indigenous heritage.
  • $6 million for the National Research Council Canada to develop, in collaboration with Indigenous stakeholders, information technology to preserve oral histories by converting speech to text, and creating other interactive educational materials.

The Government will continue to work with Indigenous Peoples on the development of a long-term comprehensive strategy to preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages and cultures, centred on the principle of Indigenous control.

Infrastructure

Strengthening Cultural and Recreational Infrastructure

Canada’s cultural industries—from television and film to dance to digital games—are the heartbeat of our communities and an important contributor to Canada’s economy. Collectively, they employ nearly 650,000 Canadians, providing good, well-paying jobs for the middle class, and account for approximately 3 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product.

More than an economic driver, Canada’s cultural industries reflect the Canadian experience, and share that experience with the world. They showcase Canadians’ creativity and diversity, strengthening our understanding of what it means to be Canadian.

To help promote arts and culture in Canada, Budget 2016 invested $1.9 billion over five years to support key national cultural institutions. This funding also included $168.2 million over two years for the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.

Budget 2017 proposes to build on this commitment, with a further investment of $1.8 billion over 10 years starting in 2018–19. Of this amount, more than $1.3 billion will be provided to provinces and territories through integrated bilateral agreements, on a base plus per capita allocation basis. This investment will be delivered through the second phase of social infrastructure funding.

Canada Cultural Spaces Fund

To construct, renovate and better equip the creative spaces and hubs that will be home to the next generation of artists and innovators, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $300 million over 10 years to the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. This investment will help support the development of Canadian talent, and support entrepreneurialism in the arts and cultural communities.

This new investment will bring artists, cultural entrepreneurs and organizations together in shared spaces where they can collaborate and take their ideas to new heights. The new investment in the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund will be focused on the construction, renovation and equipment needs of creative spaces/hubs, which will help drive growth in Canada’s creative economy.

Community Educational Infrastructure

To celebrate and promote Canada’s linguistic diversity, $80 million over 10 years will be invested to support the construction of community educational infrastructure in official language minority communities. Working with the provinces and territories, the Government could invest in projects like early childhood centres, community centres and cultural centres. This commitment will create more vibrant communities by supporting local official languages groups in protecting their language and culture, enriching their lives and the lives of those around them.

Enabling Accessibility Fund

The Enabling Accessibility Fund supports the construction and renovation of public spaces to make them more accessible, making it possible for Canadians with disabilities to participate more fully in their community and the economy. Since its creation in 2007, the program has provided funding to over 2,300 projects across the country, leading to significant improvements in the lives of Canadians.

However, more needs to be done to improve the safety and accessibility of community spaces and workplaces. Budget 2017 proposes to provide $77 million over 10 years to expand the activities of the Enabling Accessibility Fund. Eligible projects will include constructing and renovating infrastructure (e.g., adding ramps, automatic door openers and accessible washrooms), providing accessible information and communication technologies and retrofitting vehicles.

Improving Indigenous Communities

In Budget 2016, to advance the process of reconciliation, and to support shared economic interests between Canada and Indigenous peoples, the Government committed to invest $8.4 billion over five years—an unprecedented level of investment in Indigenous communities across Canada.

The proposed investments in education, infrastructure, training and other programs are targeted to improve the quality of life for Indigenous peoples, and to ensure that Indigenous peoples have a real and fair chance at success.

At the same time, the Government recognizes that this early commitment is just a start. The barriers that make it difficult for Indigenous Peoples and their communities to reach their full potential have been in place for far too long. Resolving past injustices will take time, and can only be achieved with sustained support and collaboration.

To that end, Budget 2017 proposes to invest an additional $4 billion over 10 years, starting in 2018–19, to build and improve housing, water treatment systems, health facilities and other community infrastructure.

This investment will be delivered through the second phase of green infrastructure and social infrastructure funding.

To maximize the benefits and long-term sustainability of these proposed investments, funding allocations will be determined in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.

Internet

Preparing for the Digital Economy

Making Home Internet Access More Affordable for Low-Income Families

Access to the Internet opens up a world of opportunities—from social connections with friends and family to new ways to learn and work. Most Canadians are already online, but many low-income families face financial barriers to access, such as the cost of purchasing a computer and the high cost of an Internet connection at home.

Budget 2017 proposes to invest $13.2 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, in a new Affordable Access program, which will help service providers offer low-cost home Internet packages to interested low-income families.

As the cost of computer hardware is also a barrier for some families, a target of 50,000 computers refurbished through the existing Computers for Success Canada program will also be distributed to families, along with the low-cost Internet packages.

To better understand how Canadians use digital technology, Budget 2017 also proposes to allocate $5 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, for Statistics Canada and private sector-led surveys on the impact of digital technology in Canada.

Canadian Digital Services

The Government has an opportunity—and a responsibility—to lead the way when it comes to digital innovation to support more widespread adoption of digital tools, and to better serve Canadians.

Informed by similar initiatives in the U.S. (the U.S. Digital Service/18F) and the United Kingdom (the Government Digital Service), the Government will adopt new ways of serving Canadians. Better use of digital technologies could improve the ways in which businesses can access government services, speed up immigration processing times through better-integrated information, or make it easier for Canadians to access benefits or tax information online.

Some work already underway that could be further advanced by the Government to support better digital services to Canadians includes:

High-Speed Internet for All Canadians, No Matter Where They Live

In Budget 2016, the Government committed to invest $500 million to bring high-speed Internet to rural and remote communities in Canada. A new program, Connect to Innovate, is focused on investing in backbone networks—the digital highways that carry traffic between communities—with support also available for last-mile applications. The program’s competitive application process is open until April 20, 2017.

In 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) also updated its standards for minimum Internet speeds, and announced recommended measures to achieve its ambitious goal.

The Government is committed to working with the CRTC to coordinate targets and to establish effective ways to meet them.

A Real Opportunity to Be Part of the Digital Economy

Technological change brings with it tremendous opportunities but not every Canadian is able to access the benefits that are part of an evolving digital world.

To make sure that all Canadians can be full participants in the digital economy and experience its benefits first-hand, the Government is investing in programs to better help underserved Canadians.

These investments include making home Internet access more affordable for low-income families, helping working adults upgrade their skills, and investing in the development of new assistive technologies to help Canadians living with disabilities.

An Open, Transparent and Innovative Internet

Over the past year, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has consulted with Canadians on the future of the Internet, the future of news media, and the role of Canadian content in an increasingly digital world.

For its part, the Government believes in an open and transparent Internet environment that emphasizes freedom—freedom to innovate, freedom to connect with others, and freedom of discussion.

This is a future that must include Canada’s creative entrepreneurs and cultural leaders, who are essential to building an inclusive and innovative Canada. From advertising and design to television and film to fashion and publishing, Canada’s creative industries are facing rapid and disruptive change, including the shift to online technologies, the push for new business models, and increased competition due to globalization. Along with these risks comes the opportunity for Canada—and its creative sector—to lead the way in creating new experiences, new technologies, and new, well-paying jobs for Canadians.

Over the next year, the Government will outline a new approach to growing Canada’s creative sector—one that is focused on the future, and on bringing the best of Canada to the world, rather than a protectionist stance that restricts growth and limits opportunities.

The Government also recognizes that Canada’s media industries, and the systems that allow for broadcasting, distribution and the exchange of ideas, are fundamentally changing in the digital age.

To ensure that Canadians continue to benefit from an open and innovative Internet, the Government proposes to review and modernize the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act.

In this review, the Government will look to examine issues such as telecommunications and content creation in the digital age, net neutrality and cultural diversity, and how to strengthen the future of Canadian media and Canadian content creation. Further details on the review will be announced in the coming months.

Learning, Education, and Training

Lifelong Learning: Supporting Working Canadians

Canada’s economic success rests on the talent and creativity of its people.

Canada is already home to one of the best-educated workforces in the world, but in an increasingly competitive global economy, more needs to be done to ensure that Canada’s workers can learn, adapt and have good jobs throughout their working lives.

Every Canadian deserves a real and fair chance at success. This means more opportunities for all Canadians to improve their skills and upgrade their credentials throughout their career. For unemployed and underemployed Canadians, as well as those underrepresented in the workforce, it means greater access to the training programs and financial supports needed to get good, well-paying jobs. And for Millennials—the first generation to learn that traditional education isn’t what it used to be—it means a commitment to lifelong learning and constant adaptation to the changing nature of work.

As in many other countries, Canada’s population is aging. Ensuring our country’s long-term economic growth also requires us to tap into the experience and potential of older workers, and to better support their continued participation in the workforce.

Budget 2017 proposes a series of measures that will set the foundation for a culture of lifelong learning—one that will help equip Canadians with the skills they need to be competitive in the workforce, now and into the future.

Helping Working Adults Upgrade Their Skills

To help Canadians pursue education and upgrade their skills, the Government of Canada provides a range of programs and services—from Canada Student Loans and Grants to training supports for workers to tax measures such as the Tuition Tax Credit.

While these programs help many Canadians, for too many adult workers, the high cost of post-secondary education, combined with the high cost of raising a family, can make it difficult to get the training they need to make better-paying, more secure jobs a reality. More can be done to assist those who are already employed, including workers who are in part-time, contract or precarious work, to return to school to upgrade their skills so that they can find and keep better jobs. This is especially true for women, who typically take on a greater share of unpaid work, leaving them with less time to retrain or upgrade their skills.

Part-Time Students

To ensure that more Canadians pursuing part-time studies can receive the assistance they need to upgrade their skills, without the burden of substantial new student debt, the Government intends to expand eligibility for Canada Student Grants for students attending school part-time. This builds on initial actions taken in Budget 2016.

Under expanded eligibility, the existing income thresholds, which presently vary by province and territory, will be replaced with a higher, single national threshold. As family income increases, the amount of grant support received will gradually decline, depending on family size.

In addition, the threshold for eligibility for Canada Student Loans for part-time students will be increased so that even more part-time students can qualify for assistance.

Together, these changes, which will be in place for the 2018–19 academic year, are expected to make an additional 10,000 part-time students eligible for Canada Student Grants and Loans each year. To expand eligibility, Budget 2017 proposes to invest $59.8 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $17 million per year thereafter.

Students Who Support Families

To make post-secondary education more affordable for adult learners with dependent children, the Government also intends to expand eligibility for Canada Student Grants for students with dependent children, starting in the 2018–19 academic year.

Higher thresholds are expected to give an additional 13,000 students with dependants access to non-repayable student grants each year, making it more affordable for them to retrain and upgrade their skills while raising their families. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $107.4 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $29.3 million per year thereafter, to expand eligibility for these students.

Adults Returning to School

Adult students can face challenges to pursuing post-secondary education—not only because of the cost of education itself but also because of the financial pressures of maintaining their homes and supporting their families. At present, if an adult worker leaves their job to go back to school to get a new degree, diploma or certificate, they may not have access to many tools that could help make education more affordable. Canada Student Loans and Grants, for example, are often unavailable to adult workers because their prior-year incomes can make them ineligible.

To help adults who wish to return to school after spending several years in the workforce, the Government intends to introduce a three-year pilot project to test new approaches to make it easier for adult learners to qualify for Canada Student Loans and Grants. Budget 2017 proposes to provide $287.2 million over three years, starting in 2018–19, for this pilot project. Over the next year, the Government will work to finalize program design so that the pilot project is in place starting in the 2018–19 academic year.

These measures are expected to benefit Canadian women in particular, who often strive to improve their career prospects while balancing family responsibilities. Women represent nearly two-thirds of the Canada Student Loans Program’s part-time recipients, while approximately four out of five students receiving the Canada Student Grant for students with dependent children are women.

Taken together, these initiatives represent an investment of $454.4 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $46.3 million per year thereafter, to help Canada’s middle class workers find and keep good jobs.

Investing in Skills Innovation

As recommended by the Advisory Council on Economic Growth and the Forum of Labour Market Ministers, new approaches are needed to address skills gaps and support lifelong learning throughout Canadians’ working lives. To that end, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $225 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $75 million per year thereafter, to establish a new organization to support skills development and measurement in Canada.

Working in partnership with willing provinces and territories, the private sector, educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations, this organization will:

  • Identify the skills sought and required by Canadian employers.
  • Explore new and innovative approaches to skills development.
  • Share information and analysis to help inform future skills investments and programming.

Further details on this new organization will be shared in the coming months.

Creating More Opportunities for Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples are among the youngest and fastest-growing segments of the Canadian population. There have historically been many barriers to their success—particularly when it comes to pursuing post-secondary education and finding good, well-paying work. The Government is committed to renewing Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples and making real progress on the issues that matter most to them, including helping Indigenous Peoples get the skills and work experience they need to succeed.

The proposed investments in Budget 2017 will help to improve the quality of life for Indigenous Peoples and contribute to stronger economic growth in Indigenous communities, and in Canada as a whole.

Post-Secondary Student Support Program

Indigenous Peoples face a range of challenges in accessing post-secondary education, including financial barriers. To ensure that Indigenous students have the same opportunities for success as other Canadian students, Budget 2017 proposes to increase funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program by $90 million over two years, beginning in 2017–18.

This funding will support the post-secondary education financial needs of over 4,600 students over the two-year period.

The Government will also undertake a comprehensive and collaborative review with Indigenous partners of all current federal programs that support Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education. The purpose of the review will be to ensure that these programs meet the needs of individual students while supporting attendance at, and completion of, a post-secondary degree or credential.

Indspire

Indspire is an Indigenous-led registered charitable organization with a proven track record of helping Indigenous students attend post-secondary institutions and find good jobs. It assists First Nations, Inuit and Métis students with the financial support they need to complete their education, become self-sufficient, contribute to the economy and give back to their communities.

Budget 2017 proposes to provide Indspire with $5 million per year for five years, starting in 2017–18, conditional on Indspire raising $3 million per year in matching funds from the private sector. In total, this will provide $40 million over five years in bursaries and scholarships for more than 12,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis students.

In addition, the Government will propose amendments to the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, so that students who are registered under the Indian Act but do not have Canadian citizenship can access the Canada Student Loans Program.

Supporting Access to Skills Development and Training for Indigenous Peoples

The Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) helps Indigenous Peoples in all parts of the country get the skills and training they need to fully participate in the economy and contribute to the success of their communities.

To ensure that programming continues to meet the needs of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the Government will work with Indigenous organizations, employers, educational institutions and other stakeholders in the coming year to renew and improve ASETS. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $50 million in 2017–18 in ASETS, which includes new funding, the investment made in Budget 2016, as well as additional reallocated resources from other programming that support skills and training more generally. These investments will provide ASETS service providers with added capacity to meet the growing demand from Indigenous Peoples for skills development and job training.

Investing in Adult Basic Education in the North

The Northern Adult Basic Education Program is designed to provide residents in the three territories with targeted training so that they can participate more fully in the labour market. To support the delivery of adult basic education services by local colleges, Budget 2017 proposes to provide $14.7 million over three years starting in 2017–18 to extend and enhance the Northern Adult Basic Education Program.

A New Veterans’ Education and Training Benefit

After putting themselves in harm’s way in service to our country, our women and men in uniform deserve a successful transition to civilian life. A smooth transition is vital for the overall well-being of our veterans and their families.

To help, Budget 2017 proposes to amend legislation to create a new Education and Training Benefit. In short, this benefit would provide more money for veterans to go to college, university or a technical school after they complete their service, through an investment of $133.9 million over six years, starting in 2016–17, and $10.3 million per year ongoing.

The new program would begin in April 2018 for veterans honourably released on or after April 1, 2006. Veterans with 6 years of eligible service would be entitled to up to $40,000 of benefits, while veterans with 12 years of eligible service would be entitled to up to $80,000 of benefits.

Research

Fundamental Science Review

In 2016, the Government launched an independent review of federal investments in and funding for fundamental science research.

The review, led by an independent panel of distinguished research leaders and innovators, has involved broad consultations with research communities, industry and civil society to assess the effectiveness of current supports for scientists and scientific research.

In particular, the panel looked at the challenges facing women and other underrepresented groups, and considered ways to make current supports more accessible and inclusive.

Findings from the review will help maintain and strengthen Canada’s international standing in fundamental science and ensure that our scientists have the tools, training and support needed to excel globally.

The panel’s report and recommendations will be made public in the coming months.

Strengthening Science in Government

Canada’s world class federal science laboratories and facilities enable scientists to conduct research that promotes evidence-based decision-making. Touching on everything from clean air and water to food security, this research plays a crucial role in protecting and improving the lives of Canadians.

Budget 2017 proposes to elevate the importance of science in government, with the establishment of a Chief Science Advisor and related secretariat. As part of her/his mandate, the Chief Science Advisor will provide advice on how to ensure that government science is open to the public, that federal scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that science is effectively communicated across government.

The Chief Science Advisor will be responsible for providing advice to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Science, and will serve primarily in an advisory and coordinating capacity. Budget 2017 proposes to establish an annual budget of $2 million for the Chief Science Advisor and related secretariat.

In addition, over the coming year, the Government will work to develop a new federal science infrastructure strategy. This will include a review of existing investments in federal science infrastructure, including federal laboratories and testing facilities, and provide a roadmap for future investments. The strategy will offer a more integrated and effective approach to federal laboratories, information technology and human resources in the federal science community, and will seek to ensure that federal scientists have the access to the world class infrastructure, innovative equipment and computer networks they need to produce the best results for Canadians.

As part of the Government’s commitment to establishing and maintaining modern federal science infrastructure, Budget 2017 also proposes to provide $80 million on a cash basis over five years, starting in 2017–18, to replace the Sidney Centre for Plant Health, located in Sidney, British Columbia. A new, world class plant health research facility will help support the safety of Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector, while facilitating trade and economic growth that benefits all Canadians.

Positioning National Research Council Canada Within the Innovation and Skills Plan

In keeping with the mandate of the new President of the National Research Council, the Government will undertake a review in 2017 to assess how the Council can best support the Innovation and Skills Plan.

The National Research Council has a long track record of success in helping industry take ideas from the research stage through to development and demonstration. Recognizing the National Research Council’s important role in fostering and supporting innovation in Canada, Budget 2017 proposes to renew funding of $59.6 million in 2017–18, to support the Council’s business innovation initiatives. The Council provides research and development services covering areas from aerospace to medical devices, maintains hundreds of partnerships with organizations and engages with thousands of clients. These initiatives include providing technical services, lending scientific expertise, and offering the unique facilities that businesses across Canada need to successfully bring their innovations to market.

As part of the review, the Government will also examine what future role the National Research Council could play in supporting innovation, creating more opportunities for women researchers and innovators, and supporting mission-driven, breakthrough research in collaboration with the new Impact Canada Fund.

Budget 2017 also proposes the following investments to support innovation and economic growth:

Quantum Information

The development of new quantum technologies has the potential to transform markets, create new industries and produce leading-edge jobs. The Institute for Quantum Computing is a world-leading Canadian research facility that furthers our understanding of these innovative technologies. Budget 2017 proposes to provide the Institute with renewed funding of $10 million over two years, starting in 2017–18.

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