Highlights from Budget 2019
March 19, 2019
On March 19, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the 2019 federal budget.
Below are some highlights of interest to the Canadian library and information management community:
Access to Information and Privacy
Funding proposed for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to enhance the Office’s capacity, including its ability to engage with Canadian individuals and businesses, address complaints and respond to privacy issues as they occur.
2019-20: $5 million
2020-21: $5 million
2021-22: $4 million
2022-23: $4 million
2023-24: $4 million
Funding proposed for the Office of the Information Commissioner to enable it to continue resolving new and existing complaints regarding access to information requests.
2019-20: $3 million
A print disability is a learning, physical or visual disability that prevents a person from reading conventional print. Based on the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, an estimated 2.4 million Canadians over the age of 15 have a print disability. Accessible reading materials (e.g. braille, accessible electronic documents and accessible audiobooks) allow individuals with print disabilities to read and learn, improving their quality of life and opening the door to more opportunities to work, and contribute to their own success and Canada’s economy.
Many Canadians with print disabilities find it difficult to access books in fully accessible formats—according to stakeholders, only 10 per cent of published books are made available in an accessible format.
To address this challenge, Budget 2019 proposes to provide the Centre for Equitable Library Access with an investment of $3.0 million in 2019–20 to produce new accessible reading materials that will be available through public libraries across Canada.
The Government is also committed to putting in place a strategy that will ensure the sustainable production and distribution of accessible reading material over the longer term. To that end, Budget 2019 proposes to invest $22.8 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, to assist Canada’s independent book publishing industry in increasing their production of accessible books for persons with print disabilities.
All governments—including First Nations governments—need access to timely data and information. With better information, governments are better able to make informed decisions, and deliver the high-quality services their citizens expect.
To ensure that First Nations have the information they need to serve their members well, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $78.9 million over seven years, starting in 2019–20, with $13.7 million per year ongoing, to permanently fund the Surveys on Indigenous Peoples and the First Nations Regional Health Survey. These surveys provide important information on education, health, employment and language proficiency—information that is needed for decision-making in First Nations communities and for designing programs and services tailored to community needs. These surveys are conducted under the leadership of the First Nations Information Governance Centre, in collaboration with Statistics Canada.
Funding to extend the mandate of the Canadian Digital Service, which works with federal organizations to design, prototype and build better digital services for Canadians.
2020-21: $12 million
2021-22: $12 million
Canadians are living and working in an increasingly digital world. With more opportunities to acquire and develop digital skills, young Canadians—from kindergarten to grade 12—will have a head start in building the skills they will need to find and keep good, in-demand jobs. The CanCode program helps young people get these coding and digital skills, with training support for their teachers and a special focus on reaching young people who are traditionally underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, such as girls and Indigenous youth. In its first two years, CanCode has provided more than 800,000 K-12 students and about 40,000 teachers with the chance to learn these important skills.
To give even more young people opportunities to get the digital skills that will help them succeed, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $60 million over two years, starting in 2019–20, to support CanCode’s ongoing work and help one million more young Canadians gain new digital skills.
Despite the progress made since Budget 2016—which introduced changes so that no student has to repay their Canada Student Loans until they are earning at least $25,000 per year—many Canadian students still struggle to save for their education or repay student loans. This means difficult choices for many young people, who may leave school prematurely or put off life decisions like starting a family, or buying a home.
Lower Interest Rates
To help more students better manage the mounting pressure of higher living costs and the changing nature of work, and specifically to help make sure that student loans are more affordable for the students who need them, Budget 2019 proposes the following changes to Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans:
- Lower the floating interest rate—the rate chosen by approximately 99 per cent of Canada Student Loans borrowers—to prime, from its current rate of prime plus 2.5 percentage points, starting in 2019–20.
- Lower the fixed interest rate to prime plus 2.0 percentage points, from its current rate of prime plus 5.0 percentage points, starting in 2019–20.
New Interest-Free Grace Period
In addition, Budget 2019 proposes to amend the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, so that student loans will not accumulate any interest during the six-month non–repayment period (the “grace period”) after a student loan borrower leaves school.
Lowering the interest rate and making the grace period interest-free will make post-secondary education more affordable and help students transition to the labour market successfully after leaving school. As a result of these changes the average borrower will save approximately $2,000 over the lifetime of their loan. Approximately 1 million student loan borrowers currently in repayment, and 200,000 graduates who leave school each year, will benefit from these changes.
The Canada Student Loans Program helps to make post-secondary education affordable for hundreds of thousands of students every year, but a small number of outdated program rules and restrictions make the Program less flexible and less accessible for some.
To better respond to the needs of vulnerable student loan borrowers, including those facing challenging life or financial circumstances, Budget 2019 proposes to invest $15.0 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, to modernize the Canada Student Loans Program.
For student borrowers with disabilities, these changes would:
- Increase the cap on the Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities from $8,000 to $20,000 per year, to help students with permanent disabilities afford the necessary services and equipment for their studies.
- Expand eligibility for the Severe Permanent Disability Benefit so that more student borrowers with severe permanent disabilities can qualify for loan forgiveness.
- Make it easier for students with permanent disabilities to return to school after a long absence by removing the restriction that borrowers using the Repayment Assistance Plan for Borrowers with a Permanent Disability who have been out of study for five years cannot receive further loans and grants until their outstanding loans are paid in full, starting in 2020–21.
For student borrowers in other vulnerable financial or life situations, these changes would:
- Increase the eligibility for loan rehabilitation after a borrower defaults on their student loan, so that financially vulnerable borrowers in default can access supports such as the Repayment Assistance Plan and begin making affordable payments on their outstanding debt again.
Implement interest-free and payment-free leave in six-month stackable periods, for a maximum of 18 months, for borrowers taking temporary leave from their studies for medical or parental reasons, including mental health leave. Budget 2019 also proposes to increase compensation to provinces and territories—partners in the Canada Student Loans Program—by $20.0 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, with $4.0 million per year ongoing. This increased funding will compensate provinces and territories for their costs stemming from Budget 2019’s proposed changes to improve the accessibility of student financial assistance.
Budget 2018 provided historic new funding to reinvigorate Canada’s research system, including the single largest investment in fundamental science in Canadian history. It also committed to ensuring that Canada’s next generation of researchers—including students, trainees and early-career researchers—is more diverse.
To allow them to focus fully on their research, students receiving federal research grants or scholarships may not be participating in the traditional labour market. As there is no typical employer-employee relationship, student researchers are unable to take advantage of parental leave benefits offered under the Employment Insurance program.
To further improve equity, diversity and inclusion in the research system, Budget 2019 proposes to provide a total of $37.4 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, and $8.6 million per year ongoing, to the federal granting councils, to expand parental leave coverage from six months to 12 months for students and postdoctoral fellows who receive granting council funding. This investment will help young researchers, especially women. It will also help parents better balance work obligations with family responsibilities, such as child care.
In addition to student loans and grants, the Government offers a suite of scholarships that make higher education more accessible for students seeking to pursue graduate studies and develop the research skills needed in the knowledge-based economy. As the recipients of these scholarships train at universities and research hospitals and transition to the workforce, they bring new ideas and perspectives to tackle some of the worlds’ biggest challenges.
To help more students access graduate studies, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $114 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, with $26.5 million per year ongoing, to the federal granting councils—the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council—to create 500 more master’s level scholarship awards annually and 167 more three-year doctoral scholarship awards annually through the Canada Graduate Scholarship program.
In addition, starting in 2019–20, the federal government will work collaboratively with willing provincial and territorial partners on options to improve access to financial supports for graduate students from low-income families. Increased participation in post-secondary education will help vulnerable graduate students have higher earnings and get good-quality jobs, and helps the economy be more productive.
Indigenous Peoples are among the youngest and fastest-growing segments of the Canadian population, yet they continue to face barriers when it comes to pursuing post-secondary education and finding good, well-paying work. Engaging more Indigenous People in the workforce would boost economic outcomes for the nearly 1.5 million Indigenous Canadians as well as spur economic opportunities and raise living standards for all Canadians, potentially adding $7 billion to gross domestic product. More than two-thirds of Canadian jobs from now to 2024 are expected to require some form of post-secondary education, yet Indigenous Peoples are less likely to access and complete post-secondary education. Indigenous Peoples in the core working population are, on average, 18 percentage points less likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to hold a university certificate, diploma or degree at the bachelor level or above.
The proposed investments in Budget 2019 will help Indigenous Peoples obtain the skills and experiences they need to succeed in a changing economy and contribute to stronger economic growth for all Canadians.
Budget 2019 proposes a number of investments, starting in 2019–20, to ensure that Indigenous students have better access to post-secondary education, and more support to ensure that they can succeed during their studies. This includes support for:
- First Nations communities by investing $327.5 million over five years to renew and expand funding for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program while the Government engages with First Nations on the development of long-term First Nations-led post-secondary education models.
- An Inuit-led post-secondary education strategy through an investment of $125.5 million over ten years, and $21.8 million per year ongoing.
- A Métis Nation-led post-secondary education strategy consisting of financial assistance for Métis Nations students through an investment of $362.0 million over ten years, and $40.0 million per year ongoing.
To further support Indigenous students, Budget 2019 proposes to provide Indspire with $9.0 million over three years, starting in 2019–20, for additional bursaries and scholarships for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students. 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.
Finally, to help Indigenous students access the full range of available student supports, including financial assistance programs such as Canada Student Grants, the Government will engage Indigenous Peoples to ensure that these programs are working for them.
In 2015, the Government made a commitment to ensure that promised infrastructure investments in communities would be kept. Prior to that time, too often, money that had been budgeted for investment in communities was left unspent and unallocated—shortchanging cities and towns that needed those funds for important projects such as road maintenance, water infrastructure, public transit and recreational infrastructure.
Since 2015, the federal government has worked in partnership with provinces and territories to protect these infrastructure dollars, to ensure that they do not lapse and are available to flow to communities when projects are ready. The Government transferred remaining uncommitted funds from older federal infrastructure programs to municipalities through the federal Gas Tax Fund, and has ensured that the $81.2 billion in long-term infrastructure funding announced in Budget 2017 is available for jurisdictions when it is needed.
Because many municipalities across Canada continue to face serious infrastructure deficits, Budget 2019 proposes a one-time transfer of $2.2 billion through the federal Gas Tax Fund to address short-term priorities in municipalities and First Nation communities. This will double the Government’s commitment to municipalities in 2018–19 and will provide much needed infrastructure funds for communities of all sizes, all across the country.
Municipal Top-Up Funds to Support Local Priorities
Productivity and Economic Growth
- Local roads and bridges
- Short-sea shipping
- Short-line rail
- Regional and local airports
- Broadband connectivity
- Public transit
- Drinking water
- Solid waste
- Community energy systems
- Brownfield redevelopment
Strong Cities and Communities
- Sport and recreation
- Cultural and tourism
- Disaster mitigation
- Capacity building
In 2019, fast and reliable internet access is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity.
For public institutions, entrepreneurs, and businesses of all sizes, quality high-speed internet is essential to participating in the digital economy—opening doors to customers who live just down the street or on the other side of the world. It is also important in the lives of Canadians. It lets students and young people do their homework, stay in touch with their friends, and apply for their very first jobs. It helps busy families register for recreational programs, shop online and pay their bills and access essential services. For many seniors, the internet is a way to stay up on current events and stay connected to distant family members and friends.
Canadians have a strong tradition of embracing new technologies, and using them to help generate long-term economic growth and drive social progress. In recent years, Canada and Canadian companies built mobile wireless networks that are among the fastest in the world and made investments that are delivering next-generation digital technologies and services to people and communities across the country. Yet, unfortunately, many Canadians still remain without reliable, high-speed internet access. In this time in the 21st Century, this is unacceptable.
Bringing High-Speed Internet to Rural, Remote and Northern Communities
The Government has been steadfast in its commitment to bringing higher quality internet access to every part of Canada, especially those areas that are typically underserved, including rural, remote, and northern communities. With its first budget in 2016, the Government launched the $500 million Connect to Innovate program, which has since approved approximately 180 projects, with further investments of $554 million from the private sector and other orders of government. Once complete, these projects will add more than 20,000 kilometres of advanced fibre networks across the country, improving connectivity in over 900 communities, including 190 Indigenous communities. From homes and schools to hospitals and community centres, this investment will help deliver better connectivity to more than three times the number of communities originally expected to be helped by this program.
Connect to Innovate contributed $62.6 million to the Kativik Regional Government in Nunavik (northern Quebec) for their broadband project. The project will bring new or improved high-speed internet access to all Nunavik’s 14 Inuit communities and to a total of 28 institutions, including schools and health centres. It is the first ultra-fast fibre optic connection between Nunavik and southern Canada.
Working together, industry and governments have been able to successfully bring more people and more communities online. As a result, virtually every Canadian now has some level of access to the internet—but that access is not universally fast or reliable. A gap persists between the services available to people in rural, remote, and northern communities, compared to Canadians who live in more populated and urban towns and cities.
It is estimated that by the time all currently planned broadband programs are in place by 2021, about 90 per cent of Canadians will have reliable access to internet speeds of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloading data and 10 Mbps for uploading data (also known as 50/10 Mbps). However, even with 90 per cent of Canadians covered, about 1.5 million Canadian households will still be underserved. That needs to change.
How We Will Achieve a Fully Connected Canada
Delivering universal high-speed internet to every Canadian in the quickest and most cost-effective way will require a coordinated effort involving partners in the private sector and across all levels of government. To meet this commitment, Budget 2019 is proposing a new, coordinated plan that would deliver $5 billion to $6 billion in new investments in rural broadband over the next 10 years:
- Support through the Accelerated Investment Incentive to encourage greater investments in rural high-speed internet from the private sector.
- Greater coordination with provinces, territories, and federal arm’s-length institutions, such as the CRTC and its $750 million rural/remote broadband fund.
- Securing advanced Low Earth Orbit satellite capacity to serve the most rural and remote regions of Canada.
- New investments in the Connect to Innovate program and introduction of the Government’s new Universal Broadband Fund.
- New investments by the Canada Infrastructure Bank to further leverage private sector investment.
Canada’s Commitment: Universal High-Speed Internet for Every Canadian
In Budget 2019, the Government is announcing its commitment to set a national target, in which 95 per cent of Canadian homes and businesses will have access to internet speeds of at least 50/10 Mbps by 2026 and 100 per cent by 2030, no matter where they are located in the country. This is in keeping with the broadband internet speed objective set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for Canadian households and businesses across Canada.
Investing in Connect to Innovate and Launching the New Universal Broadband Fund
To help every Canadian gain access to high-speed internet at minimum speeds of 50/10 Mbps, Budget 2019 proposes to invest up to $1.7 billion in new targeted initiatives that will support universal high-speed internet in rural, remote and northern communities. These investments would include:
- Up to $1.7 billion over 13 years, starting in 2019–20, to establish a new national high-speed internet program, the Universal Broadband Fund. The Fund would build on the success of the Connect to Innovate program, and would focus on extending “backbone” infrastructure to underserved communities (“backbone” is the central channel used to transfer internet traffic at high speed—the internet equivalent of a major roadway or railway spur). For the most difficult-to-reach communities, funding may also support “last-mile” connections to individual homes and businesses.
- Included in the $1.7 billion commitment to the Universal Broadband Fund, the Government will look to top-up the Connect to Innovate program and to secure advanced, new, low-latency Low Earth Orbit satellite capacity. This process will be launched in the spring 2019 and will help bring reliable high-speed internet access to even the most challenging rural and remote homes and communities in Canada.
- Up to $11.5 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, for two Statistics Canada surveys to measure household access and use of the internet and business online behaviour. This will enhance understanding of how digital issues are impacting Canadians, and help inform next steps.
Harnessing Partnerships With the Canada Infrastructure Bank
In partnership with the Government, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is examining opportunities to apply its innovative financing tools to stimulate private sector investment in high-speed internet infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities. Working to maximize the contribution of private capital, the Bank will seek to invest $1 billion over the next 10 years, and leverage at least $2 billion in additional private sector investment to increase broadband access for Canadians. In helping to make publicly funded dollars go further, the Bank will contribute to Canada’s long-term ambition of bringing high-speed internet to every Canadian.
A strong and independent news media is crucial to a well-functioning democracy. Recognizing the vitally important role the media play in helping citizens make informed decisions about important issues, in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement the Government announced its intention to introduce three new tax measures to support Canadian journalism:
- A new refundable tax credit for journalism organizations.
- A new non-refundable tax credit for subscriptions to Canadian digital news.
- Access to charitable tax incentives for not-for-profit journalism.
As previously announced, the Government will establish an independent panel of experts from the Canadian journalism sector to assist the Government in implementing these measures, including recommending eligibility criteria.
Given the importance of ensuring that media outlets are able to operate with full independence, the Government proposes to establish an independent administrative body that will be responsible for recognizing journalism organizations as being eligible for any of the three measures.
Building on the Government’s ongoing support for the region, Budget 2019 announces more than $700 million over 10 years in new and focused funding to ensure that Arctic and northern communities can continue to grow and prosper. This includes new funding for more diversified post-secondary educational options in the territories, enhanced infrastructure resources to connect northern and remote communities, increased economic development programming, and more support to enable critical Arctic research.
Helping People in Arctic and Northern Communities Succeed
- Communities thrive—and people succeed—when educational opportunities exist. Budget 2019 proposes to provide up to $1.0 million, over two years, starting in 2019–20, to establish a Task Force to study post-secondary education in Canada’s Arctic and northern regions. The Task Force will make recommendations to the federal and territorial governments and Indigenous partners on establishing a robust system of post-secondary education in the North.
- To help Yukon College undertake its transformation into a hybrid university (an institution that offers a mix of diplomas, certificates, degrees, and continuing education), Budget 2019 proposes to provide up to $26 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, for the construction of a new campus science building in support of their efforts to become Canada’s first university in the North.
- To foster Indigenous knowledge and education, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $13 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, for the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in the Northwest Territories. This funding will support the delivery of culturally appropriate and community developed curricula to enhance access to and success in higher education for Indigenous and northern students.
Building Connections in Canada’s Arctic and Northern Regions
- Budget 2019 proposes to establish a national connectivity target in which every Canadian home and small business will have access to internet speeds of at least 50/10 Mbps within the next 10 years, no matter where they are located in the country, including in the North. Delivering high-speed internet to every Canadian, especially in more rural and remote areas, will help businesses grow, create new jobs and connect more people to the resources, services and information they need to build a better future.
Established in 2008 as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada gave people affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system an opportunity to share their stories and experiences, and laid the groundwork for reconciliation among former students, their families, their communities and all Canadians in a series of 94 recommendations, or Calls to Action. The Government has committed to implementing these Calls to Action and progress has been made.
Budget 2019 builds on this important work and proposes investments to continue progress on implementation of the Calls to Action including:
- Calls to Action 53 to 55—National Council for Reconciliation. Budget 2019 proposes to provide $126.5 million in 2020–21 to establish a National Council for Reconciliation and endow it with initial operating capital. The Council will involve all Canadians in creating a better understanding of reconciliation, and will serve as a permanent reminder of the importance of reconciliation and the Calls to Action. The Council will engage First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation peoples, as well as non-Indigenous Canadians, in Canada’s reconciliation process, and ensure that the important work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission continues.
- Calls to Action 72 to 76—Honouring Missing Residential School Children. In memory of all the children who went missing while attending residential schools, and in support of their grieving families and communities, the Government proposes to develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register and to work with parties to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries. Opportunities for commemoration will be provided, to support the healing and ongoing reconciliation for families and communities affected by residential schools. This will be done in partnership with affected families and communities, as well as the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, supported by a proposed investment of $33.8 million over three years, starting in 2019–20.
- Call to Action 50—Supporting Renewed Legal Relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples in Canada have unique laws and legal traditions. The Government recognizes the importance of revitalizing Indigenous legal systems, and the important role that Indigenous law institutes, in partnership with Indigenous communities, can play in understanding, developing and implementing Indigenous laws. To this end, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $9.1 million over three years, starting in 2019–20, to support the construction of an Indigenous Legal Lodge at the University of Victoria, a leader in this field. The Indigenous Legal Lodge will house the university’s new dual degree program in Canadian Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders, and will serve as a foundation for debate, learning, public education and partnership on the revitalization of Indigenous laws. Budget 2019 also proposes to provide $10.0 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, in support of Indigenous law initiatives across Canada through the Justice Partnership and Innovation Program, to improve equality for Indigenous Peoples in Canada’s legal system.
- Call to Action 66—Indigenous Youth and Reconciliation. Indigenous youth are the future leaders of their communities and the country’s fastest growing demographic. To help ensure that the voices of First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth are heard and to support Indigenous youth reconciliation initiatives, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $15.2 million over three years, starting in 2019–20, for an Indigenous youth pilot program delivered by Canadian Roots Exchange. Canadian Roots Exchange is a non-profit organization which works to advance reconciliation by bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to promote mutual understanding and respect. Funding will support the establishment of a distinctions-based national network of Indigenous youth, help ensure that Government of Canada policies and programs are informed by the diverse voices of Indigenous youth, and provide support to community events and gatherings for Indigenous youth and reconciliation-focused community-based Indigenous youth activities.
- Call to Action 80—National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. To enable communities to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools on the proposed National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples on National Indigenous Peoples Day, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $10.0 million over two years, starting in 2019–20, to support non-governmental and community organizations holding events in communities across Canada, through Canadian Heritage’s Celebration and Commemoration Program.
To make federal investments in third-party science and research more effective, Budget 2019 proposes to establish a new Strategic Science Fund. This new Fund will respond to recommendations that arose during consultations with third-party science and research organizations. It will operate using a principles-based framework for allocating federal funding that includes competitive, transparent processes. This will help protect and promote research excellence.
Under the Fund, the principles-based framework will be applied by an independent panel of experts, including scientists and innovators, who will provide advice for the consideration of the Government on approaches to allocating funding for third-party science and research organizations.
Budget 2019 proposes to establish and operate the Strategic Science Fund starting in 2022–23.
This Strategic Science Fund will be the Government’s key new tool to support third-party science and research organizations. Going forward, the selection of recipient organizations and corresponding level of support will be determined through the Fund’s competitive allocation process, with advice from the expert panel and informed by the Minister of Science’s overall strategy. The Minister of Science will provide more detail on the Fund over the coming months.
Far too many of our seniors face isolation in their retirement years, compounded in some cases by ageism, poor health, reduced mobility, poverty, and even abuse.
The New Horizons for Seniors program supports projects that improve the quality of life for seniors and promote their full participation in Canadian society. The program offers up to $25,000 to support projects in local communities—such as new fitness equipment for seniors’ centres—and up to $5 million to support projects that are national in scope and that can benefit seniors across the country, like financial literacy classes.
To improve seniors’ quality of life, and to better promote seniors’ participation and inclusion in their communities, Budget 2019 proposes to provide additional funding of $100 million over five years, with $20 million per year ongoing, for the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
For generations, middle class Canadians and those working hard to join them could be assured that with a good job came a good quality of life. Families were able to pay their bills, save for their retirement, and set aside money to give their kids a good education and a path to future success.
Today, the evolving nature of work means that people may change jobs many times over the course of their working lives or they may require new skills to adapt to changing roles. For working Canadians, this presents a new challenge: how to get the training they need to keep their existing jobs, or prepare for a new one.
Canadians who are already finding it difficult to make ends meet may find it tough to set aside money for additional training—even if that is what will give them the best chance at long-term success. Others, especially middle class Canadians with family responsibilities, struggle to find the time between work and family pressures to get new skills.
Canadians at all stages in their working lives should have the opportunity to invest in new skills, build greater job security and chart a better future for themselves and their families.
To help working Canadians get the skills they need to succeed in a changing world, Budget 2019 proposes to establish a new Canada Training Benefit—a personalized, portable training benefit to help people plan for and get the training they need. To deliver this new program, Budget 2019 proposes to invest more than $1.7 billion over five years, and $586.5 million per year ongoing.
How the Canada Training Benefit Will Work
The Canada Training Benefit includes two key components—a new, non-taxable Canada Training Credit to help with the cost of training fees, and a new Employment Insurance (EI) Training Support Benefit to provide income support when an individual requires time to take off work. In addition, the Government intends to consult on changes to federal, provincial and territorial labour legislation to ensure that workers can take time away from work to pursue training without risk to their job security.
What the Canada Training Benefit Means for Workers
After four years, workers will have four weeks for training, up to $1,000 to help pay for the training, money to help cover living expenses, and the security of knowing they’ll have a job to come back to when their training is done.
Figure 1.3: Canada Training Benefit
Canada Training Credit
- This new, non-taxable credit would help Canadians pay for training fees. Every year, eligible workers between the ages of 25 and 64 would accumulate a credit balance of $250 per year, up to a lifetime limit of $5,000. With this credit, a Canadian worker would accumulate $1,000 every four years, to be used for training fees.
- The accumulation of this refundable tax credit would be available to workers with earnings of at least $10,000 (including maternity and parental benefits) and income less than around $150,000 a year ($147,667 in the 2019 tax year).
- Canadians would be able to apply their accumulated Canada Training Credit balance against up to half the cost of training fees at colleges, universities, and eligible institutions providing occupational skills training starting in 2020.
- Canadians would claim this refund when they file their tax return. The updated credit balance would be included in the information the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) sends to Canadians each year after they file their taxes. Canadians would also be able to check the total of their balance at any time, using CRA’s My Account.
- To introduce and deliver this new credit, Budget 2019 proposes to invest $710 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, and $265 million per year ongoing.
EI Training Support Benefit
- This new benefit—expected to be launched in late 2020—would be available through the EI program and would provide up to four weeks of income support, every four years. This income support—paid at 55 per cent of a person’s average weekly earnings—would help workers cover their living expenses, providing support for ongoing payments such as mortgage payments, electricity bills, and general life costs, while on training and without their regular paycheque.
- The new EI Training Support Benefit would provide workers with the flexibility to train when it works best for them, within a four-year period (for example, taking three weeks of paid leave in the first year, and the final week in the last year).
- To introduce and deliver this new benefit, Budget 2019 proposes to invest $1.04 billion over five years, starting in 2019–20, and $321.5 million per year ongoing.
How the Canada Training Benefit Will Help Workers and Employers
As a comprehensive collection of supports, the Canada Training Benefit targets the most pressing barriers to ongoing learning and retraining.
By cutting the direct costs of training by up to 50 per cent, workers can more easily save for—and benefit from—new training and new skills.
With income support through the EI program, workers won’t have to choose between their training needs and their family’s needs. Workers can take the time they need to invest in new skills, knowing that support is available to help them cover their living expenses.
With job protection through the leave provisions, workers will be able pursue training without worrying about losing their jobs.
And for employers, the benefits are also considerable. The Canada Training Benefit means workers with continually upgraded skills will be better able to help them—and Canada’s economy as a whole—adapt and grow.