Canada | Federal Budget

Federal budget prioritizes measures for young Canadians

Government introduces pre-election budget with focus on housing for first-time homebuyers, youth skills training and post-secondary accessibility.

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Students walking around a university campus using tablets and phone The budget invests an additional $49.5-million over five years to launch a modernized Youth Employment Strategy, based on recommendations from the Expert Panel on Youth Employment (Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images) 

The 2019 pre-election federal budget includes a distinctive focus on young people, providing almost $6-billion across a range of measures aimed at helping young Canadians—addressing housing, skills training and the cost of post-secondary education.


For many young Canadians, finding an affordable place to call home feels like an impossibility. High prices in some housing markets across the country have created concern among those hoping to borrow money to purchase a home.

“The first-time homebuyers incentive will hopefully allow those who are priced out of home ownership to get into the market,” says Francis Fong, chief economist at CPA Canada. “The challenge, however, is that Canada’s major metropolitan areas are fundamentally supply-constrained, so this policy may act simply as an incentive to leverage further, putting more Canadians at risk down the line and potentially inflating home prices further in certain segments of the market.”

The government has included several measures to address this issue, including:

  • Making home ownership more affordable with a First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, a shared equity mortgage program that would reduce the mortgage payments required to own a home; and providing greater access to their Registered Retirement Savings Plan savings to buy a home.
  • Modernizing the Home Buyer’s Plan to help with the down payment and costs associated with the purchase of a first home, including an increase to the withdrawal limit to $35,000, up from the current $25,000.
  • Proposing an additional $10 billion over nine years in financing through the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, a program that would support more than 40,000 new units across Canada, in an effort to provide more affordable rental options.

Francis Fong and Bruce Ball in OttawaBruce Ball, vice-president of tax, CPA Canada and Francis Fong, chief economist, CPA Canada in Ottawa, Ont. on March 19


With the increased pace of globalization, automation and the application of artificial intelligence impacting the nature of employment, finding full-time employment can be a challenge for young Canadians. The budget attempts to modernize youth employment strategies while emphasizing new skills.

“Canada’s youth are entering a labour market that is evolving at a rapid-fire rate,” says Fong. “Lifelong learning is going to be key to the success of the younger generation and today’s budget includes several new spending measures aimed at getting real world work experience into the hands of those that will need it going forward.”

The measures bringing skills training to Canadian youth are outlined below:

  • To give more young people opportunities to get the digital skills to help them succeed, the government would provide $60-million over two years to support CanCode—a program that helps young people get coding and digital skills, with training support for their teachers and a special focus on reaching young people.
  • Up to $314.8-million over the next five years, and $83.8-million per year ongoing, to implement the Canada Service Corps as Canada’s signature national youth service program, helping young Canadians gain valuable work and life experience, while giving back to their communities.
  • The budget invests an additional $49.5-million over five years to launch a modernized Youth Employment Strategy, based on recommendations from the Expert Panel on Youth Employment.
  • Furthering work-integrated learning by expanding the Student Work Placement Program, investing in additional placement opportunities and partnering with the Business/Higher Education Roundtable to support up to 84,000 new work placements per year.
  • An investment of $10-million over two years to support Let’s Talk Science, engaging youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), introducing them to critical skills development opportunities, and opening doors to future studies and occupations.
  • Supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs by providing Futurpreneur Canada $38-million over five years—a national not-for-profit organization that provides young entrepreneurs with mentorship, learning resources and start-up financing to help them bring their business ideas to market.


The rising cost of post-secondary education has made attending university or college a difficult goal for many young Canadians. The government has prioritized making education more affordable and accessible, with the goal of giving young Canadians the experience they need to find and keep well-paying jobs.

“Student debt can often be a shadow that hangs over the early stages of a young Canadian’s career,” says Fong. “The government’s announcements today make it more affordable for youth to pursue their careers with less worry about falling behind than previous generations.”

The federal budget includes several measures to make this possible:

  • Modernizing the Canada Student Loans Program to lower the interest rate and make the first six months after a borrower exits post-secondary education interest-free.
  • To help with rising living costs and to ensure student loans are more affordable to those that need them, Budget 2019 proposes lowering the floating interest rate to prime, from its current rate of prime plus 2.5 percentage points; and lowering the fixed interest rate to prime plus 2.0 percentage points, from its current rate of prime plus 5.0 percentage points.
  • Encouraging more young people to consider training and work in the skills trade by providing Skills Canada with $40 million over four years
  • An expansion on paid parental leave for student researchers will include lengthen leave coverage from six months to 12 months for students and postdoctoral fellows who receive granting council funding.

For more information on the budget, click here.