Canada | Federal Budget

Federal budget targets evolving nature of work with new skills initiatives

The Canada Training Benefit is aimed at helping Canadians get the training they need to find and keep good jobs

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Female factory executive talking to a female apprentice employee.This year’s budget introduces the Canada Training Benefit to help those get the training they need (Getty Images/SolStock)

The recently tabled federal budget put an emphasis on developing new skills with the introduction of the Canada Training Benefit, and a number of other skills initiatives.

Skills has been a consistent theme for the Liberal government. As part of the 2017 budget, the Innovation and Skills Plan was announced to inform Canadians about the know-how required for the evolving nature of work. And in 2018, initiatives such as the Pre-Apprenticeship Program and the Women in Construction Fund were created to further support skills development.

But the 2019 federal budget, introduced March 19 in Ottawa, delivers even more measures:

CANADA TRAINING BENEFIT

The budget points out that the evolving nature of work means that people may change jobs many times over the course of their working lives—or may require new skills to keep the jobs they already have. 

This year’s budget introduces the Canada Training Benefit to help those get the training they need. Every year, eligible workers between the ages of 25 and 64 would accumulate a credit balance of $250—up to a lifetime limit of $5,000—to help cover the cost of up to half of eligible tuition and fees associated with training. To be eligible for the refundable tax credit, workers must have earned at least $10,000 and an income less than $150,000 a year.

“In order to be effective, government needs to ensure quality control of the eligible training and accountability by means of measurable outcomes,” says Sarah Anson-Cartwright, CPA Canada’s director of public affairs. “This is especially true since skill demands will change quickly in today ever-evolving economy. Ensuring that those most in need of help are made aware of the assistance available is essential for the initiative to succeed.”

EI TRAINING SUPPORT BENEFIT

The initiative also includes the Employment Insurance (EI) Training Support Benefit, to provide income support for those requiring time off work due to skills training. The benefit is expected to be launched in late 2020 and would give workers up to four weeks of income support, paid at 55 per cent of their average weekly earnings, as well as leave provisions that would protect workers’ ability to take the time away.

To help make the new benefit work for small businesses, any business that pays employer EI premiums equal to or less than $20,000 per year would be eligible for a rebate to offset the introduction of the EI Training Support Benefit.

INVESTING IN SKILLS

In addition to the Canada Training Benefit, the federal government announced investments in other skills initiatives:

  • Making permanent the Global Talent Stream pilot by investing $35.2 million over five years. Since the launch of the pilot, employers have committed to developing more than 10,000 co-op placements and investing more than $90 million in skills development and training for their workers.
  • Supporting initiatives that provide coding and digital skills development through the CanCode program, with an investment of $60 million over two years.
  • Funding to improve access by Indigenous students to post-secondary education.
  • Investing $6 million over two years to create a national campaign to promote the skilled trades as a first-choice career for young people.

“Investing in skills development is critical to keeping Canada competitive as business models and the nature of work continually evolve,” says Anson-Cartwright. “Providing incentives for employees to pursue upskilling, investing in work-integrated learning opportunities and improving access to post-secondary education for Indigenous people are investments that will help more Canadians enter and adapt to change in the workforce.”

FEDERAL BUDGET OVERVIEW 

CPA Canada provides insightful analysis of the changes to business, taxation, and more in its federal budget commentary. The 2019 budget included a wide range of measures—read more on things you may have missed.