Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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Angella MacEwen
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Angella MacEwen
2015-05-26 8:58
Thank you.
On behalf of the 3.3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress, we want to thank you for the opportunity to present our views today. The CLC brings together workers from virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy, in all occupations, and in all parts of Canada.
Part 1 of Bill C-59, which we're speaking to today, would implement a wide variety of income tax and related measures. Today our comments will be limited to three provisions: reducing the required minimum amount for withdrawal annually from the RRIF; increasing the annual contribution limit for the tax-free savings accounts; and renewing the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in machinery and equipment.
First of all, in terms of retirement security, the changes to the RRIF withdrawals and the increases to the tax-free savings accounts are measures that are both related to retirement security, but it will be no surprise to members of this committee that the Canadian Labour Congress feels that expanding the Canada pension plan is a much better solution to the looming retirement security crisis in Canada. Changes to RRIF withdrawals benefit older workers who already have RRSP savings, but they do little for workers without the means to save through RRSPs. This is significant because only a third of Canadians today contribute to RRSPs, and the unused RRSP contribution room reached $790 billion in 2013. Eleven million workers in Canada have no pension plan other than the CPP. At the same time, the annual contribution limit for the tax-free savings account would increase to $10,000, as has already been discussed, and this measure would have an estimated cost to federal revenues of $1.1 billion by 2019.
Even at the maximum annual contribution of $5,500, the TFSA is projected to cost the federal government up to $15 billion annually, and cost the provinces another $8 billion when the program is fully mature. Doubling would further increase this cost almost exclusively to the benefit of higher income earners. In contrast, expanding the CPP would benefit all workers, follow workers who change employers or who have multiple employers, and be simple for employers to administer.
In terms of supporting manufacturing, we recognize that as a result of globalization, unfavourable trade deals, a high dollar, and the most recent recession, manufacturing in Ontario and across Canada has experienced devastating losses over the past decade. In recognition of this reality, we have long supported renewing the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in machinery and equipment. This measure was first introduced in 2007, renewed in 2011 and 2013, and would now be renewed until 2026. While we support this measure, we want to note that corporate tax cuts have failed to spur business investment. In the same vein, we feel that continuing this accelerated capital cost allowance would be insufficient to support a struggling manufacturing sector in Canada.
Coming out of the recession, business investments in manufacturing have been very slow to rebound, despite the continuation of the accelerated capital cost allowance. In October 2014, the monetary policy report released by the Bank of Canada suggested that this is in part because of a semi-permanent loss of capacity in several manufacturing export sectors. Low interest rates and low taxes have not been sufficient drivers of growth. Weak and uncertain demand have played a significant role in subdued investment. All signs point to the need for the federal government investment in infrastructure to spur growth and therefore boost business confidence and private investment.
A singular focus on tax cuts has significant drawbacks. We note that while the budget 2015 documentation mentions the importance of investment in skilled labour in the same sentence as it mentions investment in machinery, government action on this front has been noticeably absent.
Let me remind the committee of some of the recommendations the Canadian Labour Congress has made in the past that would make a difference to investment in skilled workers.
One, establish a national skills council that brings key stakeholders together to identify skills gaps and develop strategies, policies, and programs to address them.
Two, establish a mandatory national workplace training fund. Employers with a payroll of more than $1 million who fail to invest 1% of their payroll in training should pay the shortfall into a public fund that is used to finance work-related training initiatives.
Three, increase funding for the labour market agreements, the LMAs, with the provinces and territories to help vulnerable unemployed workers, including immigrants, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, women, older workers, younger workers, and less skilled individuals.
Four, mandate employers to hire and train apprentices. The federal budget should ensure that those projects receiving federal dollars through the new building Canada fund and the investment in affordable housing program mandate employers to hire and train apprentices.
This budget further erodes the fiscal capacity of the Canadian state and rejects the opportunity to take advantage of exceptionally low borrowing costs and invest in the current and future needs of working people in Canada.
Thank you.
Jonathan Will
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Jonathan Will
2015-03-24 11:06
Thank you, Madam Chair, and distinguished members of the committee.
I'm here with my colleague, Catherine Scott, to speak to you about women in skilled trades and STEM occupations. Over the past few decades, Canadian women have made considerable progress and are world leaders in both educational attainment and labour market performance.
Looking first to education, as of 2013, 56% of new post-secondary graduates were women, outnumbering men at the college, undergraduate, and master's levels. While women continue to trail men in graduation at the doctoral level, this gap is closing. Today women make up just under half of Canada's Ph.D. graduates. Canada is a world leader in female participation in education with the highest rate of post-secondary attainment among OECD countries for 25- to 64-year-old women in 2012.
Women have also made significant advances in the labour market. Over the past 30 years, the overall female employment rate has risen from 48% to 58%. Currently, women account for approximately 48% of all workers in Canada.
Internationally, Canadian women currently have the 5th highest labour force participation rate and the 7th highest employment rate in the OECD. While women have made significant advances, some areas of concern remain.
At the post-secondary level, women continue to be under-represented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, commonly referred to as STEM. ln 2013 just over 30% of post-secondary students in STEM fields were women. Female under-representation is particularly acute in architecture, engineering and related technologies, and mathematics, computer, and information sciences. Women represent a slim majority in agriculture, natural resources and conservation, physical and life sciences, and technologies.
We also know that some young women are choosing not to pursue STEM fields of study—in other words, science, technology, engineering and math—despite outperforming their male counterparts in high school.
This situation has important economic implications for Canada. STEM skills are essential to productivity-enhancing innovation. If a significant portion of the population is not fully represented in the STEM talent pool, this could negatively affect Canada's ability to innovate and grow.
In addition, earnings in STEM occupations are typically higher than in non-STEM occupations.
ESDC projections show that the occupations expected to be in shortage over the next decade are more likely to have low rates of female participation than non-shortage occupations. Almost half of all occupations projected to be in shortage are male dominated, while only one-quarter are female dominated. The remaining quarter has a relatively equal mix of men and women. STEM and the skilled trades comprise 34% of the projected shortage occupations.
These findings clearly show that supporting employment in high-demand occupations and addressing the under-representation of women can be highly complementary priorities.
At ESDC, a number of recent measures have been taken to support employment in high-demand occupations, including STEM and the skilled trades.
A key means of addressing the under-representation of women is by supporting access to post-secondary education, a requirement for many occupations that represent non-traditional jobs for women.
The Canada student loans program provides financial assistance to post-secondary students with demonstrated financial need through the provision of loans and grants. Women make up 60% of the recipients.
ESDC is also helping young men and women to access post-secondary education through the support it provides to Pathways to Education, an organization with an established record of raising post-secondary enrolment among disadvantaged youth.
ln addition to supporting access to post-secondary education, ESDC has a number of other measures in place to help Canadians develop job-relevant skills and find employment, including in high-demand occupations such as STEM and the skilled trades. ESDC has taken action to directly support job relevant skills development with the introduction of the Canada job grant, which links training directly to employment.
Over $2 billion per year is provided to provinces and territories through the labour market development agreements to help unemployed Canadians quickly find and return to work, including support for women in apprenticeship training. The Government of Canada is committed to strengthening these agreements in consultation with provinces and territories to better align training with labour market demand.
ESDC has also taken steps to improve the quality of information for Canadians with respect to the labour market and apprenticeship.
The Job Bank and Working in Canada Web sites have been consolidated to offer Canadians a convenient single point of access for reliable information on job market trends, occupational profiles and job opportunities.
A new job alert system was launched in 2013 to provide Canadians with job market information up to twice daily.
Economic action plan 2014 invested $11.8 million over two years and $3.3 million per year on an ongoing basis to launch an enhanced job-matching service that is helping to ensure that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs in their local area that match their skills.
ESDC is currently developing a web-based career tool to provide Canadians with better information about labour market outcomes by field of study. This will help to ensure that youth are able to make well-informed choices about learning and work. The main portal for learning information, CanLearn.ca, provides information and interactive tools to help Canadians pay, plan, and save for their post-secondary education.
ln addition to its suite of programs, ESDC has asked the Council of Canadian Academies to study how well Canada is prepared to meet future demand for STEM skills.
These are just some of the ways that my department is helping to ensure that women can reach their potential in Canada's learning institutions and labour market.
My colleague Catherine Scott will now speak to the importance of women's participation in the skilled trades and some of the department's relevant programs and support.
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Thank you.
To Dominique Gross, we have spent a fair amount of time at this committee talking about training, youth employment, and temporary foreign workers. One of the things we discussed, and one of the things you actually mentioned, is the process of determining whether you need temporary foreign workers. Can you explain how that works in European countries? If you have occupational shortages and it's a structural problem, then you would think you would respond to that with training initiatives. We're starting to do that in Canada.
What we've learned in our study is that most of the European nations, quite frankly, are faster. I don't want to say that they're better—they may be—but they're certainly faster than we are. Do you want to just explain that a little?
Dominique Gross
View Dominique Gross Profile
Dominique Gross
2014-05-14 17:21
Thank you for your question.
If we think about the European countries that have a long history with the temporary foreign worker program—Germany and Switzerland—they both have a characteristic: that is, they have local federal labour agencies that handle the matching between vacancies and the unemployed or people who are looking for jobs.
Those local agencies have perfect information about the state of the labour market, which is the first point. The companies that need temporary foreign workers need to apply to those labour agencies. They first offer the work to the available unemployed people and then, if nobody is really suitable, they give the authorization. That is one point.
Another point that those countries have is the surveys of businesses. They ask questions about their ability to fill their vacancies and their success in terms of skills and in terms of type of occupations within the past semester, for example, or, in Switzerland, the past three months. There is a continuous set of questions that businesses answer about what their need is and how easy it is for them to fill those jobs.
That's information that's useful for training, for young people who learn where there are jobs and where they are likely to have very good jobs, and also for the temporary foreign worker program.
Armand Caron
View Armand Caron Profile
Armand Caron
2014-05-13 8:49
To the Chair, Mr. Chong, the Vice-Chair, Mr. Godin, who is also the member of Parliament for Acadie—Bathurst, Ms. Vice-Chair St-Denis and members of the committee, good morning.
First of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation to appear today before the Standing Committee on Official Languages of the House of Commons. I am pleased to appear as President of the Board of Governors of the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick, or the CCNB. What's more, the theme of the economic situation of official languages minority communities is of particular interest to us.
I do not have to convince you of the importance of action to support official languages in Canada on the development of minority communities. In the field of education in New Brunswick, that action supports a number of initiatives at all levels, initiatives that contribute to the vitality and economic development of our communities.
I will start by briefly describing our training institution. I will provide some figures that show our economic contribution to the province, and I will speak to the challenges that we face in fulfilling our mandate. I will finish with some possible solutions and recommendations that could help us meet these challenges with our partners.
The CCNB is a technical and professional training institution that, for the last 40 years, has contributed to the development of the Acadian and francophone population in the only officially bilingual province in the country.
Our community represents one third of the 750,000 residents of the province. However, neither the New Brunswick Official Languages Act, the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New Brunswick, or the inclusion of the principle of the equality of the two linguistic communities in New Brunswick in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms have provided, in actual fact, for equality and the desired level of economic development.
Recently, in 2010, the New Brunswick Community Colleges Act recognized the CCNB as an independent French-language college, replacing the bilingual structure that had previously been in place.
The CCNB's mission is to contribute to the development of individuals and of the Acadian and francophone community by offering training programs focused on skills that meet the needs of the labour market, by supporting applied research that stimulates innovation, and through active engagement in our communities. Our five campuses offer more than 92 technical and professional training programs which reflect the needs of the market.
In 2012-2013, the CCNB's regular and continuing education programs served more than 8,560 students. Of those, 86% found a job in the year following their graduation.
Economic Modeling Specialists International recently undertook a study on the impact that the CCNB has in the province. In 2012-2013, the CCNB employed over 700 people and had a budget of $60 million. According to the study, the overall contribution of the CCNB and its students to the economy of New Brunswick was $400.5 million, representing roughly 1.4% of the province's GDP. The payroll was $44 million. The CCNB represented, to provincial taxpayers, a return on investment of 3.6%. Every dollar spent led to the following results: a return of $4.50 for students in terms of lifetime income, and $5.40 to society due to additional provincial revenues and savings to social spending.
The socioeconomic situation is troubling. In 2012, professor Maurice Beaudin, an economist at the Université de Moncton, published a study on labour market trends and the need for labour force training in northern New Brunswick. It showed that more than 70% of the Acadian and francophone population of the province lives in this largely rural area. It also showed that the economy of northern New Brunswick is currently faced with demographic decline, high levels of unemployment, and low literacy and education levels among the population. Although good jobs are available, businesses often have a hard time filling them.
With the exception of our Dieppe campus, which benefits from a better economic climate in the south-east of the province, the CCNB's other campuses are located in northern New Brunswick, in Bathurst, Campbellton, Edmundston and on the Acadian Peninsula. This is a resource region where the economy is based on mines, forestry, peat, and fishing. Major structural changes to the economy over the last 20 years mean that the region is currently in economic transition.
As a result we have seen a number of troubling trends. These include an exodus of young people from northern New Brunswick to the western provinces and to urban areas in southern New Brunswick. There is also the ageing population, which is one of the main reasons for smaller cohorts of skilled workers available to the labour market. A third trend linked to education means that we have low literacy and graduation levels, as well as a high number of individuals who are unemployed and who do not have a diploma or a certificate.
Given this context, the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick has been warning for several years that regional employers are facing a shortage of skilled workers, representing one of the biggest challenges to their development. This shortage includes not only specialized knowledge, but also skills like adaptability and the ability to work as part of a team.
I will now provide some recommendations for action that could be taken.
It is clear that, as things stand right now, northern New Brunswick is not well prepared for structural changes to the economy. However, the CCNB sees a number of possibilities for training, institutional development and innovation.
Given the CCNB's major role in the New Brunswick Economic Development Action Plan and the New Brunswick Labour Force and Skills Development Strategy 2013-2016, the CCNB is well placed to offer recommendations and suggest positive actions.
It follows that it is essential for the CCNB to increase the skill level of those who are untrained or undertrained, as well as for those who are unemployed or underemployed. The CCNB is ready to play its role in collaboration with major industry stakeholders, the community, governments and other training institutions.
Meanwhile, industry stakeholders wish to see more added value in the natural resource sector. Promising projects include secondary and tertiary processing of natural resources and industrial manufacturing. This is particularly true for megaprojects and large industrial sites.
Working in cooperation with the province, the federal government can directly contribute to local economic development through investments in several sectors. First of all, there needs to be more funding for applied research and innovation at the post-secondary level, and particularly at the college level. Second, the government must invest in infrastructure projects under the Building Canada 2014 program. For the CCNB, this means investing in maintaining our current infrastructure and adding space to adequately meet our training and research needs. Third, the government must support efforts to recruit students internationally, as well as student and staff mobility. Fourth, there must be adequate funding for a system of loans and bursaries that are tailored to the needs of students. Fifth, there must be funding for business internships. Sixth, there must be funding for health care training in French. We already receive funding from the Consortium national de formation en santé, the CNFS. We also rely on funding from the Official Languages in Education Program administered by Canadian Heritage. Finally, we look forward to the establishment of federal institutions in the regions.
In conclusion, it is clear to us that higher literacy levels and lower school dropout rates in our province would allow the CCNB to make a greater contribution to the economic success of our province, as our pool of potential recruits for post-secondary education would be much larger.
Because of dropping birth rates, these recruitment challenges will become even greater in the coming years if nothing is done to keep young people in school and to allow us to reach a larger proportion of our undereducated population.
This will only be possible if we define and better control the idea of access to education in such a way as to reduce financial barriers. It is essential that we work in cooperation with all of our partners to meet the needs of Acadian and francophone communities. It is essential that the provincial government, which is responsible for education, make a culture of learning and ongoing training an interdepartmental priority, with the support of the federal government through various programs designed to support official languages minority communities throughout the country.
Thank you for the invitation to provide our views. I wish the Standing Committee on Official Languages nothing but success with its consultations.
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Issues such as the dropout rate, literacy, the situation of women in the labour market and the lack of knowledge are certainly serious, but in my view, they are issues of provincial jurisdiction. We must turn to the provinces if we want to see programs that will improve the situation. Consequently, my questions will not deal with that topic, even though the state of affairs seems a little alarming.
Mr. Caron, I would like to know if your college participates in the trades modernization effort in traditional sectors, such as forestry and fisheries. Is the college devoting any effort to modernizing the skills of future workers in these sectors, their computer skills for example?
Armand Caron
View Armand Caron Profile
Armand Caron
2014-05-13 9:32
Ms. St-Denis, the mission of the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick, in essence, is to meet training needs. If those needs evolve, we must adjust as a result.
The Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick works in partnership with the industry to fully understand what the changing needs of the market are. Ours is a resources heavy region, whether we are talking about mines, the forests or fisheries. That world is always evolving and we must adapt our training to meet both current and future needs.
I must tell you that we do not claim to be going it alone. We must work in partnership with other institutions. In the field of research, knowledge transfer must be updated, but we must also increase knowledge. That's where applied research has a major role to play. As such, the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick works in partnership with the Université de Moncton and the University of New Brunswick, along with universities outside of the province, for example Saint Mary's University, in Nova Scotia, and l'Université Laval.
View Corneliu Chisu Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much to the witnesses for their presentations.
I was looking especially at Mr. Colford's presentation. The 60% illiteracy issue is a huge problem, and is disturbing me in a country that is in the G-7 group. Mr. Caron is telling me that the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick offers technical training in French, including training for specialized trades.
You are recruiting for post-secondary education. You are recruiting people from the province only from the 40% who are qualified by literacy to go into post-secondary education. What can you do to increase literacy? If you are looking at the trades you need to have a basic understanding of mathematics, not only language, to be able to do something in the province.
Mr. Caron, what are you doing? What kinds of trades are you specializing in on your five campuses? How are you working with Mr. Colford to gather the needs of the province?
It's unacceptable for a rich province like New Brunswick, which has the statue of the lobster I think—I visited there—that it is in that situation, that you cannot work together and establish an economic plan and an industrial plan. You also have technologists in the province. You have a nuclear power plant, which needs a lot of skilled, qualified employees.
How are you developing the trades? What trades are you offering in both languages, French and English? How are you cooperating with Mr. Colford? I am also bringing the three levels of government into this area: federal, provincial, and municipal. How can they work together to get out of this situation in the province?
Armand Caron
View Armand Caron Profile
Armand Caron
2014-05-13 9:52
Thank you.
Your question has two parts.
First of all, in regards to skilled trades, your question echoes Ms. St-Denis' earlier question. We work with the industry in particular to determine the needs in skilled trades. Certain trades no longer exist or have greatly changed. So we must adapt. I believe we are meet the needs of the market in that regard.
You also asked what we could do about the fact that 60% of the population has literacy problems. For our part, we would like the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick to have the mandate to train both students with their high school diploma and those without it. At one point, the government thought it could ask the Fédération d'alphabétisation du Nouveau-Brunswick to find all the people who had not finished high school. In my view, I think we must go further. The program must be institutionalized and the mandate must be given to the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick. It would be geared to those who don't have the necessary skills in mathematics or in French, or those who haven't finished high school. In New Brunswick, in public schools, when we say high school, we mean grade 12.
We spoke of the low literacy levels in New Brunswick, particularly in the northern part of the province. We have a lot of work to do in that regard. There is no doubt about that.
View Corneliu Chisu Profile
CPC (ON)
When you speak about education and you speak about the trades, to build something—I'm a professional engineer—you need the engineering team. You need the technologies. You need the workers who understand the project, because the engineers alone cannot accomplish the project.
My question was whether you are working in this context with labour and also with the technological field and the engineering field. I think that New Brunswick has a lot of talent and a lot of opportunities; much can be accomplished in the province. I see countries that have the same territory and the same population, and they can accomplish a lot. We have opportunities here.
I think it is important that you ask yourselves what you can do for the province, not what the province or the government can do for you. If you are not coming up with proposals that you would like to develop in the province, the north and the south and so on—
Armand Caron
View Armand Caron Profile
Armand Caron
2014-05-13 9:55
The Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick already offers a number of courses in engineering technology. It is important for us to have students in the two-year building engineering technology program, for example, continue their studies after the program is over. We are currently working with the Université de Moncton to ensure that those students can use their two-year program to their advantage and go on to obtain an engineering degree, for example, without having to retake some of the courses. Unfortunately, institutions do not recognize all of the credits students have earned elsewhere. In fact, they are sometimes asked to retake some courses or to complete at least one of the two years.
We are trying to meet the needs of the labour market in terms of technology, but also to give young people the opportunity to continue their studies and build a career.
View Joe Daniel Profile
CPC (ON)
View Joe Daniel Profile
2014-05-13 10:10
Mr. Colford, from your experience as a workers' representative, what are you and your organization doing to transition to some of these jobs we've heard about, the IT businesses that were set up, etc? For these jobs you have to have literacy, have to have a level of education, and those are high-paying jobs that can stay in your region.
Patrick Colford
View Patrick Colford Profile
Patrick Colford
2014-05-13 10:10
Personally, from the New Brunswick Federation of Labour's point of view, we sit on numerous committees and coalitions helping to build the province and trying to come up with solutions. These coalitions or groups, if you will, committees, are made up of educational institutions, labour, of course, business, and in this job, as Mr. Caron mentioned, we as the Federation of Labour were a big contributor to that in having labour's voice.
We're working on those things but at the end of the day I guess the biggest challenge is those people who don't have the skills and they just.... The easiest way to put it is that there are two types of people in a lot of communities in New Brunswick. There are the people who can't wait to get out and the people who don't want to get out. We need to focus on those people who don't want to get out and on making sure that they can make a livelihood and stay in their communities.
David McGovern
View David McGovern Profile
David McGovern
2014-03-06 15:32
Thank you very much.
I'd like to thank the committee for inviting Employment and Social Development Canada to appear before you today on the topic of youth employment.
I'd also like to introduce my colleagues around the table, but we have too many of them, so I won't. They're here to help me if you have questions regarding programs that support youth participation in the labour market.
As the committee is aware, the government announced in Budget 2014 its intention to better align employment programs with the realities of the labour market, and in that context, the committee's study is timely and welcome.
Over the coming decade, approximately 6.2 million people will enter the labour market, three-quarters of whom will come from the school system. Young labour market entrants will therefore contribute the most to labour force growth, well above the contribution of new immigrants.
We also know that over the next 10 years the shift in employment towards occupations requiring higher levels of skills and education will continue, as approximately two-thirds of new jobs will require some form of post-secondary education. A large proportion of these will be in health, engineering, and technology occupations, as well as in certain skilled trades.
The recent recession highlighted the importance of skills and education for youth, as those with higher education levels fared better, while those with lower levels of education were most severely affected.
Canadian youth are investing in their education, and educational attainment is among the highest in the world and growing. At the same time, there is some evidence that qualifications are not optimally aligned with demand. In particular, employers express concerns that too few students are choosing in-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math, and many do not consider skilled trades as a first career choice.
Given growing skills requirements of jobs and pressures of an aging labour force, it is essential that youth have the right skills to make successful transitions in the labour market and to improve their ability to adjust when economic circumstances change.
Addressing skills challenges facing youth has been a long-standing objective of the Government of Canada's policies and programs. Recent efforts, however, have focused on ensuring interventions are better aligned with the needs of employers and the labour market.
More specifically, that has meant enhancing opportunities for Canadian youth to access post-secondary education and supporting careers in the skilled trades; assisting youth transition to the world of work by providing tangible work opportunities in areas of high demand; and ensuring youth have the information they need to make informed career and training choices aligned with the needs of the labour market.
Allow me to highlight some of the Employment and Social Development Canada key initiatives dedicated to supporting these objectives.
The government supports access to education through a number of programs and initiatives. These include, for example, the Canada student loans program. This provides student financial assistance to post-secondary students with demonstrated financial need, through the provision of loans and grants. The education savings program encourages families to save for their children's post-secondary education, using registered education savings plans, RESPs, which allow savings to grow tax free. The Canada education savings grant and the Canada learning bond provide additional incentives, particularly for low- and middle-income families, to save in RESPs.
The government also provides support to Pathways to Education Canada, an organization with an established record of reducing high school dropout rates and increasing post-secondary enrolment among disadvantaged youth. Budget 2013 confirmed that the government will extend support for this initiative.
Apprenticeship training is also an important part of the post-secondary education system.
To further encourage Canadians to consider a career in the skilled trades, Budget 2014 proposed the creation of the Canada apprentice loan by expanding the Canada student loans program. The objective is to provide apprentices registered in red seal trades with access to an estimated $100 million in interest-free loans each year.
This action builds on the existing government incentives for apprentices and employers to encourage apprenticeship training and stimulate employment in the skilled trades.
The apprenticeship grants are designed to encourage more Canadians to pursue and complete apprenticeship programs in the red seal trades.
To support youth transitions in the labour market, the youth employment strategy is the government's flagship program to help youth aged 15 to 30 gain skills and real work experience to transition in the labour market. This program, which invests approximately $330 million annually, is led by Employment and Social Development Canada and delivered by 11 federal departments and agencies.
It has three main streams. Skills Link provides funding for employers and organizations to help youth facing barriers to employment acquire skills and work experience. Summer Work Experience provides wage subsidies to employers to create summer employment for secondary and post-secondary students. This program includes Canada Summer Jobs, which provides funding for not-for-profit organizations as well as public sector and private sector employers to create summer job opportunities for students. All told, approximately 35,000 summer jobs were created in 2013. Finally, Career Focus provides youth with work experience in their field of study to enable more informed career decisions and to develop their skills.
Moving forward, the government is committed to enhancing its supports for the labour market transition of youth. In particular, through budget 2013, the government provided an additional $70 million over three years for the Career Focus stream of the youth employment strategy to support internships for recent graduates, so they get an opportunity to apply their newly acquired skills.
Through budget 2014, the government announced that it would take further steps to align youth employment programs with the evolving realities of the job market, more specifically to promote internships in high-demand fields such as skilled trades, and in science, technology, engineering, and math, so that youth can find work experience and the skills necessary to find and retain jobs.
The Government of Canada also provides support for unemployed and underemployed youth through income support from the employment insurance program and through significant transfers to the provinces and territories. More specifically, the government transfers $1.95 billion annually through the labour market development agreements to support the unemployed who are eligible for employment insurance. Similarly, the government provides $500 million annually through the labour market agreements for training and unemployment supports for those not eligible for EI. Youth represent about 20% and 35% of the clients receiving support under each of these transfers respectively.
Finally, the labour market agreements for persons with disabilities allow provinces to provide targeted programming to improve the employability of persons with disabilities, including youth.
The new Canada job grant to be introduced by July 1, 2014, aims to directly connect skills training with employers, helping to ensure that Canadians, including youth, are developing the skills for available jobs.
Finally, the government plays an important role in providing learning and labour market information to ensure youth have timely and reliable information to make the right choices about learning and work.
For example, through the Working in Canada website and CanLearn.ca the government provides information on available jobs, labour market outcomes, and educational and training requirements.
In Budget 2013, the government reaffirmed its commitment to improving these tools and announced a reallocation of $19 million over 2 years to provide young Canadians with more information on job prospects and to undertake outreach efforts to promote careers in high-demand fields.
Through its funding of the Red Seal program, the government supports promotional activities to inform industry and tradespeople, as well as high school students and the public at large, about apprenticeships and the benefits of working in the skilled trades. The government also provides significant support to Skills Canada to actively promote careers in the skilled trades to Canadian youth by working with local organizations, educators, and governments.
In conclusion, I would again like to thank the committee for undertaking this timely study. We look forward to seeing its recommendations.
My colleagues and I welcome the opportunity to respond to any questions you may have.
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Thank you.
Ms. Josephs, you made a comment about entrepreneurship and the fact that entrepreneurship should be in the K-to-12 curriculum. That's the smartest thing I've heard here today. Good for you for saying it.
It's not that everybody else's comments weren't important; let's clarify that comment.
I have a huge level of frustration when I hear the talk of youth unemployment and underemployment because I grew up in rural Nova Scotia where everybody was simply expected to work, and everyone could work and did work. Even when unemployment was 15% and 18% everywhere else in the world, somehow everybody found a job because they had to in order to survive.
In Nova Scotia, we have a new program between the community college system and the universities where they've taken your point on entrepreneurship and they have allowed people who want to enter the skilled trades to take their two years of a skilled trade to start an apprenticeship, or to work in the skilled trades, and that two years counts as two years toward an undergraduate degree if they decide to go back to university. I suspect other provinces have similar programs. That's been in place for a while now, and that has been a fantastic program for students. They come out, they have built up skills in the community college system that allow them to work for a good living wage and to continue in that trade if they care to. However, if they want to go back to university for an undergraduate degree, their first two years are already covered.
Have you been an advocate of that? Do you follow that? How extensive is that across the country?
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