Government of Canada meeting the unique needs of adult learners looking to upgrade skills
WINDSOR, ON, Jan. 24, 2018 /CNW/ - Innovation is changing how we live and work, bringing with it new challenges and new opportunities for working Canadians. When more Canadians can afford to go back to school to upgrade their skills or even pursue a new career path, our middle class becomes stronger and more resilient. That's why, today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, launched Skills Boost, a new plan to give adult learners the support they need to succeed in the workforce.
Through a new $1,600-per-year Canada Student Grant and new flexibilities for Employment Insurance, going back to school will be within reach for 43,000 more Canadians in the middle class, as well as those working hard to join it.
Skills Boost includes several measures announced in Budget 2017 that will be available for the school year beginning this fall as part of a $287.2 million three-year pilot project. Students eligible for the Canada Student Grant for Full-Time Students and who have been out of high school for at least 10 years will receive an additional $1,600 per school year ($200 per month) in top-up funding. An estimated 43,000 low- and middle-income Canadians will benefit from the top-up funding in the 2018–19 academic year. And, for the first time, working and unemployed Canadians whose employment situation has significantly changed from the previous year can see their current income used to assess Canada Student Grant eligibility. This means a person who experiences a drop in income won't be unfairly automatically disqualified for assistance based on their previous year's earnings.
Skills Boost also means expanded access to Canada Student Grants for part-time students and students with dependent children, to further break down financial barriers to post-secondary education. These measures are expected to benefit Canadian women in particular, who often strive to improve their career prospects while balancing family responsibilities. Women represent nearly two-thirds of the Canada Student Loans Program's part-time recipients, while approximately four out of five students receiving the Canada Student Grant for students with dependent children are women.
Support is also coming this fall for Canadians who find themselves out of work and want to go back to school. Today, if an unemployed worker is receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, they may lose their eligibility for those benefits if they return to school or undertake training, which interferes with their availability for work, without the necessary referral from designated authorities. Starting in fall 2018, an unemployed person will be able to go back to school to get the training they need to find a new job—without fear of losing the EI benefits she needs to pay rent and buy groceries.
"As an adult learner myself, who went back to school as a single mom of two children, I know that adult learners can face challenges to pursuing post-secondary education—not only because of the cost of education itself but also because of the financial pressures and time constraints of supporting our families. Our government has Canadians covered, no matter their circumstance—whether they are going to college or university for the first time, returning to school or upgrading their skills."
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
"Through Budget 2017, we are making better use of existing flexibilities within the Employment Insurance program to help eligible claimants go back to school while remaining eligible for the EI benefits they need to support themselves and their families. This allows us to deliver on our commitment to grow our economy, strengthen the middle class and help those working hard to join it."
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
"Mature students have become an increasingly significant portion of St. Clair's enrolment during the past decade or so. Many of them come to us with challenging circumstances as they pursue their educations. They often need to brush up on new technology and techniques before commencing their studies, many of them are raising families, and many of them are also attempting to accommodate part-time or even full-time jobs in their complicated lives. This new, extremely generous assistance offered by the federal government will ease many of the pressures on these students. And providing them with a more affordable and accessible education will ultimately improve their lives in immeasurable ways."
– Patti France, President, St. Clair College
- The pilot project top-up grant funding will be prorated based on the length of the study period. For example, those registered for an eight-month school year will receive $1,600, while those registered for a 12-month school year will receive $2,400. This funding will be provided on top of any other grants the student qualifies for.
- Using a working or newly unemployed Canadian's current income rather than the previous year's earnings means they could become eligible for income-tested Canada Student Grants, including up to $3,000 for the Canada Student Grant for Full-time Students as well as the top-up funding.
- To receive Canada Student Grants, students must apply to their province or territory of residence to receive financial assistance for the 2018–19 school year. For example, as of November 8, 2017, students in Ontario can start applying to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to receive both provincial and federal assistance for the 2018–19 academic year. Students who have already applied for OSAP will be eligible for this funding.
- The top-up funding is available to full-time students pursuing an undergraduate degree, certificate or diploma of at least two years in duration at a designated post-secondary institution who have been out of high school for at least 10 years.
Canada Student Loans Program
The Canada Student Loans Program helps to make post-secondary education more affordable for students from low- and middle-income families by providing supports to students with financial need through grants, loans and repayment assistance measures.
- Canada Student Grants provide non-repayable funding to full- and part-time students and are targeted to students from low- and middle-income families, students with permanent disabilities and students with dependants. Students are automatically assessed for Canada Student Grants when applying for student financial assistance through their province or territory of residence.
- Canada Student Loans are offered by the Government of Canada to help eligible part-time and full-time students pay for post-secondary education at designated academic institutions throughout Canada and abroad.
- The Repayment Assistance Plan makes it easier for students who are experiencing financial difficulties to repay their student loans. Under the Repayment Assistance Plan, monthly payments are limited to no more than 20 percent of a borrower's family income and no borrower has a repayment period of more than 15 years. To remain eligible, borrowers must re-apply every six months.
Budget 2016 invested more than $2.7 billion over five years to introduce important changes to the Canada Student Loans Program that expanded financial assistance measures for Canadians by:
- Increasing Canada Student Grant amounts by 50 percent, starting on August 1, 2016, which expanded available grant support for students from low- and middle-income families. More specifically, grants were increased from:
- $2,000 to $3,000 per year for students from low-income families;
- $800 to $1,200 per year for students from middle-income families; and
- up to $1,200 to up to$1,800 per year for part-time students from low-income families.
- Increasing the Repayment Assistance Plan eligibility thresholds, starting on November 1, 2016, to ensure that no student has to repay their Canada Student Loan until they are earning at least $25,000 per year. The threshold increases based on family size, being responsive to the financial realities of Canadians who may be married or in a common-law relationship and have children.
- Introducing a new fixed student contribution, starting on August 1, 2017, eliminating the need for students to report estimates of their future income or their financial assets when applying for grants and loans. Students are instead expected to make a fixed contribution of between $1,500 and $3,000 towards their post-secondary education costs each year, based on their family income and size. This enables students to work and gain valuable work experience without worrying about a reduction in their level of financial assistance and particularly benefits working Canadians, many of whom may work while studying or have accumulated assets.
- Students facing barriers to employment, including those with children, are exempted from making a contribution, thereby expanding their access to support from the Canada Student Loans Program.
- As part of this change, the contributions expected of students' spouses or common-law partners were relaxed, further expanding eligibility for working Canadians who are more likely to be married or in a common-law relationship.
- Expanding eligibility for Canada Student Grants, starting on August 1, 2017, by replacing the previous low- and middle-income thresholds with a single, higher threshold which reduces grant amounts based on family income. This allows even more students, including working Canadians, to receive non-repayable assistance.
Budget 2017: Skills Boost
Budget 2017 introduced measures to provide enhanced student financial assistance and make better use of Employment Insurance flexibilities targeted to working or unemployed Canadians looking to return to school to upgrade their skills. Together these initiatives comprise Skills Boost.
- Student Financial Assistance Measures
Budget 2017 builds on measures implemented as part of Budget 2016, including further enhancements to the supports available to working Canadians by investing $454.4 million over four years to:
- Introduce a three-year pilot project for adult learners that will, starting in the 2018–19 academic year:
- provide top-up funding of an additional $1,600 per year in grant support to students who have been out of high school for at least 10 years and are returning to full-time post-secondary studies; and
- give flexibility to assess grant eligibility based on the current year's income (rather than for the previous year) in recognition of a significant change in financial circumstances.
- Expand eligibility for part-time grants and loans, starting in the 2018–19 academic year, allowing more students from low- and middle-income families to benefit from up to $1,800 in non‑repayable grants per year and up to $10,000 in loans.
- Expand access to grants for students with children, starting in the 2018–19 academic year, allowing more:
- full-time students with children to receive up to $200 per month per child; and
- part-time students with children to receive up to $1,920 per year in grants.
Employment Insurance measures
Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits provides temporary income support to eligible individuals who lose their job through no fault of their own (for example, due to shortage of work) and are available for and able to work, but can't find a job.
As part of Skills Boost, Budget 2017 announced an investment of $132.4 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $37.9 million thereafter, to make better use of existing flexibilities within the EI program that allow claimants to pursue training while receiving EI benefits.
Under existing rules, EI claimants can take self-funded training and receive their EI benefits when they continue to meet program requirements (i.e. search and be available for work). They may also be referred to full-time training by designated authorities (i.e. provinces, territories, and Indigenous organizations), and continue to receive their EI benefits. This referred training may be self-funded or paid for by the designated authority.
Starting in Fall 2018, more opportunities will be provided for those who lose their jobs after several years in the workforce to pursue full-time training at their own expense while continuing to receive their EI benefits.
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information: For media enquiries, please contact: Matt Pascuzzo, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P., Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, [email protected], 819-654-4183; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, [email protected]