Government of Canada meeting the unique needs of adult learners looking to upgrade skills
SASKATOON, Sept.13, 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 new careers, our middle class becomes stronger and more resilient.
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, was in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan today to highlight Skills Boost which is a plan that gives adult learners the support they need for a fair chance at success in the workforce.
The three-year, $275.7-million Skills Boost pilot project will put going back to school well within reach for more Canadians per year, most notably through expanded access to a new $1600-per-year Canada Student Grant and new flexibilities for Employment Insurance. To date, more than 28,000 adult learners have received the top-up grant funding, for a total of $22 million.
This program also supports 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. As of this fall, 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 they 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—whether they are going to college or university for the first time, returning to school or upgrading their skills – programs like Skills Boost will ensure they have a fair chance at success."
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
- 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.
- 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:
- Increased Canada Student Grant amounts by 50 percent 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.
- Increased the Repayment Assistance Plan eligibility thresholds 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.
- Introduced a new fixed student contribution 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.
- Expanded eligibility for Canada Student Grants 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 $443 million over four years:
- Introduced a three-year pilot project for adult learners that will:
- 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. Approximately 43,000 are expected to receive this benefit annually. 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.
- Expanded eligibility for part-time grants and loans,, allowing approximately 10,000 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.
- Expanded access to grants for approximately 13,000 students with children, 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.
As a result of Budget 2016 and 2017, over 400,000 students from low and middle-income families will benefit from additional Canada Student Grant funding.
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: Véronique Simard, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P., Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, [email protected], 819-654-5611; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, [email protected]