Book 2: Programs and service overview - Education and youth

Official title: ESDC Programs and service delivery overview - Education and youth

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Post-secondary education

1. Canada Student Loans Program


The Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) is a statutory program aimed at promoting access to post-secondary education so that all Canadians have an opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills needed to successfully participate in the changing labour market. The CSLP reduces financial barriers by providing needs-based student grants and loans to students from low- and middle-income families, as well as students with disabilities and students with dependants.

Furthermore, the CSLP offers the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP) to assist borrowers facing financial difficulty repaying their loans. The RAP makes it easier for borrowers to manage their student debt by restricting student loan payments to what they can reasonably afford based on their family income and family size. No borrower has to repay their student loan until they are earning at least $25,000.

In addition to Canada Student Loans, eligible students can receive the following grants:

In the 2017 to 2018 loan year:

In addition to the Canada Student Loans Program, Employment and Social Development Canada also offers Canada Apprentice Loans (CAL) to eligible apprentices in Red Seal Trades during their technical training. Eligible apprentices may apply for loans of up to $4,000 per period of block release technical training for up to five periods. These loans complement an existing suite of supports that include Employment Insurance, the Apprenticeship Incentive/Completion Grants and the Apprenticeship Tool and Tax Credit. This additional support helps registered apprentices with short-term expenses to allow them to focus on completing their program.

Policy lead: Learning Branch

Service delivered by: Learning Branch (in collaboration with a third-party service provider and provinces/territories)

List of key stakeholders

Provinces and territories: The Intergovernmental Consultative Committee on Student Financial Assistance (ICCSFA) is a jointly managed federal-provincial/territorial body that meets regularly to examine policy and program elements related to student financial assistance in Canada.

Student stakeholder groups: The National Advisory Group on Student Financial Assistance (NAGSFA) is a forum for CSLP stakeholders to discuss policy delivery issues related to student financial assistance. The NAGSFA is co-chaired by the CSLP and a stakeholder group, currently the Canadian Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and includes the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, Canadian Association for University Continuing Education, Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canadian Federation of Students, Colleges and Institutes Canada, National Association of Career Colleges, National Educational Association of Disabled Students and Universities Canada.

2. Canada Education Savings Program


The Canada Education Savings Program (CESP) encourages individuals to plan and save for a child’s post-secondary education through two education savings incentives: the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and the Canada Learning Bond (CLB):

Both the CESG and the CLB are paid into RESPs, which are accounts used to save for a child’s post-secondary education. RESPs allow education savings to grow tax-free, and they are the only savings account that attract Government of Canada education savings incentives.

The CLB and the CESG are statutory payments established under the Canada Education Savings Act.

Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) CESP delivers the education savings incentives through arrangements between the Government and approximately 85 RESP promoters (banks, mutual fund dealers, scholarship plan dealers and others) across Canada. This service delivery model enables pan-Canadian coverage and, by leveraging the operations and resources of the financial services industry, ensures that the delivery of education savings incentives remains cost-effective for Canadians.

Key program statistics

Policy lead:

Service delivered by: Learning Branch

List of key stakeholders

3. Supporting Indigenous Students – Provisions of bursaries and scholarships through Indspire


Indspire is a national, Indigenous-led registered charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students for the long-term benefit of these individuals, their families, communities and Canada. The organization, which receives a portion of its funding from the Government of Canada, is committed to advancing the educational opportunities and outcomes of Indigenous students and helping close the educational gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

While education attainment rates are increasing for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, a gap persists. Outcomes for Indigenous people remain constrained by a 15% gap in high school attainment compared to non-Indigenous Canadians. Indspire helps close this educational gap by providing financial and career support so youth can complete their education, become self-sufficient, enhance their ability to support their families and give back to their communities. In 2018 to 2019, Indspire received $8.8 million in funding from Indigenous Services Canada.

Recent investments provided an additional $9 million ($3 million per year for three years starting in fiscal year 2019 to 2020) to expand access to Bursaries and Scholarships for Indigenous students through Indspire’s “Building Brighter Futures: Scholarships and Awards” program. The program has been in place since 1985 and provides bursaries, scholarships and awards to Indigenous students to help them complete their education and training for careers in many growth sectors of the Canadian economy. In 2015, Indspire undertook a survey-based study of 1,248 past “Building Brighter Futures” recipients between fiscal year 2000 to 2001 and 2012 to 2013 that demonstrated that 93% of these students had graduated, 82% were employed, and 84% of employed graduates were now serving the Indigenous population through their work. The Budget 2019 investment, together with existing funding, will make over $11.8 million available in 2019 to 2020 to increase educational opportunities for Indigenous youth.

Starting in 2020 to 2021, the responsibility for the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indspire will transfer from Indigenous Services Canada to Employment and Social Development Canada’s Learning Branch (LB). Indspire’s mandate aligns well with LB’s mission and core responsibilities. This new relationship with Indspire will provide the Department with the opportunity to work with the organization to cross-promote existing student financial assistance programs such as the Canada Student Loans Program, the Canada Apprenticeship Loans and the Canada Education Savings Program, most notably the Canada Learning Bond. Finally, additional funding to Indspire is expected to result in an increase in the number of Indigenous students who access post-secondary education. Based on previous performance, it is expected that close to 1,000 additional students could obtain bursaries and scholarships through the top-up funding over three years.Footnote 1 It is also anticipated that the outcomes from increased funding will result in more Indigenous students graduating from post-secondary institutions and making the transition to the labour market.

Policy lead: Learning Branch

Service delivered by: Indspire

4. Outbound Student Mobility Pilot


The Outbound Student Mobility Pilot (the Pilot) is a key component of Canada’s new International Education Strategy that was recently launched in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Led by ESDC, the Pilot will enable more Canadian college and undergraduate university students to benefit from study or work abroad experiences in order to acquire in-demand skills, such as adaptability, problem solving, resiliency and inter-cultural knowledge. The key objectives of the Pilot are to:

Through these new opportunities, students will develop the skills and networks needed to help Canada compete in the global marketplace, while also advancing Canada’s trade diversification priorities.

The Department intends, over fall 2019, to enter into contributions agreements with Universities Canada (UnivCan) and Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) to support capacity building and program design activities that will inform the delivery of the Pilot. Beginning in 2020, UnivCan and CICan would be responsible for dispersing funds to post-secondary institutions through a competitive selection process to deliver the Pilot.

Students will be eligible to receive up to $5,000 (or up to $10,000 for underrepresented students) depending on their demonstrated needs and destination to cover their costs, including those necessary to travel internationally as part of their studies (living expenses, dependent care, transportation and accommodation). Rather than being solely merit-based, student eligibility for the Pilot will be both needs- and character-based (in other words, it will be awarded to students with a strong commitment and desire to learn, and for whom studying or working abroad would otherwise be out of reach financially).

Policy lead: Learning Branch

Service delivered by: Universities Canada, and Colleges and Institutes Canada

List of key stakeholders

In addition to UnivCan and CiCan, other stakeholders include students and student groups, post-secondary institutions and research organizations with a focus on international education, such as the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

Note: The final approvals are pending parliamentary decision in late 2019 or early 2020.

5. Pathways to Education


Pathways to Education Canada (Pathways) is a community-based charitable organization dedicated to helping youth in low-income communities graduate from high school and successfully transition to post-secondary education and employment.

Pathways works closely with community-based partners and volunteers to deliver an after-school program that targets students from low-income communities who are at risk of not completing high school. It offers a comprehensive suite of supports including tutoring, mentoring and financial incentives (such as bus tickets tied to attendance at school and bursaries for post-secondary schooling). Pathways provides access to student-parent support workers who provide information and advice as needed on a wide range of issues to both students and their families.

Although Pathways is not a federally delivered program, it supports a number of government-wide priorities, including helping young Canadians succeed, growing the middle class, reducing poverty and reconciliation efforts with Indigenous peoples. Federal investments in Pathways contribute to increased high school graduation rates of vulnerable youth from low-income communities and successful transition to post-secondary education and/or the labour market.

Annual performance monitoring data collected by Pathways indicated the following results:

An independent evaluation of the Pathways program was completed by Goss Gilroy in March 2017. Results demonstrated that Pathways has had a statistically significant effect on increasing high school graduation rates among participants, ranging from 10 to 19 percentage points higher than comparison groups.

In January 2018, Dr. Oreopoulos from the University of Toronto and Dr. Lavecchia from the University of Ottawa examined the impacts of the Pathways program related to the labour market and other social development outcomes of disadvantaged adolescents who participated in the program at its original Regent Park, Toronto location. Findings included higher overall earnings, higher employment rates and decreased likelihood of receiving Employment Insurance and Social Assistance.

A recent Employment and Social Development Canada evaluation of Pathways found that the program had a direct positive effect on high school graduation rates, enrollment in post-secondary education and educational attainment, and that it positively affected eligible participants’ labour market outcomes. In addition, it was estimated that there is a net social benefit to governments and individuals of $7,490 over 25 years when eligible youth participate in Pathways. In turn, this results in a social return on investment for Pathways of approximately 50% over 25 years or a compound annual growth rate of 1.6%.

Policy lead: Learning Branch

Service delivered by: Pathways to Education Canada

List of key stakeholders

Pathways has been leveraging funding partnerships with provincial and local governments, as well as other community organizations. Large corporate donors include Rio Tinto, United Way of Toronto, Centraide of Greater Montreal, Bell, Manulife Financial and HSBC. Pathways has more than 600 formal and informal local community partnerships across Canada help to improve youth’s success.


6. Youth Employment and Skills Strategy


The Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) is a horizontal Government of Canada initiative led by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and delivered in collaboration with 10 federal departments and agencies.

It recently replaced the former Youth Employment Strategy (YES), which had been in place since 1997. The update to the program was informed by extensive consultation across the country, including the recommendations from the Expert Panel on Youth Employment, which was established in 2017. The Panel called for the Strategy to better meet the needs of youth in an ever-shifting labour market, to be more youth-centric and flexible and to better serve youth facing barriers and Indigenous youth.

The modernized YESS was launched on June 3, 2019, along with ESDC’s open Call for Proposals, which will fund projects starting as early as April 1, 2020. The modernized YESS builds on the success of the previous program with additions and supports that allow flexibility to serve youth facing barriers to employment.

In addition to being the policy lead on the Strategy, ESDC is responsible for three YESS programs: the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program (YESSP), Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) and Goal Getters.

The Government of Canada has negotiated a contribution agreement with the Government of Quebec to deliver the regional stream of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy starting in 2020 to 2021 for five years. The province also places a priority on youth facing barriers and can leverage its existing system to better serve youth.

Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program: The YESSP is delivered across 11 partner departments, agencies and Crown corporations. It is an integrated program that has replaced the former Skills Link, Career Focus and Summer Work Experience program streams. The YESSP provides funding to organizations and employers to deliver a range of activities that help youth overcome barriers to employment while also helping them develop a broad range of skills and knowledge in order to participate in the current and future labour markets. The YESSP provides additional supports that facilitate access for youth to work and training (such as mentorship, child care supports and counselling). Additionally, the Government of Canada is working to measure more meaningful outcomes through the program, such as skills development, and better targeting youth who face barriers to provide them with access to work opportunities.

Canada Summer Jobs: CSJ provides wage subsidies to employers, including not-for profit organizations, public-sector employers, and small and medium sized businesses (50 or fewer employees) to create quality summer employment opportunities for youth between the ages of 15 and 30 years. CSJ is delivered solely by ESDC. While ESDC establishes national priorities for CSJ, Members of Parliament assist ESDC in establishing local priorities in each constituency. They also review and provide feedback on the list of projects recommended for funding, and notify successful applicants. Beginning in the summer of 2019, policy changes widened the focus of the program by expanding eligibility to non-student youth, supporting mentorship opportunities and encouraging longer placements.

Goal Getters: Building on the relationship that ESDC has developed with Pathways to Education Canada, Goal Getters will work with organizations to encourage youth facing barriers to complete high school and transition to post-secondary education and/or employment. It will help more youth consider future educational and employment opportunities at an earlier age as a way to improve their future labour market integration. Funding for Goal Getters will focus on three main objectives: (1) work with organizations that have proven results and a demonstrated growth potential to enhance and potentially scale existing programs; (2) introduce a collective impact model which will leverage the expertise and strengths of organizations in the sector to collaborate on shared initiatives in a select number of communities; and (3) support innovation and test youth-driven solutions that can be rapidly prototyped, evaluated and, if successful, inform potential projects that can subsequently be scaled.

Key program statistics

Each year, the Government of Canada invests more than $330 million in the YESS for training and employment services so that young people (aged 15 to 30) can gain the skills, abilities and work experience needed to get a strong start in their careers. Through Budgets 2018 and 2019, the Government provided an additional $498 million over six years to provide additional resources for a modernized YESS, building on the input of the Expert Panel on Youth Employment. A portion of the Budget 2018 funding is also supporting the creation of up to 70,000 placements per year through Canada Summer Jobs.

Results will begin to be available on the YESS at the end of 2019 to 2020. However, historical data on the former YES has demonstrated positive results. For example, in 2017 to 2018, ESDC served 82,087 youth through the YES, 84% (68,967) of which gained important summer work experience through Canada Summer Jobs. The remaining 16% (13,120) of clients were served under the previous Skills Link and Career Focus streams. Of this, 52% (6,851) of Skills Link and Career Focus participants were employed or self-employed following their intervention and 6% (785) returned to school following participation in the program.

Through Canada Summer Jobs 2018, the Government of Canada created 70,083 quality job placements for youth. This is the highest number of jobs created in the program’s history. Over 32,000 of these jobs supported opportunities for youth who are under-represented in the labour market and face barriers to employment. Many of these placements also provided opportunities for youth to gain work experience related to the skilled trades as well as opportunities for youth in rural and remote communities and in Official Language Minority Communities.

In 2017, the Department conducted surveys of employer and student participants. Student participant satisfaction with the program is high; a combined 20,055 student respondents (89%) report being very satisfied (58%) or satisfied (31%) with their CSJ-funded work experience. Youth also reported that they are acquiring work experience that helps build job-specific skills (client service and digital skills) and transferable skills (teamwork, leadership and communication). Overall satisfaction was also high among employer respondents, with 78% of employers reporting as being very satisfied or satisfied. A significant proportion retained their CSJ participants following the end of the CSJ agreement (more than 30%) and 93% of employers indicated that they would re-apply to CSJ in 2019.

Policy lead: Skills and Employment Branch (YESSP, CSJ); Learning Branch (Goal Getters)

List of key stakeholders

A wide range of stakeholders are implicated by the YESS, including not-for profit organizations, public-sector employers, private-sector employers, youth-serving organizations and youth themselves. With the modernization of the program, the Government of Canada is increasingly collaborating with partners that serve populations facing barriers, as well as research organizations in order to best measure the impact of programming.

The Government of Canada, and in particular ESDC, is also working with some stakeholders to establish strategic collaborations to increase capacity across the youth service provider network, to better support youth, and to help employers hire and retain youth, in particular those who face barriers.

The YESS is delivered by 11 federal partners across the Government of Canada, which are governed by horizontal terms and conditions for the program. This includes: (1) Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, (2) Canadian Heritage, (3) Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, (4) Employment and Social Development Canada, (5) Environment and Climate Change Canada, (6) Global Affairs Canada, (7) Indigenous Services Canada, (8) Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, (9) National Research Council Canada, (10) Natural Resources Canada and (11) Parks Canada.

The implementation of the YESS is overseen by an Assistant Deputy Ministers’ Steering Committee, which serves as a collaborative decision making body which includes all participating departments, agencies and Crown corporations.

7. Student Work Placement Program


The Student Work Placement Program was launched in August 2017 with a $73 million investment over four years to support the creation of up to 10,000 student work placements for young Canadians enrolled in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and business programs at post-secondary education institutions across Canada.

The Student Work Placement Program:

In 2018, the Government invested an additional $11.3 million over three years to create an additional 1,500 work-integrated learning opportunities in cyber security and artificial intelligence fields to ensure Canadian students are at the forefront of emerging global trends.

Also in 2018, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) funded the development of a digital platform, Campus Connect, to simplify and improve matching placements of students and employers across Canada through competency-based job-matching technology. This digital platform contributes to the expansion of the Canadian work-integrated learning ecosystem by engaging post-secondary education institutions, employers and students. Campus Connect can currently reach 1 million students at over 110 universities, colleges and polytechnics across Canada.

In 2019, the Student Work Placement Program was expanded to give students outside of STEM—such as the arts, humanities and social sciences—access to work-integrated learning opportunities. This represents an investment of $631.2 million over five years, starting in 2019 to 2020, to support up to 20,000 new work placements per year for post-secondary education students across Canada, in all disciplines by 2021 to 2022. This new funding will provide students with hands-on learning opportunities during their studies, connecting them to potential employers and creating a talent pipeline for Canadian businesses.

Also in 2019, ESDC was provided with $150 million over four years, starting in 2020 to 2021, to support partnerships with innovative businesses to create up to a further 20,000 low-cost work-integrated learning opportunities per year. Innovation, Science and Economic Development received $17 million over three years, starting in 2019 to 2020, to support the work of the Business Higher Education Roundtable to create an additional 44,000 work-integrated learning opportunities.

Together, these efforts will, over time, help create 84,000 new student work-integrated learning opportunities by 2023 to 2024.

Key program statistics

In the two years since the launch, the Student Work Placement Program has signed agreements with nine employer consortia representing key economic sectors, including information and communication technology, environment, biotechnology, aerospace/aviation, financial services and entrepreneurship, mining and electricity/clean energy. Through these employer consortia, the Program has supported the development of partnerships with 1,253 employers, 88% of which are small and medium-sized enterprises.

These consortia also engaged 130 post-secondary education institutions across Canada including 69 universities, 42 colleges, 10 CEGEPS and institutes and 9 polytechnics across all 10 provinces.

Together, these consortia have supported the creation of 3,670 STEM and business work-integrated learning opportunities. Of those opportunities, 48.3% were created for students from groups that are traditionally under-represented in the labour market or first-year students.

Policy lead: Skills and Employment Branch

Service delivered by: Program Operations Branch

List of key stakeholders

Current agreement holders (employer consortia): the Information and Communications Technology Council; the Information Technology Association of Canada; the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace; Environmental Careers Council Canada; BioTalent Canada; Venture for Canada; the Mining Industry Human Resources Council; Electricity Human Resources Canada; and Toronto Finance International.

Other stakeholders: Magnet; Orbis Communications; Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL); Business Higher Education Roundtable (BHER); Polytechnics Canada; Colleges and Institutes Canada; Universities Canada; Business Council of Canada; and, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA).

8. Canada Service Corps


Announced in 2016 with $105 million over five years starting in 2016 to 2017, and $25 million annually thereafter, the Canada Service Corps (CSC) program promotes civic engagement among youth by creating and facilitating access to service placements (for example, volunteer opportunities) that are meaningful to young people.

The CSC supports a vision of Canada in which youth, including those who are under-represented, are more engaged and service-oriented. Participants will carry service experiences and skills into later stages of life, supporting civic engagement and participation, as well as global citizenship.

The “design phase” (pilot phase) concluded on March 31, 2019. During this phase, national and local organizations tested different ways to engage youth in volunteer service by delivering service placements that varied in terms of themes, duration and weekly time commitment to gauge youth interest and impacts on participants and communities. As well, over the design phase, ESDC directly engaged youth across Canada in co-creation sessions to identify challenges and barriers to participating in volunteer service and to propose solutions.

Based on the engagement and feedback received, an additional investment of $314.8 million over five years, starting in 2019 to 2020, with $83.8 million per year ongoing, was made to make the CSC Canada’s signature national youth service program. This investment will support:

Key program statistics

Key program statistics as of July 2019:

Policy lead: Skills and Employment Branch

Operations lead: Program Operations Branch

List of key stakeholders

The CSC has an extensive group of stakeholders that include youth advocates, youth organizations and the voluntary sector.

National Coalition members currently include the following organizations:

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