Ministers’ message

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Official title: Employment and Social Development Canada, 2018–19 Departmental Plan

We are pleased to present Employment and Social Development Canada’s 2018–19 Departmental Plan. This year’s plan describes how the Department will deliver against the Government's priorities, including those announced in Budget 2018, as well as how we will help ensure every Canadian has an equal and fair chance at success.

In the last year, the Department has laid a strong foundation to support the middle class and those working hard to join it. The Government announced that it will index the Canada Child Benefit to inflation starting in 2018–19; provided more flexible maternity, parental and caregiving benefits through Employment Insurance (EI); improved access to more affordable child care; and continued to provide important support for seniors.

As we move into a new year, we will pursue the Government’s plan to strengthen the middle class and grow the economy. To improve gender equality in the workforce, we are proposing a new EI Parental Sharing Benefit. The Benefit will provide additional weeks of EI parental benefits when both parents agree to share parental leave. This measure will promote greater equality when it comes to child care and the distribution of unpaid work within the family, while allowing for earlier return to work. We will also work to make EI more responsive to the labour market by implementing a permanent successor strategy to the current EI Working While on Claim pilot that expires in August 2018, and extending the Working While on Claim provisions to EI maternity and sickness benefits so Canadians can keep more of their benefits when they need them the most.

To improve labour market outcomes for youth, we will engage with partners and stakeholders on the renewal of the Youth Employment Strategy. Budget 2018 proposed additional funding for the Youth Employment Strategy, including resources to support the continued doubling of the number of job placements funded under the Canada Summer Jobs program. In addition, the new Canada Service Corps will help young Canadians make an impact in their communities while gaining valuable work and life experience.

We are also proposing to implement various initiatives to increase the workforce participation of Canadians, especially of women and under-represented groups, and ensure that they have the skills for tomorrow’s economy. To achieve this, we are taking measures to increase women’s representation in the trades, including funding for an Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women to encourage careers in the trades with low female representation, and a new Pre-Apprenticeship program that will also benefit Indigenous people, newcomers and persons with disabilities. Budget 2018 also provides support for the Women in Construction Fund to attract women to trades and help them succeed.

To address the needs of Canadians with disabilities, we will introduce new federal accessibility legislation to improve accessibility through proactive barrier removal and increase inclusion and participation. We will also work to strengthen the human rights framework for persons with disabilities by working with provincial and territorial governments towards accession to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Department will continue building a more resilient and adaptable workforce by implementing new Labour Market Transfer Agreements with provinces and territories. To better support adult learners in pursuing education and upgrading their skills, the Skills Boost Initiative will expand eligibility for Canada Student Grants and Loans; introduce a three-year pilot project to provide increased grant funding to adult learners; and include measures to make better use of and expand existing flexibilities under the EI program to help unemployed adults keep their benefits while pursuing self-funded training. To help close the employment and earning gaps that Indigenous people face, Budget 2018 proposed additional investments to support the creation of the new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program to be co-developed with Indigenous partners, to replace the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. Over the coming year, we will be working with Indigenous partners to implement the new Program to increase access to skills development and employment supports.

In June 2016, the Government reached a historic agreement with provinces to enhance the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). The CPP Enhancement will begin to be phased in as of January 2019, providing more money for Canadians when they retire. More recently, in December 2017, federal and provincial governments reached agreement to further increase CPP benefits, also beginning in January 2019. These most recent improvements will help parents who take time off work to care for young children, persons with severe and prolonged disabilities, and survivors, especially individuals under the age of 45 who lose their spouse.

The Government is providing leadership to address the gender wage gap through increased transparency under the Employment Equity Act, and with pay equity legislation, to ensure that women working in federally regulated sectors receive equal pay for work of equal value. The Labour Program will continue to implement recent changes to the Canada Labour Code providing employees in the federally regulated private sector the right to request flexible work arrangements, new leaves for families and for participation in Indigenous activities, as well as limiting unpaid internships, and a new Administrative Monetary Penalty system. Through Budget 2018, the Government will create a single, integrated framework that will protect federally regulated employees from harassment and violence in the workplace. As well, the Government is proposing enhancements to wage protection for those employees who need money as a result of the employer declaring bankruptcy.

Canadians expect government services to be high quality, accessible, secure and digitally enabled. In line with our transformation agenda, Employment and Social Development Canada undertook a review of the Social Security Tribunal to collect valuable insights to support a recourse system that will be more efficient, fair, and transparent and is exploring modern approaches to service delivery, beginning with EI. Through the modernization of benefit delivery, the Government will improve Canadians’ access to services and benefits, including speeding up application processes and will be taking additional measures to speed up claims, service delivery and access to call centres. In particular, we will help Indigenous people access the full range of federal benefits, including the Canada Child Benefit, the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, by expanding outreach efforts to Indigenous communities and by conducting pilot outreach activities for urban Indigenous communities.

We look forward to continuing to make a real difference in the lives of Canadians, promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity across all programs and services, and we appreciate the opportunity to share our results and achievements in this open and transparent manner.

Signed by:

  • The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
    Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
  • The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
    Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
  • The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, P.C., M.P.
    Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
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