Ministers' message

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Official title: Employment and Social development Canada, 2019–2020 Departmental Plan

Employment and Social Development Canada is pleased to present the 2019–20 Departmental Plan.

We are proud of the work we do to help Canadians successfully navigate through life's transitions. The dedication and hard work of our employees is doing much to improve the quality of life and the standard of living for all Canadians, especially those most in need. In the coming year, we will continue to build on this momentum.

From young families taking steps toward homeownership to experienced workers stepping up to embrace new challenges, to seniors transitioning into retirement free of worries, a strong middle-class is at the heart of Canada's economy and the key to the country's continued success.

Having good quality jobs helps middle-class Canadians build a stable, secure life for themselves and their families. ESDC is taking measures to support a strong labour market, create healthy, safe workplaces and help people get the skills they need to succeed as they enter the workforce and throughout their working lives. Work-Integrated Learning allows young people to gain real-world experience in the workforce, for example by completing placements with employers in relevant industries. Budget 2019 investments will create up to 84,000 more work placements per year by 2023–24 to help young people enter the workforce. The Government is also growing programs like the Canada Service Corps and the Youth Employment Strategy to help more young people learn new skills and develop their professional experience earlier. Also through this year's Budget, we will create a national campaign to promote the skilled trades as a first-choice career for young people.

Thanks to enhancements we are making to student loans and grants, apprenticeship programming and new training initiatives, Canadians will gain better access to the education and training supports to make them successful in today's labour market and prepare them for the jobs of the future. These new measures will increase opportunities and reduce barriers for women, Indigenous People and newcomers. ESDC will continue its efforts to make sure Canadians have the right skills to get good jobs through the Skills Boost initiative. The three-year pilot project provides additional financial support to adult learners who have been out of high school for 10 years or more. Adult learners eligible for the Canada Student Grants may get more in grants to pursue full-time post-secondary education, and those receiving Employment Insurance can continue to collect benefits while going back to school.

Budget 2019 will build on these enhancements by introducing a new Canada Training Benefit, a personalized, portable training benefit to help people plan for and get the training they need. The Benefit includes a training credit that will give Canadians $250 every year to pay for the costs of future training, which can add up to as much as $5,000 over a career. It also includes up to four weeks of paid leave every four years through a new Employment Insurance Training Support Benefit that will help workers cover their living expenses while on training.

Budget 2019 will also lower interest rates on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprenticeship Loans as well as eliminate interest charges entirely during the six-month grace period following studies. Furthermore, our Budget proposes to increase supports for vulnerable student loan borrowers, including students with disabilities.

Supporting families and children is an investment in Canada's future. That is why the Government indexed the Canada Child Benefit two years early to help keep up with the rising cost of living. We are working to ensure that Canadians receive the benefits for which they are eligible. We are working with provinces and territories to create up to 40,000 more affordable childcare spaces by 2020, and we are strengthening early learning and child care programs for Indigenous children.

Opportunity for All – Canada's First Poverty Reduction Strategy established clear poverty reduction targets. Data released in the Canadian Income Survey reveals that the interim target of reducing poverty by 20 percent by 2020 has been reached – a full three years ahead of schedule. Between 2015 and 2017, the poverty rate fell by more than 20 percent, representing approximately 825,000 fewer individuals living in poverty. And so, in 2019–20, we will be taking steps to further reduce and prevent poverty and homelessness. A National Advisory Council on Poverty will be established in 2019 to provide advice, continue a dialogue with Canadians, and report on progress being made to reduce poverty.

Our Government has been making historic investments in housing through Canada's first-ever National Housing Strategy: a 10-year, $40-billion investment focused on giving more Canadians a place to call home, starting first and foremost with our most vulnerable populations.  Through Reaching Home, part of the National Housing Strategy, we launched a plan to help communities reduce homelessness, including a 50 percent reduction in chronic homelessness by 2028. Furthermore, social purpose organizations, which include charitable, non-profit and social enterprises, will gain access to new financing to implement their innovative ideas, and will be connected with nongovernment investors seeking to support projects that will drive positive social change through the Social Finance Fund. In addition, the new Canada Workers Benefit being introduced for the 2019 tax year will offer real help to more than 2 million Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class, while raising roughly 74,000 Canadians out of poverty.

In spring 2019, the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program will replace the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. The new program will include four distinct labour market strategies with separate funding envelopes for each group: First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Urban/Non-affiliated. With funding of $2 billion over five years, and $408 million per year ongoing, announced in Budget 2018, the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program provides the first long-term funding increase in almost twenty years. Budget 2019 also proposes additional investments to help Indigenous students gain better access to post-secondary education and succeed during their studies. With Indigenous partners, the Government is advancing reconciliation by creating more job training opportunities for Indigenous people to increase Indigenous participation in the job market.

Last year, we passed a number of laws to ensure federally regulated workplaces are safe, fair and productive. Going forward, the Labour Program will work towards implementing these laws, making sure workplaces are free from harassment and violence, women are paid fairly for their work, and that the Canada Labour Code reflects the realities of today's workplaces. We will look at developing a modern fair wages policy for government contractors and we have asked an independent Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards to study, consult and provide advice on complex issues arising from the changing nature of work.

Our Government is modernizing the Employment Insurance system to better reflect the needs of today's hard-working, middle-class Canadians. In the past few years, we made improvements to better support workers by reducing the waiting period, enhancing special benefits for families and caregivers and increasing flexibility for seasonal workers. We will continue to monitor these changes to ensure that the program is aligned with the realities of a modern workforce.

As more Canadians plan on leaving the workforce and look towards retirement, they want a sense of security in knowing they will be able to support themselves and live with dignity. That is why we lowered the eligibility age for Old Age Security from 67 years back to 65, enhanced the Guaranteed Income Supplement for our most vulnerable seniors and extended automatic enrolment for Old Age Security to include the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Budget 2019 helps low-income seniors to effectively take home more money while they work by enhancing the Guaranteed Income Supplement earnings exemption. Budget 2019 will also increase funding for the New Horizons for Seniors Program to support pan-Canadian and community-based projects, such as new equipment for seniors' centres, financial literacy classes and volunteer opportunities. We will continue to engage with community members and stakeholders to ensure our programs and services respond to Canada's aging population and find innovative ways to improve seniors' quality of life.

We want to ensure that all people in Canada, including Canadians with disabilities, have equal opportunities to succeed. We introduced the Accessible Canada Act in June 2018. This proposed legislation will create the framework to transform how the Government of Canada and federally regulated sectors can truly improve the lives of persons with disabilities. By identifying, removing and preventing barriers to accessibility, we can help all Canadians participate fully in their communities and workplaces.

Canadians deserve high-quality, easy-to-access, simple and secure services that meet their needs. Through our Service Transformation Plan, we will continue to improve service delivery and modernize the way we interact with clients, employers, communities and organizations.

Finally, we will show leadership on the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by working with our partners to build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world that leaves no one behind. A Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Unit, housed within ESDC, has been established to coordinate, monitor and report on Canada's progress in achieving the SDGs. We will develop a National Strategy through whole of society engagement, and deliver a SDG Funding Program that furthers Canada's implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

It is our pleasure to present the 2019–20 Departmental Plan for Employment and Social Development Canada. We look forward to continuing our important work to improve Canadians’ quality of life and standard of living.

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 Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility

The Honourable Filomena Tassi, P.C., M.P
Minister of Seniors

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