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.

The CSLP also 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; this income threshold is adjusted upward based on family size. For those with an income over this threshold, monthly payments are limited to no more than 20% of their gross monthly family income.

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

Canada Student Loans and Grants are statutory payments established under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act.

ESDC 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 5 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.

Key program statistics

In the 2019 to 2020 loan year:

Policy lead: Learning Branch

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

Disbursement, account and repayment management is administered by a third-party service provider operating under the name of the National Student Loans Service Centre for the CSLP and the Canada Apprentice Loan Service Centre (CALSC) for CAL.

The program has 9 participating provinces (Quebec excluded) and Yukon manage applications and needs assessments for the CSLP, and the CALSC manages the application and assessment process for CAL. The 3 non-participating jurisdictions (Quebec, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) receive alternative payments in support of their own student aid programs.

List of key stakeholders

2. Canada Education Savings Program


The Canada Education Savings Program (CESP) is a statutory program that encourages individuals to plan and save for a child’s post-secondary education through 2 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.

The CESP delivers the education savings incentives through arrangements between the Government and approximately 82 RESP promoters (for example, 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. Supports for Student Learning Program


The Supports for Student Learning Program (SSLP) aims to bridge gaps in education attainment, build competencies and create education opportunities for youth in Canada. The SSLP funds a variety of youth-serving organizations to provide the supplemental supports youth need to graduate high school and transition to, and succeed in, post-secondary education. Funding can be used to provide bursaries and scholarships, tutoring and mentoring or other wraparound supports for youth in middle school, high school or through post-secondary education. Complementing the Department’s broader continuum of learning programs, the SSLP, through its targeted investments primarily outside the school system, enables and empowers youth to advance and enrich their education. Through its partnerships with leading experts in youth service design and delivery at international, national, regional and local levels, the SSLP directs its investments to reduce barriers, test innovative approaches and bolster education success, particularly for underserved youth. Building on the success of programming over many years, the SSLP offers an umbrella for a suite of programming including:


Expected outcomes

More students receive supports, particularly those who are underserved or at risk of disengaging from their education.

Target population

The SSLP provides support to a diverse range of Indigenous and underserved youth facing barriers to education, including but not limited to youth with disabilities, Indigenous youth, youth from low-income families, and racialized youth.

Benefit / Program amounts

Total funding envelope:

The program is non-discretionary.

Policy Lead: Learning Branch, Youth Service and Learning Directorate

Service delivered by: Funding recipients and third-party delivery organizations

List of key stakeholders

Existing funding recipients include:

Federal partners in the International Education Strategy:


1. Youth Employment and Skills Strategy


The Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) is a horizontal Government of Canada initiative led by ESDC and delivered in collaboration with 11 other federal departments, agencies and Crown Corporations.

The Strategy was modernized in 2019, building on the former Youth Employment Strategy, to ensure all young Canadians (aged 15 to 30) have opportunities to develop their skills and find meaningful employment. The modernized Strategy improves YESS’ ability to respond to the needs of youth facing barriers, including

The Strategy now aims to provide flexible services tailored to each individual, broadened eligibility, and enhanced supports to help young Canadians in developing skills and gaining experience necessary to successfully transition into the labour market.

Each of the YESS federal partners have their own process for selecting and funding recipient organizations. With respect to ESDC, the latest call for proposals closed in July 2019 and received an unprecedented number of applications. From that process, 269 national and regional projects will help deliver on the Government of Canada's commitment to support young people facing barriers to employment.

To support regional youth employment projects in the province of Quebec, the Government of Canada and Quebec signed a contribution agreement in August 2019, through which the Government of Quebec will receive approximately $135 million over 5 years from ESDC's YESS program for projects that exclusively benefit youth in the province of Quebec.

The Strategy includes 2 distinct programs:

Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program

The YESS program 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 YESS program 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 Program can also provide additional supports that facilitate access for youth to work and training such as mentorship, child care supports, and counselling.

Additionally, the program 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

Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) provides wage subsidies to employers, including:

This 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. More details avec available on Canada Summer Jobs 2 pager.

Key program statistics

The Government of Canada has been making significant investments in support of 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. In support of the modernization of the Strategy, the Government provided a further $498 million over 6 years, in Budgets 2018 and 2019, to provide additional resources to better support youth, especially those facing barriers.

Additional investment to the YESS program has been made in response to COVID-19 and through Budget 2021. The Budget announced a number of new measures to help young Canadians gain access to the valuable job skills and experience they need to launch their careers and obtain quality employment. The Government committed an additional investment of $109.3 million in 2022 to 2023 to provide 7,000 youth with job placements and supports. This in addition to the $575.3 million, announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, to create 45,300 job placements for youth over 2 years as well as the creation of 9,500 additional work opportunities in 2020 to 2021 for young Canadians in critical and high-demand sectors announced in June 2020.

In 2019 to 2020, 20,000 youth received supports via the YESS program. Further, 7,473 YESS program participants were employed or self-employed following their intervention. In addition, data on the new indicators started to be collected in 2019 to 2020, the first year of YESS modernization. Results reflect a focus on key groups, for example, 30% of total youth served self-identified as Indigenous youth and 28% as visible minority youth. It is too early to determine year-over-year increases.

Policy lead: Skills and Employment Branch (YESSP, CSJ)

List of Key Stakeholders

A wide range of stakeholders are implicated by YESS, including Indigenous organizations not-for profit organizations public sector employers private-sector employers, and 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.

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:

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

2. Canada Summer Jobs


The Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program is delivered by ESDC under the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS). The CSJ program objectives align with the YESS and are as follows:

The program provides wage subsidies to employers from not-for-profit organizations, the public sector; and small- and medium-sized businesses (50 or fewer employees) to create quality summer work experiences for young people aged 15 to 30 years.

While ESDC establishes national priorities for the CSJ program, Members of Parliament assist the Department 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.

Key Program Statistics

Beginning in the summer of 2019, policy changes widened the focus of the CSJ program by expanding eligibility to non-student youth, supporting mentorship opportunities and encouraging longer placements.

As a response to COVID-19, temporary flexibilities were introduced in 2020 and extended for 2021. These include:

On June 25, 2020, the Prime Minister announced additional funding to create 10,000 more jobs for a total target of 80,000 jobs for CSJ for 2020 to 2021.

On November 30, 2020, the Fall Economic Statement allocated $447.5 million to create an additional 94,000 job placements, bringing the total to 120,000 jobs for 2021 to 2022.

On April 19, 2021, the 2021 Federal Budget was announced and focused on expanding the Government’s ability to help gain more youth training opportunities. This included $371.8 million in new funding for 2022 to 2023 to create an additional 75,000 jobs for a total of 100,000 jobs for 2022 to 2023.

As of April 2021, more than 150,000 jobs have been made available to young Canadians on the Job Bank website and mobile app.

Policy lead: Skills and Employment Branch

Service delivered by: Program Operation Branch

List of Key Stakeholders

A wide range of stakeholders are implicated in CSJ, including:

With the recent modernization of the program, the Government of Canada is increasingly collaborating with partners from the employment ecosystem that serve populations facing barriers, as well as research organizations, in order to best measure the impact of programming.

3. Student Work Placement Program


The Student Work Placement Program supports the creation of work placements for students of all ages who are enrolled in any post-secondary education program at a college, university or polytechnic in Canada. The Program aims to better prepare post-secondary students to enter competitive job markets and help employers build a talent pipeline for their future hiring needs. It is based on an employer-consortia model to facilitate partnerships between employers and post-secondary institutions.

The Program was launched in August 2017 with a $73 million investment over 4 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 is delivered through employer consortia to:

In 2018, the Government invested an additional $11.3 million over 3 years to create an additional 1,500 work placements in cyber security and artificial intelligence fields to ensure Canadian students are at the forefront of emerging global trends.

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 placements. This represents an investment of $631.2 million over 5 years, starting in 2019 to 2020, to support up to 20,000 new work placements per year for post-secondary students across Canada, in all disciplines by 2021 to 2022.

Also in 2019, ESDC was provided with $150 million over 4 years, starting in 2020 to 2021, to develop the Innovative Work-Integrated Learning initiative, which supports partnerships with innovative businesses to create up to a further 20,000 work-integrated learning opportunities per year. Activities supported under this initiative will follow 3 main characteristics, namely:

All students participating in the Initiative will receive a stipend to compensate their efforts and/or cover some of their costs, with amounts ranging from $200 to a maximum of $2,000 per student depending on the nature and length of the opportunity.

In 2020, the Student Work Placement Program received $266.1 million in additional funding as part of the Government of Canada’s comprehensive package of measures introduced to help respond to the economic impacts caused by COVID-19 on young Canadians. This new funding will support up to 40,000 work placements for post-secondary students across Canada to obtain paid work experience related to their field of study. The Program also temporarily adjusted its policies to increase the wage subsidy and waive the net new criteria requiring employers to offer more placements than they did in previous years.

Budget 2021 proposes to invest $239.8 million in the Student Work Placement Program in 2021 to 2022. This funding would increase the wage subsidy available for employers to 75%, up to $7,500 per student, while also increasing employers’ ability to access the program. This is expected to provide 50,000 students with work-integrated learning experiences.

Key Program Statistics

The Student Work Placement Program has signed agreements with eleven employer consortia representing key economic sectors, including:

ESDC also has an agreement in place to enhance the Outcome Campus Connect platform which provides the Program with more efficient and centralized data collection to improve results reporting.

Through these employer consortia, the Program has supported the development of partnerships with 8,410 employers, 88% of which are small and medium-sized enterprises.

These consortia also engaged 195 post-secondary education institutions across Canada including

Together, as of March 29, 2021, these consortia have supported the creation of 31,320 work placements. Of those opportunities, 38.2% were created for students from groups that are traditionally under-represented in the labour market or first-year students.

The Innovative Work-Integrated Learning initiative was launched in 2020 to 2021, and currently has agreements with 9 organizations to provide new and emerging types of work-integrated learning opportunities.

Policy lead: Skills and Employment Branch

Service delivered by: Program Operations Branch

List of Key Stakeholders

Current Student Work Placement agreement holders (employer consortia):

Current Innovative Work-Integrated Learning agreement holders:

Other stakeholders:

4. Canada Service Corps


Announced in 2016 with $105 million over 5 years starting in 2016 to 2017, and $25 million annually thereafter, the Canada Service Corps (CSC) is a grants and contributions program focused on promoting civic engagement among Canadian youth aged 15 to 30. The CSC gives young Canadians the chance to participate in meaningful volunteer service projects that have positive impacts in communities across Canada.

CSC provides funding through the following program streams:

The CSC supports a vision of Canada in which youth, including Indigenous, and under-served youth, 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 of the CSC was launched in January 2018 and 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 over 800 youth across Canada in co‑creation sessions where youth participated in dynamic activities to identify challenges/barriers to their engagement in volunteer service, and to propose solutions to address these circumstances.

Based on the engagement and feedback received, an additional investment of $314.8 million over 5 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

The following are key program statistics thus far:

Policy lead: Learning Branch, reporting to the Minister of Youth

Service delivered by: Program Operations Branch

List of Key Stakeholders

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

While our partnerships with national stakeholders are not evergreen and are subject to change, as of April 13, 2021, the CSC’s national stakeholders include the following organizations:

*not renewing their national service project

5. Youth Digital Gateway


The Youth Digital Gateway (YDG) vision is to be the Government of Canada hub for youth employment skills, learning, and service. It will achieve this by providing new digital services for youth and youth partners that are accessible across a range of digital channels, and by working directly with users to co-design and co-create their enhanced digital experience. The YDG is not a website – it is a Digital Services Platform. It will serve as an integration point for an entire youth ecosystem.

The YDG Project will deliver holistic, client-centric digital services for youth, with a priority focus on youth employment, skills, and services. In addition to establishing a digital channel for youth programming and services, the project will advance the digital architecture and platforms required to lay the groundwork for the delivery of personalized services for youth in Canada.  In delivering on project outcomes, the YDG project will also establish a service design and delivery capability that will enable the Government of Canada to co-design and co-create digital services with youth and stakeholders in the youth ecosystem.

As announced in Budget 2019, the YDG project is funded through both the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) and Canada Service Corps (CSC) programs. The team has worked closely with policy and program branches and enabling branches to collaboratively produce the required documentation for project approval. YDG obtained Gate 3 Approval to execute on August 31, 2020. Youth Digital Gateway project will directly and indirectly support the achievement of YESS and CSC policy and program objectives. A few examples include:

Policy Leads: Skills and Employment Branch and the Program Operations Branch

List of Key Stakeholders

There are a number of departments and programs across the federal government that are stakeholders within this program, including:

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