CANADA TRAINING BENEFIT
To help working Canadians get the skills they need to succeed in our ever-changing world, Budget 2019 proposed to establish a new Canada Training Benefit that would provide a flexible option for finding the time and the money needed to pursue training, improve skills, and build strong and lasting careers.
The Canada Training Benefit could give workers a refundable tax credit on their income tax and benefit return to help offset tuition costs for training, provide income support during training, and offer job protection so that workers can take the time they need to keep their skills relevant and in-demand. The benefit would include:
- a Canada Training Credit, which is a new refundable tax credit that allows eligible workers to receive $250 per year towards their training amount limit, up to a lifetime limit of $5,000, to help fund future eligible tuition and fees;
- the Employment Insurance (EI) Training Support Benefit that would provide eligible workers with up to four weeks of income support, paid at 55 percent of average weekly insurable earnings, to be taken within a four-year period when they require time off work to train;
- an EI Premium Rebate for Small Businesses that would offset the upward pressure on EI premiums resulting from the new EI Training Support Benefit; and
- new leave provisions under the Canada Labour Code that would allow federally regulated workers to take time away from work to pursue training and receive the EI Training Support Benefit without risk to their job security.
The Canada Training Benefit will be available to millions of Canadian workers who have joined the workforce. It is estimated that approximately 600,000 Canadians will claim the Canada Training Credit each year. The uptake of the EI Training Support Benefit will depend on its final design.
Over the spring, the Government will consult with workers, employers, training providers, and provinces and territories prior to finalizing the design of the new Training Support Benefit and leave provisions.
Canada Training Credit
The Canada Training Credit is a new refundable tax credit to help Canadians with the cost of training fees. Eligible workers—those who have at least $10,000 in earnings for work (including maternity or parental leave benefits) and income below about $150,000—between the ages of 25 and 64 would accumulate a credit balance at a rate of $250 per year, up to a lifetime training amount limit of $5,000. The credit could be used to claim a refundable tax credit for up to half of the eligible tuition and fees for taking a course or enrolling in a training program. An individual’s training amount limit would be included in the information the Canada Revenue Agency sends them each year.
Employment Insurance Training Support Benefit
The new EI Training Support Benefit proposes to provide up to four weeks of income support within a four-year period and would be available through the EI program. As announced in Budget 2019, this income support would be paid at 55 percent of a person’s average weekly insurable earnings. It aims to help workers cover their living expenses, providing support for ongoing payments such as mortgage payments, electricity bills and other life expenses while on training and without their regular paycheque.
Over the spring, the Government will consult with workers, employers, training providers, and provinces and territories prior to finalizing the design of the new EI Training Support Benefit and leave provisions.
The new EI Training Support Benefit would provide workers with the flexibility to train when it works best for them, within a four-year period (for example, taking three weeks of paid leave in the first year, and the final week in the last year).
LABOUR MARKET TRANSFER AGREEMENTS
The Government of Canada provides funding to provinces and territories to help people prepare for and return to work under two Labour Market Transfer Agreements—the new Workforce Development Agreements and the amended Labour Market Development Agreements.
Workforce Development Agreements
The new Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs) consolidate the Canada Job Fund Agreements, the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities (expired in March 2018) and the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (expired in March 2017). In addition to the $722 million provided annually to provinces and territories under the WDAs, Budget 2017 added $900 million over a period of six years from 2017–18 to 2022–23. The new funding will also support provincial and territorial employment programming for older workers, which was previously supported by the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers.
These agreements provide provinces and territories with the flexibility to respond to the diverse needs of their respective clients, both employers and individuals, which include members of under-represented groups.
Labour Market Development Agreements
Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs) are bilateral agreements with each province and territory to design and deliver employment programming similar to Employment Benefits and Support Measures outlined in Part II of the Employment Insurance Act. LMDAs help unemployed Canadians quickly find and return to work. They also ensure a skilled labour force that meets current and emerging needs of employers.
Budget 2017 measures to expand eligibility to help more Canadians access skills training and employment assistance under the amended LMDAs include:
- investing an additional $1.8 billion in LMDAs over six years;
- broadening eligibility for Employment Benefits (for example, skills training, wage subsidies) to include unemployed individuals who have made minimum Employment Insurance premium contributions in at least 5 of the last 10 years;
- expanding eligibility for Employment Assistance Services (for example, employment counselling, job search assistance), previously only available to unemployed Canadians, to also include employed Canadians; and
- increasing flexibility for provinces and territories to support employer-sponsored training under Labour Market Partnerships (for example, to help employers who need to upskill or retrain their workers in order to adjust to technological or structural changes in the economy).
More recently, the Government of Canada announced the following new supports to better support workers in seasonal employment:
- The Government of Canada invested $189 million to implement a new pilot project to provide up to five additional weeks of EI regular benefits to eligible seasonal claimants in 13 targeted EI regions. The additional five weeks of benefits will be available to those who start a benefit period between August 5, 2018, and May 30, 2020. Saskatchewan is not part of the pilot project.
- The Government is also making available $41 million over two years to all provinces and territories through their Labour Market Development Agreements to provide skills training, wage subsidies and employment supports for workers in seasonal industries.
These supports are part of the Budget 2018 commitment to provide $230 million to assist workers in seasonal industries.