Backgrounder: The Canada Learning Bond Pilot Project

Backgrounder

Government of Canada programs and initiatives support Canadians from infancy to adulthood, including by making post-secondary education more accessible, providing their first job experiences, and helping them care for their young families. Some parents may feel that saving for their children’s education is out of reach, but more awareness of—and easier access to—the supports available to them can alleviate this concern. When money is less of an issue, young people are motivated to pursue higher education and to graduate with less debt.

The Canada Learning Bond

The Canada Learning Bond is money from the Government of Canada to help pay for post-secondary education. It is available to eligible children from low-income families born in 2004 or later. It provides an initial payment of $500 plus $100 for each year of eligibility, up to age 15, for a maximum of $2,000. Personal contributions are not required to receive the Bond. Children in care also qualify for the Bond.

The Canada Learning Bond is retroactive. It can be requested on behalf of an eligible child, and the child can still receive the entire amount that they would have been eligible for had it been requested from birth. Eligible beneficiaries can request the Bond by themselves between the ages of 18 and 20 (inclusively).

To be eligible for the Bond, a child must be from a low-income family, and:

  • be born on or after January 1, 2004;
  • be a resident of Canada;
  • have a valid Social Insurance Number; and
  • be named as a beneficiary to a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).


The child’s primary caregiver and, effective January 2018, the spouse or common-law partner of the primary caregiver, can request the Bond on behalf of an eligible child. The primary caregiver is the person who is eligible to receive the Canada Child Benefit in the child’s name.

In addition, the child’s primary caregiver must have applied for the Canada Child Benefit for the child through the Canada Revenue Agency and must continue to file income tax returns, so that eligibility can be validated.

Canada Learning Bond Pilot Project

As part of Budget 2017, the Government of Canada committed $12 million in grants and contributions to launch community-based initiatives that provide supports to help families and at-risk communities plan for their child’s post-secondary education. The Canada Learning Bond Pilot Project will advance new and innovative ways to increase awareness of education savings incentives and reduce barriers to access so more low-income families benefit from the Bond.

Phase I of the pilot project provided approximately $5.3 million in funding to 12 community-based projects to deliver activities from March 2019 until March 2021.

To build on the success of Phase I, the Government of Canada is investing up to $6.7 million in Phase II of the pilot project and is launching a public call for proposals to select eligible projects. This second phase will aim to support families through the process of opening an RESP and accessing the Bond. Selected projects will target children from families with low incomes, children in care, children and families living in rural or remote regions of Canada, and youth transitioning to post-secondary education. Projects will also take into account the barriers related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phase I projects:

National

Great Futures Savings Program
Organization:
Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada
Target population: Older children, Indigenous populations and newcomers across Canada
Budget: $400,886
Project summary: The Great Futures Savings Program is working to raise awareness of and promote the Canada Learning Bond. It also encourages students to pursue a post-secondary education.

Épargne-études pour nouveaux arrivants
Organization: Actions interculturelles
Target population: Newcomers in Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec
Budget: $429,048
Project summary: This project is helping new immigrants become familiar with the RESP. It also aims to facilitate the opening of RESPs so that families with low income can better access education savings incentives for their children.

Prince Edward Island

Every Child Counts – Every Child Can!
Organization:
Abegweit First Nation
Target population: Abegweit First Nation (Prince Edward Island and the Atlantic region)
Budget: $165,571|
Project summary: This project aims to raise awareness of the Bond through communications materials specifically tailored to the culture and values of the Abegweit First Nation. Through the efforts of this project, the organization is working to reduce barriers so that Abegweit First Nation families can more easily access education savings incentives for their children.

New Brunswick

Éducation-Diffusion-Accompagnement-Madawaska
Organization:
Atelier R.A.D.O. Inc.
Target population: Remote and rural communities, Indigenous population in New Brunswick|
Budget: $75,844
Project summary: This project is facilitating the opening of RESPs and is easing access to education savings incentives for children from families with low income. It also supports the long-term goal of the organization of breaking the cycle of poverty by supporting children in accessing an education that leads to a job or career.


Ontario

Embedding CLB Awareness and Supportive Access within Municipal Services
Organization:
City of Toronto
Target population: Newcomers and older children in Toronto, Ontario
Budget: $745,000
Project summary: The City is increasing awareness and take-up of the Bond by embedding supportive online conversations, testing financial access stipends and promoting new online training platforms for service providers at child care centres.

Manitoba

Scaling Promising Practices and Testing Program Innovations to Increase CLB Take-up
Organization:
SEED Winnipeg, Inc.
Target population: Newcomers and Indigenous populations in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Budget: $606,998
Project summary: The project is working to address the specific social issues and challenges faced by families with children eligible for the Canada Learning Bond. The project involves partnerships with Community Financial Counselling Services, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, and Dr. Jennifer Robson (professor, Carleton University).

Alberta

Save for School Video Tools
Organization:
Calgary Animated Objects Society
Target population: Remote and rural communities, older children, Indigenous populations and employers in Calgary, Alberta
Budget: $370,000
Project summary: Through this project, the organization is producing a series of short animated video tools to raise awareness of the Bond and explain how Indigenous communities can access it.

Super Clinics
Organization: Bissell Centre
Target population: Indigenous populations, remote communities on reserves, newcomers, children living in poverty in Edmonton, Alberta, and surrounding areas
Budget: $462,256
Project summary: Before the start of the pandemic, Bissell Centre held several super clinics to increase families’ access to core financial supports, like the Canada Learning Bond.

British Columbia

Smart Money, Brighter Futures
Organization:
Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver
Target population: Children of incarcerated parents in the Greater Vancouver Area
Budget: $726,735
Project summary: This project is testing new ways to encourage families to open an RESP for their children. It is also working to reduce barriers and ease access to education savings incentives for children whose parents are incarcerated.

Investing in Brighter Futures for Vulnerable Children in Surrey
Organization: Vancity Community Foundation
Target population: Indigenous populations and vulnerable newcomers (particularly refugees) in Surrey, British Columbia
Budget: $427,847
Project summary: This project is an initiative of the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition and a partnership between Vancity Community Foundation, DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association, and Métis Nation of British Columbia. In addition to community outreach events and incentives for families to sign up for the Bond, Vancity Community Foundation provided refurbished laptops from the City of Surrey. These laptops were distributed to students in need of computers for online learning and who signed up for the Bond.

Nunavut

Creating Inuit Awareness of the Canada Learning Bond
Organization: Kivalliq Inuit Association
Target population: Remote and rural communities, Indigenous population in Kivalliq, Nunavut
Budget: $460,857
Project summary: This project is increasing awareness and take-up of the Canada Learning Bond among Inuit and developing materials for community sessions and one-on-one assistance.

The Northwest Territories

Increasing NWT Residents’ Awareness and Access to the Canada Learning Bond
Organization:
NWT Literary Council
Target population: Remote and rural communities, Indigenous population in the Northwest Territories
Budget: $434,746
Project summary: This project helps families open an RESP and is working to ease access to education savings incentives for Indigenous children and children from families with low income.

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