Among the announcements that will affect colleges and college students:
• Budget 2019 proposes the creation of up to 40,000 new work placements per year by 2023–24.
• The Government will invest in the Business/Higher Education Roundtable to create an additional 44,000 work-integrated learning opportunities by 2021, and aims to grow programs such as the Canada Service Corps and the Youth Employment Strategy to help more young people learn new skills and develop professional experience earlier.
• Support for Apprenticeships and Skills Canada: More than 9,000 students attended the 2018 Skills Canada national competition. Budget 2019 proposes to invest $46 million over four years, starting in 2019– 20, and $10 million per year ongoing to support the Skills Canada program. This investment will enable Skills Canada to continue to promote trades and technology careers to young Canadians. The 2018 Skills Canada national competition included more than 550 competitors in 44 skill areas.
• A new, non-taxable credit will help Canadians pay for training fees. Every year, eligible workers between the ages of 25 and 64 would accumulate a credit balance of $250 per year, up to a lifetime limit of $5,000. With this credit, a Canadian worker would accumulate $1,000 every four years, to be used for training fees. Canadians would be able to apply their accumulated Canada Training Credit balance against up to half the cost of training fees at colleges, universities, and eligible institutions providing occupational skills training starting in 2020.
• Regarding Indigenous education initiatives, there will be $327 million over five years to renew and expand the Post-secondary Student Support Program for First Nations, $125 million over 10 years for an Inuit-led PSE strategy, $360 million over 10 years for a Metis-led PSE strategy and financial assistance, and $9 million over three years for Indspire, a charity that provides bursaries and scholarships for Indigenous students.
• Budget 2019 proposes changes to Canada Student Loans — starting with lowering interest rates, aimed at helping the nearly 1 million people currently repaying their student loans and saving the average borrower approximately $2,000 over the lifetime of their loan.
• The Government will also give a break to the 200,000 student loan borrowers graduating each year as they look for a job by making the six-month grace period after graduation interest-free. This will allow students who temporarily leave their studies because they are having a child or facing issues with their health (including mental health) to take an interest-free break from paying back loans.
• Budget 2019 also aims to invest $147.9 million over five years and $8.0 million per year ongoing towards attracting top-tier foreign students to Canada and supporting Canadian post-secondary students pursuing opportunities to travel, study and work overseas. That includes promoting Canadian educational institutions as high-calibre places to study and helping more Canadian students gain experience abroad.
“I applaud the federal government for encouraging lifelong learning and making postsecondary education more affordable,” said Cheryl Jensen, President, Algonquin College. “We are also pleased to see investments in work placements and work-integrated learning opportunities. We have always stressed the importance of experiential learning and believe it gives our learners an edge in an increasingly competitive workforce.”
She also noted the government’s investment in Skills Canada, recalling the success of all three of Algonquin's Skills Canada National competitors in 2018, who returned with medals in Auto Collison Repair and Horticulture and Landscape.
President Jensen also lauded the government’s investment in a new suicide-prevention service that will give Canadians access to bilingual, 24/7 crisis support using the technology of their choice (voice, text, chat etc.).
“Mental health is of critical importance to our College community — for both students and employees,” she said. “It is part of our commitment to our College values.”
Delivered by Finance Minister Bill Morneau, this will be the final budget before October’s federal election.