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Chapter 3.3: Investing in Training, Infrastructure and Opportunity
Supporting Job Creation, Small Business and Skills Training
The Government is committed to supporting job creation by small businesses and opportunities for under-represented groups in the workforce. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes:
- Investing $205 million to extend the temporary Hiring Credit for Small Business for one year.
- Providing an additional $50 million over two years to the Youth Employment Strategy to assist more young people in gaining tangible skills and experience.
- Providing $6 million over three years to extend and expand the ThirdQuarter project to key centres across the country.
- Improving labour market opportunities for Canadians with disabilities by investing $30 million over three years in the Opportunities Fund and by creating a panel on labour market opportunities for persons with disabilities.
- Promoting the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises in shipbuilding projects.
Improving the Employment Insurance Program
The Government is committed to making targeted, common-sense changes to make Employment Insurance (EI) a more efficient program that is focused on job creation and opportunities. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes:
- Limiting EI premium rate increases to 5 cents each year until the EI Operating Account is balanced.
- Providing $21 million over two years to enhance the content and timeliness of the job and labour market information that is provided to Canadians who are searching for employment.
- Investing $74 million over two years to ensure that EI claimants benefit from accepting work.
- Investing $387 million over two years to align the calculation of EI benefit amounts with local labour market conditions.
Expanding Opportunities for Aboriginal Peoples to Fully Participate in the Economy
The Government is committed to expanding opportunities for Aboriginal peoples to fully participate in the labour market. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes:
- Providing $275 million over three years to support First Nations education and build and renovate schools on reserve.
- Committing to work with willing partners toward passage of legislation that will establish the structures and standards to support strong and accountable education systems on reserve.
- Announcing the Government’s commitment to improve the incentives in the on-reserve Income Assistance Program while encouraging those who can work to access training so they are better equipped for employment.
- Providing $33.5 million in 2012–13 to extend the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative.
- Providing $27 million over two years to renew the Urban Aboriginal Strategy.
Building a Fast and Flexible Economic Immigration System
The Government is committed to transitioning to a faster and more flexible economic immigration system. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes:
- Announcing the Government’s intention to better align the Temporary Foreign Worker Program with labour market demands and to ensure that businesses look to the domestic labour force before accessing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
- Signalling the Government’s intention to support further improvements to foreign credential recognition and to work with provinces and territories to identify the next set of target occupations for inclusion, beyond 2012, under the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications.
- Proposing to return applications and refund up to $130 million in fees paid by certain federal skilled worker applicants who applied under previous criteria established prior to February 27, 2008.
Strengthening Canada’s Public Infrastructure
The Government is building on recent actions to modernize Canada’s public infrastructure. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes:
- $150 million over two years for a new Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund to support repairs and improvements to existing community facilities.
- Amendments to the Yukon Act, the Northwest Territories Act and the Nunavut Act to create new regulations that will ensure consistent treatment of borrowing across the three territories and with their Public Accounts.
- $105 million in 2012–13 on a cash basis to support VIA Rail Canada’s operations and capital projects.
- $27.3 million over two years to support the divestiture of regional ports and the continued operation and maintenance of federally owned ports.
- $5.2 billion over the next 11 years on a cash basis to renew the Canadian Coast Guard fleet.
- $101 million over the next five years on a cash basis to restore and modernize the Esquimalt Graving Dock.
Supporting Job Creation
Canada’s well-trained and highly educated workforce is one of our key advantages in competing and succeeding in the global economy. However, too often barriers or disincentives discourage workforce participation. Better utilizing Canada’s workforce and making Canada’s labour market more adaptable will help ensure our long-term economic growth.
That is why, since 2006, the Government has placed a strong emphasis on access to skills training, support for post-secondary education, building a fast and flexible economic immigration system, and developing untapped potential in the labour market.
The Government makes considerable investments in support of families and individuals, labour market development, labour force attachment and job readiness. This includes $16.7 billion in Employment Insurance benefits, $10.1 billion annually in support of post-secondary education and $2.5 billion annually for labour market agreements with the provinces and territories.
Canada’s immigration system supports a vibrant workforce by attracting skilled workers who will contribute to the growth of our economy. The Government also encourages under-represented groups to participate in the labour market through initiatives such as the Youth Employment Strategy, the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, and the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy.
Economic Action Plan 2012 builds on these initiatives with an enhanced labour market focus and a number of targeted investments that will help respond to current labour market challenges and meet longer-term labour market needs. The Government will introduce measures to streamline processes and increase funding to better integrate certain under-represented groups in the labour force, including immigrants, persons with disabilities, youth, Aboriginal peoples and older Canadians.
Supporting Job Creation, Small Business and Skills Training
Economic Action Plan 2012 announces a number of measures to address short-term labour market challenges and meet long-term market needs.
Extending the Hiring Credit for Small Business
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $205 million to extend the Hiring Credit for Small Business for one year.
Small businesses are the engine of job creation in Canada, and are indispensable in their role as job creators. In recognition of the challenges faced by small businesses across the country, Budget 2011 announced a temporary Hiring Credit for Small Business of up to $1,000 per employer. This credit provided needed relief to small businesses by helping defray the costs of hiring new workers and allowing them to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities.
As the economy continues to recover amid continuing global economic uncertainty, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes to extend the temporary Hiring Credit for Small Business for one year. A credit of up to $1,000 against a small employer’s increase in its 2012 EI premiums over those paid in 2011 would be provided. This temporary credit would be available to approximately 536,000 employers, whose total EI premiums were at or below $10,000 in 2011, reducing small business 2012 payroll costs by about $205 million.
It [the Hiring Credit for Small Business] is a popular measure among all SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] but is particularly important among growing firms as it helps them strengthen business performance.
— Canadian Federation of Independent Business,
How the Hiring Credit for Small Business Works
Drew and Ali own a small pizza parlour. They employed five people in 2011 and had a total payroll of $125,000. Their total EI premiums in 2011 were $3,108. Since business is improving in 2012, they have hired a new employee, which will bring their total payroll to $150,000. The Hiring Credit for Small Business will provide them with a credit of $732, equal to what would otherwise have been the increase in their 2012 EI premiums over those paid in 2011.
The Canada Revenue Agency will automatically calculate the Hiring Credit when Drew and Ali file their 2012 tax return. They do not need to apply, avoiding red tape and needless delays.
Enhancing the Youth Employment Strategy
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $50 million over two years to enhance the Youth Employment Strategy.
Young workers entering the workforce are facing an uncertain job market. At the same time, some sectors are facing growth-limiting labour shortages, which young Canadians should be equipped to fill. The Government currently invests more than $330 million annually to support young Canadians through the Youth Employment Strategy, including youth at risk and recent post-secondary graduates. Last year alone, this investment helped to connect nearly 70,000 Canadian youth with the work experience and skills training they need to build a foundation for success in the job market.
Economic Action Plan 2012 builds on this investment by providing an additional $50 million over two years to assist more young people in gaining tangible skills and experience. This funding will focus on connecting young Canadians with jobs in fields that are in high demand.
Helping Canadian Youth Gain Skills and Experience Through the Youth Employment Strategy
The Centre for Skills Development & Training in Burlington, Ontario provided employability skills interventions to 62 youth with barriers to employment under a Skills Link project. The participants benefited from hands-on workshops in the skilled trades of construction, manufacturing and electrical. At the end of the project, 70 per cent of the participants were either employed or had returned to school.
In 2010–11, the reachAbility Association provided employability skills interventions to 10 youth with barriers to employment in Halifax, Nova Scotia under a Skills Link project. The participants benefited from various hands-on workshops that focused on subjects such as computer use, research and networking. At the end of the project, 80 per cent of the participants were employed or had returned to school.
From September 7, 2010 to June 10, 2011, the YMCA of Greater Vancouver provided career-related work experiences to 73 unemployed or underemployed post-secondary graduates across British Columbia. The participants gained 4 to 6 months of work experience in green sectors of the economy. At the end of the project, 74 per cent of the participants were employed and 3 per cent had returned to school.
From October 25, 2010 to May 31, 2011, the Canadian Media Production Association provided career-related work experience to 40 unemployed or underemployed post-secondary graduates in eight provinces across Canada. The participants gained 24 weeks of hands-on work experience in the field of film, television, and the interactive media production industry. At the end of the project, 82 per cent of the participants were employed and 2 per cent had returned to school.
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $6 million over three years to extend and expand the ThirdQuarter project to key centres across the country.
Older workers face particular challenges in finding employment, despite their skills and experience being valuable assets to employers and the labour market. The Targeted Initiative for Older Workers is a federal-provincial-territorial employment program that provides a range of employment activities for unemployed older workers in vulnerable communities with populations of less than 250,000 to help them stay in the workforce. Budget 2011 provided $50 million over two years to extend this program until 2013–14, helping to ensure that displaced older workers have access to the training and employment programs they need to secure new employment.
The ThirdQuarter project is an innovative initiative, led by the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, to help employers find experienced workers who are over 50. It provides an online forum that makes it easier for individuals to find jobs that match their skills, while helping businesses and organizations narrow the field of potential employees to those who have the skills they are seeking. ThirdQuarter was initially launched in 14 communities in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Atlantic provinces, where it has successfully connected employers with the experienced workers they had been seeking, leading to 900 older workers being hired.
In addition to the measures the Government has in place to support the employment of older Canadians who wish to remain in the workforce, Economic Action Plan 2012 is providing flexibility in the Old Age Security (OAS) program for those who wish to defer retirement. Starting on July 1, 2013, the Government will allow for the voluntary deferral of the OAS pension, for up to five years, allowing Canadians the option of deferring take-up of their OAS pension to a later time and receiving a higher, annual pension. In addition, Economic Action Plan 2012 provides the option to work longer and receive higher annual benefits.
Improving Labour Market Opportunities for Canadians With Disabilities
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $30 million over three years to the Opportunities Fund and announces the creation of a panel on labour market opportunities of persons with disabilities to improve their labour market participation.
Canadians with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by economic turbulence and encounter unique challenges in finding jobs during a period of economic recovery. Many employers have experienced first-hand the invaluable contribution Canadians with disabilities make to their businesses. This Government recognizes that economic growth and prosperity requires greater participation of Canadians with disabilities in the job market.
The Government supports the participation of persons with disabilities in the economy through transfers to the provinces and territories such as the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities ($218 million annually) and the Labour Market Agreements ($500 million annually). The Government also invests $30 million annually through the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities to connect individuals with the skills and work experience needed to participate fully in the economy.
Economic Action Plan 2012 will invest an additional $30 million over three years in the Opportunities Fund to enable more Canadians with disabilities to obtain work experience with small and medium-sized businesses, and to ensure employers are aware of the invaluable contribution persons with disabilities can make to their business and the Canadian economy.
The Government will also establish a panel on the labour market opportunities of persons with disabilities. The panel will identify private sector successes and best practices with regard to the labour market participation of persons with disabilities. The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development will review the panel’s report by the end of 2012.
Helping Canadians With Disabilities Gain Employment and Work Experience Through the Opportunities Fund
From April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2011, the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work provided employment services to 1,607 people with disabilities in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador under a $2.6-million Opportunities Fund project. At the end of the project, 572 participants were employed and 45 had returned to school.
From April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2011, the Neil Squire Society provided employment services to 571 people with disabilities in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick under a $3.5-million Opportunities Fund project. At the end of the project, 201 participants were employed and 77 had returned to school.
The participants in both these initiatives benefited from interventions that focused on skills development and work experience—often using wage subsidies to help employers hire people with disabilities.
In 2010, SPHERE-Québec received $8.6 million over three years from the Opportunities Fund for the coordination of projects aimed at helping persons with disabilities in Quebec acquire a wide range of skills and work experiences. In 2010, the Government also contributed $157,094 to the organization for its project Imagine…ton avenir!, which aims to give youth with disabilities a better chance at finding jobs.
Women on Corporate Boards
Economic Action Plan 2012 announces the creation of an advisory council of leaders from the private and public sectors to promote the participation of women on corporate boards.
Canadian women have high levels of education and business experience. Many lead successful businesses and are active members of corporate boards. Yet they remain under-represented on boards of directors and in top leadership positions. Increasing opportunities for women to serve on corporate boards makes good business sense for Canadian women and for Canada’s economy. The Minister for Status of Women will work with the private sector to promote the participation of women on corporate boards and champion their leadership. Through the creation of an advisory council of leaders from the private and public sectors, the Government will work with the private sector to link corporations to a network of women with professional skills and experience.
Promoting Widespread Opportunities from Federal Shipbuilding
Economic Action Plan 2012 confirms measures to promote the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises in shipbuilding projects.
In 2010, the Government announced the $35-billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. A major milestone was reached in February 2012 with the signing of umbrella agreements with Irving Shipyard of Halifax and Vancouver Shipyards for the large combat and non-combat ship construction work valued at $33 billion. These shipyards were selected through an open, fair and transparent competition. Contracts for small vessel construction, valued at $2 billion, will be awarded to other Canadian shipyards, and ongoing refit and repair work valued at $500 million annually will be open to all shipyards through a competitive process. Together, these investments will revitalize the marine industry in Canada and deliver the vital equipment required by Canada’s naval and Coast Guard personnel to defend our sovereignty and national security, as well as advance Canadian interests abroad.
The National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy is expected to provide thousands of high-value jobs over the next 20 to 30 years, providing stability for shipbuilders across the country. The Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries has estimated that 15,000 direct and indirect jobs may be created over the coming decades. Economic benefits from the shipbuilding will flow to the broader marine industry, generating employment for skilled workers in a variety of sectors, such as steel manufacturing, information technology and defence systems.
The Government wants small and medium-sized enterprises to have all the information they need to be ready to take advantage of opportunities arising from the building of federal ships. The result is the Atlantic Shipbuilding Action Plan and the Western Canada Shipbuilding Action Plan. These Action Plans are designed to promote the active participation of small and medium-sized businesses in the supply chains that will result from the building of the ships and thus create growth and jobs throughout the regions.
Improving the Employment Insurance Program
Employment Insurance (EI) is Canada’s single largest labour market program, providing income replacement to help individuals and their families, as well as training and other labour market supports to help Canadians return to employment. As Canada’s economy and labour market context change over time, the Government must ensure EI remains effective and efficient in support of job creation and economic growth. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes a number of targeted, common-sense changes to make EI a more efficient program that promotes job creation, removes disincentives to work, supports unemployed Canadians and quickly connects people to jobs.
Stable and Predictable EI Premium Rates
Economic Action Plan 2012 ensures stable, predictable EI premium rates by limiting premium rate increases to 5 cents each year until the EI Operating Account is in balance, and then moving to a seven-year break-even rate.
In response to the economic downturn in 2009 and 2010, the Government froze the EI premium rate in 2010 at the lowest rate since 1982, leaving more than $3.5 billion in the pockets of workers and employers. In 2011 and 2012, the Government limited the maximum annual premium rate change to 5 cents—a full 10 cents lower than the allowable annual increase limit—to help protect Canadian jobs during a period of fragile recovery. In 2011, Shelly Glover, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, and Kellie Leitch, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, also undertook cross-country consultations with Canadians on how the EI rate-setting mechanism could be further improved. The consultations indicated that Canadians want stable and predictable EI premium rates, and a transparent rate-setting process.
In response to the consultations, the Government will introduce legislation to ensure predictability and stability in the EI premium rate. Over the next few years, the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board (CEIFB) will continue to set the rate, but the Government will limit rate increases to no more than 5 cents each year until the EI Operating Account is balanced. Once the Account has achieved balance, the EI premium rate will be set annually at a seven-year break-even rate to ensure that EI premiums are no higher than needed to pay for the EI program. After the seven-year rate is set, annual adjustment to the rate will also be limited to 5 cents. These improvements will ensure affordability for premium payers while offering ongoing predictability and stability.
The Government will also introduce legislation to allow the premium rate to be set earlier in the Fall to provide longer notice to employers and workers. In light of this new approach to rate setting, the Government will review the size and structure of the CEIFB to ensure that independent rate setting is done in the most cost-effective manner possible.
Connecting Canadians With Available Jobs
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $21 million over two years to connect unemployed Canadians with jobs.
Matching workers with available jobs is critical to supporting economic growth and productivity, as well as quality of life for Canadians. Economic Action Plan 2012 makes targeted new investments of $21 million over two years to help unemployed Canadians find jobs more quickly. These investments will enhance the content and timeliness of the job and labour market information that is provided to Canadians who are searching for employment. This Government recognizes that providing EI claimants with relevant and timely job information is essential for a quick return to work.
Along with providing relevant and timely job information, the Government will introduce legislation to strengthen and clarify what is required of claimants who are receiving regular EI benefits and are looking for work. In the coming months, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development will announce fair and transparent guidelines for compliance, which take into account local labour market conditions and an individual’s past history with the EI program.
The Government will also coordinate the Temporary Foreign Worker Program with efforts to connect unemployed Canadians with available jobs. In addition to the improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program described later in this chapter, the Government is developing approaches to notify EI claimants when employers are looking for workers, and to inform employers if there are EI claimants in the same region who match the open positions. Creating a link between the EI program and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will help make local and qualified Canadian workers aware of vacancies and available to fill them, while ensuring temporary foreign workers are employed where they are most needed.
Each year, the federal government transfers $1.95 billion from the EI program to the provinces and territories to support skills training activities and job search supports for EI claimants. Over the next 12 months, the Government will work with provincial and territorial governments to make skills training and job search supports available to EI claimants earlier in their claim period.
Removing Disincentives to Work
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $74 million over two years to introduce a new national Working While on Claim EI pilot project and proposes $387 million over two years to align the calculation of EI benefit amounts with local labour market conditions.
EI claimants who stay active in and remain connected to the labour market find permanent employment faster than those who do not. The existing Working While on Claim pilot project reduces claimants’ EI benefits dollar-for-dollar once they have earned a certain amount, discouraging them from accepting additional work. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes to invest $74 million over two years in a new, national EI pilot project that will ensure claimants are not discouraged from accepting work while receiving EI benefits. This new pilot project will cut the current clawback rate in half and apply it to all earnings made while on claim. This new pilot will ensure that EI claimants always benefit from accepting work by allowing them to keep more of what they earn while on EI and supporting their search for permanent employment.
How the New Working While on Claim Pilot Project Benefits Claimants
Jennifer is a dental hygienist who has been laid off and is receiving EI benefits of $450 per week. She has found part-time work in a dental clinic that pays a total of $600 per week.
Under the current Working While on Claim pilot project, Jennifer can earn up to 40 per cent of her weekly benefits, $180, with no reduction in her EI benefit payment. Earnings above this level reduce her benefit payment dollar-for-dollar. Jennifer’s combined earnings and EI benefit would be $630.
Under the new pilot project, Jennifer’s EI benefit will only be reduced by 50 per cent of her earnings from working while she is on claim. Her combined weekly income would be $750, an increase of $120 per week.
Economic Action Plan 2012 also proposes to invest $387 million over two years to align the calculation of the value of EI benefits with local labour market conditions. This new approach will reduce disincentives to accepting all available work prior to applying to the EI program by permanently revising the way benefits are calculated. Beginning in April 2013, all claimants will have their EI benefit amount calculated based on the highest weeks of earnings over the preceding year. The number of weeks that will be used will range from 14 to 22, depending on the unemployment rate in the particular EI region. This approach to calculating the value of EI benefits will make the program more responsive to changes in the local labour market and ensure that those living in regions with similar labour market conditions receive similar benefits. While this new approach is being put in place, the current Best 14 Weeks pilot project will be extended, until April 2013.
Expanding Opportunities for Aboriginal Peoples to Fully Participate in the Economy
Since 2001, the Aboriginal population has increased by 25 per cent, compared with 6 per cent for the Canadian population as a whole. About 25,000 Aboriginal youth turn 15 each year and this number is expected to increase after 2016, markedly so in some provinces. Over the coming decades, Aboriginal peoples will become an increasingly important source of Canada’s labour force growth.
The Government recognizes the contribution that Aboriginal peoples can make to the labour market as the youngest and fastest-growing segment of the nation’s population. The investments in this budget will help Aboriginal peoples participate more fully in Canada’s economy and benefit from its growth.
Investments to Improve First Nations Education
Economic Action Plan 2012 commits the Government to introduce legislation, and explore new funding mechanisms, for First Nations elementary and secondary education, and proposes $275 million over three years to support First Nations education.
In Budget 2010 the Government committed to work with First Nations to develop options, including new legislation, to improve the governance framework and clarify accountability for First Nations elementary and secondary education. In 2011, the Government and the Assembly of First Nations launched a National Panel, which made a number of recommendations for reforming First Nations education in its February 2012 report.
In response to the Panel’s report, the Government will work with willing partners to introduce a First Nation Education Act and have it in place for September 2014. The purpose of this legislation is to establish the structures and standards to support strong and accountable education systems on reserve. This will set the stage for more positive education outcomes for First Nations children and youth. The Government will also work to explore mechanisms to ensure stable, predictable and sustainable funding for First Nations elementary and secondary education.
To help ensure readiness for the new First Nations education system to be outlined in legislation, this budget will invest $100 million over three years for First Nations education to provide early literacy programming and other supports and services to First Nations schools and students, and to strengthen their relationships with provincial school systems.
To complement these investments in First Nations education programming, this budget will invest $175 million over three years to build and renovate schools on reserve, providing First Nations youth with better learning environments. This will build on investments in on-reserve school infrastructure made as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan between 2009 and 2011.
Helping First Nations on Reserve Access the Labour Force
Economic Action Plan 2012 announces the Government’s commitment to improve the incentives in the on-reserve Income Assistance Program while encouraging those who can work to access training so they are better equipped for employment.
Since 2006, the Government has made substantial investments to improve Aboriginal labour market outcomes. Over $400 million annually is invested in Aboriginal skills and training through the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy and the Skills and Partnership Fund, and over $300 million per year supports First Nations and Inuit in their post-secondary studies through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the University and College Entrance Preparation Program.
Equipping First Nations people with the skills and opportunities they need to fully participate in the economy is a priority for this Government and First Nations. In many areas of the country, First Nations communities are ideally placed to contribute to and benefit from large economic projects.
Through Economic Action Plan 2012, the Government is committing to make progress by better aligning its on-reserve Income Assistance Program with provincial systems through improved compliance with program requirements. The Government will also work with First Nations to encourage those who can work to access training and, more broadly, to improve the incentives for labour market participation in this program. Canada’s young Aboriginal population has tremendous potential for long-term success and economic prosperity, and our Government is committed to helping them achieve their full potential.
Supporting First Nations Fishing Enterprises
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $33.5 million in 2012–13 to extend the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative.
The Atlantic and Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiatives are designed to integrate First Nations fishing enterprises into existing commercial fisheries. Through these and related programs, the Government has invested approximately $700 million to provide access to commercial fisheries and business development and co-management activities for First Nations fishing enterprises. To continue promoting integrated commercial fisheries, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $33.5 million in 2012–13 to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to extend these initiatives.
Urban Aboriginal Strategy
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $27 million over two years to renew the Urban Aboriginal Strategy.
The Government is committed to working with other levels of government, Aboriginal organizations and the private sector to improve economic opportunities for Aboriginal peoples living in urban centres.
Through the Urban Aboriginal Strategy, the Government partners with Aboriginal communities and local organizations, municipal and provincial governments, and the private sector to support projects that respond to local priorities and activities such as job training, skills and entrepreneurship initiatives. For instance, the Strategy provided $200,000 to Winnipeg’s Urban Circle Training Centre, where for over 20 years around 350 urban Aboriginal people annually have received employment counselling and accredited training.
Building a Fast and Flexible Economic Immigration System
Since 2006, the Government has pursued much-needed reforms to focus Canada’s immigration system on fuelling economic prosperity for Canada. For example, the Government has placed a high priority on finding people who have the skills and experience required to meet Canada’s economic needs. Temporary foreign workers have been given greater opportunities to contribute to the success of our economy, and provinces and territories now have the capacity to address their labour shortages through an expanded role in selecting immigrants.
Strengthening Canada’s Immigration System
Economic Action Plan 2012 announces the Government’s intention build a fast and flexible economic immigration system whose primary focus is on meeting Canada’s labour market needs.
By complementing recent reforms, Economic Action Plan 2012 will enable Canada to transition to an increasingly fast and flexible economic immigration system. In the future, the Government will explore with provinces, territories and employers approaches to developing a pool of skilled workers who are ready to begin employment in Canada. To ensure that immigrants are ready to work, the assessment of educational credentials will be strengthened and the federal skilled worker point system will be reformed to reflect the importance of younger immigrants with Canadian work experience and better language skills.
The Government will provide further incentives to retain educated and experienced talent through the Canadian Experience Class and introduce a new stream to facilitate the entry of skilled tradespersons. The Business Immigration Program will target more active investment in Canadian growth companies and more innovative entrepreneurs. The Provincial Nominee Program will be improved by focusing on economic immigration streams in order to respond quickly to regional labour market demand. In short, the Government is committed to strengthening the immigration system to make it truly proactive, targeted, fast and efficient in a way that will sustain Canada’s economic growth and deliver prosperity for the future.
Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Economic Action Plan 2012 announces the Government’s intention to better align the Temporary Foreign Worker Program with labour market demands and to ensure that businesses look to the domestic labour force before accessing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Canada’s labour market faces high unemployment rates in some regions and labour shortages in other regions as well as in certain sectors. Where there are acute needs in the labour market that are not easily filled by the domestic labour force, temporary foreign workers are an important resource for Canadian businesses. To meet employer demand and improve the responsiveness of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Government of Canada reduced the paper burden on employers and shortened processing times. The Government has also taken steps to enhance protection for temporary foreign workers.
Going forward, the Government will continue to consider additional measures to ensure that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program supports our economic recovery and growth by better aligning the program with labour market demands. At the same time, the Government will look at ways to ensure that businesses have made all reasonable efforts to recruit from the domestic labour force before accessing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications
Economic Action Plan 2012 signals the Government’s intention to support further improvements to foreign credential recognition and to work with provinces and territories to identify the next set of target occupations for inclusion, beyond 2012, under the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications.
Ensuring that foreign credentials are quickly and fairly assessed in Canada helps highly skilled newcomers find work related to their training, allowing them to quickly contribute to Canada’s economy. Budget 2009 provided funding to support work on developing the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications, whereby foreign-trained professionals in priority occupations will have their qualifications assessed within one year, anywhere in the country. While the Framework is intended over time to apply to all regulated occupations, eight groups were identified in the Framework for inclusion by December 31, 2010. An additional six target occupations were identified in the Framework for inclusion by December 31, 2012.
2010 Target Occupations
Medical Laboratory Technologists
Financial Auditors and Accountants
2012 Target Occupations
Licensed Practical Nurses
Medical Radiation Technologists
The commitment in the Framework with respect to the 2010 target occupations has been met, and work is ongoing with respect to meeting the December 2012 timeline for the additional six priority groups. The Government will continue working with provinces, territories and other stakeholders to support further improvements to foreign credential recognition, including identifying a third set of target occupations for inclusion under the Framework after 2012.
The Government is taking further steps to help internationally trained professionals enter the workforce quickly through the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans Pilot, which was launched in February 2012. The Pilot will provide funding to community-based partners—such as non-government and non-profit organizations—to increase their capacity to deliver financial assistance to eligible professionals seeking to have their credentials recognized in Canada. The loans will make it easier for internationally trained professionals to complete the credential recognition process and find jobs that best suit their skills and experience.
Federal Skilled Worker Fee Refund
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes to return applications and refund up to $130 million in fees to certain federal skilled worker applicants who applied prior to February 27, 2008 and have been waiting for processing to be completed.
Canada needs to select immigrants who are ready, willing and able to fully integrate into Canada’s labour market and fill gaps in our economy, particularly where we have existing skills shortages. Canada has a number of economic immigration programs, the largest one being the Federal Skilled Worker Program, which is the main avenue to permanent immigration to Canada.
The large backlog of applications that has accumulated under the Federal Skilled Worker Program is impeding the responsiveness of Canada’s immigration system. The Government recognized the backlog problem several years ago and has taken actions to eliminate it through our 2008 Action Plan for Faster Immigration. Before the Action Plan was introduced, the backlog had swelled to over 640,000 applicants, many of whom faced wait times of up to seven years. Through the judicious use of measures introduced by the Action Plan, the backlog has been cut to less than 300,000 applicants since 2008—a reduction of more than 50 per cent. Wait times for new applicants are now closer to 18 months on average, with some applicants waiting as little as 6 to 12 months.
Faster action is still required, however, in order to more immediately direct our efforts toward better addressing modern labour market realities. Canada risks losing the global talent competition for the world’s best and brightest as potential immigrants choose to take their skills to other countries with more responsive immigration systems rather than remain in the queue to have their application processed in Canada.
Economic Action Plan 2012 therefore proposes to return applications and refund up to $130 million in fees, on a cash basis, paid by certain federal skilled worker applicants who applied under previous criteria established prior to February 27, 2008.
Strengthening Canada’s Public Infrastructure
The Government recognizes the importance of investments in public infrastructure. Efficient and modern public infrastructure helps move people, goods and services to markets and supports business competitiveness, job creation and economic growth.
The federal government plays an important role in the provision of public infrastructure in Canada. It is the custodian of an infrastructure portfolio with strategic national importance, including a wide range of transportation-related assets such as airports, ports and bridges. The Government also provides funding to support provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure.
Since 2007, the Government has made significant investments in public infrastructure. Under the $33-billion, seven-year Building Canada plan, the Government provides major support for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure for investments in priority areas such as highways, roads, bridges, public transit, water infrastructure and broadband. This includes:
- Federal funding of $8.8 billion under the Building Canada Fund, of which an estimated $5 billion will continue to flow beyond 2011–12 to municipalities, provinces and territories to reflect project timelines.
- Predictable and long-term funding for municipalities under the Gas Tax Fund and the Goods and Services Tax rebate for municipalities. The Government has made the $2-billion annual allocation under the Gas Tax Fund a permanent legislated measure.
- Investments to strengthen trade-related infrastructure through the Gateways and Border Crossings Fund and the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.
The Government also made $11 billion available for infrastructure stimulus initiatives under the stimulus phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
Supporting Provincial, Territorial and Municipal Infrastructure
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $150 million over two years to support repairs and improvements to existing small public infrastructure facilities through the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund.
The Government is taking concrete steps to deliver on its commitment to work with provinces, territories, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other stakeholders on the development of a long-term plan for public infrastructure that extends beyond the expiry of the Building Canada plan in 2014.
Consultations are underway with our partners and stakeholders. Together, we will explore broad directions and priorities for a new plan that will focus on investments in infrastructure that support long-term economic growth and prosperity, while encouraging greater private sector involvement and increasing the use of public-private partnerships where they can generate better value for taxpayers. A new plan will be designed to leverage funding from all governments and the private sector and ensure affordability and sustainability over the long term.
Over the next two years, the Government will spend nearly $12 billion to support provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure through existing initiatives.
Community-based facilities contribute to the quality of life in small communities and large urban centres across Canada. To support repairs and improvements to existing facilities, such as community centres, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $150 million over two years for the establishment of a Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund. This new Fund will improve the quality of facilities enjoyed by Canadians while supporting job creation in communities across the country.
The Fund will be delivered by the regional development agencies and will support projects on a cost-shared basis in partnership with municipalities, community organizations and not-for-profit entities. Projects will be selected on the basis of their readiness to proceed and the anticipated economic benefits, including job creation.
Territorial Borrowing Limit
Economic Action Plan 2012 is confirming the introduction of amendments to the Yukon Act, the Northwest Territories Act and the Nunavut Act to create new regulations that will ensure consistent treatment of borrowing across the three territories and with their Public Accounts.
The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the three territorial governments in developing their economic potential. An important aspect of this support is providing clear rules by which territorial governments may borrow to undertake investments in their future. The Government of Canada will introduce amendments to the Yukon Act, the Northwest Territories Act and the Nunavut Act to create new regulations that will ensure consistent treatment of borrowing across the three territories and with their Public Accounts. This will provide certainty to territorial governments as they plan for their future.
In addition, the three territorial borrowing limits have been increased to $800 million, $400 million and $400 million respectively for the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Government of Yukon and the Government of Nunavut. This provides additional capacity for the three governments to borrow in support of their priorities, such as major infrastructure projects.
Making Important Investments in Strategic Public Infrastructure
Maintaining Safe and Reliable Passenger Rail Services
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $105 million in 2012–13 on a cash basis to support VIA’s operations and capital projects.
VIA Rail Canada operates the country’s national passenger rail service. In 2010, VIA served over 4 million passengers and connected 450 communities across Canada. To support VIA’s operations and investments in track signalling systems, track components, station repairs and information technology projects, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $105 million in 2012–13 on a cash basis for VIA Rail Inc. These investments will enhance the safety and efficiency of VIA Rail Canada’s operations.
Strengthening Canada’s Port System
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $27.3 million over two years to support the divestiture of regional port facilities and the continued operation and maintenance of federally owned ports.
Canada’s ports are an integral part of the national transportation system and play an important role in Canada’s international trade. The Government has recently announced up to $85.6 million in funding for capital projects and other modernization initiatives at the Ports of Montreal, Saguenay, and Sept-Îles. These investments will support the role of these ports as gateways to global markets and promote jobs and growth in the region.
Under the National Marine Policy, the Government has taken steps to strengthen the public port system by establishing dedicated and independent port authorities for Canada’s largest ports and divesting smaller regional ports to local interests. Port divestiture improves the efficiency of Canadian marine transportation by rationalizing the port system and placing decision making and operations in the hands of users and local interests. This will allow communities to own and control the use of their facilities and determine service and maintenance levels appropriate to their circumstances. To support the divestiture of regional port facilities and the continued operation and maintenance of federally owned ports, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $27.3 million over two years for Transport Canada.
Renewing the Canadian Coast Guard Fleet
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $5.2 billion over the next 11 years on a cash basis to renew the Fleet of the Canadian Coast Guard.
This year, the Canadian Coast Guard celebrates 50 years of dedicated service. The Coast Guard plays a key role in supporting the safety of Canadians, promoting uninterrupted shipping to Canadian port gateways, and facilitating trade flows. It delivers search and rescue programs, provides marine pollution responses, and supports science and other government maritime activities. The Canadian Coast Guard is Canada’s main maritime presence, especially in the high Arctic.
To renew the Canadian Coast Guard Fleet to make it more adaptable, capable and cost-efficient, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $5.2 billion over the next 11 years on a cash basis. The procurement of new vessels and helicopters for the Canadian Coast Guard, as well as work related to repairing and refitting existing vessels, will support jobs and generate significant economic benefits.
Maintaining and Improving Federal Infrastructure
Economic Action Plan 2012 provides $101 million on a cash basis to restore and modernize the Esquimalt Graving Dock.
The Esquimalt Graving Dock, which was originally constructed in 1927, is the largest deep-sea shipbuilding and repair facility on Canada’s West Coast. It generates economic benefits totaling $183 million annually for British Columbia and it supports an estimated 1,300 jobs in the Greater Victoria Area.
Budget 2011 provided $148 million, on a cash basis, over five years to carry out capital expenditures to maintain and improve a number of engineering assets, such as bridges, dams and other specialized assets, across Canada. Building on this commitment, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes an additional $101 million, on a cash basis, over the next five years for Public Works and Government Services Canada to restore and modernize the Esquimalt Graving Dock. This investment will help maintain jobs and support economic activity in southern British Columbia.
Investing in Border Infrastructure
Under the Beyond the Border Action Plan, announced in Fall 2011, the Government will modernize and expand capacity at priority border facilities in Western and Central Canada. Investment in modern infrastructure at key land ports of entry will ensure that our border crossings have the capacity to support the volume of commercial and passenger traffic resulting from economic growth and job creation.
The Windsor-Detroit trade corridor is North America’s most important land crossing. The Government will continue to work with the State of Michigan, the U.S. Government and the Province of Ontario to make timely progress toward the construction of a new crossing.
Building a New Bridge over the St. Lawrence
The Government is building a new bridge to replace the existing Champlain Bridge in Montréal. It will span the St. Lawrence River to connect the Island of Montréal to the South Shore. This is the busiest crossing in Canada for cars, trucks and buses, and is vital to the regional and national economies with an estimated $20 billion in international trade crossing the bridge annually.
There are many components to the project, including environmental assessment, design work and financial analysis. In January, the Government formally launched the federal environmental assessment phase of the project. The Government will continue close collaboration with key stakeholders, including the Government of Quebec and municipalities in the region, as the project moves forward. The new bridge is expected to open in 2021–2022.
The Government has invested in the safety and security of the Champlain Bridge. Investments totalling $380 million since 2009 will keep the bridge safe until the new crossing is complete.
|Supporting Job Creation, Small Business and Skills Training|
|Extending the Hiring Credit for Small Business||51||154||205|
|Enhancing the Youth Employment Strategy||25||25||50|
|Improving Labour Market Opportunities for Canadians with Disabilities||5||13||18|
|Subtotal—Supporting Job Creation, Small Business and Skills Training||51||186||40||277|
|Improving the Employment Insurance Program|
|Connecting Canadians With Available Jobs||11||10||21|
|Removing Disincentives to Work|
|New National Working While on Claim EI Pilot Project||28||46||74|
|Aligning Benefits With Local Labour Market Conditions||138||249||387|
|Subtotal—Improving the Employment Insurance Program||177||305||482|
|Expanding Opportunities for Aboriginal Peoples to Fully Participate in the Economy|
|Investments to Improve First Nations Education||45||115||160|
|Supporting First Nations Fishing Enterprises||34||34|
|Urban Aboriginal Strategy||14||14||27|
|Subtotal—Expanding Opportunities for Aboriginal Peoples to Fully Participate in the Economy||92||129||221|
|Building a Fast and Flexible Economic Immigration System|
|Federal Skilled Worker Fee Refund||5||4||9|
|Strengthening Canada’s Public Infrastructure|
|Supporting Provincial, Territorial and Municipal Infrastructure||75||75||150|
|Making Important Investments in Strategic Public Infrastructure|
|Maintaining Safe and Reliable Passenger Rail Services||49||9||58|
|Strengthening Canada’s Port System||16||11||27|
|Renewing the Canadian Coast Guard Fleet||9||29||38|
|Maintaining and Improving Federal Infrastructure||–||1||1|
|Subtotal—Strengthening Canada's Public Infrastructure||150||124||274|
|Total—Investing in Training, Infrastructure and Opportunity||51||609||601||1,262|
|Less funds existing in the fiscal framework||72||53||125|
|Net fiscal cost||51||537||549||1,137|
|Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.|