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Supporting skills and training for canadian workers

Canada’s Economic Action Plan provides focused economic stimulus to help Canadian families and businesses deal with the challenges caused by the global recession. One major component of this Action Plan involves helping Canadian workers upgrade their skills and training in order to take advantage of the jobs of the future.
The following are four of the skills training initiatives that are part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan:

Strategic Training and Transition Fund

The Government of Canada will invest $500 million in a two-year Strategic Training and Transition Fund as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan. Up to 50,000 individuals are expected to benefit. This fund will support provincial and territorial initiatives that help meet the different training needs of workers, whether or not they are eligible for EI. The Fund will help affected Canadians to actively participate in training or other employment initiatives that they need during difficult times.

The Fund will be distributed to provinces and territories through their existing Labour Market Agreements in order to ensure speedy and responsive action, as well as to ensure accountability and transparency for results. In recognition of different circumstances across jurisdictions, this approach gives provinces and territories flexibility to support transitions, create opportunities for employment, enable community self-reliance and provide support for skills upgrading and training, including employer-based training.

Labour Market Development Agreements

As announced in Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the Government intends to provide an additional temporary investment of $1 billion over two years through existing Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs) with provinces and territories. This will allow an extra 100,000 EI eligible clients to be trained. This will help respond to the higher demand for labour market programs and training, due to increased unemployment. This additional investment will respond to the demand for skills training, as well as the adjustment needs coming from EI clients. Under LMDAs, provinces and territories design and deliver the employment benefits and support measures to address their local needs.

Targeted Initiative for Older Workers

As announced in Canada’s Economic Action Plan, an increase in the funding for the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW) of $60 million will ensure that older workers in need receive specialized support while they transition to new jobs. The change in criteria to TIOW means that all cities with a population of less than 250,000 will be eligible, even those located in larger census metropolitan areas. This change would result in the inclusion of over 250 additional communities.

TIOW is cost-shared with participating provinces and territories. It provides employment assistance, skills upgrading and work experience for older workers aged 55 to 64, who are affected by lay-offs in their communities, to help them find new jobs. To date, over 4,000 workers have been helped through TIOW.

Long-Tenured Workers with and without severance payments

Training and skills development are key to helping permanently laid-off workers, particularly those with many years of experience, who need to change occupations or sectors to find a new job. Canada’s Economic Action Plan introduces a new $500 million investment over two years to extend EI income benefits to long-tenured workers participating in longer-term training. This measure would benefit an estimated 40,000 workers, by providing additional time and financial support to allow them to gain the new skills needed to adapt to the changing economy.

Through a pilot project to be implemented in collaboration with provinces and territories, EI income benefits will be extended to a maximum of 104 weeks for long-tenured workers pursuing longer-term training. This could include up to 12 weeks of benefits following the completion of training to facilitate job search and re-employment.

In addition, eligible workers with severance or other separation payments will now have earlier access to EI benefits, if they use some or all of that severance to purchase skills upgrading or training for themselves. Implementation of these measures will require collaboration with provinces and territories.

Sadia Qureshi     3/17/2009


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