EMPLOYABILITY IN CANADA: PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE

EMPLOYABILITY IN CANADA: PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
HOUSE OF COMMONS
CANADA
EMPLOYABILITY IN CANADA:
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
Report of the Standing Committee on
Human Resources, Social Development and the
Status of Persons with Disabilities
Dean Allison, MP
Chair
APRIL 2008
39th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION
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EMPLOYABILITY IN CANADA:
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
Report of the Standing Committee on
Human Resources, Social Development and the
Status of Persons with Disabilities
Dean Allison, MP
Chair
APRIL 2008
39th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION
STANDING COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES,
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE STATUS OF
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
CHAIR
Dean Allison
VICE-CHAIRS
Yves Lessard
Michael Savage
MEMBERS
France Bonsant
Mike Lake
Gord Brown
Tony Martin
Rodger Cuzner
Hon. Judy Sgro
Ruby Dhalla
Lynne Yelich
Jacques Gourde
OTHER MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT WHO PARTICIPATED
Hon. Carolyn Bennett
Gary Merasty
Bonnie Brown
Hon. Geoff Regan
Patrick Brown
Denise Savoie
Hon. Michael Chong
Mario Silva
Hon. Denis Coderre
Brian Storseth
Jean-Claude D’Amours
CLERK OF THE COMMITTEE
Jacques Maziade
LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
Parliamentary Information and Research Service
Chantal Collin
Kevin B. Kerr
iii
THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON
HUMAN RESOURCES, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND
THE STATUS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
has the honour to present its
THIRD REPORT
Pursuant to its mandate under Standing Order 108(2), the Committee has studied the
subject of Employability in Canada and presents its findings and recommendations.
v
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................. 1
CHAPTER 1 — LABOUR FORCE AGING, POTENTIAL LABOUR MARKET
IMBALANCES AND FACILITATING LABOUR MARKET ADJUSTMENT ....................... 5
FACILITATING NATIONAL HUMAN RESOURCES PLANNING AND PROVIDING
BETTER LABOUR MARKET INFORMATION ........................................................... 9
A. Human Resources Planning............................................................................ 9
B. Labour Market Information ............................................................................ 13
ENHANCING LABOUR MOBILITY .......................................................................... 15
A. Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program ................................................ 17
B. The Agreement on Internal Trade ................................................................. 18
C. Tax Incentives ............................................................................................... 21
D. Mobility Assistance and Employment Insurance ........................................... 22
DEVELOPING A PAN-CANADIAN FRAMEWORK FOR ASSESSING AND
RECOGNIZING LEARNING AND CREDENTIALS.................................................. 24
A. Recognizing Foreign Credentials .................................................................. 25
B. Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition ................................................ 29
CHAPTER 2 — INVESTMENTS IN LEARNING ........................................................... 33
WORKPLACE TRAINING ........................................................................................ 34
A. Apprenticeship Training................................................................................. 37
B. Workplace Literacy........................................................................................ 41
POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION ......................................................................... 47
A. Access to Post-Secondary Education ........................................................... 48
B. Federal Transfers and Post-Secondary Institutional Capacity....................... 53
1. Canada Social Transfer ........................................................................... 53
vii
2. Post-Secondary Institutional Capacity ..................................................... 55
CONTINUOUS LEARNING...................................................................................... 57
LABOUR MARKET ADJUSTMENT AND EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE................. 60
A. Building on Labour Market Training Arrangements ....................................... 65
B. At-Risk Youth ................................................................................................ 68
CHAPTER 3 — INCREASING LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION AND
STRENGTHENING WORK INCENTIVES..................................................................... 71
OLDER WORKERS ................................................................................................. 71
A. Strengthening Incentives to Work ................................................................. 72
1. Mandatory Retirement ............................................................................. 73
2. Public Pensions ....................................................................................... 75
B. Adjustment Assistance .................................................................................. 77
ABORIGINAL WORKERS ....................................................................................... 81
A. Aboriginal Education ..................................................................................... 82
1. Barriers to Post-Secondary Education ..................................................... 82
2. Federal Programs Supporting Aboriginal Education ................................ 83
B. Aboriginal Labour Market Participation.......................................................... 85
1. Barriers to Employment ........................................................................... 86
2. Enhancing Aboriginal Training and Labour Market Participation ............. 87
C. Federal Programs Promoting Employment for Aboriginal People ................. 89
D. Closing the Gap in Socio-Economic Outcomes between Canada’s
Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal People........................................................... 91
WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES............................................................................. 95
A. Barriers to Employment................................................................................. 96
1. Unmet Needs for Disability-Related Supports.......................................... 97
2. Other Barriers .......................................................................................... 99
viii
B. Role of the Federal Government ................................................................. 101
1. Human Resources and Social Development Canada Programs ........... 102
a) The Opportunities Fund ..................................................................... 102
b) Multilateral Framework for Labour Market Agreements
for Persons with Disabilities ............................................................... 105
c) Other Programs ................................................................................. 106
2. Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program ................................................ 109
3. Legislative Measures and Policies to Achieve Employment Equity........ 110
4. Disability Supports ................................................................................. 113
LOW-INCOME WORKERS.................................................................................... 113
A. Work Incentives........................................................................................... 116
B. Housing ....................................................................................................... 120
C. Early Learning and Child Care .................................................................... 122
WORKERS IN SEASONAL EMPLOYMENT.......................................................... 124
CHAPTER 4 — BEYOND OUR BORDERS: SELECTING SKILLED
IMMIGRANTS AND UTILIZING TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS ...................... 131
SELECTING SKILLED WORKERS ....................................................................... 131
TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS ................................................................... 136
INTEGRATING IMMIGRANTS INTO THE LABOUR MARKET ............................. 143
CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 149
LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS................................................................................. 151
APPENDIX A: SKILLS SHORTAGES IN KEY SECTORS: MANAGING
SKILLS SHORTAGES AND SURPLUSES IN CANADA ............................................. 169
APPENDIX B: ASSESSMENT CRITERIA AND POINTS AWARDED FOR
THE PURPOSE OF SELECTING SKILLED WORKERS UNDER CANADA’S
IMMIGRATION PROGRAM ........................................................................................ 173
ix
APPENDIX C: LIST OF WITNESSES ......................................................................... 177
APPENDIX D: LIST OF BRIEFS ................................................................................. 189
REQUEST FOR GOVERNMENT RESPONSE ........................................................... 195
DISSENTING OPINION OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA ................ 197
DISSENTING OPINION OF THE BLOC QUÉBÉCOIS ............................................... 201
SUPPLEMENTARY OPINION OF THE NDP .............................................................. 207
x
INTRODUCTION
The Canadian economy is experiencing a relatively prolonged period of economic
strength. In 2007, the national unemployment rate was 6%, the lowest it has been in more
than 30 years. Although the downward trend in the unemployment rate is a positive
development overall, many employers, especially small- and medium-sized employers in
Western Canada, are experiencing growing difficulty in finding workers with the skills they
need to maintain and expand their operations. At the same time, Canada has more than
one million unemployed people, many of whom are searching for full-time jobs.
Unfortunately, many of these individuals lack the necessary skills to fill available jobs or are
geographically separated from job opportunities.
Forgoing economic opportunities for want of workers with the right skills lowers
output, productivity and the incomes of Canadians. Although the incidence of skills
shortages normally intensifies during tight labour market conditions, we suspect that
another contributing factor is a fast approaching and unstoppable demographic trend: the
aging of Canada’s labour force. Many expect this development to exacerbate the skills
shortages problem in the years to come as Canada enters a prolonged period of slower
growth in the labour force.
The capacity of the Canadian economy to produce goods and services depends on
a number of factors, including the supply of workers, workers’ skills, hours of work, the
amount of capital used in production, and technology. The supply and quality of workers’
skills are key contributors to our competitiveness and economic prosperity. As technology
improves, so must the skills of workers using it; education and training are becoming
increasingly important contributors to improved productivity, and our policies to increase
the level and quality of human capital in this country must continue to move toward this
reality.
The skill requirements of today’s jobs are higher than those of the past, and the skill
intensity of occupational demand is expected to continue rising in the years to come.
Today, it is estimated that more than 70% of all new jobs created in Canada require at
least some post-secondary education and training. Yet, more than one-third of the
Canadian labour force cannot meet this requirement. An even higher proportion of workingage Canadians lack the necessary literacy and other essential skills to participate
successfully in our rapidly changing labour market.
The return on investments in education and training in Canada accrue not only to
those investing in skills, but to society as a whole. There is an important role for the public
sector to play in facilitating individuals’ acquisition of the skills they require in the workplace.
Workers, unions and employers also play key roles in ensuring that the necessary
investments in human capital are made. Canada’s labour market is national in scope, and
so all levels of government must work together to ensure that workers have the right skills
1
to meet Canada’s future needs and are able to move freely to accept available jobs. We
need to develop a more effective pan-Canadian employability strategy based on cooperation, collaboration and inclusion to meet the challenges of slower labour force growth
and the prospect of growing skills shortages in the years ahead.
Education, training and many other matters related to Canadian workplaces are
areas of responsibility that fall primarily within the purview of provincial and territorial
governments. Members of the Committee respect this reality, but most of us also recognize
that there is an important role to be played by the federal government in working with the
provinces and territories to create adaptable and knowledge-based workforces in every
region of the country.
The federal government has an important role to play in helping promote the
unfettered movement of workers throughout Canada. Too often, workers with the right
skills in one region of the country are unable to fill vacant jobs in another region because
we lack adequate interprovincial/territorial mechanisms for the recognition of workers’ skills.
This is a serious and long-standing problem.
Increasing Canada’s supply of skilled workers is important not only for economic
prosperity, but also to improve the socio-economic situation of individuals whose
participation in the workplace is low. With the right skills and anticipated growth in
employment opportunities, the future job prospects of Canadians — especially those in
under-represented groups — are expected to improve, provided we continue to develop
and implement policies that support greater participation in the workplace.
On May 11, 2006, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human
Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities agreed to
undertake an examination of employability issues in Canada. The Committee examined a
myriad of labour supply-side issues such as worker mobility, seasonal workers, older
workers, skilled worker shortages, workplace literacy and the recognition of foreign
credentials. Although the initial study was designed to focus on these issues, the study’s
scope was quickly broadened to include Aboriginal workers, workers with disabilities, lowincome workers, newly arrived immigrants and temporary foreign workers.
There are essentially four ways to ensure that Canada’s supply of skilled workers is
sufficient to meet employers’ needs and thereby mitigate what many expect will be a
chronic and worsening skills shortages problem in the future. Our report is structured
accordingly. One way to mitigate the impact of skills shortages is to ensure that the
Canadian labour market is able to adjust quickly and that workers’ skills are utilized in their
most productive capacity. Chapter 1 focuses on the need to: broaden human resources
planning to better anticipate which skills will be in greatest demand and how this demand
can be met; reduce barriers to worker mobility; and provide for greater recognition of
Canadian and foreign-born workers’ formal education, skills, occupation-related credentials
and prior learning.
2
Chapter 2 focuses on investments in human capital. We discuss issues related to
workplace training, post-secondary education, lifelong learning and federally supported skill
acquisition initiatives directed primarily at unemployed individuals.
Another way to augment the supply of skills is to intensify the use of existing skills
among under-represented segments of the labour force. Chapter 3 examines ways to
retain the services of older workers, increase the participation and employment rates
among Aboriginal people and persons with disabilities, reduce work disincentives among
low-income workers and extend the working season of those employed in seasonal
industries.
Finally, the supply of skills can also be increased by attracting individuals from other
countries. Canada’s immigration program has a long history of attracting foreign applicants
to meet our labour market needs. In Chapter 4 we discuss issues surrounding the selection
of skilled workers seeking permanent residency in Canada, the admission of temporary
foreign workers to meet specific sectoral and geographical skill needs, and the integration
of immigrants into the Canadian labour market.
It is our intent that the recommendations in this report will contribute to the
development of an effective pan-Canadian employability strategy that will, in the years
ahead, meet the labour market needs of employers and of all segments of the working-age
population, particularly those with low skills, low incomes and low workforce participation
rates. Members of the Committee realize that the development of a pan-Canadian
employability strategy will require an ongoing commitment and greater cooperation
between federal, provincial and territorial governments. Although some of the
recommendations in our report may fall within the purview of provincial/territorial
responsibility, this should not be construed as an attempt to extend the reach of the federal
government into areas of provincial/territorial jurisdiction. Rather, we simply believe that
there is a need for federal leadership in areas of national importance. We recognize the
importance of obtaining provincial/territorial consent before taking action, and believe that
in the spirit of greater cooperation between both levels of government we can work
together to help ensure the future prosperity of Canadians.
3
CHAPTER 1 — LABOUR FORCE AGING,
POTENTIAL LABOUR MARKET IMBALANCES
AND FACILITATING LABOUR MARKET ADJUSTMENT
The aging of Canada’s population is an important development for many reasons,
not least of which is its impact on the labour market. Between 1946 and 1965, the
Canadian population experienced rapid growth during the post-war “baby boom.” Although
the influence of the baby-boom generation on the Canadian labour market has been
undeniable, many observers believe that the greatest impact is still to come, particularly
after 2011, the year in which the first “boomers” will reach the age of 65. Combined with a
significant decline in the fertility rate since the early 1960s, this demographic event
underlies the rapid aging of Canada’s workplace.
The baby-boomers, born between 1946 and 1965, were concentrated at the base of the
pyramid in 1971. At the time, it was already clear that they were a very large group of
individuals. In 1986, they were aged between 20 and 40, and in 2001, between 35
and 55 […] In 2007, the baby-boomers — who will be between 50 and 70 — will remain
the largest group of individuals in the Canadian population. 1
Ms. Maryanne Webber
Statistics Canada
According to Statistics Canada, the working-age population (i.e., individuals aged 15
to 64) as a proportion of the total population is projected to decline during the 2010s and
2020s, reaching about 62% of the total population by the early 2030s, as compared to 70%
in 2005.2 Although we do not know what proportion of this population will be in the labour
force in the future, we do know that labour force participation will change as the labour
force ages. In this context, Statistics Canada presented two projections to the Committee;
these are reflected in the labour force growth projections depicted in Chart 1.1.3 The
average annual labour force growth projections for the five year intervals presented in
Chart 1.1 illustrate two main points. First, while labour supply is expected to continue to
1
House of Commons, Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of
Persons with Disabilities (hereafter Evidence), Evidence, 1st Session, 39th Parliament, Meeting No. 7, June
13, 2006 at 9:10 a.m.
2
Statistics Canada, Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2005-2031, December
2005, pp. 48-49 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/91-520-XIE/0010591-520-XIE.pdf.
3
The assumptions underlying Projection 1 are that the participation rate will stay the same for each five-year
age group from 2005 to 2017. Under Projection 2, the participation rate will stay the same for all five-year
age groups, save those of individuals 55 years of age and over, throughout the period 2006-2017. In terms
of older individuals, this projection assumes that the participation rate of individuals 55 years of age and over
will increase (at the same rate as that witnessed between 2004 and 2005) until 2010 and stay unchanged
thereafter. In both cases, the population 15 years of age and over is projected to grow according to Statistics
Canada’s medium growth scenario (see CANSIM Table 052-0004, Scenario 3).
5
grow between now and the middle of the next decade, the annual rate of growth in
Canada’s labour force by the middle of the next decade is projected to be a fraction of that
experienced during the first half of this decade. Second, even if older workers are
persuaded to stay in the labour market for a longer period of time, slower labour force
growth and, ultimately, a contraction in labour supply, appear inevitable.
CHART 1.1 - Actual and Projected Average Annual Labour Force Growth, 1981-1985 to 20112015
2
Projection 1
Projection 2
2006-2010
2011-2015
1.8
1.6
1.4
Per Cent
1.2
1
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
1981-1985
1986-1990
1991-1995
1996-2000
2001-2005
Source: Statistics Canada and the Library of Parliament
With ongoing technological change and growth in Canada’s knowledge-based
economy, the skill content of labour demand will also continue its upward trend. However,
given that relatively fewer skilled workers are expected to enter the labour market in years
to come, many believe that employers will become increasingly reliant on workers already
in the labour market to meet future skill requirements. In this likely event, the capacity of
these workers to quickly acquire those skills that are in short supply will have a significant
influence on future workplace productivity and living standards.
6
[O]n the reality of an aging population, while it brings forth a number of challenges in the
Canadian context, its most pronounced effect is likely to be that of its impact on our
future labour supply. Slower labour force growth will make it difficult to sustain past
growth rates and improvements in our standards of living.4
Ms. Karen Jackson
Department of Human Resources and Social Development
Over the years, Canada’s labour market has demonstrated a capacity to adjust, and
we expect it will continue to do so in the future. Members of the Committee also recognize
that labour market adjustments take time. As a result, labour market imbalances (in terms
of both shortages and surpluses) occur from time to time, as the market for particular skills
takes some time to adjust. For example, if a skills shortage emerges, more workers will
invest in the skills in demand as the level of remuneration and job openings rise. The
speed at which the labour market adjusts to this situation depends on a number of factors,
including wage flexibility, the availability of labour market information and the cost of
obtaining needed skills.
Many witnesses addressed the issue of growing skills shortages. Although most
suggested that Canada will not face a general labour shortage, the Committee was told
that some small- and medium-sized business owners have expressed concern about a
general shortage of workers. In fact, we were told that some businesses have delayed their
expansion plans because they are unable find the workers they need.
[F]or a number of years now we have been watching the concern over the shortage of
qualified labour gradually increase. In fact, in some provinces, like Alberta, the concern
over the shortage of qualified labour has become so serious that it has actually
surpassed the total tax burden. That's something we have never seen before in all our
surveying, and we've been tracking these issues for a very long time […] We don't expect
the problem to get better. We actually expect the problem to continue growing. A good
example is that in December, 31% of our members indicated that they expect to increase
full-time employment within their firm. These are relatively healthy levels, and we expect
these levels to stay healthy. But what this means is that it will become harder and harder
to hire more people […] For example, the long-term job vacancy rate, which highlights
the number of positions that have been available for four months or longer, has steadily
been increasing since 2004. This is problematic because it's having a serious impact on
the economy, in the sense that it is forcing businesses to forgo new opportunities or
expansion opportunities simply because they do not have the resources to pursue these
new opportunities. Although the problem is more acute in some provinces, like Alberta, it
is a problem that we have identified across the country, in every province.5
Ms. Lucie Charron
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
4
Evidence, Meeting No. 4, June 1, 2006 at 9:05 a.m.
5
Evidence, Meeting No. 65, March 27, 2007 at 9:25 a.m.
7
Many witnesses anticipate skills shortages to become more commonplace and
problematic. Witnesses representing a variety of goods- and services-producing sectors of
the economy highlighted existing and impending skills shortages. Appendix A provides an
overview of some of these predictions, although it should be noted that these and other
projections of skills shortages are typically formulated outside the context of labour market
adjustments, including the substitution of capital for labour, and without adequate regard
for changes on the supply side of the labour market.
My third point is about the chimera of massive impending labour shortages. We hear all
the time about projections of massive labour shortages in the future — certain
occupations will need 80,000 jobs [...] It's very important to beware of those types of
predicted situations, because they are not going to take place. Labour markets adjust
over time, wages rise, demand falls, and the supply of workers increases: people coming
in from other countries, other occupations, from education institutions, and from upskilling
of workers. In that sense, these adjustments take place over time.6
Dr. Andrew Sharpe
Centre for the Study of Living Standards
Every two years, Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC)
formulates labour market projections for the coming decade. When HRSDC officials
appeared before the Committee in June 2006, they indicated that two out of every three job
openings that will arise in the next ten years will be attributed to labour force aging
(replacement demand) rather than new job creation (expansion demand).7 According to the
Department’s most recent forecast, many occupations are expected to face excess
demand pressures during the period, 2006-2015, including health-related occupations
(e.g., doctors, nurses, medical radiation technologists and a variety of aides and assistants
in support of health services); management occupations (e.g., managers in public
administration, human resource managers and supervisors in processing occupations);
professional occupations (e.g., civil engineers, industrial engineering, and manufacturing
technologists and technicians); occupations specific to primary industries (e.g., oil and gas
well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers); and a number of trade-related
occupations (e.g., residential home builders and renovators, pipefitters and carpenters).8
6
Evidence, Meeting No. 13, September 28, 2006 at 11:30 a.m.
7
Growth in labour supply is estimated from the flow of students leaving the formal educational system, recent
immigration and individuals re-entering the labour market following a period of non-participation.
8
M. Lapointe, K. Dunn, N. Tremblay- Côté, L.-P. Bergeron, W. L. Ignaczak, Looking Ahead:
A 10-year Outlook for the Canadian Labour Market 2006-2015, Human Resources
and
Social
Development
Canada,
October
2006,
p.
58
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/publications_resources/research/categories/labour_market_e/sp_615_10_06/sp_6
15_10_06e.pdf.
8
[B]y our forecast, two out of three of the job openings that will take place in the next ten
years will arise not because a new job was created but because somebody retired from
an existing job. That means that because of population aging, you start to see the
pressures across a wider spectrum of the occupations […] As to the implications of these
pressures, clearly one of the implications is going to be upward pressure on earnings to
encourage people to stay in the workforce, to entice people to move into the areas where
the demand is the greatest. If you're a worker, I don't think you would think this is a
terrible problem. You would probably think it is a good problem. I think clearly firms are
going to have to learn to adapt to these pressures. They are going to have to start to
invest in new technology, start to invest in new efficiencies to make more effective use of
Canadian workers.9
Mr. Cliff Halliwell
Human Resources and Social Development Canada
Although this forecast is largely silent in terms of regional labour market pressures,
the Committee was told that labour market imbalances exist across the country and,
according to our testimony, appear to be most acute in Western Canada.
The skills shortages and adjustment problems currently facing Alberta and British
Columbia may be harbingers of the problems Canada could face nationally in the years to
come. As outlined in the introduction of our report, we encourage both levels of
government to work together to develop a pan-Canadian employability strategy that
expedites labour market adjustments, increases investments in human capital, removes
barriers to employment among under-represented groups in the labour market and uses
the skills of workers who reside beyond our borders.
Chapter 1 of our report focuses on three key issues that would help facilitate faster
labour market adjustments across the country: human resources planning and labour
market information, labour mobility, and the recognition of domestic and foreign credentials
and prior learning.
FACILITATING NATIONAL HUMAN RESOURCES PLANNING AND PROVIDING
BETTER LABOUR MARKET INFORMATION
A. Human Resources Planning
The Committee was told that Canada needs to adopt a pan-Canadian perspective
to address the aging of the labour force and the labour market imbalances that may result.
No single level of government can adequately address this issue, and an effective strategy
cannot be developed if governments act independently of one another. All stakeholders
need to know what is being done in each province and territory in order to minimize the
9
Evidence, Meeting No. 4, June 1, 2006 at 9:25 a.m.
9
duplication of effort and the ineffective use of resources. Federal/provincial/territorial cooperation is essential to plan for and meet our future skill requirements.
The call for a pan-Canadian perspective regarding human resources planning was
most intensely expressed by groups representing the health care sector. Given the
prospect, evidenced above, of continued and growing labour market imbalances in many
health care-related occupations, the urgency for better planning is easily understood.
[A]s you all know, there have been a number of labour sector studies for various health
disciplines or health professions. There was a nursing one, a physician one, a
pharmacist one, a home care one. The Canadian Healthcare Association was involved in
all of these, sometimes on the steering committee, sometimes on the management
committee. They were sometimes concerned that they were working in silos, and while
we were all trying to plan for the future, the assumptions on which we were planning were
different and really needed to be more integrated than not. Frankly, that's why we kept
meeting throughout this process, doing various sector studies, seeing how we could get
together so we weren't operating in silos. So what we're really seeing is some kind of
mechanism to bring together all of the various information gathering, research processes,
planning processes, and what not, not in a way that steps on anyone's jurisdiction, but in
a way that understands that people are mobile and can move from province to province,
region to region. We need to address those issues as well as needs across the country.10
Sharon Sholzberg-Gray
Canadian Healthcare Association
The issue, of course, lies in the fact that each province does its own planning related to
education and employment. Each independently projects future health needs. The value
of uncoordinated efforts in the area of employability is diminishing. Canada needs to pull
together to recognize the growing mobility of health professionals and others. We were
pleased to read the recent announcement by governments identifying interprovincial
mobility as a policy priority. 11
Mrs. Lisa Little
Canadian Nurses Association
10
Evidence, Meeting No. 10, September 21, 2006 at 12:15 p.m.
11
Ibid., at 11:30 a.m.
10
[I]deally what we'd want to see is the creation of a health sector table much like what
exists in other areas, like engineering, forestry, and mining. We've generally run into a
brick wall with respect to applications for that, largely having to do with federal-provincialterritorial responsibilities.12
Dr. William Tholl
Canadian Medical Association
Representatives from other sectors of the economy also expressed the need for a
national approach to deal with human resources planning.
No one level of government has the capacity to address Canada's skilled labour
shortages. As well, little progress can be achieved with governments acting
independently of one another and participating in an inchoate array of activities that have
a life of their own, consume resources, and don't produce results on the ground. There is
a need for a comprehensive and cohesive national strategy to address Canada's skills
requirements, including national training standards.13
Mr. David Wassmansdorf
Canadian Home Builders’ Association
We're beginning to appreciate the importance of pan-Canadian coordination efforts in
order to avoid duplication. There already has been some duplication and we have no
time to lose on this score. One very important component of the national strategy is
identifying the role sector councils could play in the information sharing process. They
could act as information centres for groups such as education networks, associations,
colleges or universities.14
Mr. Paul Hébert
Mining Industry Human Resources Council
Although Canada does not have a fully developed pan-Canadian capacity for
human resources planning, it is important to note that the federal government has been
supporting this policy direction since the late 1980s through the creation of national sector
councils. These sector councils are permanent national organizations that address a wide
range of sector-specific human resources issues, including identifying and supplying skills
required today and those anticipated in the future.15 We were told that sector councils are
broadly represented by employers, employees, educators, government and other
12
Ibid., at 12:10 p.m.
13
Evidence, Meeting No. 28, October 26, 2006 at 2:50 p.m.
14
Evidence, Meeting No. 14, October 3, 2006 at 11:45 a.m.
15
Other activities include, for example, developing certification and training standards to facilitate skills
upgrading and labour mobility, helping employers hire and retain immigrants and ensure efficient foreign
credential recognition, and increasing labour force participation among Aboriginal people, persons with
disabilities and women.
11
interested stakeholders. Currently, there are roughly 30 sector councils (excluding
associate members and other partners and organizations), representing just under 50% of
the labour market.16
Although educators are typically represented on sector councils, the Committee was
told that there needs to be a stronger connection between the skills required by employers
and those inherent in new labour force entrants leaving the educational and training
system.
In both continuing education and in post-secondary institutions, there are challenges.
Employers, the market, industry, need workers not only with technical skills but with
interpersonal and business skills. Too many of our post-secondary schools still offer
adequate or advanced technical training, but nowhere do they give business strategy,
marketing, and general liberal arts mixed in with the technology. However, there is real
demand for such rounded workers.17
Mr. Paul Swinwood
Software Human Resource Council Inc.
I think the other thing that is out there that is huge and that people really haven't come to
appreciate is that there is a huge lack of credibility in the education system today. I've
talked to a lot of human resources people across the country, and one of their common
concerns is that people they hire or would like to hire just don't have the essential skills to
do the job.18
Ms. Leslie Childs
Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia
Although they have a central body nationally for apprenticeship, it is not getting to the
detail of what's happening in the field and the needs of the industry. The industry has to
get better at defining the needs to the education system, but the education system has to
get together cohesively and decide how best to get the people trained, and where and
how many.19
Mr. Ken McKinlay
Saskatchewan Home Builders' Association
Members of the Committee believe that sector councils are making a valuable
contribution to human resources planning by building vital partnerships within industry to
identify and supply our current and future skills needs. It is our view that this model should
16
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Performance Report, 2005-2006, 2006, p. 55
http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/0506/HRSDC-RHDSC/hrsdc-rhdsc-PR_e.asp?printable=True.
17
Evidence, Meeting No. 14, October 3, 2006 at 11:25 a.m.
18
Evidence, Meeting No. 21, October 24, 2006 at 11:15 a.m.
19
Evidence, Meeting No. 38, November 10, 2006 at 10:50 a.m.
12
continue to be developed and expanded in order to be better prepared for the human
resources challenges that lie ahead.
Recommendation 1.1
The Committee recommends that federal and provincial/territorial
governments contribute funding and work together with business,
labour, educators and other key stakeholders to further the
development of a national human resources planning capability by
expanding the sector council model. As a first priority, efforts should
focus on establishing a sector council on health care services.
Recommendation 1.2
The Committee recommends that the federal government support the
establishment of stronger links between the skills needs identified by
sector councils and those provided through the educational system to
ensure that curricula reflects, and continues to develop in concert with,
Canada’s socio-economic needs.
B. Labour Market Information
In the absence of timely and adequate information on the demand for and supply of
skills, the labour market is slow to adjust. Lengthy labour force adjustments are costly to
both workers and the economy, and should be minimized to the greatest extent possible.
The sooner workers identify the skills they need to become productive in the workplace, the
sooner they can enroll in education and training (usually a lengthy process in itself). The
sooner firms match their skills needs with workers possessing those skills, the lower will be
the costs associated with this matching process.
During our hearings, a number of witnesses expressed the view that we need more
and better labour market information, especially at the regional and local levels. Although
Human Resources and Social Development Canada provides a great deal of information
on current job openings and occupational skill requirements, some witnesses indicated that
labour market participants need more detailed information on future demand for and supply
of specific occupational skills in specific regions.
[T]here is a great need for more and better labour market information [LMI]. LMI is
essential for students, parents, employers, and educators. Those making learning and
labour market decisions to enhance their employability cannot do it in an information
vacuum. Labour market information must be more accessible and organized in a userfriendly way. Understanding the evolving character of Canada's workforce is perhaps the
real starting point for constructive decision-making, and given the very real regional
13
differences in our labour force, this challenge is all the more difficult. Clearly the federal
government can play a vital role in the collection and sharing of labour market
information.20
Ms. Shirley Seward
Canadian Labour and Business Centre
Labour market information is a complex amalgam of a number of different statistics and
polls that are done. It's a matter of getting these to be more sophisticated, and thus being
able to get more granulated, more specific information for particular sectors of the
economy in particular regions and even in particular cities in the country.21
Mr. Andrew Cardozo
The Alliance of Sector Councils
[M]eeting the skill needs of Nova Scotia's labour force means having a finger on the
pulse of Nova Scotia's immediate, emerging, and future labour market needs. Timely and
accurate labour market information underlies the development of responsive policies and
programs and supports labour market decision-making.22
Mr. Keith Messenger
Nova Scotia Department of Education
According to a recent report on the state of labour market information in Canada
and four other OECD countries (Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United
States), the organization of labour market information in this country is not coordinated or
easily accessible. In comparison with that of other OECD countries, the delivery of labour
market information in Canada’s education system is weak. Among other things, the report
calls for strategies to broaden access to labour market information and better tailor this
information to the needs of users, to develop more skills-based labour market information
(including measures of shortages and surpluses), and to enhance the quality of labour
market information.23
At the federal level, Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC)
is a main provider of labour market information. In 2005-2006, it spent $27.2 million on the
Labour Market Information program,24 an activity that provides a range of labour market
information products and services to, among others, job seekers, employers and people
20
Evidence, Meeting No. 9, June 20, 2006 at 9:15 a.m.
21
Evidence, Meeting No. 14, October 3, 2006 at 11:10 a.m.
22
Evidence, Meeting No. 22, October 24, 2006 at 1:25 p.m.
23
A. Sharpe and S. Quo, The Role of Labour Market Information for Adjustments: International Comparisons,
Centre for the Study of Living Standards, December 2006, pp. 67 – 73 http://www.csls.ca/reports/csls200603.pdf.
24
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Performance Report, 2006, p. 60 http://www.tbssct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/0506/HRSDC-RHDSC/hrsdc-rhdsc-PR_e.asp?printable=True.
14
choosing a career. The Committee encourages HRSDC to continue to work with its labour
market partners to provide more detailed and timely labour market information, especially
in terms of helping employers plan for their training and recruiting needs. We believe that
this type of information will grow in importance in the years ahead.
Recommendation 1.3
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada improve the quality and timeliness of labour
market information and provide more detailed skills-based demand and
supply forecasts for regional and local labour markets.
ENHANCING LABOUR MOBILITY
Labour mobility, both occupational and geographical, is a critical component of an
efficiently operating labour market. Impediments to employing skills in their most valued
uses can impart significant effects on earnings, productivity and, in the aggregate, national
output.
There are many barriers to occupational and geographical mobility. In some cases,
the skills of unemployed workers are mismatched with those sought by employers. In other
cases, workers possess the skills required by employers, but remain geographically
separated from job openings due to personal, financial or institutional factors. Some
workers, for family and other personal reasons, choose not to relocate. Moving entails
expenses (e.g., housing and moving costs) that can also impede the decision to move.
Portability of employment benefits, particularly in terms of pensions, may also impede
decisions to move to another job. Credential recognition practices, discordant skill
certification processes and requirements, and hiring restrictions also serve to inhibit the
interprovincial/territorial movement of workers.
According to data published by Statistics Canada, interprovincial migration flows
among individuals aged 15 to 64 have declined over the past 30 years. This trend is
displayed in Chart 1.2, which shows a 16% decline in average annual interprovincial
migration among individuals in this age group between the periods 1976-1980 and 20012005. This downward trend is somewhat surprising given that the labour force grew by
some 65% between 1976 and 2005. Another finding, not captured in Chart 1.2, is that
Alberta and British Columbia experienced a net inflow throughout most of this period, while
net outflows were characteristic of Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
Although most witnesses supported measures that would increase worker mobility
in Canada, not everyone shared this view. We were told that, as labour market imbalances
intensify and become more commonplace throughout the country, increased labour
mobility would exacerbate shortages in those regions experiencing out-migration. The
negative impact of worker mobility was also raised in the context of workers in seasonal
15
employment; encouraging these workers to find non-seasonal jobs could present new
staffing challenges for seasonal employers.
Chart 1.2 - Average Annual Interprovincial Migration Among Persons 15-64 Years of Age,
Canada, 1976-1980 to 2001-2005
300,000
250,000
200,000
150,000
100,000
50,000
0
1976-1980
1981-1985
1986-1990
1991-1995
1996-2000
2001-2005
Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM, Table 051-0012; and the Library of Parliament.
The experience we've had in our industry is that mobility has in fact had a negative
impact on our industry. While there may be jobs in Alberta, the problem is that we're
taking talented people from Quebec, from Ontario, from Nova Scotia and bringing them
to Alberta, because there's a shortage of workers. That means those provinces then
literally experience a drain and there are simply not enough workers to be able to train
and replace the ones who have left. In fact, the problem we're having in the retail sector
is that retailers are stealing employees from other retailers, from one part of the country
to another. So the whole issue of mobility has a negative impact on the growth of our
sector across Canada.25
Ms. Diane Brisebois
Retail Council of Canada
Over the years, the federal government has been trying to address many of the
impediments to labour mobility, but progress has been slow. This section of our report
25
Evidence, Meeting No.36, November 9, 2006 at 11:25 a.m.
16
discusses institutional measures and financial incentives to facilitate labour mobility within
and across the regions of Canada.
A. Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program
Although apprenticeship programs are administered and regulated by provincial and
territorial governments, the federal government has, for many years, encouraged
standardization of apprenticeship training and certification through the Interprovincial
Standards Red Seal Program to facilitate labour mobility among tradespersons. Today,
there are more than 300 apprenticeship programs across the country, of which 47 have a
Red Seal designation.26 Approximately 85% of all registered apprentices are working within
these 47 designated Red Seal trades.27
By successfully completing an Interprovincial Standards Examination, certified
journeypersons are able to practise their trade in any province or territory, provided it is
designated as a Red Seal trade, without having to write additional examinations. It should
be noted that only about 40% of designated Red Seal trades are recognized in all
provinces and territories. Of the Red Seal trades that are not designated in every
jurisdiction, in most instances only two or three jurisdictions do not participate as there is no
comparable apprenticeship program available.
The Red Seal program is a national program and is internationally recognized. It means
that anybody who has a Red Seal certificate in a skilled trade can go anywhere in
Canada and around the world. One would think we would be striving for this as a country.
Instead, that's not happening, and because it is in provincial jurisdiction, there are
fragmentations taking place. I think reinvesting in and reinvigorating the Red Seal
Program would be extremely important.28
Ms. Pam Frache
Ontario Federation of Labour
26
The Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program http://www.red-seal.ca/Site/about/redseal_e.htm.
27
Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship, Presentation to the CAF Conference, June 6, 2006,
Montreal, Quebec http://www.caf-fca.org/conf2k6/pres/TuesJune6/FutureDirection.pdf.
28
Evidence, Meeting No. 30, October 27, 2006 at 11:40 a.m.
17
I'd like to see more support for the existing Red Seal. The federal government has the
responsibility for overseeing how you achieve Red Seal status. Unfortunately, I find from
province to province to province there isn't quite the same level of commitment from each
province to getting people through and getting to their red seal and completing their
apprenticeships.29
Mr. Pat Byrne, District Council 38
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
In 2005, 17,701 Red Seals were issued, compared with 10,912 in 1996.30 Although
members of the Committee are encouraged by the recent upward trend in the number of
Red Seals issued, we are mindful of the growing need to encourage more Red Seal
certifications and to facilitate greater mobility among those who work in non-Red Seal
trades.
Recommendation 1.4
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada continue to work with the Canadian Council of
Directors of Apprenticeship to standardize apprenticeship training and
certification programs across the country, to increase the number of
Red Seal certifications and to extend Red Seal designations to trades
that require compulsory certification.
B. The Agreement on Internal Trade
It is estimated that between 15% and 20% of workers in Canada are employed in a
regulated occupation or trade. Although most regulated occupations are governed by selfregulating non-governmental bodies, trades, as indicated above, are regulated by
provincial and territorial governments. Workers in these occupations are accredited and
licensed by a vast number of delegated authorities, whose disparate practices constrain
the movement of workers across the country.
There is a remarkable degree of private sector labour market mobility, but there are still
many government-imposed roadblocks to labour market mobility in Canada. If you spend
some time in this province, you'll see that employers are finding new and creative ways
of filling their labour market needs. The oil sands in Alberta, for example, are pulling
people in who continue to live in Atlantic Canada but come for the week to work in
Alberta. There are planes from the interior of B.C. that are flying into Alberta to work for a
29
Evidence, Meeting No. 34, November 8, 2006 at 11:25 a.m.
30
Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship, 2005 Annual
http://www.red-seal.ca/Site/products/CCDA_Annual_Report_2005.pdf.
18
Report,
Table
1,
p.
12
short period of time and then going home, so the private sector is finding ways of
accommodating that. At the same time, recognition of credentials between provinces
remains a massive problem for employers.31
Mr. Dan Kelly
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
In an effort to address this problem, the federal, provincial and territorial
governments signed the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) in 1994. This agreement,
which came into effect in July 1995, is intended to “eliminate barriers to trade, investment
and mobility within Canada.”32 Chapter 7 of the AIT is intended “to enable any worker
qualified for an occupation in one part of Canada to have access to employment
opportunities within that occupation in any other province or territory.”33 Pursuant to
Chapter 7, regulating authorities are required to conduct a thorough analysis of their
respective occupations to determine the extent to which occupational requirements,
including licensing, certification or registration, are shared across jurisdictions. Where
significant similarities in standards exist, organizations are supposed to recognize workers
who meet these standards. In instances where standards are dissimilar, the additional
training and/or certification required to attain the accepted standard must be identified. A
Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) or similar formality is supposed to be used to
document what constitutes an acceptable standard and what is required to reconcile
differences between occupational standards. Mobility in trade-related occupations, as
discussed above, is facilitated under the Red Seal Program.
Progress to fully implement Chapter 7 of this agreement on trade has been unduly slow.
For many occupations, licensing requirements vary significantly between provinces.
Regulators of many professions are still grappling with issues such as legislative change,
scope of practice, educational requirements, and assessment mechanisms. The
chamber recommends that Chapter 7 of the AIT be fully implemented.34
Mr. Michael Murphy,
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
In 2004-2005, the Forum of Labour Market Ministers, the group responsible for
implementing Chapter 7 of the AIT, sought to evaluate compliance under this part of the
agreement by conducting a national survey. A total of 425 questionnaires were sent to
regulatory bodies governing 50 occupations covered under the agreement, of which 92%
responded. According to the results of this survey, regulators reported registering between
31
Evidence, Meeting No. 36, November 9, 2006 at 11:20 a.m.
32
Agreement on Internal Trade http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/inait-aci.nsf/en/il00021e.html.
33
In February 1999, federal and provincial/territorial governments, excluding Quebec, signed A Framework to
Improve the Social Union for Canadians (SUFA). The SUFA committed signatory governments to ensure full
compliance with Chapter 7 of the AIT by July 1, 2001.
34
Evidence, Meeting No. 9, June 20, 2006 at 9:40 a.m.
19
86% and 100% of applicants from other provinces in eight of the covered occupations.
Regulators reported registering between 59% and 85% of the applicants in 23 occupations,
while a registration rate of 50% or less was found for the remaining occupations. In total,
only 65% of the 12,953 workers who applied for registration between October 1, 2003 and
September 30, 2004 had their qualifications recognized under a MRA or some other
mobility agreement, and were issued a document enabling them to practise in their
occupation. An even smaller proportion of internationally trained workers whose
qualifications were recognized in one jurisdiction had their qualifications recognized under
an MRA or some other mobility agreement in another jurisdiction.35 In short, the survey
results showed that, while some barriers to labour mobility have been removed, further
efforts are necessary to secure greater compliance.
Under the Framework to Improve the Social Union of Canada, signed in February
1999, all governments, save the Government of Quebec, agreed to be in full compliance
with Chapter 7 of the AIT by July 1, 2001. Unfortunately, this commitment has not been
realized, and the deadline for full compliance under Chapter 7 of the AIT has been further
extended. On September 7, 2006, the Committee of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers
responsible for Internal Trade announced that the deadline for full compliance under
Chapter 7 of the AIT was extended to April 1, 2009.36
In March 2007, the federal government announced that it was committed to working
with interested provinces and territories to examine how the recent Alberta-British
Columbia Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) could be applied
more broadly to build on Canada’s economic union and promote labour mobility within the
country. Although TILMA and other bilateral arrangements can be effective instruments for
broadening interprovincial labour mobility, Canada’s goal should be to achieve a panCanadian labour market that will allow individuals to move freely and work anywhere in
Canada. The Committee was told that Canada should pursue the approach taken by the
European Union (e.g., the Lisbon Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications
35
36
Forum
of
Labour
Market
Ministers,
Report
of
Survey
Inter-provincial Labour Mobility in Canada 2004-2005, May 18, 2005, p.
http://www.ait-aci.ca/en/reports/01_10_2006/FLMM%20NATIONAL%20REPORT%20%20APPROVED%20VERSION%20MAY%2018-2005.pdf.
2
Results:
of 13
Federal-Provincial/Territorial Conference of Ministers Responsible for Internal Trade, Progress
achieved on an action plan to improve internal trade, Annual Meeting of the FederalProvincial-Territorial Committee of Ministers on Internal Trade Halifax, Nova Scotia — September 7, 2006
http://www.scics.gc.ca/cinfo06/830877004_e.html.
20
concerning Higher Education in the European Region) to facilitate greater labour mobility.
In reality, labour mobility between Member States in the European Union has been
relatively low.37
Recommendation 1.5
The Committee recommends that all signatories to Chapter 7 of the
Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) continue to work toward full
compliance, particularly in terms of workers with foreign training who
are fully licensed in one jurisdiction, and that the Forum of Labour
Market Ministers continue to examine avenues for improving the AIT’s
mobility provisions as well as beginning discussions to expand the
number of occupations covered under Chapter 7 and ensure the
protection of technical and professional occupational standards.
C. Tax Incentives
Some mobility assistance is provided through the Income Tax Act. According to
section 62 of this Act, taxpayers who move to start a business or a job (or to attend school
full-time) are entitled to claim eligible moving expenses. To be eligible, the move must
involve a relocation of at least 40 kilometres closer to the new work or business site. In
addition, the new residence must be the place at which the taxpayer normally resides.
Obviously, the costs incurred when a worker moves temporarily do not qualify for this tax
treatment. As a result, some consider the absence of tax assistance supporting temporary
relocations to constitute a barrier to mobility.
37
All citizens of member countries within the European Union (EU) have the right to work and live in another
member state (Treaty of Rome, 1957). However, despite this right and agreements such as the Convention
on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, the High Level
Task Force on Skills and Mobility found that over the decade ending in 2001 only 4.4% of EU citizens moved
to another member state, a percentage that is thought to be much lower than that found in the 1950s and
1960s. Although language, legal and administrative barriers were identified as contributing factors, the Task
Force cited the need for greater simplicity, transparency and flexibility in the recognition of qualifications to
facilitate
individuals’
decisions
to
move.
Deficiencies
in
the
delivery
and
quality of labour market information were also cited as a contributing factor. See:
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/news/2001/dec/taskforce2001_en.pdf. According to more recent
data, differences in tax systems and the lack of integrated employment legislation across
the EU also impede labour mobility. In addition, the non-recognition of professional qualifications
was reported by companies as a bigger barrier to labour mobility in 2006 than in 2001. See:
PricewaterhouseCoopers,
Managing
Mobility
Matters
2006,
p.
36
http://www.pwc.com/Extweb/pwcpublications.nsf/docid/5CF66D8DAC8C7640852572350083A659/$file/mana
ging-mobility-matters-2006.pdf.
21
The tax system provides support if people move, but I don't think it will work in the case
you're describing. You won't benefit if you're not changing your primary residence […]
The answer to your question is yes, moving costs are an important factor. I believe there
was a question last time: if people are going to move temporarily and if they cannot
benefit from this tax measure, will that inhibit mobility? I believe the answer is yes […]38
Mrs. Barbara Glover
Department of Human Resources and Social Development
The Construction Sector Council found that “Canadian mobile workers feel unfairly
treated by the tax system. Many estimated that upwards of $10,000 and $20,000 per
annum costs were required from their after-tax income to pay for travel expenses to and
from their mobile projects and for a second residence.”39 As labour market imbalances
intensify in the years to come, some employers may become more reliant on a temporary
or mobile workforce. The labour demands associated with large scale projects, projects in
remote areas of the country or projects that extend or complement longer periods of
seasonal employment, discussed later in our report, may require a more mobile workforce.
In this event, the tax system should encourage, not discourage, workers to accept
employment involving a temporary relocation.
Recommendation 1.6
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine the
moving expenses provision of the Income Tax Act with a view to
extending this provision to individuals who must leave their principal
residence to work on a temporary basis, provided their principal
residence is retained.
D. Mobility Assistance and Employment Insurance
The Committee received contradictory evidence regarding the impact of
Employment Insurance (EI) on labour mobility in Canada. Some witnesses observed that
the program’s regionally differentiated qualification and benefit structures discourage strong
labour force attachments and labour mobility. In this context, for example, we were
informed about a study comparing workers in New Brunswick and Northern Maine, which
concluded that the 1971 reforms to unemployment insurance contributed to the observed
gap between the proportion of workers in New Brunswick who work a relatively small
38
Evidence, Meeting No. 6, June 8, 2006 at 10:20 a.m.
39
Construction Sector Council, Working Mobile: A Study of Labour Mobility in Canada’s Industrial Construction
Sector, Spring 2005, p. 15 http://www.csc-ca.org/pdf/WorkingMobile_Report_E.pdf.
22
number of weeks per year compared to their counterparts in Maine, who presumably are
exposed to the same seasonal employment.40
The Committee was also told that labour mobility decisions are complex. EI is
undoubtedly one of the many factors influencing mobility decisions, but it does not appear
to play a major role. According to the Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment
Report 2005, EI “does not appear to be an important factor in labour mobility decisions.”41
Irrespective of the uncertainty regarding EI’s impact on labour mobility, some
witnesses suggested that this program should be used as a means of encouraging
unemployed individuals to move to find employment, a program feature that once existed
under Unemployment Insurance Developmental Uses, although it was used in a very
limited context. According to information provided to the Committee by Human Resources
and Social Development Canada, federal mobility support for travel and relocation costs
was available under a variety of labour market initiatives throughout the period 1965-1995.
Mobility assistance was terminated in 1996 with the implementation of the Employment
Insurance Act.
There is considerable cost involved in moving temporarily to a new location to seek
employment. There are the costs of travel and accommodation, as well as general living
costs just to go and look for work in a new location. There are also the other costs of
maintaining a second home, as most workers will not want to disrupt family situations to
move to temporary employment. We believe these costs could be reduced by assisting
unemployed workers to relocate to new employment. This could be accomplished
through the reintroduction of the exploratory component of the federal government
worker mobility program that was in place in the mid-1970s. Under this program, an
exploratory grant was available to workers to help them defray the travel and
accommodation costs incurred in seeking employment in another location of the
country.42
Mr. Alfonso Argento
Canadian Construction Association
Although members of the Committee recognize that past initiatives to support the
relocation decisions of unemployed individuals may have had limited success, a better
program can be developed. Since many workers are not covered under EI, a majority of
Committee members believe that mobility assistance should be funded outside of the EI
Account. With the prospect of skills shortages intensifying in the future, we must pursue
40
P. Kuhn and C. Riddell, The Long-term Effects of Unemployment Insurance in New Brunswick and Maine,
1940-1991,
National
Bureau
of
Economic
Research,
August
2007
http://www.econ.ucsb.edu/~pjkuhn/Research%20Papers/NBMaine.pdf.
41
Canada Employment Insurance Commission, Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report
2005, Human Resources and Social Development Canada, March 31, 2006, p. 57
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/ei/reports/eimar_2005.pdf.
42
Evidence, Meeting No. 24, October 25, 2006 at 10:25 a.m.
23
policies that facilitate rapid labour market adjustments and, where appropriate, facilitate the
mobility of unemployed workers who have limited job opportunities and need financial
assistance to move to locations where employers are experiencing difficulties hiring
workers.
Recommendation 1.7
The Committee recommends that the federal government provide
funding to assist individuals who agree to relocate to enter
employment in occupations experiencing skills shortages.
DEVELOPING A PAN-CANADIAN FRAMEWORK FOR ASSESSING AND
RECOGNIZING LEARNING AND CREDENTIALS
Because provincial and territorial governments are primarily responsible for matters
dealing with education, training and occupational accreditation and licensing, there is no
national system for the assessment of learning and employment credentials in this country.
Instead, as partly illustrated in the previous section of our report, our multi-jurisdictional
system has been slow to recognize the occupational credentials of a relatively small
proportion of the national workforce. Given the problems that continue to exist with respect
to credential recognition practices in regulated occupations, we fear that the shortcomings
associated with credential recognition practices in non-regulated occupations may be even
more pronounced.
Despite efforts to improve learning and credential recognition across the country,
the absence of a national system for assessing these human capital characteristics
contributes significantly to labour market inefficiency. The costs associated with this
institutional shortcoming are significant, particularly in terms of Canada’s under-utilization of
workers’ skills acquired beyond our borders. According to the Conference Board of
Canada, Canada is forgoing significant economic benefits as a consequence of this
learning recognition gap, which includes insufficient recognition of experiential or prior
learning. In 2001, there were an estimated 550,000 unrecognized learners in Canada. Of
these, 13% had unrecognized Canadian credentials, 24% had unrecognized experiential
learning and 63% had unrecognized foreign credentials.43 The Conference Board of
Canada estimates that the potential economic benefits (i.e., reduced unemployment and
underemployment) of recognizing this learning would amount to between $4 and $6 billion
annually.44 This estimate may be conservative; the Standing Committee on Citizenship and
Immigration was told during its 2005 study on Canada’s foreign credential recognition
43
M. Bloom and M. Grant, Brain Gain: The Economic Benefits of Recognizing Learning and Learning
Credentials in Canada, Conference Board of Canada, 2001, Table 10, p. 19.
44
Ibid., p. 29.
24
problem that the cost of unrecognized foreign credentials may be as high as $15 billion.45
Whatever the costs, suffice it to say they are non-trivial. It is in our best interest to eliminate
this serious learning recognition gap as quickly as possible.
Credential recognition in regulated occupations in Canada involves more than
400 occupational regulatory bodies (i.e., regulatory bodies with delegated authority,
professional associations, trade unions, industrial associations, and education and training
institutions), representing millions of workers in more than 50 occupations. With respect to
trades, as previously noted, provincial and territorial governments regulate more than 300
apprenticeship programs across the country, of which slightly more than one-quarter are
subject to some form of compulsory certification.46 In non-regulated occupations, which
represent by far the vast majority of Canada’s workers, it would appear that the authority
for credential recognition rests with employers.
A. Recognizing Foreign Credentials
As discussed in more detail in the last chapter of our report, when individuals apply
to immigrate to Canada as skilled workers they are assessed according to a number of
factors, including years of education and training. These characteristics are meant to
predict how well skilled workers will adapt to the Canadian labour market. The biggest
drawback to this approach, however, is that the Canadian labour market values the human
capital characteristics of skilled workers differently than our immigration selection system.
This disconnect is evidenced, in part, by the initial findings of the first wave of Statistics
Canada’s Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada. Of the 164,200 immigrants who
landed in Canada between October 2000 and September 2001, it is estimated that
124,700 (76%) had some sort of foreign credentials (i.e., any formal education higher than
a high school diploma acquired outside of Canada). Of those with credentials, 32,300
(26%) had at least one of their credentials verified by an employer, educational institution
or assessment agency within six months of landing. Of these, 17,400 (54%) reported
having at least one accreditation agency fully accept their credentials, while another 7,106
(22%) had an agency accept at least one of their credentials.47 In other words, less than
one-fifth of immigrants who landed in Canada between October 2000 and September 2001
who had some sort of foreign credentials had those credentials fully or partly accepted by
an accreditation agency within six months of landing. As indicated above, the absence of a
45
House of Commons, Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, Evidence, 1st Session,
38th Parliament, Meeting No. 20, February 15, 2005 at 11:25 a.m.
46
See: Forum of Labour Market Ministers, Report on Implementation of the Labour Mobility Chapter of the
Agreement on Internal Trade, July 1, 2001 http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/cs/sp/hrsdc/lmp/mobility/2001000049/2001-000049.pdf and The Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program, Red Seal Program
http://www.red-seal.ca/Site/about/redseal_e.htm.
47
Statistics Canada, Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada: Process, progress and prospects, October
2003, p. 35 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/89-611-XIE/89-611-XIE2003001.pdf.
25
national process for quickly assessing and recognizing foreign credentials is costly to
immigrants and the country as a whole.
Notwithstanding the institutional complexities associated with credential recognition
in Canada generally, the number of authorities involved in foreign credential recognition
(FCR) is staggering: 13 provincial and territorial governments, 55 ministries, 400 regulatory
bodies, 240 post-secondary institutions, 250 service agencies dedicated to immigrant
integration, hundreds of thousand of employers and five assessment agencies.48 In terms
of the latter, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have provincially
mandated credential assessment agencies. Saskatchewan has an agreement with Alberta
to use its credential assessment service. After the ratification, in 1990, of the UNESCO
Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees concerning Higher
Education in the States belonging to the Europe Region, the Council of Ministers of
Education Canada established the Canadian Information Centre for International
Credentials (CICIC). The CICIC provides information on Canadian post-secondary studies,
diplomas and degrees, but does not assess credentials or grant equivalencies.49
Despite the federal government’s limited role in FCR, several witnesses commented
on the need to establish national standards and to find ways to fast-track the process.
Several witnesses also expressed the need to ensure that all potential immigrants are fully
apprised of Canada’s credential assessment and licensing practices, and to encourage
them to have their credentials assessed before departing for Canada.
[T]he second recommendation […] is to facilitate the setting of national skill and
occupational standards, which will assist with integration and help coordinate the needs
of employers, as well as the development of a national qualification framework, including
Canadian credentialing and certification systems, which will assist with foreign credential
recognition.50
Ms. Colette Rivet
Biotechnology Human Resource Council
While we all agree that it is important to maintain high Canadian occupational
standards, it was suggested that the standards applied to individuals with foreign
credentials are sometimes more rigorous than those applied to Canadian-born workers.
Some witnesses expressed concern that the credential recognition processes for some
occupations may be intentionally restrictive. In order to practise in Canada, some workers
48
Sharon Fernandez, Who Does What in Foreign Credential Recognition: An overview of credentialing
programs and services in Canada, prepared for the Alliance of Sector Councils and National Visible Minority
Council on Labour Force Development, August 2006, page 4 of 51.
49
See: Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials, Assessment and recognition of credentials
for
the
purpose
of
employment
in
Canada,
Fact
Sheet
No.
2
http://www.cicic.ca/en/page.aspx?sortcode=2.17.20.
50
Evidence, Meeting No. 15, October 5, 2006 at 11:20 a.m.
26
are essentially required to return to school and obtain the Canadian equivalent of a
qualification already acquired beyond our borders. As well, concern was expressed about
restrictive Canadian licensing practices. A similar concern was identified by the Canadian
Labour and Business Centre, which consulted employers on the issue of FCR on behalf of
Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Human Resources and Social Development
Canada. Some employers interviewed expressed a strong belief that licensing processes
were too restrictive in several professions within health care and engineering.51
I have shared my opinions with most of the Canadians here, even the licensed
pharmacies, and they have told me that even they would not be able to pass the
equivalency exam. That's what I've heard from them. It's a requirement, so I have to go
through it.52
Ms. Florence Javier
As an Individual
Some of the professional associations, the medical associations, act as gatekeepers.
The accountants have been better […] some of them have really good programs to
recognize prior credentials […] We bring in people and ask them what their professions
are and then they can't work. It's not only the professional associations, it's the whole
system of before you choose to come to Canada, en route to Canada, what happens to
you when you get to Canada, and then who we choose to recognize and who we don't.
We choose to recognize certain professions. Tradespeople who come in also can't
work.53
Ms. Karen Lior, Toronto Training Board,
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
Members of the Committee invite all licensing bodies to review their education and
training requirements, along with licensing practices that are designed to reflect Canadian
equivalencies.
Over the years, the federal government has tried to facilitate and encourage the
development of institutional arrangements that broaden the acceptance of skills and
learning across the country. In view of the growing threat of skills shortages, the focus has
shifted recently on addressing what most of us believe is the biggest failing of our
credential recognition system: the non-recognition of foreign credentials. As a top priority,
the federal government is working with provincial governments and other stakeholders to
improve recognition procedures for internationally trained doctors, nurses and other health
care workers, as well as internationally trained engineers. The Committee was told that in
the past two years, three projects were launched with the help of the Medical Council of
51
D. Sangster, Assessing and Recognizing Foreign Credentials in Canada — Employers’ Views, Canadian
Labour and Business Centre, January 2001, p. 10 http://www.clbc.ca/files/Reports/credentialspaper_e.pdf.
52
Evidence, Meeting No. 21, October 24, 2006 at 10:55 a.m.
53
Evidence, Meeting No. 26, October 26, 2006 at 11:15 a.m.
27
Canada. One project allows foreign doctors to conduct an online assessment of their
credentials before arriving in Canada. Another initiative offers foreign-trained physicians an
opportunity to write an evaluation exam outside of Canada, previously this was offered
once a year in Toronto. The third project involves the creation of a national credential
verification agency, which allows foreign-trained doctors to send only one set of documents
to verify the legitimacy of their credentials and work experience.54
Budget 2006 set aside $18 million over two years to facilitate a consultation process
with the provinces, territories and other stakeholders, and to take the first steps toward
establishing a Canadian agency for the assessment and recognition of credentials. We
encourage the federal government to continue discussions with the provinces and
territories to quickly establish mechanisms to effectively address this longstanding and
costly problem. Although we applaud the announcement in Budget 2007 of the intention to
establish a Foreign Credential Referral Office in Citizenship and Immigration Canada, this
important measure is not a substitute for a pan-Canadian approach to the assessment and
recognition of credentials.
[I] want to use this opportunity to say that the fact that you've set up a coordinating
agency to look at equivalencies is a great step in the right direction. One of the incredible
pitfalls in foreign credential recognition is the fact that there are so many different
agencies and such unevenness about the standards of those recognitions, so just that
coordination role is a fantastic first step that this government has taken.55
Ms. Shyla Dutt
Pacific Foundation for Diversity
This [proposed] agency should become one of Immigration Canada's partners, and
recognition for foreign credentials and experience could be a pre-condition for
immigrating in the skilled worker category. That would enable Immigration Canada to
select candidates whose qualifications will be recognized quickly upon their arrival in
Canada. In addition, it would help potential immigrants make an informed decision in
choosing to come to the country.56
Mr. Renaud Arnaud
Groupe de réflexion et d'initiative des immigrants diplômés à l'étranger
54
Evidence, Meeting No. 4, June 1, 2006 at 10:25 a.m.
55
Evidence, Meeting No. 33, November 8, 2006 at 9:30 a.m.
56
Evidence, Meeting No.13, September 28, 2006 at 11:20 a.m.
28
B. Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
Although there has been some progress in recognizing educational credits obtained
in universities and colleges across the country,57 many individuals face significant hurdles
in obtaining recognition for learning that is acquired informally and outside the educational
system. All workers acquire skills and knowledge in the workplace that are not easily
identified and formally credentialed. This learning has value, but there is no widely
developed system for assessing and recognizing it. Several witnesses spoke of the need to
develop a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process. We were told that
without a widely recognized process for identifying, documenting and evaluating informal
learning, human capital will be wasted. Without PLAR, some individuals may decide to
forgo opportunities to participate in formal learning and skills upgrading.
Prior learning assessment services will enhance employability for the individual for the
paid and unpaid labour force, and for Canada as a whole. Without it, we will be wasting
our most valuable natural resources: the skills and knowledge of our citizens.58
Ms. Bonnie Kennedy
Canadian Association for Prior Learning
According to an analysis of eight years of data involving more than 7,200 PLAR
learners across the country, the most common benefit of PLAR is the value it gives to
adults’ prior learning by: strengthening learners’ confidence in pursuing further education;
reducing course loads and costs; and shortening the completion time for educational
programs. As a consequence of these benefits, PLAR is an important factor in learners’
decisions to return to school and graduate.59
According to the findings of the 2004 Canadian Survey on Work and Lifelong
Learning, “more than half of all Canadian adults and over 60% of those employed would be
more interested in enrolling in further education if their prior informal learning and work
57
On October 9, 2002, the Council of Ministers of Education released Ministerial Statement on Credit Transfer
in Canada. To facilitate student mobility between institutions of higher learning, colleges and universities are
encouraged to establish inter-institutional agreements to ensure that learners receive credit for the learning
that has already been achieved. Transfer agreements will vary between provinces and territories, as it is
anticipated that public colleges and universities, and private post-secondary institutions
will
utilize
a
variety
of
ways
to
recognize
previous
academic
achievement.
http://www.cmec.ca/publications/winnipegstatement.en.asp.
58
Evidence, Meeting No. 25, October 26, 2006 at 8:35 a.m.
59
S. Arts, D. Blower, R. Burke, E. Conlin, B. Howell, C. Ebner Howorth, G. Lamarre, and J. Van Kleef, A Slice
of the Iceberg: Cross-Canada Study of Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition, November 1999, p. ix
http://www.capla.ca/iceberg.php; and S. Arts et. al., Feedback from Learners: A Second
Cross-Canada Study of Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition, April 2003, pp. xii - xiii
http://www.recognitionforlearning.ca/resources/CCstudy_II.php.
29
experiences were recognized.”60 Given the benefits of PLAR and the growing importance
of developing a continuous learning system to help individuals acquire the skills needed in
the Canadian labour market, PLAR must continue to be developed and promoted
nationally.
Recognition of prior learning is the key to the successful transition of any student as he
builds a lifelong learning plan. Right now the ability to have prior learning and skills
training recognized at another school is at the discretion of the receiving institution. While
some private career colleges have established articulation agreements with other public
and private institutions, there remains a significant gap. In too many cases the decision
on credit recognition and transfer is not made on the basis of demonstrated learning
outcomes; instead it is based solely on whether the training was received at a public or
private institution, with little or no attention being paid to the quality of that training. NACC
supports the use of demonstrated learning outcomes and established national standards
as the basis upon which credit transfer is granted.61
Mr. James Loder
National Association of Career Colleges
With respect to prior learning assessment and the utility of turning it over to professional
associations that may be provincially based, we may be impairing the mobility of people
to move across the provinces. Again, we've seen this issue significantly because most of
these professional credentials are held on a provincial basis. If those standards, credits,
or prior learning assessments with respect to how an individual worker is assessed are
not consistent across the country, we end up impairing their mobility across provinces.62
Ms. Sharon Manson Singer
Canadian Policy Research Networks
We believe that access to effective learning recognition processes will become
increasingly important for employers in the years to come as they become more reliant on
experienced Canadian- and foreign-born workers. Learning is not without cost, and there is
nothing to be gained from reinvesting in previously acquired, but unrecognized learning.
Although we all seem to agree that it is important to improve learning recognition in this
country, progress has been too slow.
Recommendation 1.8
The Committee recommends that skilled workers — as defined in Part
6, Division 1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection
Regulations — applying to immigrate to Canada, especially those
60
D.W. Livingstone, M. Raykov and C. Turner, Canadian Adults’ Interest in Prior learning Assessment and
Recognition (PLAR): A 2004 National Survey, The Research Network on The Changing Nature of Work and
Lifelong Learning, Centre for the Study of Education and Work, Toronto, 2005, p. 1.
61
Evidence, Meeting No. 18, October 23, 2006 at 8:35 a.m.
62
Evidence, Meeting No. 9, June 20, 2006 at 9:55 a.m.
30
whose designated occupation is regulated, be fully informed by
Immigration Officers and other stakeholders abroad as to the
education, training and licensing requirements to practise in the
province or territory in which they intend to reside. Applicants should
be fully informed of credentials assessment services in Canada and
should be strongly encouraged to have their credentials assessed by
an approved agency prior to immigrating to Canada.
Recommendation 1.9
The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to
pursue, in cooperation with provincial and territorial governments and
other stakeholders, a national agency for the assessment and
recognition of credentials, especially foreign credentials. The
Committee proposes that this agency adopt a broad mandate to:
(1) promote national standards for the certification and licensing of
workers; (2) develop and provide avenues for the assessment of
credentials and the licensing of internationally trained individuals who
immigrate to Canada; (3) ensure that equivalency exams are fair and
accurately reflect the knowledge requirements expected of individuals
educated in Canada; (4) promote international awareness about our
education and certification requirements for various occupations; and
(5) promote the development and adoption of a system for recognizing
prior learning and work experience to facilitate access to the formal
education system.
31
CHAPTER 2 — INVESTMENTS IN LEARNING
It is generally recognized that investments in human capital are essential to
improving productivity, competitiveness and the overall welfare of Canadians. The
members of the Committee, along with many others, believe that these investments will
become increasingly important as Canada’s labour force ages and employers become
more reliant on the skills embodied in workers already in the workplace. The faster workers
can acquire skills in demand, the faster they will be able to enter more productive
employment and thereby contribute to increased output.
Clearly productivity is related to a number of factors. The key ones are the quality of your
workforce: the human resources skills they possess, the education they have, the
amount of capital they have to work with — and that seems to be the main reason
Canada is levelling off. Worker productivity per se didn't fall; workers had less capital to
work with in this country, relative to the U.S. […] Because investment is picking up in this
country, you're starting to see productivity pick up in 2005 […]63
Mr. Philip Cross
Statistics Canada
We conducted a survey that determined that last year there were 3,500 long-term vacant
positions [more than four months] in this province […] So with the highest unemployment
rate in the country […] [i]t's fair to say the shortage of qualified labour is a significant
issue for small-business owners in this province. What's deeply disturbing is how small
and medium-sized business owners are trying to solve these hiring difficulties. 59% of
our members tell us they are hiring underqualified people, and 39% are passing
responsibilities on to other employees. It doesn't do much for productivity in our
workplaces when this is what they have to do. 38% are ignoring new business
opportunities.64
Mr. Bradley George, Newfoundland and Labrador
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
The Committee was told that, within the next decade, roughly 70% of new and
replacement jobs will demand post-secondary credentials, whereas only 45% of Canadians
currently possess this level of education. To ensure that Canada has the quantity and
quality of human capital required to compete and prosper in the years to come, several
witnesses called for a pan-Canadian framework or strategy for achieving this goal. As
indicated in the introduction of our report, we believe that the required strategy entails more
than a pan-Canadian education strategy, even though education and training are
indispensable components of a comprehensive employability strategy.
63
Evidence, Meeting No. 7, June 13, 2006 at 10:00 a.m.
64
Evidence, Meeting No. 18, October 23, 2006 at 8:10 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.
33
The needs of adult learners for more flexible, affordable, and responsive methods of
accessing PSE are not adequately met. Access to and benefits of PSE are unequally
distributed among Canadians. This jurisdictional context of education in Canada I don't
think is or should be a barrier to planning, goal setting, and progress. Indeed, individual
provinces are far more likely to achieve their objectives with a pan-Canadian framework
than without. Why is that so? Because workers, capital, students, professionals, and
even institutions are now mobile. So issues of quality, access, transfer of credits,
recognition of prior learning, health care, human resource planning, research,
development, innovation, to name but a few, are all areas that cannot be adequately
addressed in a fragmented manner. They require a plan. We think if Canada is serious
about stimulating economic growth, ensuring that our citizens have access to rewarding
employment opportunities, increasing Canada's international competitiveness, and
supporting strong communities, we must develop appropriate tools for this task. Currently
Canada lacks mechanisms to ensure coherence, coordination, and comparability for
PSE. These are issues being addressed in most other developed countries.65
Dr. Paul Cappon
Canadian Council on Learning
We believe that to accommodate rapid skill acquisition and labour market
adjustments more meaningful progress must be made to develop continuous learning in
workplaces and educational institutions across the country. To ensure that this happens,
students, workers, employers and governments must continue to invest in higher education
and training. Furthermore, federal, provincial and territorial governments must continue to
work together to ensure that Canada’s education and training systems are coordinated and
effective in delivering the skills needed in the Canadian workplace.
WORKPLACE TRAINING
Workplace skills training can be provided formally or informally. In the case of formal
training, learning is structured, takes place in a classroom or on the job, may or may not be
financed by employers, and is usually assessed or evaluated once the training ends. In
informal training, learning is often incidental; skills, usually specific to the firm in which the
worker is employed, are acquired in an unstructured fashion, usually on the job. According
to a recent report on workplace learning, workers learn about 70% of what they know about
their jobs informally.66
The Committee was told that employers in Canada do not provide enough training.
Several witnesses mentioned that employers’ investments in workplace training in this
country are relatively lower than many of our competitors. We note, however, that
65
Evidence, Meeting No. 62, March 20, 2007 at 4:10 p.m.
66
R. Owen Parker and J. Cooney, Learning and Development Outlook 2005: Moving Beyond the Plateau —
Time to Leverage Learning Investment, Conference Board of Canada, 2005, Chapter 1, p.1.
34
international comparisons of employer-sponsored training typically exclude the cost of
informal learning, as these investments are difficult to measure.
We have a whole lack of a culture of training in Canada. In OECD surveys that come out,
we're usually somewhere between 23 and 26 among developed countries in what we
invest in training our workers. Many employers have a perception that their workers are
supposed to arrive completely trained and ready to do the job. Who's supposed to supply
that training remains a question. So that's another shift we need to make.67
Ms. Karen Lior, Toronto Training Board,
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
According to the results of the 2003 Adult Education and Training Survey, between
1997 and 2002 the proportion of employed individuals aged 25 to 64 participating in formal
job-related training (courses or programs related to a worker’s current or future job)
increased from 28.5% to 34.7%.68 Despite the upward trend in formal job-related training,
the increase in similarly aged workers in employer-sponsored training was considerably
more modest, rising from 22.4% in 1997 to 25% in 2002.69 In other words, the proportion of
workers aged 25 to 64 who participated in formal job-related training and whose training
was supported by their employer declined during this period. Although the overall
participation rate in formal job-related training increased between 1997 and 2002, the
average amount of time spent in training declined from 156 hours in 1997 to 150 hours in
2002.70
In 2002, the incidence of formal job-related training was higher among younger
workers (41.5% among 25-34 year olds) than older ones (22.9% among 55-64 year olds).
The highest proportion (51.7%) of workers participating in job-related training had
completed university, while the lowest proportion (17.9%) had completed high school or a
lower level of education. In 2002, the highest regional participation rates in formal jobrelated training were found in British Columbia (38.8%), Manitoba (38.6%) and Nova Scotia
(38.1%), although it should be noted that Quebec and New Brunswick experienced the
largest increases in the incidence of formal job-related training between 1997 and 2002.71
67
Evidence, Meeting No. 26, October 26, 2006 at 11:05 a.m.
68
The population surveyed included individuals aged 25 and over in all ten provinces. It did not cover those
residing in the territories, residents of Indian reserves, full-time members of the armed forces or inmates of
institutions such as hospitals and prisons. See: V. Peters, Working and training: First results of
the 2003 Adult Education and Training Survey, Statistics Canada, April 2004, Table a.1, p. 28
http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/81-595-MIE/81-595-MIE2004015.pdf.
69
Ibid., Table A.4, p. 30.
70
Ibid., Table A.2a, p. 29.
71
Ibid., Table A.1, p. 28.
35
With respect to unmet training needs, 28% of working adults aged 25 to 64 years
reported that they wanted or needed training that they did not receive in 2002. Somewhat
surprisingly, a higher proportion (36%) of working adults who had participated in job-related
training reported that they had unmet training needs, as compared with 23% of those who
did not participate in training.72 Inadequate financial resources and a lack of time were cited
most often as reasons for workers’ unmet training needs.
From an employer’s perspective, the Committee was told that employer-sponsored
training costs are too high. Assuming that employers are unable to pass the costs of
general training on to workers, we concur with this view. The reason for this is that
employees who receive this type of training can sell their newly acquired skills to other
employers once their training is completed (sometimes referred to as “poaching”); in doing
so, they remove any benefit to the employers who incurred the training costs. The
challenge is to find ways to minimize employers’ general training costs.
Witnesses proposed several tax measures to stimulate workplace training. For
example, some proposed a payroll training tax similar to that adopted in Quebec, which
requires employers to remit some portion of their payroll costs if they cannot validate that a
similar expenditure was incurred on workers’ training.73 Aside from the economic issues
related to such a measure, we suspect that there are constitutional issues associated with
a federal payroll training tax levied on employers outside the purview of EI. Nevertheless, a
majority of Committee members believe that the federal government should further
examine this policy option.
Some witnesses also suggested that a general reduction in business taxes would
make more funds available to employers to train workers, but without specific conditions
we are unsure that this approach would achieve the stated policy objective. It was also
suggested that tax credits be used to bolster workplace learning, although some felt that
this approach was most beneficial to larger companies. Despite this caveat, the federal
government’s recent tax credit for apprenticeship training was widely supported. A
reduction in employers’ EI contributions was also suggested as a way to stimulate
workplace training, especially among older workers, a measure that has been used in the
past to promote youth employment (i.e., the New Hires Program).
72
Ibid., p. 19.
73
In Quebec, employers with payrolls exceeding one million dollars are required to invest 1% of their payroll in
training programs for their employees.
36
Quebec has a very successful payroll tax; if employers do not invest in their workers,
then they're taxed, and that money is being used to invest in workers. We call upon you
to look at that as a way of strengthening our involvement in meeting the needs of those
workers.74
Mr. Leo Cheverie
PEI, Canadian Union of Public Employees
[W]e've been working closely with the B.C. government on a training tax credit. They
dedicated $90 million over a three-year period to employee training. This is a very difficult
thing for small business. Training tax credits, generally speaking, are only accessible by
large firms because they have the resources to apply for the credit and track the training
that is associated with it, and our members, generally speaking, train informally, which
doesn't often get recognized by government agencies. That is a major challenge when
we are designing solutions to this problem, but we are working with the B.C. government
on that issue. We'd be pleased, of course, to work with the federal government, perhaps
using the EI program as a step to try to address the skill shortages facing our members.75
Mr. Dan Kelly, Western Canada
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Much of the testimony we received pertaining to workplace training focused on
apprenticeship training and workplace literacy training, both of which are afforded separate
discussions below.
A. Apprenticeship Training
As previously mentioned, more than 300 apprenticeship training programs are
administered and regulated under provincial and territorial legislation. Apprenticeship
training is probably the best-known type of employer-sponsored training in Canada.
Typically, training consists of a combination of on-the-job and classroom (technical) training
that leads to certification in a skilled trade.76 Apprenticeship wages are usually regulated
and increase with years of training. The classroom portion of training is subsidized under
EI.
In view of the concerns expressed by many witnesses regarding current and
anticipated skilled trade shortages, members of the Committee are pleased to note that the
74
Evidence, Meeting No. 20, October 24, 2006 at 9:05 a.m.
75
Evidence, Meeting No. 36, November 9, 2006 at 10:15 a.m.
76
According to information presented in Appendix B of the Report on Implementation of the Labour Mobility
Chapter of the Agreement on Internal Trade (July 2001), there are more than 75 apprenticeship trades
where certification is compulsory. Almost 60% of these trades are eligible for a Red Seal (a certification that
allows a journeyman to move from one jurisdiction to another and work without requiring supplementary
training or writing certification exams).
37
number of apprenticeship registrations has increased in recent years, as illustrated in
Chart 2.1. According to Statistics Canada, a robust construction sector nationwide played a
major role in pushing apprenticeship registrations to an all-time high in 2005 — the tenth
consecutive year of growth in apprenticeship registrations. However, despite the increase
in both the stock of registered apprentices and new registrations, the number of
apprenticeship training completions has remained flat for some time, as illustrated in Chart
2.1. The average age of all apprentices in Canada was 30.1 in 2003, up from 29.4 in
1993.77
Chart 2.1 - Number of Apprenticeship Registrations and Completions, Canada, All Trades,
Both Sexes
350,000
12
300,000
10
250,000
200,000
6
150,000
Per Cent
8
4
100,000
Registrations
Completions
Completions as a Percentage of Registrations
2
50,000
0
0
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM, Tables 477-0051 and 477-0052; and the Library of Parliament
The high cost of apprenticeship training is thought to be a barrier to a much-needed
expansion in trades-related training. The Committee was told that employers pay between
75% and 90% of the cost of apprenticeship training.78 In recognition of these costs, the
77
Statistics Canada, Education Matters: Insights on education, learning and training in Canada, (81-004-X1E),
June 2006, Volume 3, Number 2 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/81-004-XIE/2006002/regappr.htm.
78
It is important to note that employers also benefit from the work performed by apprentices. In fact, a recent
cost-benefit analysis estimated that employers receive an average benefit of $1.38 for every $1 spent on
apprentices in the 15 trades (e.g., bricklayer, carpenter, machinist, motor vehicle body repairer and tool and
die maker) that were examined. Note that this estimate does not consider the time profile of the costs and
benefits. If the costs of training are relatively higher than the benefits in the initial years of training, and an
apprentice leaves during the training period, then employers realize a net cost instead of a net benefit. See:
Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, Apprenticeship — Building a skilled workforce for a strong bottom line,
June 2006, p. 24 http://www.caf-fca.org/files/access/Return_On_Training_Investment-Employers_report.pdf.
38
federal government introduced an apprenticeship training tax credit (and an Apprenticeship
Incentive Grant paid to apprentices) in the 2006 Budget.79 This measure was well received
during our hearings, although the Committee was told that it should be broadened to
include all apprenticeships (it is currently available only to employers and apprentices
involved in training in Red Seal trades) and that at least some of this support should be
used to encourage the completion of apprenticeship training. We recognize that, in many
instances, employers have little control over apprentices’ decisions to complete their
training. However, employers do control layoff decisions, a factor that is thought to be
contributing to the low apprenticeship training completion rate. During periods of economic
slowdown, apprentices are often laid off first.80
Number one [recommendation] is that the federal tax credit for employers hiring
apprentices be amended so that the credit is increased for each completed
apprenticeship. Right now, there's no incentive for the employer to keep his or her
apprentices moving through the system to completion, only to hire them. We believe a
modest expansion of the tax credit would have a major positive impact on apprenticeship
training completion.81
Mr. Pat Byrne, District Council 38
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
Another factor that is thought to contribute to the low completion rate in
apprenticeship training is that the skills acquired in some apprenticeship training programs,
especially in the construction trades, are recognized and rewarded in the labour market
before the training has been completed. This reality creates a major incentive for
apprentices, many of whom are older and have family responsibilities, to leave training
before completion and, where applicable, certification.
[T]he existing issue with the trades program and the apprenticeship program is that is
geared in the end to the non-residential construction industry. So people go through a
process of three or four or five years of in-class training and on-the-job training, and the
only time they get a certificate of qualification is when they've finished all that. If
somebody finishes when they have acquired the skills to work in the residential
construction industry, they leave the apprenticeship program and go to work in the
industry with no qualifications.82
Mr. Paul Gravel
Canadian Home Builders' Association
79
The 2006 Budget also provided a tax deduction of up to $500 to help cover the cost in excess of $1,000 of
tools that tradespeople must purchase as a condition of employment.
80
A. Sharpe and J. Gibson, The Apprenticeship System in Canada: Trends and Issues, Centre for the Study of
Living Standards, Research Report 2005-04, September 2005, p. 63.
81
Evidence, Meeting No. 34, November 8, 2006 at 10:45 a.m.
82
Evidence, Meeting No.28, October 26, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.
39
Although differing views were expressed by witnesses regarding existing
certification standards, members of the Committee are open to the idea that there may be
some benefit in moving the apprenticeship training system away from its current timebased orientation to one based on training modules. One of the major benefits of a
modular approach is that training can be broken down into competency-based
components, and thus facilitate a progressive recognition of credentials.83 It is also thought
that a modular system would foster better linkages with the formal education system which,
we were told, are virtually non-existent. Many members of the Committee think that
apprenticeship training would become considerably more attractive if apprentices could
obtain academic recognition for their training before its completion. However, it should be
noted that this approach could have the unintended consequence of further reducing the
proportion of apprentices who complete their training.
Also there has to be better laddering between the apprenticeship system and the
community colleges. In other words, you would do one year of apprenticing and then
work in community colleges, and you'd get credit for your work as an apprentice. Right
now you don't get credit for apprenticeship unless you complete the program. So there'd
be certain types of modules that would be developed. That kind of thing can also have
positive effects on the apprenticeship system.84
Dr. Andrew Sharpe
Centre for the Study of Living Standards
Although apprenticeship training is the responsibility of the provinces and territories,
the federal government, as previously noted, helps to increase the supply of apprentices
through measures delivered primarily through Human Resources and Social Development
Canada. These include direct financial incentives (i.e., apprenticeship grant and tax credit,
and EI), the enhancement of mobility through the Red Seal Program, and the promotion of
apprenticeship, primarily through the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF). The
apprenticeship community is well represented in the CAF and includes, among others, the
Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA). The CCDA, comprised of
provincial and territorial directors of apprenticeship and representatives from Human
Resources and Social Development Canada, is an important contributor to the
development of apprenticeship policy across the country. One of the CCDA’s objectives is
“to promote interprovincial standards in occupational training, examinations and
certification among jurisdictions.”85
Given the federal government’s limited role in the development of apprenticeship
training, discussions about institutional reforms and the development of stronger linkages
between apprenticeship programs and post-secondary educational institutions is best left
83
A. Sharpe and J. Gibson, September 2005, p. 70.
84
Evidence, Meeting No. 13, September 28, 2006 at 12:30 p.m.
85
Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship, 2005, p. 5.
40
to provincial and territorial governments. However, we do believe that these discussions
are vital and should be encouraged and facilitated by the federal government.
Recommendation 2.1
The Committee recommends that the federal government consider
expanding and restructuring the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax
Credit and the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant to encourage growth in
apprenticeships and the completion of apprenticeship training
generally.
Recommendation 2.2
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine and
evaluate, in coordination with the provinces that do not already have a
similar program, a federal training fund based on the Quebec model,
into which all employers with payrolls over $1 million are required to
invest the equivalent of 1% of their payroll, minus the amount they
verifiably spend on workplace literacy and other training.
Recommendation 2.3
The Committee recommends that the Forum of Labour Market
Ministers and the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada work
together to examine and implement ways to better integrate
apprenticeship training and post-secondary education across the
country. It is thought that a more integrated system would increase the
attractiveness of apprenticeship training and accommodate the
movement of individuals between both systems.
B. Workplace Literacy
As the Canadian economy continues to shift toward knowledge-based growth, the
skill content of jobs will continue to rise. However, the acquisition of new skills and the
application of new knowledge in the workplace demand solid literacy and other essential
skills. Unfortunately, too many workers in the Canadian labour market lack basic skills, as
evidenced by the results of the most recent survey on adult literacy.
The 2003 International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS) “measured
proficiencies in literacy, numeracy and problem solving of the Canadian population” and
41
provided valuable information pertaining to the need for workplace literacy programs.86 It
must be noted that there are significant differences between the provinces and territories in
terms of the proportion of individuals who have low literacy, numeracy and problem-solving
skills87, and that literacy proficiency varies among different groups.
Overall, the survey showed that 48% of the Canadian population aged 16 and over
(42% of those aged 16 to 65) performed below level 3 on the prose and document literacy
scales; a level of “proficiency considered to be the ‘desired level’ of competence for coping
with increasing skill demands of the emerging knowledge and information economy.”88 On
the numeracy scale, 55% of respondents aged 16 and over scored below level 3. As can
be expected, those who scored at levels 1 and 2 are more likely than high scorers to be
outside the labour force, to be unemployed, and to have low-paying jobs.
The survey confirmed that in Canada, as in all countries surveyed, there is a skills
deficit “as measured by the difference between observed skills and the extent to which
those skills are required at work.”89 Fourteen per cent of the Canadian labour force aged
16 to 65 showed a skills deficit related to their prose literacy skills and writing engagement
at work; 14.7% had a skills deficit related to their document literacy skills and reading
engagement at work; 17.5% had numeracy skills below those required at work; and 28.1%
did not have the problem-solving skills needed to match the combined reading, writing and
numeracy engagement at work.90
In 2005 CARS began an essential skills project to build essential skill profiles for key
occupations. We also developed an assessment tool and benchmarked essential skill
levels for workers, apprentices, and students in these occupations. Each participant was
assessed for current skill levels in reading, numeracy, and document use. The overall
86
The IALSS is the Canadian component of the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL). ALL is the second
internationally comparative survey of adult skills and builds on the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS)
that was conducted between 1994 and 1998. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and
Statistics Canada, Building on Our Competencies: Canadian Results of the International Adult Literacy and
Skills Survey, 2005, p. 9 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/89-617-XIE/89-617-XIE2005001.pdf.
87
Prose literacy is defined as “the knowledge and skills needed to understand and use information from texts
including editorials, news stories, brochures and instruction manuals.” Document literacy is “the knowledge
and skills required to locate and use information contained in various formats, including job applications,
payroll forms, transportation schedules, maps, tables and charts.” Numeracy is “the knowledge and skills
required to effectively manage the mathematical demands of diverse situations.” Problem solving “involves
goal-directed thinking and action in situations for which no routine solutions exist. The problem solver has a
more or less well-defined goal, but it is not immediately obvious how to reach it. The incongruence of goals
and admissible operators constitutes a problem. The understanding of the problem situation and its step-bystep transformation, based on planning and reasoning, constitute the process of problem solving.” Ibid., p.
13.
88
Ibid., p. 9.
89
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Statistics Canada, Learning a
Living: First Results of the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, 2005, Chapter 6, p. 132
http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/89-603-XIE/2005001/pdf/89-603-XWE-part1.pdf.
90
Ibid., p. 162.
42
results and the profiles developed showed that one industry worker out of three needs to
improve his or her essential skills to function well in their industry occupation.91
Ms. Jennifer Steeves
Canadian Automotive Repair and Service
According to the IALSS, 42% of individuals aged 16 to 65 in Canada had low
literacy skills (i.e., levels 1 and 2),92 unchanged from 1994. Moreover, 22.1% of individuals
aged 16 to 65 with literacy level 1 received education and training during the year
preceding the survey, as compared to 68.6% of those with a literacy level 4/5.93 One of the
reasons why low-skilled workers participate less in training than their higher-educated
counterparts is that they often lack basic learning skills. The survey also found that
individuals aged 16 to 65 with low numeracy skills were roughly 2.5 times more likely than
those with high numeracy skills to be out of the labour force for six months or more.94
I was looking at some statistics last night, and Canada ranks tenth in the recent adult
literacy survey of workplace literacy initiatives. So we're not doing a good job of training
people in the workplace. Even though there are a lot of really good programs out there,
we're still only tenth, and we can do a lot better than that — whether it's an adult basic
skills program, whether it's a higher skills program — in doing some of the work that
people have talked about here.95
Ms. Elaine Cairns
Literacy Alberta
People with lower levels of literacy are more likely to be unemployed. That's a no-brainer,
but it's a major factor in determining employability. They're more likely to lose their jobs
and less likely to find new employment. Adults with low literacy skills have only a 50%
chance of finding another job, even after 52 weeks of unemployment. Strong literacy
skills are needed for job-related training and advancement. Again, it's a stepping stone;
91
Evidence, Meeting No. 15, October 5, 2006 at 11:05 a.m.
92
Individuals with level 1 literacy skills would have difficulty, for example, identifying the correct amount of
medicine to give to their children. Those with level 2 literacy skills can only deal with material that is simple,
clearly presented and entails easy tasks. Level 3 relates roughly to the skill level required to obtain a high
school diploma. Literacy skill levels 4/5 relate to higher level literacy skills that require the ability to integrate
several sources of information or solve complex problems. Individuals with literacy skills below level 3 are
considered by experts as having literacy skills below the minimum level required for coping in a knowledgebased economy and society such as ours.
93
OECD and Statistics Canada (2005), Table 4.3, p. 98 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/89-603XIE/2005001/pdf/89-603-XWE-part1.pdf.
94
Ibid., Table 5.3, p. 124.
95
Evidence, Meeting No. 36, November 9, 2006 at 11:35 a.m.
43
you can't get to employment if you haven't had job specific training, and literacy is a
prerequisite for that.96
Mrs. Wendy DesBrisay
Movement for Canadian Literacy
Employability is a huge issue, and literacy is the most fundamental issue affecting it. We
need to take some steps to support literacy — not just on the ground in the communities
but also in the workforce. There will always be a lot of individuals at levels one and two
who are unemployed, but we were staggered to find that many people in these
categories are actually employed, and this hampers them from going into a lot of the
traditional literacy programs.97
Ms. Kimberley Gillard
Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador
The Committee received a considerable amount of testimony regarding literacy in
general, and workplace literacy in particular. Many witnesses expressed concern about
Canada’s ability to meet future skills needs, given our low literacy levels. Several witnesses
indicated that we need to develop a pan-Canadian literacy strategy, referring to work done
by this Committee in the 37th Parliament and a report entitled Towards a Fully Literate
Canada: Achieving National Goals through a Comprehensive Pan-Canadian Literacy
Strategy prepared by the Advisory Committee on Literacy and Essential Skills for the
Minister of State for Human Resources Development in 2005. Opposition was also
expressed regarding the government’s recent decision to reduce spending on literacy.
It's unclear to us whether the cuts will affect the workplace education partnerships in
place in several provinces, such as Nova Scotia, which we just heard about, and
examples like Manitoba and the NWT, where employers, labour, and provincial
governments work together to promote and deliver workplace literacy programs. Nor is it
clear to us what the effect will be on provincial and territorial federations of labour.
Federations have been successful partners in workplace literacy partnerships. Their work
provides successful examples of provincial partnerships and should be strengthened and
enhanced, not cut.98
Ms. Sue Folinsbee
National Adult Literacy Database Inc.
Members of the Committee realize that literacy skills are more than an essential
component of a labour market policy geared to meeting Canada’s future skills needs.
Raising literacy skills in the workplace also contributes to higher literacy within families and
our communities. And this outcome, we were reminded, benefits all of us.
96
Evidence, Meeting No. 13, September 28, 2006 at 11:35 a.m.
97
Evidence, Meeting No. 18, October 23, 2006 at 8:25 a.m.
98
Evidence, Meeting No. 21, October 24, 2006 at 10:30 a.m.
44
I also made reference to the connection between literacy skills and other matters that are
of concern to you as parliamentarians: the connection between literacy and health, which
I referred to; literacy and access to justice in our courtrooms; and literacy and
democracy, in terms of being able to read and understand the print material that each of
you gives to your constituents, that each of your parties prepares in your platforms. So
literacy is a key feature of our democratic system.99
Mr. John O'Leary
Frontier College
The workplace is the easiest venue for providing literacy and essential skills training […]
As we know, literacy is a transferable skill, so upgrading in the workplace also helps the
worker at home and in the community.100
Mr. Larry Hubich
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
Poor literacy skills constitute a barrier to rapid and necessary labour market
adjustments. Workers with high literacy levels allow employers to introduce necessary
changes in the workplace. They also facilitate the rapid acquisition of skills that employers
need to remain competitive and profitable. High literacy levels are also associated with
safer workplaces, reduced waste in production and increased profitability.101 However,
despite these bottom-line benefits, relatively few employers invest in basic skills training.
We suspect that the under-investment in workplace literacy training is due, in part, to high
training costs and uncertainty about whether the benefits of that training will be realized.
Statistics Canada describes the direct link to productivity. A 1% increase in literacy rate
would increase productivity by 2.5% and gross domestic product by 1.5%. This rising
gross domestic product translates into $18 billion for Canada every year.102
Ms. Elaine Cairns
Literacy Alberta
When we look at why businesses aren't investing in training, I still think you need to look
at your community. For example, in Nova Scotia, many of our businesses are made up of
very small organizations of five or six employees. They're mom-and-pop operations and
they make up a good portion of Nova Scotia. They're not always eligible for programs,
nor do they have the resources to do it […] I'll give you an example. I work with a group
of small business owners. They're one-owner companies. They're on their own. They
may have one or two staff people. We've taken an innovative approach. We've brought
them together within our community, so we actually have the numbers we require to put
together a program, and we're delivering essential skills for small business owners.
99
Evidence, Meeting No. 25, October 26, 2006 at 8:45 a.m.
100
Evidence, Meeting No. 37, November 10, 2006 at 8:50 a.m.
101
Conference Board of Canada http://www.conferenceboard.ca/workplaceliteracy/benefit.asp.
102
Evidence, Meeting No. 36, November 9, 2006 at 10:25 a.m.
45
We've had a huge impact. I've been working with them now for three years, and their
businesses have grown because we've developed the essential skills and worked it into
the customized workplace — what is it that they need in their workplace. It's become a
very powerful story and a very powerful picture.103
Ms. Margan Dawson
Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia
As practitioners working in the field of workplace education, we have observed that many
employers are not taking advantage of workplace education programs, and we really
question why. The benefits of investing in workers' essential skills and workplace literacy
are undeniable, but they are not always clear or known to management, supervisors, or
workers. As well, about 75% of Nova Scotia businesses have too few employees to make
implementing a workplace education program on their own feasible.104
Ms. Leslie Childs
Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia
On April 1, 2006, HRSDC’s National Literacy Program, the Office of Learning
Technologies and the Learning Initiatives Program were consolidated under the Adult
Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program (ALLESP).105 The objectives of the
ALLESP are to promote lifelong learning and to facilitate the creation of opportunities to
acquire literacy and other essential skills.106 On September 25, 2006, the federal
government announced that it would reduce spending on adult literacy and learning by
$17.7 million over the next two years. A majority of members of the Committee disagreed
with this initiative, and on October 5, 2006 the Committee tabled its Fourth Report in the
House of Commons. This report states “[t]hat, in consideration of the funding cuts to the
Department of Human Resources and Social Development announced September 25,
2006, that the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the
Status of Persons with Disabilities recommend that the government continue funding the
Adult Learning and Literacy Program at the 2005-2006 level and that the chair report the
adoption of this motion to the House forthwith.”107 Given that literacy skills have a
significant influence on all aspects of Canadian society, a majority of members maintain
that it is time for governments across the country to take concerted action to further
address this serious issue.
103
Evidence, Meeting No. 21, October 24, 2006 at 11:20 a.m.
104
Ibid., at 10:15 a.m.
105
Nine essential skills needed for work, learning and life have been identified: reading text, document use,
numeracy; writing; oral communication; working with others; continuous learning; thinking skills; and
computer use.
106
Human
Resources
and
Social
Development
Canada,
Questions
and
Answers
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/asp/gateway.asp?hr=en/hip/lld/olt/ADULTLLES/Qs-As-2006.shtml&hs=cgs.
107
House of Commons, Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of
Persons with Disabilities, Report 4 — Adult Learning and Literacy Program, October 3, 2006
http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublication.aspx?COM=10478&Lang=1&SourceId=173244.
46
Recommendation 2.4
The Committee recommends that the federal government encourage
employers to provide workplace literacy training by permitting them to
deduct some multiple of literacy training-related expenses that are
incurred relative to some predetermined period or base year.
Recommendation 2.5
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, set concrete
national targets in the short, medium and long terms to raise Canada’s
literacy rates based on the International Adult Literacy and Skills
Survey. The Committee recommends that the federal government
begin as soon as possible to develop and implement a ten-year plan
with adequate funding to achieve these targets through a coherent
national adult learning strategy, including bilateral accords with each
province and territory.
Recommendation 2.6
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, commit to
adequate, long-term, stable, transparent, core funding for national,
provincial, territorial and regional literacy coalitions, and other
education and training-based organizations, including funding for
public awareness and learner outreach projects; financial and logistical
access and support for learners; professional development; family
literacy approaches; and partnerships between levels of government,
and between employers and labour.
POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
Canada’s population is one of the most highly educated in the world. Among OECD
countries, Canada has the second highest proportion of post-secondary education
graduates (45%). With respect to university graduates, Canada ranks 5th (22% and tied
with Australia), trailing the United States (30%), Norway and Israel (29%) and Demark
(25%). Roughly 22% of working-age Canadians have attained a college or vocational
education, a proportion second only to the Russian Federation.108
108
Canadian Council on Learning, State of Learning in Canada: No Time for Complacency, 2007, p. 40
http://www.ccl-cca.ca/NR/rdonlyres/5ECAA2E9-D5E4-43B9-94E484D6D31BC5BC/0/NewSOLR_Report.pdf.
47
Historically, Canada ranks among the top OECD countries in spending on
education. In 2000, the most recent year for which data are available, Canada ranked 2nd
among G7 countries (4th among OECD countries) in terms of expenditures per student
(US$14,983) at the college and university level, well below the United States
(US$20,358).109
It is estimated that roughly 1.7 million individuals in Canada were enrolled in
university and college programs in 2002-2003, the latest year for which aggregate data are
available.110 In 2004-2005, an estimated 756,987 full-time and 257,499 part-time students
were enrolled in university, an increase of some 19% above total enrolment in 20002001.111
Education, like literacy, is a major determinant of employability. The positive
relationship between education and labour market outcomes is clear: a significantly greater
proportion of highly educated individuals in Canada are employed compared with their less
educated counterparts. In 2006, 76.9% of individuals 15 years of age and over with a
university degree were employed, compared to 21.5% of those with zero to eight years of
schooling and 45% of those with some high school education. In the same year, the
average unemployment rate for a university graduate was 4%, compared with 12.5% of
those with between zero and eight years of grade school and 12.3% of those with some
high school education.112
A. Access to Post-Secondary Education
Despite the fact that Canada has one of the most highly educated populations in the
OECD, witnesses spoke of the need to facilitate greater access to post-secondary
education, especially for Aboriginal people and persons with disabilities (both of which are
afforded separate treatment in the next chapter of our report), individuals from
low-income families and individuals from rural Canada.113
109
Canadian Council on Learning, Canadian Post-Secondary Education: A Positive Record — Uncertain
Future,
2006,
p.
64
http://www.ccl-cca.ca/NR/rdonlyres/BD46F091-D856-4EEB-B361D83780BFE78C/0/PSEReport2006EN.pdf.
110
S. Junor and A. Usher, The Price of Knowledge 2004: Access and Student Finance in Canada, Canada
Millennium
Scholarship
Foundation,
2004,
p.
33
http://www.millenniumscholarships.ca/images/Publications/Price_of_Knowledge-2004.pdf.
111
Statistics Canada, CANSIM, Table 477-0013.
112
Statistics Canada, CANSIM, Table 282-0003.
113
Budget 2006 indicated that the federal government intends to expand eligibility for Canada Student Loans by
extending loan eligibility to an additional 30,000 students from families with incomes between $65,000 and
$140,000 as well as allow 25,000 current student borrowers to increase the amount they can borrow. In
addition, a new text book tax credit will be introduced, and all PSE scholarship and bursary income will be
exempt from personal income tax.
48
We were told that access to post-secondary education and training is not consistent
among urban, rural, northern and remote communities. According to research published by
Statistics Canada, distance has an impact on participation in university. After controlling for
several variables known to influence decisions to participate in post-secondary education, it
is estimated that students living beyond 40 km from a university are only 63% as likely to
attend compared with those who live within 40 km. Students who live beyond 80 km are
only 58% as likely to attend as students living within 40 km of a university.114 To help offset
the costs associated with relocation, witnesses suggested that Canada Access Grants,
which the federal government currently provides to students from low-income families and
students with disabilities, be expanded to include students living in rural areas of the
country.
There are a lot of barriers. One of them is that fewer rural kids go to university, to start
with. All those who go to university have already spent a lot of money coming from the
outside. If you come from another part of Newfoundland, you have to pay more to go to
university in St. John's than if you were from St. John's. Rural families are poorer than
urban families, so again they are at a financial disadvantage. This is why rural access
scholarships would help to allay that disadvantage. Students coming into medical school
now are very concerned about the high cost of medical education, and that is a barrier.115
Dr. James Rourke, Memorial University of Newfoundland,
Society of Rural Physicians of Canada
The Committee was also told that offering non-repayable financial assistance to
students who pursue specific areas of study might help alleviate skills shortages in key
occupations and areas of the country. It was noted, for example, that scholarships targeted
at students from rural Canada who study medicine might help alleviate doctor shortages in
rural areas because these students are considerably more likely to choose a rural practice
than their urban-based counterparts.
The rate of university attendance is more than two times greater among young
people (i.e., 18 to 24 years of age) from high-income families (i.e., over $100,000), than
among their counterparts from low-income families (i.e., less than $25,000). It is interesting
to note that the gap in university attendance between these two groups remained fairly
stable throughout the period 1993 to 2001,116 despite an increase of more than 50% in
average undergraduate tuition fees (in constant dollars) during this period. Although
students from low-income families are more likely to experience financial barriers to postsecondary education than students from high-income families, non-financial barriers also
help to explain the gap in university attendance. According to Statistics Canada, the gap in
114
M. Frenette, Too Far to Go On? Distance to School and University Participation, Statistics Canada, June
2002, pp. 22-23 http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/11F0019MIE/11F0019MIE2002191.pdf.
115
Evidence, Meeting No. 18, October 23, 2006 at 9:15 a.m.
116
M. Drolet, Participation in Post-secondary Education in Canada: Has the Role of Parental Income and
Education Changed over the 1990s?, Statistics Canada, February 2005, pp. 12-13
http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/11F0019MIE/11F0019MIE2005243.pdf.
49
university attendance is also strongly related to weaker academic performance among
students from low-income families as well as to several parental influences (e.g., low levels
of education and lower education expectations).117
One of the reasons why financial constraints do not appear to be a major factor in
determining access to post-secondary education is the substantial level of publicly funded
support provided to students who can demonstrate financial need. Each year, the federal
government spends roughly two billion dollars on non-repayable and repayable direct
financial support for students. Despite several improvements to the Canada Student Loans
Program (CSLP) in recent years, evidence suggests that there is room for improvement.
According to the results of a recent survey of in-study CSLP borrowers, a significant
number of students are taking on additional private debt to finance their studies. Almost
two out of every three CSLP borrowers assume private debt during their studies. At the
end of their schooling, these students expect to have an average private debt load of
$15,928 (more than one-half the average level of indebtedness to publicly funded
programs).118 Members of the Committee support the commitment in Budget 2008 to
spend $123 million, between 2009-2010 to 2012-2013, to streamline and modernize the
CSLP.119 In this context, many members of the Committee would like the federal
government to examine a wide range of changes to the CSLP during its consultations with
the provinces and territories over the next year to implement the new measures outlined in
Budget 2008.
While higher tuition fees do not appear to have had a discernable impact on
university participation, there is no question that real debt among students has increased
over the years. Moreover, there is some concern that debt aversion may have a negative
impact on access to post-secondary education. According to research conducted on behalf
of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation (CMSF), 59% of undergraduate
students graduated in 2006 with an average debt level of $24,047, more than double the
real student debt level in 1990.120
117
M. Frenette, Why Are Youth from Lower-income Families Less Likely to Attend University? Evidence from
Academic Abilities, Parental Influences, and Financial Constraints, Statistics Canada, February 2007, p. 23
http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/11F0019MIE/11F0019MIE2007295.pdf.
118
EKOS Research Associates, Survey of In-Study Canada Student Loan Borrowers, Final Report, prepared
for Human Resources and Social Development Canada, September 21, 2006, pp. 19-23.
119
Department of Finance, The Budget Plan, 2008: Responsible Leadership, February 26, 2008, p. 112
http://www.budget.gc.ca/2008/pdf/plan-eng.pdf.
120
J. Berger, A. Motte and A. Parkin, The Price of Knowledge 2006 — Student Debt: Trends and
Consequences, Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, November 2006, Chapter 5, p. 3
http://www.millenniumscholarships.ca/images/Publications/POK_III-ch5_EN.pdf.
50
We represent workers who work in post-secondary education, and it's becoming less
affordable and less accessible. Our studies have shown that more and more students
don't access post-secondary education because of the expense; they are left with huge
student debt. So we certainly want to endorse those accessibilities.121
Mr. Leo Cheverie
Canadian Union of Public Employees
The Committee was told that the federal government could adopt several measures
to assist students who need more help managing their student debt, including providing
greater access to grants and to debt repayment assistance. Regarding the former, it should
be noted that the support provided through the CMSF also serves to lower the borrowing
costs of eligible students and thus their overall level of debt. The CMSF currently
distributes annually about $340 million in bursaries and scholarships across the country.122
This support will end after the 2008-2009 academic year. Budget 2008 announced that the
CMSF will be replaced by a new consolidated Canada Student Grant Program to take
effect in the fall of 2009.
Human capital can also be strengthened by improving access to post-secondary
education through improved student loans. Dental hygienists are educated during two- to
four-year programs of study at a college or university. Many students are battling the high
cost of this education, which can cost up to $40,000. The elimination of grant programs in
most provinces puts a further strain on students.123
Ms. Bonnie Blank
Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Through you, Mr. Chair, yes, there are two very specific things [to reduce student debt].
One is to look at forgiving Canada student loans until such time as doctors have finished
their clinical training, i.e. their residency training. Right now they have to start repaying
their loans. Two, open up the terms and conditions for the loans in terms of making them
more accessible, particularly to those with limited means.124
Mr. William Tholl
Canadian Medical Association
The federal government currently provides support, most of which is needs-based,
to help individuals repay their Canada Student Loans and manage their student debt.
121
Evidence, Meeting No. 20, October 24, 2006 at 9:00 a.m.
122
Canada
Millennium
Scholarship
Foundation,
The
Impact
of
Bursaries:
Student
Persistence
in
Post-Secondary
Education,
Millennium
Research
http://www.millenniumscholarships.ca/images/Publications/MRN04_Persistence_EN.pdf.
123
Evidence, Meeting No. 34, November 8, 2006 at 10:35 a.m.
124
Evidence, Meeting No. 10, September 21, 2006 at 12:20 a.m.
51
Debt
Note
and
#4
Assistance includes a tax credit on interest payments as well as income-tested interest
relief and debt reduction for individuals experiencing difficulty repaying their student loans.
Recommendation 2.7
The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to
monitor the impact of the Canada Student Loans Program on students
from low-income families, students from immigrant communities,
students from rural and remote parts of Canada, Aboriginal students
and students with disabilities, to ensure that these students have
equitable access to student financial assistance programs. The federal
government should monitor debt levels associated with student loans
and ensure, through non-repayable financial support, that borrowing
costs do not constrain access to a post-secondary education.
Recommendation 2.8
The Committee recommends that the federal government consider the
following changes to the student loan system in its discussions with
provincial and territorial governments pursuant to the proposals in
Budget 2008 and issue a response to the Committee:
1. Significantly reduce or eliminate the federal student loan
interest rate;
2. Create a federal Student Loan Ombudsperson to help students
navigate the loan system, objectively resolve problems and
ensure that students are treated with fairness and respect;
3. Provide better relief during repayment of student loans,
including expanding eligibility for permanent disability
benefits, interest relief and debt reduction;
4. Create enforceable federal standards governing the conduct of
government and private student loan collection agents,
subject to the policy objective of helping students find ways to
repay their loan;
5. Ensure that student borrowers are made aware of the total
cost of their loan and receive regular, clear, accurate
statements of account;
6. Amend the “lifetime limit” on student loans such that they are
not repayable until six months after the completion of full-time
studies, including doctoral programs and medical residency;
52
7. Reduce the discriminatory ban on bankruptcy protection for
student loans to two years;
8. Work with the provinces and territories to ensure that each
Canadian student loan borrower can integrate all federal and
provincial/territorial loans into one single loan for simpler
repayment; and
9. Reinstate the six-month interest-free grace period.
Recommendation 2.9
The Committee recommends that the federal government review
Canada Student Loan repayment policies and practices to ensure that
students who incur high levels of debt under the Canada Student
Loans Program have sufficient flexibility to repay their loans.
Consideration should be given to specifying conditions for extending
the period at which loan repayment begins, as well as the period at
which interest on loans begins to accrue. This additional flexibility is
particularly important for individuals, such as medical school
graduates and other post-graduate students, who currently cannot
defer repayment despite ongoing training.
B. Federal Transfers and Post-Secondary Institutional Capacity
1. Canada Social Transfer
The Canada Social Transfer (CST) was created in April 2004 when the federal
government decided to split the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) into two
components: health payments and social payments. The latter component became the
CST, a transfer payment intended to assist provinces and territories finance postsecondary education, social assistance, social services and child care. When the CST was
created, its value was based on provincial and territorial spending on those areas
supported by the CHST. In other words, the CST was equal to 38% of the CHST. The CST
(consisting of cash and tax points) provides equal per capita support across the country.
In 2006-2007, CST cash payments and tax points were worth $16.1 billion, of which
$8.5 billion was cash. As there is no specific amount directed at post-secondary education,
the Department of Finance estimates the notional amount of post-secondary education
cash transfers to be in the neighborhood of $2 billion.125 Although the share of these
125
Department of Finance, Restoring Fiscal Balance in Canada: Focusing on Priorities, May 2006, p. 38
http://www.fin.gc.ca/budget06/pdf/fp2006e.pdf.
53
notional cash transfers for post-secondary education have declined in relation to total
federal spending on post-secondary education, it is thought that total federal postsecondary education spending (both direct and indirect) as a proportion of total spending
by post-secondary institutions has remained relatively constant over time at about 25%.126
Given the interchangeable nature of CST spending, some witnesses recommended
that this transfer be split into two dedicated transfers: one for post-secondary education,
and one for social assistance and services. It is thought that this disaggregation would
increase accountability in relation to federal indirect social spending.
Within this overall context and specific employability issues, the council supports the
federal government using its leverage in the reform of the Canada social transfer. This
transfer provides billions of dollars for post-secondary education, social assistance, and
other services, and it could be used to secure needed changes.127
Mrs. Sheila Regehr
National Council of Welfare
Splitting that transfer [CST] and earmarking the portion of the contribution that goes to
postsecondary education would make it possible to achieve three extremely positive
objectives. The first is to identify the federal government's contribution to postsecondary
education and that of the provincial governments. The second is to respect the
jurisdictions of the provinces, because education is a provincial jurisdiction, and
transferring the money would make that possible. The third is to maintain accountability.
At present, since the money is included in a transfer for very general social programs, the
provinces can afford to use those amounts for purposes other than postsecondary
education.128
Mr. Phillippe-Olivier Giroux
Quebec Federation of University Students
The federal government does not appear to be pursuing a policy that would split the
CST into two real transfers. Budget 2007 announced the government’s intention to
increase the portion of the CST that is intended for post-secondary education as well as
identify federal support for the transfer’s other priority areas (social programs and support
for children) based on provincial and territorial spending patterns in these areas. In
2007-2008, the CST cash payment will increase by $687 million. In 2008-2009, an
additional $800 million will be transferred for post-secondary education, at which point the
notional CST transfer for post-secondary education will total some $3.2 billion.
Furthermore, CST funding will be extended to 2013-2014.
126
Ibid. p. 38.
127
Evidence, Meeting No. 13, September 28, 2006 at 11:15 a.m.
128
Evidence, Meeting No. 23, October 25, 2006 at 8:40 a.m.
54
Members of the Committee encourage the federal government to continue
consultations with provincial and territorial governments regarding the establishment of
CST objectives for post-secondary education and the reporting of results. We support the
pursuit of long-term, predictable funding and some members of the Committee think that a
funding mechanism that provides incentives for provincial and territorial governments to
invest more in education and training would contribute to the overall expansion of our
investments in learning.
Recommendation 2.10
The Committee recommends that the federal government provide longterm, stable funding in a dedicated post-secondary education transfer,
in continuing collaboration with the provinces and territories.
2. Post-Secondary Institutional Capacity
A necessary, although not sufficient, condition for meeting Canada’s skill needs in
the years to come is that post-secondary educational institutions have the capacity to
educate and train individuals who have yet to enter the world of work and those who are
already in the labour market. According to demographic projections, Canada’s postsecondary education institutions will face considerable enrolment pressures over the next
decade. It is unclear whether they will have the institutional capacity to meet anticipated
enrolment growth during this period.129 In fact, in some instances institutional capacity is
already strained.
[I] think this is an area the federal government could look at. If we can get some federal
funding, and maybe some capacity within the system, the sort of thing my colleague here
referred to, then I think we could get more than 400 [foreign medical graduates] per year,
fully trained and qualified in the short term, to get in the system, to help areas like your
own.130
Dr. Colin McMillan
Canadian Medical Association
129
Canadian Council on Learning, Report on Learning in Canada 2006, Canadian Post-Secondary
Education: A Positive Record — An Uncertain Future, December 2006, Chapter 7, p. 64
http://www.ccl-cca.ca/NR/rdonlyres/BD46F091-D856-4EEB-B361-D83780BFE78C/0/PSEReport2006EN.pdf.
130
Evidence, Meeting No. 10, September 21, 2006 at 12:05 p.m.
55
The other issue is education system capacity. Frankly, we think the federal government
has to contribute to this, as do the provinces. We need to increase enrolments for health
professions and health disciplines. We also need to supply extra funds for the
infrastructure developments needed to accommodate these increased enrolments. We
can't forget about that.131
Ms. Sharon Sholzberg-Gray
Canadian Healthcare Association
[T]he federal government must act now to reinvest in essential components of prosperity:
the quality, capacity and access to Canada's publicly funded post-secondary and skills
systems. Canadian colleges and institutes represent a master key able to open the door
to skills development for a diverse range of learners in all regions of our country.132
Mr. Gerald Brown
Association of Canadian Community Colleges
Capacity building in Canada’s post-secondary institutions has been a preoccupation
of the federal government over the past decade. Every federal budget since 1997 has
contained spending initiatives designed to augment teaching capacity, retain and develop
new expertise, and renew research infrastructure in the post-secondary system. Most
recently, in addition to increased spending on specific research priorities that serve to
strengthen Canada’s universities and colleges, Budget 2006 set aside $1 billion for a postsecondary infrastructure trust to help the provinces and territories modernize libraries,
laboratories, classrooms and other infrastructure projects. Funding is allocated to the
provinces and territories over the fiscal years 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 on an equal per
capita basis.
Budget 2007 also contained commitments to increase spending on granting
councils, the Indirect Costs of Research Program, the Networks of Centres of Excellence,
the College and Community Innovation Program and a number of other targeted research
priorities.
Recommendation 2.11
The Committee recommends that, subject to provincial and territorial
agreement, the federal government continue to fund capacity-building
initiatives in Canada’s post-secondary education system and that
consideration be given to providing ongoing funding for postsecondary infrastructure.
131
Ibid., at 11:35 a.m.
132
Evidence, Meeting No. 64, March 22, 2007 at 3:55 p,m.
56
CONTINUOUS LEARNING
As evidenced by the discussion above, many working-age individuals in Canada
participate in adult learning, while many more do not. If we intend to meet the skill
challenges that lie ahead, the rate of participation in adult learning must increase.
[A]n additional component to the future prosperity of the Maritimes is going to be
productivity. We have a diminishing population; we have lower birth rates. We have an
aging population […] Each individual Nova Scotian, each individual Canadian, will need
to be more productive and will need to undertake lifelong learning to continue to improve
and adapt, because the world is changing very quickly, and it's changing very quickly
right here at home.133
Mr. Keith Messenger, Skills and Learning Branch
Nova Scotia Department of Education
One avenue that the federal government has pursued in the past to facilitate greater
access to continuous learning is to help adult learners overcome financial barriers to
participation. As previously noted, inadequate finances was cited as a primary reason for
unmet training needs among respondents to the 2003 Adult Education and Training
Survey.
In 1998, the federal government introduced the Lifelong Learning Plan, a measure
that allows individuals to withdraw up to $10,000 in a calendar year from their Registered
Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to finance learning. The maximum amount that may be
withdrawn at any point in time is $20,000. Withdrawals for lifelong learning must be
returned to the RRSP over a period not exceeding ten years.
Members of the Committee were told that in addition to the favourable tax treatment
afforded Lifelong Learning Plans, modifications to section 118.6 of the Income Tax Act
could encourage more adults to participate in lifelong learning. Specific suggestions
included broadening the definitions of “designated educational institution,” “specified
educational program” and “qualifying education program” to permit more adult learners to
claim education and tuition fee expenses.
We call on the federal government to expand several definitions in the Income Tax Act to
enable health professionals to obtain deductions for a broader range of continuing
education activities, including conferences and online courses. The definitions in the
Income Tax Act that require revision include the following: designated educational
institution, certified educational institution, and qualifying education program. Definition
revisions should allow individuals to claim expenses related to continuing education
events. Income tax deductions for an expanded number of continuing education activities
would provide an additional incentive to Canadians to increase their knowledge and
133
Evidence, Meeting No. 22, October 24, 2006 at 2:35 p.m.
57
skills. It would result in investment in lifelong learning and it would increase
productivity.134
Ms. Bonnie Blank
Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Although this point was not raised during our hearings, we note that the current tax
credit for interest paid on student loans applies only to interest paid on loans received
under the Canada Student Loans Act, the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act or
similar provincial or territorial laws for post-secondary education.135 We recognize that this
provision is intended to support those who qualify for needs-based student financing, but
its limited application is both inequitable and a potential impediment to investments in
lifelong learning among those who are not eligible for public financing. As previously noted,
many students who pay interest on a Canada Student Loan also pay interest on private
loans. It is unclear why the tax treatment on a loan for an investment in learning should be
treated any differently from that afforded any other loan for “investment” purposes.
Adult learners who do not have access to an RRSP may apply for assistance under
the Canada Student Loans Program, although it has been noted that eligibility for this
assistance is primarily designed to assist students who are leaving high school, not adult
learners. The needs-based criteria applied to full-time student loans may be incongruous
given the financial status and obligations of older students, and this limitation could serve to
deter adults from securing the necessary finances to pursue lifelong learning.136 In terms of
part-time student loans, individuals are allowed to borrow only a cumulative amount of
$4,000 (interest plus principal) at any point in time. Moreover, there is no in-study interest
subsidy associated with part-time student loans, as borrowers are required to repay the
loan while they are in school.
Finally, the Committee was told that Canada should make greater use of technology
to make lifelong learning more accessible. In this context, we think that distance education
or “e-learning” is a cost-effective means of fostering greater access to lifelong learning,
especially among learners who reside in rural and remote parts of the country. We
acknowledge that some federal support has been provided for this purpose through the
Office of Learning Technology, a program that, as previously mentioned, was incorporated
under the Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program in March 2006. We support
cost-shared projects that make use of technologies to expand lifelong learning
opportunities.
134
Evidence, Meeting No. 34, November 8, 2006 at 10:30 a.m.
135
Income Tax Act, section 118.62.
136
K. Myers and P. de Broucker, Too Many Left Behind: Canada’s Adult Education and Training System,
Canadian Policy Research Networks, June 2006, pp. 41-44.
58
I think the recommendation we would like to leave you with is to find ways to use
technology to support continuous learning. People can't leave their job sites in order to
go to school. So how can we use technology to encourage lifelong learning and make
accessible ways for people to continue to grow their skills, grow their careers, and make
transitions?137
Ms. Linda Lucas
The Logistics Institute
Recommendation 2.12
The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to
monitor the borrowing needs of part-time learners, including mature
students, to ensure that they have adequate access to publicly funded,
needs-based financing.
Recommendation 2.13
The Committee recommends that the federal government review the
Income Tax Act with a view to broadening the applicability of tuition
and education tax credits, as well as the tax credit for interest paid on
student loans, to provide more financial incentives to adults to engage
in lifelong learning.
Recommendation 2.14
The Committee recommends that the federal government ensure that
funding is provided to finance cost-shared projects that make use of
technologies to expand lifelong learning opportunities, particularly
projects that address the learning needs of workers in geographical
areas where access to Canada’s post-secondary education system is
limited.
Recommendation 2.15
The Committee recommends that the federal government establish
assistance measures for workers, especially low-income workers, to
allow them to participate in lifelong learning.
137
Evidence, Meeting No. 36, November 9, 2006 at 11:35 a.m.
59
LABOUR MARKET ADJUSTMENT AND EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
The federal government provides a range of labour market support to assist
individuals, mainly those who are unemployed, find a job and/or acquire new skills that will
help them find or maintain employment. The lion’s share of this support is provided under
the Employment Insurance Act, a key piece of federal labour market legislation that
received considerable attention during our hearings. Since many witnesses discussed the
employability and labour market adjustment needs of specific groups in the workplace,
separate treatment is provided in the next chapter of our report to older workers, workers
with disabilities, low-income workers, Aboriginal workers and workers in seasonal
employment.
Given the wide-ranging objectives of Employment Insurance (EI) and the significant
costs associated with this program, it is not surprising that strong and usually opposing
views are presented whenever this program is on the Committee’s agenda. This was
certainly the case throughout our hearings on employability. Many witnesses were critical
of EI’s current configuration, but for different reasons. Some witnesses, mainly those
representing employers, expressed the view that EI’s regionally differentiated qualification
and benefit structure weakens attachments to work and thus has a negative effect on
employability. In addition, EI delivers a range of support that extends well beyond that
originally intended, yet employers continue to bear almost 60% of total EI costs.
Proponents of this view seek EI reforms that are based more on insurance principles and
that result in a more equitable sharing of program costs.
This brings us to the elimination of regionally differentiated EI … Political opposition is
going to be much more muted as the labour shortages spread across the country. It is no
longer necessary to leave Mabou or Bathurst for Toronto and Calgary. It may be quite
sufficient to go to Moncton or Halifax. In fact, Halifax needs this rural-urban move today.
In 2005, Halifax's employment rate was higher than Toronto's, Vancouver's, and
Montreal's. It was one thing when people had some sympathy, when we had the
argument that there were no jobs, but in an era of massive labour shortages, the moral
and economic arguments coincide. There is no case on either score for continuing to pay
people not to work or to try to create artificial employment at the cost of higher taxes
when genuine, sustainable business has to shelve development plans for lack of
workers.138
Mr. Stephen Kymlicka
Atlantic Institute for Market Studies
138
Evidence, Meeting No. 22, October 24, 2006 at 1:15 p.m.
60
EI has moved from a pure insurance program to a multi-social-policy payroll tax program.
Half of the premiums paid are for things that have nothing to do with regular benefits to
compensate for job loss. So while we're all concerned about EI, we need to see how that
money is being spent and who is in fact benefiting.139
Ms. Diane Brisebois
Retail Council of Canada
Others, primarily those representing workers and/or unemployed individuals,
maintain that, relative to its predecessor, EI is inaccessible to too many people and fails to
provide sufficient wage replacement protection. Supporters of this view proposed a variety
of reforms, such as an extension of EI coverage to more workers (including self-employed
workers), an increase in benefit entitlements and modifications to the waiting period.
We also recommend comprehensive reforms to employment insurance to address the
significant decline in coverage of the unemployed and the related decline in access to
employment supports and training. Previous changes to the EI program have
disproportionately impacted part-time and other non-standard workers, typically women,
youth, visible minorities, immigrants, and low-income workers. Reforms should include a
decrease in the number of hours required to qualify, the reintroduction of eligibility for
workers who quit voluntarily or are dismissed with cause, and a process for the growing
self-employed workers to contribute to and be eligible for EI benefits.140
Ms. Ramona Johnston
Vibrant Communities Calgary
One of the most difficult employability issues faced by artists and cultural workers who
are self-employed is that in addition to having low and fluctuating incomes, they don't
have a social safety net to support them. This includes the access to compassionate
leave, parental leave, and sick leave that is enjoyed by most Canadians, as well as
access to training programs and, of course, employment insurance.141
Ms. Susan Annis
Cultural Human Resources Council
139
Evidence, Meeting No. 36, November 9, 2006 at 11:35 a.m.
140
Evidence, Meeting No. 35, November 9, 2006 at 8:50 a.m.
141
Evidence, Meeting No. 15, October 5, 2006 at 11:35 a.m.
61
[J]ust last year we had consultations with women in precarious and seasonal work in our
province. The number one issue they had was the employment insurance program. This
is big, given that there are many problems with that program. The two-week waiting
period contributes to your poverty for that period because you spend so much time trying
to catch up afterwards. It's often six or eight weeks before you get a benefit cheque. One
of the solutions they came up with was to be allowed to serve the waiting period at the
end of the benefit period, if the government is so concerned about serving a waiting
period.142
Ms. Lana Payne
Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union
Despite these divergent views, most witnesses recognize that EI is an important
labour market instrument that helps individuals make the necessary adjustments to secure
a job, accept employment or lengthen the duration of employment. Some of EI’s support to
effect these labour market adjustments is provided under Part II of the Employment
Insurance Act and delivered via federal/provincial-territorial Labour Market Development
Agreements (LMDAs). The support delivered under these agreements is collectively
referred to as Employment Benefits and Support Measures (EBSMs). These include
interventions to facilitate training (Skills Development), provide on-the-job work experience
(Targeted Wage Subsidies and Job Creation Partnerships), encourage self-employment
(Self-Employment), and deliver employment services to individuals and employers
(Employment Assistance Services, Labour Market Partnerships, and Research and
Innovation).
Many witnesses told the Committee that the eligibility rules governing access to
most EBSMs exclude many unemployed individuals who require adjustment assistance to
become employed; similar criticisms were raised in previous EI studies undertaken by our
Committee. Eligibility for EBSMs requires unemployed individuals to be receiving regular EI
benefits, to have received regular benefits in the past three years, or to have received
maternity or parental benefits in the past five years. Witnesses argued that because many
unemployed individuals cannot qualify for EI they are unable to participate in EBSMs. The
Committee was told that eligibility for EBSMs should be broadened to enhance the job
prospects of unemployed individuals, especially those with marginal attachments to
employment. Some witnesses mentioned that an alternative approach would be to
establish labour market partnership agreements with the provinces and territories, a
measure that was proposed in the November 2005 Economic and Fiscal Update.143 These
agreements were supposed to complement EBSMs by providing support to those ineligible
for EI employment benefits.
142
Evidence, Meeting No. 19, October 23, 2006 at 11:10 a.m.
143
Department of Finance, Economic and Fiscal Update: Background Material to the Presentation, November
2005, p. 114 http://www.fin.gc.ca/ec2005/ec/ecce2005.pdf.
62
In the area of training, a number of existing EI-based programs are available only to EI
recipients. If we look at our community as being as unemployed as statistics tell you we
are, a lot of us have not participated in work to the extent that we become EI recipients,
so we're doubly penalized. We didn't get to work, and now we can't qualify for retraining
and other programs that are available to those who have had those traditional
advantages, advantages we have never had.144
Mr. John Rae
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
Employment insurance used to be one of the really valuable routes into getting the kind
of training that people needed. It wasn't just income replacement, but it allowed access to
a whole range of other services that guaranteed that when you were out of a job you got
the assistance you needed to help get back in and have those needs identified. And
there was some regularity to that across the country. Now without that, with so few
people qualifying for employment insurance, they don't get into other programs either. It's
so easy to fall into welfare, and once you're there, it's so hard to get access to anything
else, from literacy to skills upgrading to post-secondary education for your lifetime.145
Mrs. Sheila Regehr
National Council of Welfare
As the committee knows, labour market participation by people with disabilities is
significantly lower than that by the mainstream population. Because the most effective
federal government employment support programs are tied directly to people's
attachment to the labour market and the EI system, many people with disabilities are
ineligible and are therefore underserved.146
Mr. Bob Wilson,
Social and Enterprise Development Innovations — SEDI
[W]e see the federal government's role as greatly aiding the province in the deployment
of its programs by taking a new approach to the labour market development agreement,
the LMDA, by devolving responsibility to the province and by implementing a labour
market partnership agreement, an LMPA, to allow flexibility to use funding for employees
at risk, underemployed and underutilized groups, and other non-EI-eligible clients.147
Mr. Keith Messenger, Skills and Learning Branch
Nova Scotia Department of Education
144
Evidence, Meeting No. 30, October 27, 2006 at 10:15 a.m.
145
Evidence, Meeting No. 13, September 28, 2006 at 12:05 p.m.
146
Evidence, Meeting No. 27, October 26, 2006 at 1:15 p.m.
147
Evidence, Meeting No. 22, October 24, 2006 at 1:30 p.m.
63
The labour market development agreements, as has been pointed out here,
systematically exclude people who have histories that haven't involved a lot of
attachment to the labour force, which would include many people with intellectual
disabilities. That system is actually pretty well funded. There's a lot of potential for it to be
more inclusive, to provide wider access to training for people who are currently excluded
in large numbers.148
Mr. Cameron Crawford
Canadian Association for Community Living
One of the most obvious ways to address skill shortages is to ensure that
unemployed workers have opportunities to acquire the skills that employers need. We have
stated elsewhere in our report that we expect labour market adjustments to become
increasingly important as the labour force ages. It follows that EI’s role in facilitating these
labour market adjustments must evolve accordingly. Several suggestions were offered in
this regard, including a benefit structure that encourages stronger attachments to work, EI
contribution rebates for employers who provide authorized labour market support,149
mobility incentives to lengthen employment spells (see Chapter 3, Workers in Seasonal
Employment) and a training benefit similar to other benefit entitlements under EI.
There needs to be a fundamental shift in the EI and the social assistance programs. They
need to become top-up systems rather than clawback systems. Rather than penalizing
workers for getting back into the workforce, or changing from a higher-paying job to a
lower-paying job, if we change the system so we are topping up their wages rather than
clawing them back, that would make a huge difference.150
Ms. Janis Cousyn
Calories Restaurants
Why not help small business take that risk? Why not reduce the contributions to
employment insurance for businesses that hire people 50 years old and over? Why not
help them take that risk? It is like helping banks take risks with immigrants. It’s the same
thing. We have to help them take a risk.151
Ms. Andreea Bourgeois, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
148
Evidence, Meeting No. 30, October 27, 2006 at 10:50 a.m.
149
Although this proposal was mentioned in the context of an initiative to hire older workers (similar to the New
Hires Program that supported job creation among youth in small businesses), this concept is easily applied
to other initiatives, such as literacy training in the workplace.
150
Evidence, Meeting No. 37, November 10, 2006 at 8:40 a.m.
151
Evidence, Meeting No. 22, October 24, 2006 at 1:45 p.m.
64
A. Building on Labour Market Training Arrangements
In November 1995, the Prime Minister announced that the federal government
would withdraw from labour market training. A formal offer was extended to the provinces
and territories on 30 May 1996, thus setting the stage for the Labour Market Development
Agreements (LMDAs) that exist today. All LMDAs are delivered pursuant to sections 57
and 63 of the Employment Insurance Act.
Currently, there are two types of LMDAs — co-managed and transfer
agreements — both of which are intended to enhance the skills that individuals require to
prepare for, find and maintain employment.152 Under co-managed agreements, the federal
government and a province/territory share responsibility for the design, planning and
evaluation of EBSMs, while the federal government (Service Canada) is solely responsible
for the management and delivery of these measures.
Under transfer LMDAs, the design and delivery of EBSMs or similar measures are
the sole responsibility of the province/territory. These agreements also involve the transfer
of federal personnel. In all cases, except Quebec, provinces and territories jointly evaluate
EBSMs or similar measures with the federal government. Quebec conducts its own
evaluations.
Under all LMDAs, the federal government retains the responsibility for delivering
pan-Canadian labour market support (e.g., labour mobility, national sectoral partnerships,
Aboriginal programming), an outcome opposed by Quebec from the outset. This
arrangement may change in the near term, however, as the federal government
announced in Budget 2007 its intent to: (1) negotiate transfer LMDAs with all jurisdictions
that have co-managed agreements; (2) establish a new labour market program
($500 million per year), to be delivered under bilateral agreements with the provinces and
territories, for those who do not qualify for EI Part II benefits; and (3) examine the possibility
of transferring, via bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories, funding and
responsibility for labour market programming directed at specific under-represented groups
(e.g., youth, persons with disabilities, older workers).153
Members of the Committee are pleased that the federal government has
announced its intention to transfer more responsibility for labour market support, especially
training, to the provinces and territories. We are also pleased that action will be taken to
address a longstanding inequity in the delivery of federal labour market support to
individuals who cannot meet the definition of “insured participant” and therefore are
152
Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and the Yukon have signed comanaged LMDAs with the Government of Canada. Nova Scotia has signed a variant of a co-managed
agreement known as a strategic partnership agreement. New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan,
Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Ontario have signed transfer LMDAs.
153
Department of Finance, March 19, 2007, pp. 212 to 215 http://www.budget.gc.ca/2007/pdf/bp2007e.pdf.
65
ineligible for Employment Benefits under the Employment Insurance Act. We support an
annual allocation of $500 million for labour market adjustment support (e.g., literacy and
basic skills upgrading, wage assistance and on-the-job training) for underserved segments
of the Canadian labour market.
Part of the evolution of EI’s labour market adjustment support in the coming years
must also include steps to ensure that spending on EBSMs and other transfers is effective
and provides unemployed workers with marketable skills and durable employment. Over
the past several years HRSDC has completed summative evaluations of EBSMs, the
results of which suggest that there is room for improvement. According to general
evaluation findings, EBSMs provide at best modest results in terms of improved
employment and earnings. According to these findings, more positive results seem to be
apparent for an active EI client (i.e., someone who has established a benefit period) as
opposed to a former EI client (i.e., someone who has received regular benefits in the past
three years or maternity/parental benefits in the past five years). It should be noted that
these general results also apply to individuals participating in Skills Development, the
intervention that accounts for the largest share of spending on EBSMs and the measure
best suited to address the problem of skills shortages.154 According to the evaluation
results of the Canada-British Columbia LMDA, it was found that average annual
employment among former claimants who participated in Skills Development declined by
an estimated 235 hours after participating in this intervention.155
In recent years, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social
Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities has devoted considerable
attention to EI issues. Most recently, on May 31, 2006 the Committee re-tabled in the
House of Commons its 2005 report entitled Restoring Financial Governance and
Accessibility in the Employment Insurance Program. The report contains many
recommendations to enhance EI accessibility and support, and to further EI’s role in
providing active labour market assistance. In response to the report, the government
indicated that “it is also committed to ensuring that its programs evolve and respond to the
realities of the Canadian labour market. In this regard, it is important that these program
changes, including those to the EI program, be founded on sound analysis of the evidence
and that careful consideration be given to labour market impacts and the costs of individual
measures.”156 In our opinion, pilot projects offer the best opportunity to assess the
effectiveness of new approaches for using EI funds to enhance employability among
154
Canada Employment Insurance Commission, Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report
2006, March 31, 2007, pp. 64-66 http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/ei/reports/eimar_2006.pdf.
155
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Summative Evaluation of Employment Benefits and
Support Measures under the Terms of the Canada/ British Columbia Labour Market Development
Agreement,
April
2004,
p.
32
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en%5Ccs%5Csp%5Chrsd%5Cevaluation%5Creports%5Csp-ah-666-04-04%5CSPAH-666-04-04E.pdf.
156
Government Response to the Second Report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social
Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, 28 September 2006, p. 4 of 6
http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublication.aspx?COM=10478&Lang=1&SourceId=179838.
66
Canada’s labour force participants. In this context, we support the testing of measures to
strengthen incentives to work, lengthen employment spells and provide more opportunities
for individuals to access workplace-based training.
Recommendation 2.16
The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to
work with the provinces and territories to improve the effectiveness of
measures delivered under Labour Market Development Agreements.
Primary consideration should be given to improving the effectiveness
of Employment Benefits and Support Measures in addressing
Canada’s growing skills shortages.
Recommendation 2.17
The Committee recommends that the federal government review the
definition of “insured participant” under section 58 of the Employment
Insurance Act with the intent of broadening eligibility for Employment
Benefits and Support Measures.
Recommendation 2.18
The Committee recommends that, pursuant to Part V of the
Employment Insurance Act, the federal government develop and
implement pilot projects to:
1. Assess the impact and effectiveness of various qualification
requirements and coverage conditions to identify program
reforms that would strengthen work incentives, enhance
employability and better address the needs of self-employed
workers; and
2. Assess the effectiveness of EI contribution rebates for
employers who: provide training to enhance the employability
of workers in seasonal employment, older workers, Aboriginal
workers and workers with disabilities; alleviate specific skill
shortages; and enhance the basic skills of individuals with low
levels of literacy.
Pilot project costs associated with this recommendation should not be
included as part of the expenditure limit contained in section 78 of the
Employment Insurance Act.
67
B. At-Risk Youth
Although the high school dropout rate in Canada has declined over the years, many
young people today do not graduate from high school. In 2001, Canada’s secondary
school graduation rate (i.e., all graduates in a given period expressed as a percentage of
the population at the typical age of graduation) was, at 75%, seven percentage points
below the OECD average.157 Obtaining a high school diploma is not only a necessary step
in pursuing a post-secondary education, but is also important in terms of engaging in the
skill upgrading that we think will become necessary for many of those who are entering the
labour market today.
The Committee was told that many early school dropouts do not get a second
chance to acquire a high school diploma. Moreover, we can reasonably assume that it
becomes increasingly difficult to obtain a high school diploma as time away from school
grows longer. Hence, prevention may be the best way to address this problem. During our
hearings, we were informed of some of the initiatives that are being delivered to discourage
at-risk youth from dropping out of high school and to help them make a more successful
transition into the workplace.
[W]e have created a set of learning outcomes for grades 11 and 12. We have been
working with six provinces at this time to give them the knowledge and experience of
what the IT sector is all about through changing the curriculum that is delivered by the
provincial ministry of education. So we're already doing that. It's been very successful in
British Columbia. Our first delivery of it involved 100 students who were all at risk. They
were students who they were afraid were not going to complete grade 11, let alone
grade 12 […] Only two of those students got jobs out of high school; the other 98 went on
to post-secondary education. We think that's a very successful program. We're now
working with Alberta. The Toronto District School Board has implemented it in Toronto to
try to attack their 42% drop-out rate, I believe it is. So we're implementing that in a couple
of the inner-city schools to be able to give them this opportunity.158
Mr. Paul Swinwood
Software Human Resource Council Inc.
157
Statistics Canada and the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, Education Indicators in Canada:
Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program 2005, Canadian Education Statistics Council,
April 2006, p. 52 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/81-582-XIE/2006001/pdf/81-582-XIE2006001.pdf.
158
Evidence, Meeting No. 14, October 3, 2006 at 11:40 a.m.
68
We have had some successful initiatives with the United Way across Canada,
specifically in Ontario and Quebec, with a program called the Gateway Cafe. It was
funded also by HRSDC to offer sales associate training and job internships to youth at
risk. This is an incredibly successful program, which is helping a lot of youth who are
disenfranchised come into the workforce and become good workers.159
Ms. Diane Brisebois
Retail Council of Canada
Currently, Service Canada delivers assistance under an initiative called Skills Link, a
component of the federal government’s Youth Employment Strategy. This measure is
designed to assist youth who are at greater risk of not making a successful transition to
employment. One factor that is considered in determining whether an applicant is at risk is
high school non-completion. However, in order to participate in this program, individuals
must be out of school. By virtue of this criterion, at-risk youth who are destined to drop out
of school are denied assistance under Skills Link unless they leave school — one of the
outcomes that policy-makers are trying to prevent. Although members of the Committee
recognize the need to support out-of-school youth who face difficulties making the
transition into the workplace, we also think that support should be made available to
prevent youth who are in school from leaving before graduation. Of course, the provision of
this support would be subject to an agreement with provincial and territorial governments.
Recommendation 2.19
The Committee recommends that, subject to cost-shared funding
arrangements and agreements with the provinces and territories, the
federal government provide financial assistance to support measures
that reduce the high school dropout rate.
159
Evidence, Meeting No. 36, November 9, 2006 at 10:25 a.m.
69
CHAPTER 3 — INCREASING LABOUR FORCE
PARTICIPATION AND
STRENGTHENING WORK INCENTIVES
OLDER WORKERS
As shown in Chart 3.1, the proportion of Canadian workers within 10 years of the
median retirement age has almost doubled in the last 30 years. In 1976 there were about
1.14 million workers so defined. By 2006, their numbers had risen to approximately
3.8 million. This trend clearly illustrates the momentum behind labour force aging and the
potential exodus of workers from the Canadian labour market in the next decade and
beyond. There has, however, been a noteworthy development of late, as displayed by the
cessation of the downward trend in the average age of retirement.
As evidenced by the data illustrated in Chart 3.1, the average age of retirement
declined from 64.9 years in 1976 to 60.9 years in 1998 and has since risen to 61.5 years in
2006. Underlying this trend is an increase in labour force participation among older workers
(defined here as individuals 55 years of age and over). Between 1996 and 2006, the labour
force participation rate among individuals in this age group increased by 8.5 percentage
points, almost three and one-half times the increase in the participation rate for all
individuals 15 years of age and over. Also of note, the participation rate of individuals
between 60 and 64 years of age and 65 years of age and over increased by 12 and 2.4
percentage points respectively during the same period.
71
Chart 3.1 - Percentage of Employed Workers Within Ten Years of the Median Retirement Age
and the Average Age of Retirement, Canada
66
25
65
20
64
Per Cent
62
10
Years
63
15
61
60
5
Percentage of Employed Workers Within 10 years of the Median Age of Retirement (%)
59
Average Age of Retirement (Years)
0
58
1976
1980
1985
1990
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey , special tabulation; and the Library of Parliament.
A. Strengthening Incentives to Work
Many witnesses indicated that, in order to make work more attractive to older
workers, employers need to recognize the important role older workers can play in
alleviating skills shortages and, in doing so, to implement more flexible employment
policies such as gradual retirement and reduced hours of work. The importance of flexible
work arrangements is evident from the results of Statistics Canada’s 2002 General Social
Survey, which indicated that more than one-quarter of retirees might have changed their
retirement decisions if they had been able to alter their work schedules.160 Employers may
also need to modify their workplaces to accommodate an older workforce.
There are issues around employer awareness. For example, many older workers, myself
included, cannot work in low-light environments. If an employer wants me to bring my
skills into his place, he has to give me a chair that supports my back and light levels so I
can actually perform the work. We don't have enough awareness yet, and the
government can provide leadership to say, look, we have this untapped resource of older
workers, and a little bit of investment — not a huge investment — by the employer will
actually get you the people you need. It will also help with knowledge transfer, so
160
R. Morissette, G. Schellenberg and C. Silver, “Retaining older workers,” Perspectives on Labour and
Income, Vol. 5. No. 10, Catalogue no. 75-001-XIE, Statistics Canada, October 2004, p.15.
72
younger people can have the information they need to retain the corporate vision, the
institutional memory.161
Ms. Elly Danica, Older Worker Transitions
Acadia Centre for Small Business and Entrepreneurship
According to a 2005 survey of corporate executives by the Conference Board of
Canada, few Canadian employers are developing strategies to deal with an aging
workforce, even though most recognize that their organizations will encounter aging-related
labour problems within the next five years.162 This survey revealed that “almost 80 per cent
of the respondents indicated that their organizations will face problems related to an aging
workforce within the next five years, with 23% admitting they are already experiencing
difficulties.”163 The absence of meaningful action to deal with this inevitable and imminent
situation is worrisome.
Many witnesses expressed the view that the federal government should initiate
measures to extend, on a voluntary basis, labour force participation among older workers.
Given this group’s skills and experience, prolonging older workers’ attachment to work
could help mitigate future skill imbalances across the country. Witnesses’ suggestions to
facilitate this included eliminating mandatory retirement, phasing in retirement, enhancing
financial incentives to work and providing more adjustment assistance to older workers.
1. Mandatory Retirement
While most jurisdictions in Canada have abolished mandatory retirement, some
continue to treat forced retirement at age 65 as a non-discriminatory practice. British
Columbia, Saskatchewan and, Newfoundland and Labrador still maintain an age cap of 65
in their human rights codes to accommodate mandatory retirement. Ontario recently
abolished this practice. Only Quebec and Manitoba have banned contractual mandatory
retirement (forced retirement according to the terms of a pension plan or a collective
agreement).164 Although mandatory retirement does not exist in the federal public service,
this is not the case in other workplaces that fall under federal jurisdiction. In this regard, the
Committee was reminded that section 15(1)(c) of the Canadian Human Rights Act states
that it is not a discriminatory practice to terminate an individual’s employment because he
or she has reached the normal age of retirement.
161
Evidence, Meeting No. 22, October 24, 2006 at 1:40 p.m.
162
O. Parker, “Too Few People, Too Little Time: The Employer Challenge of an Aging Workforce,”
Executive
Action
Report,
Conference
Board
of
Canada,
July
2006,
p.
1
http://www.conferenceboard.ca/documents_EA.asp?rnext=1732.
163
Ibid.
164
M. Gunderson, “Banning Mandatory Retirement: Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater,” Backgrounder,
C.D. Howe Institute, No. 79, March 2004, p. 5 http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/backgrounder_79.pdf.
73
[W]e certainly are totally against mandatory retirement. We think it has to be choice, and
what we're missing now is choice when there is mandatory retirement. We get calls
almost every day. At a conference we had last week, we met someone who had worked
for an airline. She said when she was 64 she was okay, and then when she turned
65 suddenly they were saying she wasn't able to do the job, but she wanted to continue
working. Most people will retire. We're not even saying that most people will continue to
work if they have a choice, but there should be incentives and benefits for those who do
choose to work or to go back to work. We really don't promote making anyone retire at
any age.
Ms. Judy Cutler
Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus165
Members of the standing committee know that mandatory retirement at age 65 is still the
rule in this country. With the exception of Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba, governments
permit mandatory retirement. Indeed, the Canadian Human Rights Act includes a special
provision that allows employers to dismiss workers on account of age. Compulsory
dismissal at age 65 was never a justified practice. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms
forbids discrimination on the basis of age, but the persistence of ageism among powerful
constituencies in Canada, including governments, the courts, unions, and employers,
meant that efforts over the past twenty years to end mandatory retirement were
unsuccessful until the historic decision of the Ontario government.166
Prof. David MacGregor
King's University College at the University of Western Ontario
While several witnesses called for the abolition of mandatory retirement in Canada,
the Committee is mindful of the jurisdictional constraint associated with this proposal. In
addition, the Committee stresses that its support for the abolition of mandatory retirement
should not be construed as requiring older workers to work beyond the age of 65. We only
intend to accommodate those who wish to do so voluntarily.
If you start depending on an aging workforce, you're going to run into health problems,
and then you're no further ahead. It's got to be the younger workforce, but the training
isn't there, and it should be, because that's who you're going to look to for employment.
I've been working since I was 16, and it will be 50 years or more that I've worked. I
worked hard as a child and I don't want to work beyond 65.167
Ms. Trudi Gunia
As an Individual
165
Evidence, Meeting No. 26, October 26, 2006 at 10:55 a.m.
166
Evidence, Meeting No. 27, October 26, 2006 at 1:20 p.m.
167
Evidence, Meeting No. 3, November 10, 2006 at 9:00 a.m.
74
Recommendation 3.1
The Committee recommends that the Minister of Labour encourage
provincial and territorial labour ministers to establish a working group
to examine barriers to continued employment among workers once
they reach the age of 65, especially with regard to mandatory
retirement provisions that continue to operate in some parts of the
country.
Recommendation 3.2
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine
section 15 of the Canadian Human Rights Act with a view to defining as
a discriminatory practice the termination of an individual’s employment
because he or she has reached the normal age of retirement for
employees working in similar positions.
2. Public Pensions
Mandatory retirement and the absence of flexible work arrangements are not the
only factors constraining labour supply decisions among older workers, many of whom also
face significant financial disincentives to work. Individuals who receive the Guaranteed
Income Supplement (GIS) or Allowance have their benefits reduced if they report an
increase in income, such as earnings from employment. Moreover, if these individuals pay
income tax on these earnings the combined effective tax rate on income from employment
can be substantial.
The clawback on GIS/Allowance payments depends on an individual’s marital
status and on whether a spouse or common-law partner is receiving Old Age Security
(OAS) or allowance payments. In the case of a single, widowed or divorced pensioner
receiving the GIS, for example, monthly GIS benefits are reduced by one dollar for every
$23.99 increase in yearly income (excluding OAS) above $24 (i.e., the reduction point). In
other words, if this pensioner also pays income tax on earnings, he or she faces an
effective tax rate exceeding 50%.168 Even if there is no income tax paid on earnings, the
GIS clawback renders paid employment an unattractive proposition.
168
It should be noted that high-income seniors must repay some or all of their OAS benefits. These OAS
recipients are subject to a 15% clawback on OAS benefits if their income exceeds a certain threshold
($63,511 in 2007). The number of seniors subject to this clawback is thought to be small, at less than 5% of
individuals aged 65 and older (see: K Mulligan, “Making It Pay to Work: Improving the Work Incentives in
Canada’s Public Pension System,” C.D. Howe Commentary, No. 218, October 2005, p. 4
http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/commentary_218.pdf.
75
Budget 2008 proposes to increase the earnings exemption associated with the GIS
to $3,500 per year.
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) also has drawbacks for those who would like to
remain attached to the labour market. Although a partial CPP pension may encourage
early retirement, it should be noted that this pension benefit is payable only if an applicant
ceases to be engaged in paid employment or self-employment or if the applicant’s
estimated earnings for the year in which the retirement pension would begin to be paid is
less than 25% of maximum pensionable earnings.169 This eligibility condition is potentially
problematic for many older workers who are forced to experience a period of
unemployment in order to become eligible for a partial pension. Once unemployed, some
of these workers undoubtedly face serious challenges finding another job, an issue that is
afforded more discussion below.170
Another potential disincentive to work associated with a partial CPP pension relates
to a finding in a recent study by the CPP’s Chief Actuary. According to this study, the
legislated actuarial adjustment is too generous for those who elect to receive their pension
before the age of 65 and not generous enough for those who elect to receive their pension
after the age of 65. In other words, the plan is subsidizing those who opt for early
retirement.171
[W]e would suggest a review of the pension and income tax policies that currently create
a disincentive for mature workers to consider part-time employment, because we do see
this as being a primary source of an alternative labour market for the grocery retail
sector, especially considering that demographics are projecting such a shrinkage in the
youth workforce, which is currently our primary source.172
Ms. Cheryl Paradowski
Canadian Food Industry Council
169
See: Section 67(2)(c) of the Canada Pension Plan and section 54.3 of the Canada Pension Plan
Regulations.
170
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Ageing and Employment Policies: Canada,
2005, pp. 70-71.
171
Office of the Chief Actuary, Canada Pension Plan Actuarial Adjustment Factors Study, March 2003, p. 38
http://www.osfi-bsif.gc.ca/app/DocRepository/1/eng/oca/studies/CPP_ActuarialStudy2_e.pdf.
172
Evidence, Meeting No. 28, October 26, 2006 at 2:50 p.m.
76
[W]e have been advocating and in fact in the former government the Minister of State
responsible for seniors advocated a band above the low-income cut-off line that seniors
could receive through working, without endangering the guaranteed income supplement.
I believe the band that had been recommended was around $2,000 or $3,000, and we
said the same. It's not to force people to work, but if they have to work to augment their
income, they should not lose the benefits they have […]173
Mr. William Gleberzon
Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus
Federal rules for private pension and Canadian pension plan encourage early retirement
and discourage part time work past the age of 65. Pension regulations, especially those
governing defined benefit plans, need to be modernized so that companies can set up
phased retirement programs where mature workers can work part-time and draw on their
pension to supplement their salary.174
Retail Council of Canada
Recommendation 3.3
The Committee recommends that in their next triennial review of the
Canada Pension Plan the Ministers of Finance consider possible
changes to the Plan to better accommodate concurrent work and
partial pension payments, and examine the need for actuarial
adjustments to Canada Pension Plan payments with a view to ensuring
that the impact of this program on seniors’ decisions to remain in the
workplace is, at the very least, neutral.
Recommendation 3.4
The Committee recommends that the federal government monitor and
assess the impact of the proposal in Budget 2008 to increase the
Guaranteed Income Supplement earnings exemption to $3,500.
B. Adjustment Assistance
In concert with the upward trend in labour force participation among older workers,
the level of employment (and the employment rate) among workers 55 years of age and
over has increased appreciably in the last decade. Between 1996 and 2006, job creation
among older workers increased by 81%, more than three and one-half times the growth in
173
Evidence, Meeting No. 26, October 26, 2006 at 11:00 a.m.
174
Retail Council of Canada, A Submission to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social
Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, September 6, 2006, p. 9.
77
employment for all ages during the same period. Almost four-fifths of this increase was
attributed to growth in full-time jobs. It is also noteworthy that employment growth among
workers 65 years of age and over was also quite robust during this period, increasing by
62% between 1996 and 2006.
Despite the relatively robust growth in job creation among older workers in the past
ten years, this group’s labour market performance between 1996 and 2006, as measured
by the unemployment rate, was less impressive. During this period, the unemployment rate
among older workers declined from 7.3% in 1996 to 5.1% in 2006, only two-thirds of the
decline in the unemployment rate for the labour market as a whole. Moreover, the
unemployment rate among workers 65 years of age and over increased from 3.8% in 1996
to 4.4% in 2006.
While older workers tend to experience unemployment less frequently than their
younger counterparts, when unemployment does occur older workers typically experience
longer spells of joblessness. This observation is depicted in Chart 3.2, which shows the
incidence of long-term unemployment (i.e., unemployment for 27 weeks or more) among
older workers compared with the labour force as a whole. According to these data, the
overall incidence of long-term unemployment declined between 1996 and 2006. This result
is not surprising given that the national unemployment rate dropped by 3.3 percentage
points during this period. Nevertheless, it is obvious from the data depicted in Chart 3.2 that
proportionately more older workers experience longer periods of unemployment than their
younger counterparts. Although this effect is not illustrated in this chart, in 2006, 14.7% of
workers 55 years of age and over experienced unemployment for 52 weeks or more,
almost 1.8 times higher than the proportion of all unemployed workers who were
unemployed for 52 weeks or more.
Although there are many reasons why older workers tend to experience longer
spells of unemployment than younger workers, inadequate skills and a lack of workplace
training opportunities are undoubtedly key contributors. As discussed in Chapter 2 of our
report, older workers have relatively fewer opportunities to participate in employersponsored training. In addition to a relatively shorter payback period for employers to
recoup the costs of training older workers, we suspect that many older workers are unable
to participate in training because a high proportion of them lack basic literacy and
numeracy skills. According to the 2003 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, more than
one-half of Canadians aged 46 to 65 had low literacy skills.175
175
OECD and Statistics Canada, 2005, Table 2.7 B, p. 53.
78
Chart 3.2 - Incidence of Long-term Unemployment (27 weeks or more), by Selected Age
Groups and Years, Canada
40
15 Years of Age and Over
55-64 Years of Age
65 Years of Age and Over
35
30
Per Cent
25
20
15
10
5
0
1996
2001
2006
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Historical Review 2006 ; and the Library of Parliament
As previously mentioned, the federal government funds a number of labour market
adjustment programs, the lion’s share of which is delivered under EI’s Employment
Benefits and Support Measures (EBSMs). According to data contained in the Employment
Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report 2006 (the most recent available), workers 55
years of age and over were somewhat under-represented in terms of their participation in
EBSMs in 2005-2006. In 2005, individuals 55 years of age and over represented roughly
14% of the labour force and 11.3% of unemployed people. Nationally, only 6.6% of
similarly aged individuals participated in EBSMs in 2005-2006; this proportion varied
considerably across the country from highs of 7.7% and 7.4% in British Columbia and
Ontario respectively, to lows of 2.3% in Nunavut and 3.7% in the Northwest Territories.176
Members of the Committee believe that older workers’ participation in federal labour
market programs must increase to reflect this group’s growing share of the labour force.
In June 1999, the federal government introduced the Older Workers Pilot Projects
Initiative, a program designed to test various approaches to helping unemployed older
workers regain employment or maintain employment if job loss becomes a risk. Following a
recent evaluation of this initiative, the federal government announced, on October 17,
2006, that it would introduce a federal-provincial cost-shared (70%-30%) program called
the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW). The federal government’s share of
funding under this program is expected to be $70 million over two years. As of March 2008,
176
Canada Employment Insurance Commission, March 31, 2007, Chapter 3, pp. 19-37.
79
nine jurisdictions — British Columbia, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia,
Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and the
Yukon — have signed agreements under this initiative.
The TIOW is targeted at older workers 55 to 64 years of age who have lost their
jobs, are legally entitled to work in Canada, lack the skills needed to secure new
employment and reside in communities that are experiencing high unemployment or that
rely heavily on a single employer or industry affected by downsizing or a closure. Although
witnesses were generally supportive of the TIOW, some raised concerns about limiting
program participation to those aged 55 to 64. If the federal and provincial/territorial
governments are genuinely interested in providing adjustment support to an aging
workforce, consideration should be given to broadening the age-eligibility criterion under
the TIOW and other labour market interventions. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that the
labour market adjustment problems currently facing older workers are concentrated in high
unemployment communities or single-industry (employer) communities. It is for this reason
that we recommended, in Chapter 2, the use of EI contribution rebates to help facilitate
labour market adjustments among older workers (and others) across the country.
On January 23, 2007, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development
announced the appointment of an expert panel to study labour market conditions affecting
older workers and potential measures to help this segment of the labour force. Members of
the Committee note that this expert panel would be an appropriate vehicle for examining
age- and community-eligibility criteria under the TIOW. This panel could also review the
efficacy of supporting: (1) an internship initiative to assist older workers who want to remain
in the workplace, but who lack job-specific experience and skills to fill job vacancies; and
(2) a mentorship initiative to allow older workers to pass on their expertise to younger
workers before leaving the labour force.
[S]upport mentorship programs that are not age-restricted to facilitate career
development in succession. It is in this area that we're starting to address the older part
of the workforce. The federal government has been very supportive with youth
internships, as well as addressing the issue of school dropout, etc., and that bridge
between school and work. We're seeing that there is also a very big issue that's being
addressed by older workers; if we could extend those youth internship programs to
include other ages, you would be able to address succession issues and career transfer
issues, transition issues, for older workers as well.177
Ms. Susan Annis
Cultural Human Resources Council
177
Evidence, Meeting No. 15, October 5, 2006 at 11:35 a.m.
80
Recommendation 3.5
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine the
efficacy of broadening the age and community eligibility criteria under
the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers. In addition, consideration
should be given to broadening the scope of this or some other
program to support internship and mentorship opportunities for older
workers. In the event that the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers
program is broadened, funding could come from the newly announced
$500 million investment in new labour market programming, given that
one of the stated objectives of this spending is to increase the labour
force participation of under-represented groups in the Canadian labour
market.
ABORIGINAL WORKERS
The Aboriginal working-age population (i.e., 15 years of age and over) represents a
growing segment of the Canadian labour force. According to the 2001 Census, 3.3% of
Canada’s total population was of Aboriginal identity (almost 1 million people).178 The
Aboriginal population as a percentage of the total population is largest in Nunavut (85%),
the Northwest Territories (51%), the Yukon (23%) and Western Canada, particularly in
Manitoba (13.6%) and Saskatchewan (13.5%). It is a young population, with a median age
in 2001 that was 13 years younger than that of the non-Aboriginal population (24.7 years
as opposed to 37.7 years). By 2020, it is estimated that over 400,000 young Aboriginal
people will be of working age.179
Canada needs a well-educated and skilled Aboriginal workforce. Research has
shown that over the last decade Aboriginal people have made significant progress in terms
of their educational and employment outcomes. However, their levels of education and
employment are still well below those of the non-Aboriginal population.
178
According to Statistics Canada, the Aboriginal identity population includes individuals who identified
themselves as North American Indian, Métis or Inuit (Eskimo), and/or who reported being Treaty Indians or
Registered Indians as defined by the Indian Act of Canada and/or who were members of an Indian Band or
First Nations. In 2001, 62% of Aboriginal people identified as North American Indian, 30% as Métis and 5%
as Inuit.
179
Statistics
Canada,
2001
Census:
analysis
series,
Aboriginal
Peoples
of
Canada:
A
demographic
profile,
Catalogue
no.
96F0030XIE2001007,
January
2003
http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/Products/Analytic/companion/abor/pdf/96F0030XIE2001007.pdf.
81
Canada will face a skilled labour shortage as many Canadian baby boomers start retiring
and the economy remains strong. At the same time, Aboriginal people in Canada are the
nation's youngest and fastest growing segment of the population. We must find a way to
change the high percentage of unemployment for Aboriginal people, utilizing both onand non-reserve approaches. The Aboriginal population is the largest untapped human
resource in Canada, and we believe we can solve Canada's labour shortage.180
Ms. Sherry Lewis
Native Women’s Association of Canada
A. Aboriginal Education
In 2001, 38.7% of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 had less than a high school
graduation certificate, as opposed to 22.7% of the total working-age population. In terms of
trades-related training, Aboriginal people achieved better rates of completion than the nonAboriginal population (16% as opposed to 13%). However, those results are an exception,
in that a smaller proportion of Aboriginal people obtained a college or university degree
than non-Aboriginal individuals. Fifteen percent of Aboriginal people had a college
certificate or diploma, and 8% reported having a university degree. Among the nonAboriginal population, 18% had a college certificate and 22.6% had completed a university
education.181
1. Barriers to Post-Secondary Education
Aboriginal learners must overcome a number of barriers to post-secondary
education. According to a study published by the Canada Millennium Scholarship
Foundation, these barriers include: inadequate financial resources; poor academic
preparation; a lack of self-confidence and motivation; an absence of role models who have
post-secondary education experience; a lack of understanding of Aboriginal culture on
campus; and racism. Of all the barriers constraining Aboriginal learners from attending
post-secondary education, insufficient financial resources and poor academic preparation
were cited most often by First Nations people living on reserves. Financial barriers do not
stem only from low incomes. The Foundation’s study also revealed that Aboriginal students
at the post-secondary level are, on average, older than other students and are more likely
to be married and/or to have children. These student characteristics tend to augment
household expenses and the need for child care.182 Hence, effective financial assistance
180
Evidence, Meeting No. 64, March 22, 2007 at 3:50 p.m.
181
Statistics
Canada,
2001
Census:
analysis
series,
Education
in
Canada:
Raising
the
standard,
Catalogue
no.
96F0030XIE2001012,
2003
http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/Products/Analytic/companion/educ/pdf/96F0030XIE2001012.pdf.
182
Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, Changing Course: Improving Aboriginal Access to PostSecondary Education in Canada, Millennium Research Note #2.
82
programs for Aboriginal students must account for the financial needs of an older student
population and single parents.183
2. Federal Programs Supporting Aboriginal Education
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) spends about $1.6 billion on
elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education for First Nations and Inuit students.
The Department supports the provision of elementary and secondary education programs
and services for First Nations students and offers financial support for post-secondary
education to Inuit and First Nations (Status Indians) residing on or off reserves.184
The Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and the University College
Entrance Preparation Program (UCEP) provide financial assistance to help cover the costs
of tuition, books, travel and living expenses. The Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP)
also provides support “to post-secondary institutions for the development and delivery of
special programs for Indians.”185 The three support programs are administered and
delivered almost exclusively by First Nations Bands, whose Councils define their own
selection criteria and policies.186 INAC has a budget of about $300 million for postsecondary education programs. Most of this funding is earmarked for the Post-Secondary
Student Support Program.187
According to a recent evaluation of INAC’s Post-Secondary Student Support
Program, this program is relevant and effective. Most program participants indicated that
they would not have obtained a post-secondary education without the support of this
program. However, resources are limited and the guidelines for living allowances under the
PSSSP are outdated. The demand for financial assistance exceeds the resources
available. Organizations administering PSSSP funds indicated that about 22% of
applicants were put on a waiting list. On the basis of all the information available,
evaluators concluded that each year about 3,575 applicants are unable to access financial
183
In response to these findings, the Foundation launched pilot projects, Making Education Work and
LE,NONET, to better prepare Aboriginal students for post-secondary education and to help lower the costs
of their studies. The effectiveness of these pilot projects will be carefully measured but final results are not
expected until 2010. For more information on these pilots projects, see Canada Millennium Scholarship
Foundation, Pilot Projects http://www.millenniumscholarships.ca/en/research/Pilot.asp.
184
Métis and Non- status First Nations students are not eligible to receive financial support offered through
INAC’s post-secondary programming. They can apply to receive financial support under the Canada Student
Loans Program and other funding sources that are available to all non-Aboriginal learners, as well as to Inuit
and Registered First Nations people.
185
Indian and Northern Affairs
inac.gc.ca/ps/edu/ense_e.html.
186
R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd., Aboriginal Peoples and Post-Secondary Education: What Educators Have
Learned, prepared for the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, January 2004, p. 19.
187
Indian and Northern Affairs
d2004/02539bbk_e.html.
Canada,
Canada,
Post-Secondary
Fact
83
Education
Sheet — Education
Programs
http://www.ainc-
http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/nr/prs/s-
assistance under the PSSSP because of a lack of funding.188 According to the Assembly of
First Nations, about 9,500 First Nations students who are eligible and looking to attend
post-secondary education are on waiting lists.
The employment rate for Aboriginal people in Canada is well below the rate for nonAboriginal people, and there is a significant disparity between Aboriginal and nonAboriginal students enrolled in post-secondary education. Current federal funding
programs are not accessible to all Aboriginal students who should have the option of
accessing them. Additionally, federal funding has reached its maximum, which does not
account for rising costs of tuition and the increase in Aboriginal enrolment. Developing a
more highly skilled and educated Aboriginal population is vital for the future economic
and social development of Canada.189
Sustained Poverty Reduction Initiative
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development recently completed a study of Aboriginal post-secondary education and came
to similar conclusions. While recognizing the progress made by Aboriginal and
non-Aboriginal stakeholders in developing and delivering post-secondary programming to
Aboriginal learners, the report states that “it appears there are uncounted numbers of
aspiring Aboriginal learners who are unable to gain access to the funding they need to
enroll in post-secondary programs.”190 Although the report deals mainly with funding
provided under INAC’s post-secondary education program, the lack of funding to meet the
needs of Métis and non-registered First Nations learners is also recognized as a problem
that requires immediate attention.
To support and encourage the attainment of higher levels of education by all
Aboriginal learners, including Aboriginal populations that are not eligible to receive support
under INAC’s programs, the federal government announced in 2003 a one-time $12 million
endowment to establish a new post-secondary scholarship. The scholarship is offered to
First Nations (status and non-status), Métis and Inuit learners enrolled full-time or part-time
in programs of two or more academic years in duration. The scholarship fund is
administered and delivered by the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (NAAF).191
188
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Corporate Services, Evaluation of the Post-Secondary Education
Program, Project 01/29, prepared by the Departmental Audit and Evaluation Branch, June 2005
http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/pr/pub/ae/ev/01-29/01-29_e.pdf.
189
Sustained Poverty Reduction Initiative, Federal Policy Recommendations Regarding Employability in
Canada, Brief to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of
Persons with Disabilities, October 30, 2006, p. 4.
190
House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, No Higher
Priority:
Aboriginal
Post-Secondary
Education
in
Canada,
February
2007,
p.
29
http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/committee/391/aano/reports/rp2683969/aanorp02/aanorp02-e.pdf.
191
For more information on the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, see its Web site at:
http://www.naaf.ca/html/education_program_e.html.
84
In Budget 2005, the federal government committed an additional $10 million in 2005-2006
to the NAAF to support the post-secondary education aspirations of Aboriginal students.
B. Aboriginal Labour Market Participation
Aboriginal people are also under-represented in the labour market. In 2001, the
employment rate (i.e., employment expressed as a percentage of the population 15 years
of age and over) for the Aboriginal population was 49.7%, well below the rate of 61.8% for
non-Aboriginal people. These differences vary according to residential location and
educational attainment. Aboriginal people living in urban metropolitan areas are more likely
to be employed than those living elsewhere, particularly those living on reserves. Reserves
are often located in remote locations and generally offer few employment opportunities.
Approximately 53% of First Nations individuals live on reserves. In 2001, the employment
rate was 37.7% for people living on reserves, compared with 54.2% for those who were
living in non-reserve areas. Not surprisingly, the employment rate also increases with
higher levels of educational attainment. Slightly over 82% of Aboriginal people (25 to 64
years old) with a university degree were employed in 2001, compared with 43% of those
with some high school education or less.192
In 2001, Aboriginal people aged 15 years and over were more likely to be
unemployed (19.1%) than the non-Aboriginal population (7.1%) in 2001.193 The Committee
was told that the unemployment rate for those living on reserves was as high as 28%.
There were also clear variations from one region of the country to another. Aboriginal
unemployment rates in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were three to four times those of the
non-Aboriginal population (18% and 22% respectively).194 These high unemployment rates
are unjustifiable, particularly in view of the fact that Canada is experiencing skills shortages
in certain economic sectors and regions of the country.
192
Statistics Canada, The Canadian Labour Market at a Glance 2005, Catalogue no. 71-222-XIE, June 2006,
pp. 95-97 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/71-222-XIE/71-222-XIE2006001.pdf.
193
The unemployment rate of 19.1% among Aboriginal people represents, however, a significant decline
from
a
rate
of
24%
registered
in
1996.
Ibid.,
p.
95
http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/71-222-XIE/71-222-XIE2006001.pdf.
194
These findings are particularly relevant since 61% of Aboriginal people lived in Western Canada in 2001. A
recent study published by Statistics Canada shows that Aboriginal people in Western Canada have improved
their labour market performance since 2001, but substantial gaps remain between Aboriginal and nonAboriginal individuals. For more information on this study, see: Jacqueline Luffman and Deborah Sussman,
“The Aboriginal labour force in Western Canada” in Perspectives on Labour and Income,
Vol.
8,
no.
1,
Statistics
Canada,
Catalogue
no.
75-001-XIE,
January
2007,
pp. 13 - 27 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/75-001-XIE/10107/art-2.pdf. For more information on
education and labour market trends facing Aboriginal people in Western Canada, see: Ben Brunnen,
Working Towards Parity: Recommendations of the Aboriginal Human Capital Strategies Initiative,
Building the New West Report #24, Canada West Foundation, February 2004; and Ben Brunnen,
Achieving Potential: Towards Improved Labour Market Outcomes for Aboriginal People,
Building the New West Project Report #19, Canada West Foundation, September 2003
http://www.cwf.ca/abcalcwf/doc.nsf/(Publications)/7A5543A67268D8C687256DB0007BA6F3/$file/Achieving
%20Potential.pdf.
85
1. Barriers to Employment
The reasons underlying low labour force participation rates and the high
unemployment rates among Aboriginal people are complex and not yet fully understood.
However, it is clear that high school completion rates must be addressed, access to postsecondary education must be facilitated, and barriers to employment must be dealt with if
we are to improve the socio-economic status of Aboriginal people.
Research has also shown that poor health, poverty, unsuitable living conditions
(e.g., inadequate housing), racism and discrimination have a direct impact on the social,
educational, and occupational achievements of Aboriginal people.195 Income is a basic
indicator of economic well-being. The 2001 Census shows that there is a significant income
gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada. In 2000, the median income
of the Aboriginal population was $13,525, compared with $22,431 for the non-Aboriginal
population. Aboriginal people who worked year-round, full time earned on average
$33,416, whereas non-Aboriginal working Canadians had average earnings of $43, 486.196
To increase employment opportunities for Aboriginal people, we also need to
consider mobility issues. Aboriginal individuals are much more mobile than other
Canadians. In the year before the 2001 Census, 22% of Aboriginal people had moved
compared with only 14% of non-Aboriginal people. Of those who moved, about one-third
had moved to another community.197 Young people moving off reserves to urban centres
face particular challenges in their search for employment outside their own community. All
of the activities associated with relocation must be accomplished without the support of the
community and family they leave behind on reserves. They face language and cultural
barriers. They must find suitable housing, look for a job and create a new social support
network. The Committee was told that Aboriginal women face similar relocation challenges
with the added difficulty that, as many are also single mothers, they need access to
affordable, quality child care services that reflect Aboriginal culture and practices.
195
For more information on the health status of Aboriginal people in Canada as well as an assessment of the
current gaps in information on their health status, see: Health Council of Canada, The Health Status of
Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples, A background paper to accompany Health Care Renewal in
Canada: Accelerating Change (January 2005), Toronto, 2005. For more information on Aboriginal housing,
see: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canadian Housing Observer 2005, with a special feature
on Aboriginal housing, 2005, pp. 39-43.
196
Statistics
Canada,
2001
Census,
Topic-based
Tabulations
http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/products/standard/themes/RetrieveProductTable.cfm?Temporal=
2001&PID=73634&APATH=3&GID=355313&METH=1&PTYPE=55496&THEME=45&FOCUS=0&AID=0&PL
ACENAME=0&PROVINCE=0&SEARCH=0&GC=0&GK=0&VID=0&VNAMEE=&VNAMEF=&FL=0&RL=0&F
REE=0.
197
Statistics
Canada,
2001
Census:
analysis
series,
Aboriginal
peoples
of
Canada:
A
demographic
profile,
Catalogue
no.
96F0030XIE2001007,
January
2003,
p.
11
http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/Products/Analytic/companion/abor/pdf/96F0030XIE2001007.pdf.
86
Our studies have found that child care and the costs of child care are difficult to access,
and they are insufficient. This leads to single mothers having to carry the burden of child
care on their own or having to receive government benefits and pass up the opportunities
to train to re-enter the job market. Current initiatives do not have set-aside budgets for
child care and limit the ability of aboriginal women to receive training by having such
restrictive criteria.198
Ms. Sherry Lewis
Native Women’s Association of Canada
If you want to talk about employability, I would argue that the number one priority this
committee should have is single women with children. If you get that young mother
graduated through a program and into a well-paying job, you change her life and you
change her child's life. Having been raised by a single mother, I can assure you that this
mother will not allow her child not to succeed. She'll know the benefits and what it takes,
and it will be a remarkable outcome for all of Canada. That's what I would say would be
the ultimate success story.199
Mr. Peter Dinsdale
National Association of Friendship Centres
2. Enhancing Aboriginal Training and Labour Market Participation
During our hearings, some witnesses expressed concerns regarding the underrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the labour market and made suggestions to remove
barriers to their full participation in education and employment. Most recognized that the
Aboriginal population is part of the solution to existing and anticipated skills shortages.
They also see the current labour market challenges as an opportunity to reduce the socioeconomic woes that afflict Aboriginal people across Canada.
Aboriginal peoples and recent immigrants are experiencing very high rates of poverty and
a very bad employment and employability situation, yet these are the very people we
need to fill the gaps in our labour market resulting from Canada's aging population.200
Mrs. Sheila Regehr
National Council of Welfare
In our view, the acquisition of higher education, training and skills development
provide the most promising approaches to increasing the labour market participation and
living standards of Aboriginal people. The significance of education, apprenticeship training
and the acquisition of basic skills in enhancing the participation of Aboriginal people in the
198
Evidence, Meeting No. 64, March 22, 2007 at 3:50 p.m.
199
Ibid. at 4:50 p.m.
200
Evidence, Meeting No. 13, September 28, 2006 at 11:15 a.m.
87
economy was also highlighted in a recent report entitled Sharing Canada’s Prosperity — A
Hand Up, Not a Handout.201
In light of the interest shown by Aboriginal people in trades-related occupations,
some witnesses suggested that efforts should be made to facilitate Aboriginal participation
in apprenticeship training and ensure that those who complete their training find jobs. A
number of witnesses also indicated that there is a need for employers, Aboriginal workers
and agencies that serve Aboriginal people to collaborate in the development of initiatives to
provide the necessary supports to increase Aboriginal workers’ mobility and facilitate
smoother transitions into the workplace. Some witnesses also thought that “mentorship
programs” could be created so that Aboriginal people who have succeeded in breaking
down the barriers to better employment could assist others to do the same.
In both Alberta and British Columbia, aboriginal people who have completed postsecondary education have higher participation rates than the non-aboriginal population
with post-secondary education. Again, that is an indication that education matters.202
Ms. Maryanne Webber
Statistics Canada
As an example, there's little doubt that over the next five to seven years, Saskatchewan's
tar sands will start to be developed just like Alberta's. The demand for skilled labour in
this and other skill-starved sectors as well as other occupations could be filled by
aboriginal people, but only if we start working on this now. We need a massive increase
in financially supported academic and apprenticeship training opportunities for aboriginal
people, and we need to start that now.203
Mr. Larry Hubich
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
It's all about removal of barriers for aboriginal people to participate. It's all about
significant investment by employers in making sure that aboriginal employees not only
can be hired but can be retained and promoted. On the mining side, I think they've done
an admirable job of training.204
Mr. Mark Hanley
Saskatchewan Labour Force Development Board
201
Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, Sharing Canada’s Prosperity — A Hand Up,
Not a Handout, Final Report, Special Study on the involvement of Aboriginal communities
and
businesses
in
economic
development
activities
in
Canada,
March
2007
http://www.parl.gc.ca/39/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/com-e/abor-e/rep-e/rep06-e.pdf.
202
Evidence, Meeting No. 7, June 13, 2006 at 9:25 a.m.
203
Evidence, Meeting No. 37, November 10, 2006 at 8:55 a.m.
204
Evidence, Meeting No. 38, November 10, 2006 at 11:20 a.m.
88
C. Federal Programs Promoting Employment for Aboriginal People
To increase the labour market participation of Aboriginal people and their standard
of living, the federal government funds a number of education, training and employment
services. Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) oversees the
Aboriginal Human Resources Development Strategy (AHRDS), an initiative launched in
1999 to facilitate labour market adjustment among Aboriginal people.205 The Strategy was
renewed in 2004 for a second five-year period with a total budget of $1.64 billion.206 In
2006-2007, HRSDC spent $281.4 million under the AHRDS.207 Funding under the Strategy
is distributed via approximately 80 Human Resources Development Agreement holders,
who design and deliver labour market, youth and child care208 programs and services best
suited to meet the local and regional needs of their communities. These programs and
services help Aboriginal people prepare for, obtain and maintain employment and assist
Aboriginal youth (15 to 30 years of age) in making a successful transition from school to
work. According to HRSDC’s latest performance report, in 2006-2007 approximately
54,797 Aboriginal clients received assistance through the Strategy; of these
16,540 became employed or self-employed, and approximately 5,785 returned to
school.209 Each year, the AHRDS supports about 7,500 child care spaces.210
Other initiatives that complement the AHRDS include the Aboriginal Human
Resource Council of Canada (a sector council) and the Aboriginal Skills and Employment
Partnership (ASEP) program. The Council was established in 1998. Its goal is to develop
career opportunities for Aboriginal people through partnerships with the private sector,
Aboriginal organizations and various levels of government.211 The ASEP program was
introduced in 2003 as a five-year initiative with a budget of $85 million. As of February
205
For more information on the Aboriginal Human Resources Development
http://srv119.services.gc.ca/AHRDSInternet/general/public/thestrategy/thestrategy_e.asp.
206
Canada
Employment
Insurance
Commission,
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/ei/reports/eimar_2005.pdf.
207
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, 2006-2007 Departmental Performance Report, 2007,
p. 58 http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/2006-2007/inst/csd/csd-eng.pdf.
208
Funding for child care is provided through the First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative. This initiative was
created in 1995 and is currently being administered under the AHRDS. Child care services are delivered
through 56 regional First Nations and Inuit organizations that have signed Human Resources Development
Agreements. The current ongoing budget for this initiative is $50.1 million, “of which 87 per cent is allocated
to First Nations communities while the remaining 13 per cent goes to Inuit communities.”
See Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Fact Sheet — The First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative
http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ps/ecde/fni_e.html.
209
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, 2007, p. 53 http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/20062007/inst/csd/csd-eng.pdf.
210
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Aboriginal Labour Market Development, Presentation
to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with
Disabilities, March 22, 2007, p. 10.
211
Service Canada, Aboriginal Human Resources Development Strategy (AHRDS) Sector Council
http://srv119.services.gc.ca/AHRDSInternet/general/public/SectorCouncil/SectorCouncil_e.asp.
89
March
31,
Strategy,
2006,
p.
see:
27
2006, all of the funding for this initiative had been invested in nine projects established
across the country.212 It is estimated that these projects will result in over 5,000 Aboriginal
clients being trained for over 3,000 long-term, sustainable jobs in various sectors, such as
mining, oil and gas, forestry, construction and fisheries.213 Budget 2007 has allocated an
additional $105 million over five years to expand this program. It is anticipated that this
increase will lead to 9,000 Aboriginal people receiving skills training and to 6,000 careers
being created in major economic development projects.214
I noticed a doubling of the ASEP program in the budget. It's great and good news, but it's
not even close to the amount of investment in human resources and human capital that is
necessary to deal with that. If we don't make a financial and political shift, we're going to
miss out enormously.215
Mr. Karl Flecker
Canadian Labour Congress
INAC offers two main programs to expand economic and employment opportunities
for Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative (AWPI) educates
and informs employers about the advantages of hiring, retaining, and promoting Aboriginal
people and works in partnership with various businesses and organizations to enhance the
labour force participation of Aboriginal people throughout Canada.216 The Procurement
Strategy for Aboriginal Business (PSAB) helps Aboriginal firms do more contracting with
federal departments and agencies. In 2006, 5,087 federal contracts worth $463 million
were awarded to Aboriginal businesses.217
To support the development and enhancement of essential employability skills and
to expose youth to work experience, INAC administers four programs offered under the
First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy, a component of the federal
government’s Youth Employment Strategy. These programs include the First Nations and
Inuit Youth Work Experience Program, the First Nations and Inuit Summer Employment
Opportunities Program, the First Nations and Inuit Science and Technology Program, and
the First Nations and Inuit Career Promotion and Awareness Program. In 2006-2007,
212
Service
Canada,
Aboriginals
Skills
and
Employment
Partnership
http://srv119.services.gc.ca/AHRDSInternet/general/public/asep/asep_e.asp.
213
Service Canada, Aboriginals Skills and Employment Partnership Program (ASEP), Fact Sheet
http://srv119.services.gc.ca/AHRDSInternet/general/public/asep/FAQ_e.asp.
214
Evidence, Meeting No. 64, March 22, 2007 at 3:40 p.m.
215
Evidence, Meeting No. 62, March 20, 2007 at 4:55 p.m.
216
For more information, see Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, What is the Aboriginal Workforce
Participation Initiative? http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ai/awpi/ini_e.html.
217
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Canadian Polar Commission and Indian Specific Claims Commission,
Performance Report for the period ending March 31, 2007, 2007, p. 33 http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dprrmr/2006-2007/inst/ian/ian-eng.pdf.
90
Program
(ASEP)
approximately 122,000 young Aboriginal people received support under the First Nations
and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy.218
The federal government has also implemented a number of legislative measures to
promote equality and safeguard people from discriminatory practices. Aboriginal people
represent one of four designated groups whose under-representation in employment is
covered under the Employment Equity Act. In addition, the federal government launched a
Racism-Free Workplace Strategy as part of A Canada for All: Canada’s Action Plan
Against Racism, initiated in 2005. Activities undertaken under this Strategy aim to remove
discriminatory barriers to employment, job retention and upward mobility, and to promote a
fair, productive and inclusive labour market. Aboriginal people and visible minorities are two
groups that are particularly affected by racism in the workplace.219
Our second area of progress in the Labour Program is the Racism-Free Workplace
Strategy. This strategy is vital to Canada's continued success, because in facing world
markets, it ensures we are able to count on a highly competitive workforce that is
uniquely rooted in diversity and inclusiveness. But let's be clear, this is the shared
responsibility of employers, employees, government, business, and labour organizations.
That's why this strategy is key. I recently completed a five-city tour to promote racismfree workplaces and the removal of barriers to employment and upward mobility for
visible minorities and Aboriginal peoples. I announced our plan to hire nine anti-racism
officers, whose mandate will be to work in the following three areas: to promote
workplace integration of racial minorities — in other words, to be inclusive; to build a
network between community resources and employers; and to provide tools and
assistance to employers working toward equitable representation in their workforce.220
Hon. Jean-Pierre Blackburn
Minister of Labour
D. Closing the Gap in Socio-Economic Outcomes between Canada’s
Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal People
Members of the Committee believe that the federal government must continue to
invest in Aboriginal human capital and other initiatives that aim to close the gap in socioeconomic outcomes between Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations. The
federal government must work in partnership with provincial and territorial governments,
the business sector and Aboriginal organizations to create sustainable economic
opportunities for Aboriginal people. We must ensure that Aboriginal children and youth
have the necessary literacy skills, education, and training to meet current and future labour
218
Ibid., p. 25.
219
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Summary Report for the Engagement Sessions for a
Racism-Free Workplace, by John Samuel and Associates Inc. for Labour Program, March 2006
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/lp/lo/lswe/we/special_projects/RacismFreeInitiative/consultation-2005/SummaryReport-2005.pdf.
220
Evidence, Meeting No. 17, October 19, 2006 at 11:15 a.m.
91
market demands. Aboriginal learners must be able to access, finance and complete
apprenticeship programs and other post-secondary education programs. Innovative
solutions must also be implemented to facilitate their transition from education to
employment. Such innovations might include offering pre-employment training to provide
information about the workplace culture and clarify employer expectations, as well as using
Aboriginal employment role models or mentors to motivate young people to pursue an
education or a particular career. Discriminatory barriers in the workplace that limit
Aboriginal employment opportunities must be eliminated through measures such as
campaigns to raise employers’ awareness of diversity issues. Other barriers to
employment, such as the crisis in Aboriginal housing, relocation issues and the need for
adequate funding for Aboriginal child care, must also be addressed to ensure that
Aboriginal people have an equal opportunity to join the labour force. Federal programs and
services offered to Aboriginal people and organizations must be culturally sensitive and
inclusive.
Recommendation 3.6
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada conduct a comprehensive evaluation, in full
consultation with Aboriginal groups, of the Aboriginal Human
Resources Development Strategy to assess the results to date and to
determine whether the Strategy can: meet the needs of Aboriginal
working parents (particularly single mothers); meet the needs of a
rapidly growing young Aboriginal population that will reach working
age in the near future; and achieve its long-term goal of raising the
Aboriginal employment rate to a level comparable to that found among
non-Aboriginal Canadians. Based on the results of this evaluation, the
federal government should, if necessary, dedicate additional resources
as needed, in particular by adopting long-term strategies of ten years
to provide Aboriginal organizations, including band governments,
planning and consultation time in the beginning years so they can take
full advantage of the opportunities offered, and make any necessary
modifications to the Strategy to enhance its effectiveness in meeting
the employability needs of Aboriginal people.
Recommendation 3.7
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
partnership with provincial/territorial governments and Aboriginal
stakeholders, take immediate steps to strengthen the commitment to
provide high-quality, culturally relevant elementary and secondary
education to Aboriginal students. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
should develop culturally sensitive measures and programs to reduce
the high school drop-out rate among Aboriginal students and to better
prepare students for post-secondary education. Pilot projects that
would allow students to be linked with successful Aboriginal mentors
92
should be used to strengthen school attendance and completion. The
Committee recognizes the particular need to address education for
First Nations and Aboriginal people from a lifelong learning perspective
which includes: early childhood development; kindergarten to grade
12; post-secondary education; adult education and training. Part of this
approach must include a commitment to build more schools on
reserves to address the chronic lack of classroom space.
Recommendation 3.8
The Committee recommends that the federal government commit to
better supporting Indigenous education institutions, taking into
consideration the proposals in Budget 2008.
Recommendation 3.9
The Committee recommends that the federal government take the
necessary steps to improve access to post-secondary education for
Aboriginal people. Among other initiatives, the eligibility criteria for the
Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the University College
Entrance Preparation Program offered through Indian and Northern
Affairs Canada should be broadened, and the budget for these
programs should be increased and indexed to growth in the Aboriginal
post-secondary school-age population. The federal government must
continue to support the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada PostSecondary Student Support Program and consider removing the twoper cent cap instituted in 1996.
Recommendation 3.10
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
collaboration with provincial/territorial governments and Aboriginal
stakeholders, develop a program to raise awareness among Aboriginal
people about the importance of, and economic benefits associated
with, completing a post-secondary education.
Recommendation 3.11
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada encourage the participation of Aboriginal people
in trades-related training by working with Aboriginal stakeholders to
examine initiatives and budgets geared specifically to meeting the
needs of Aboriginal workers.
93
Recommendation 3.12
The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to
support and implement fully the Racism-free Workplace Strategy to
reduce discriminatory barriers to employment, promote a better
understanding of Aboriginal cultural issues, and promote the socioeconomic advancement of Aboriginal people.
Recommendation 3.13
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
partnership with other governments and Aboriginal stakeholders,
develop innovative solutions to relocation problems that arise when
Aboriginal people, especially youth and women, move to urban centres
in search of employment.
Recommendation 3.14
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine the
feasibility of developing incentive-based programs to encourage
partnerships between employers operating near reserves and
Aboriginal stakeholders that would foster training and employment
opportunities on or near reserves.
Recommendation 3.15
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
partnership with provincial/territorial governments and Aboriginal
organizations, develop a national Aboriginal housing policy to address
the needs of Aboriginal people living on and off reserves. To maximize
the socio-economic benefits of this policy, skills training should be
provided to Aboriginal people who are interested in jobs related to
residential construction, housing services and other occupations in the
housing industry.
Recommendation 3.16
The Committee recommends that the federal government recommit to
an Aboriginal Business Strategy, in which it would support Aboriginal
economic development by setting fixed targets to make Aboriginalowned businesses a preferred supplier of services and materials,
especially in remote and northern regions.
94
WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES
In 2006, according to Statistics Canada’s Participation and Activity Limitation Survey
(PALS), about 2.5 million Canadians aged 15 to 64 reported some form of disability,
yielding a disability rate of 11.5% for the total working-age population.221 As Canada’s
population ages we can expect the proportion of people with disabilities to rise. The
disability rate is higher among Aboriginal people: a recent report estimated that some 31%
of Aboriginal people may have a disability.222
Studies have shown that, compared with adults without disabilities, Canadian adults
with disabilities are less likely to have completed higher levels of education, less likely to be
employed, and more likely to have a low income. In 2001, the most recent year for which
national data have been published, 37% of persons with disabilities reported that they had
less than a high school education. About 13% had a trades certificate or diploma, another
16% had a college education, and a little over 11% had a university education.223 Among
the population without disabilities, approximately 23% had a university education.
As we have seen in other groups in the labour market, the employment rate among
people with disabilities increases with the level of education. However, many people with
disabilities who have completed a post-secondary education have difficulty finding
employment. In 2001, slightly more than 41% of working-age people with disabilities were
employed compared with almost 74% of those without disabilities.224 Despite this sizeable
gap in employment rates between these two groups, the employment situation of people
with disabilities has improved since 1999. For example, in the western provinces
(Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) where skills shortages are more acute, the
employment rate for persons with disabilities has increased. Although people with
disabilities are less likely to be employed in provinces with weaker economies, it should be
noted that the employment rate among persons with disabilities living in those provinces
has also increased in the last six years.225
221
Statistics Canada, Participation and Activity Limitation Survey 2006: Analytical Report, Catalogue no. 89628-XIE, December 2007, p. 9, http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/89-628-XIE/89-628-XIE2007002.pdf.
222
Human
Resources
and
Social
Development
Canada,
Advancing
the
Inclusion
of
People
with
Disabilities
2006,
Chapter
3,
2006,
p.
55
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/hip/odi/documents/advancingInclusion06/messagefromtheminister.shtml.
223
Statistics Canada, Education, employment and income of adults with and without disabilities — Tables,
Participation and Activity Limitation Survey, 2001, Catalogue no. 89-587-XIE, September 2003
http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/89-587-XIE/pdf/89-587-XIE03001.pdf.
224
Ibid.
225
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities,
Chapter 3, 2006, p. 43.
95
In every sector in Alberta, we've seen businesses take on more folks from the nontraditional labour groups and have success in hiring them. The biggest increase has
been among people with disabilities, with the number of firms having successfully hired
them going from 16% to 27%. So they are moving in that direction.226
Ms. Corinne Pohlmann
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
A. Barriers to Employment
Approximately 49% of working-age individuals with disabilities are not in the labour
force. The Committee was told that a significant number of these individuals could work if it
were not for the array of barriers they face (Statistics Canada estimates that in 2001
approximately 660,000 people with a disability could have worked).227 The integration of
these individuals into the workforce could help offset current and anticipated skills
shortages. However, to achieve this goal, barriers to employment must be addressed.
Those barriers include negative attitudes, inaccessible infrastructure and transportation
services, a lack of education and training, a lack of accommodation in the workplace, and
low availability and portability of disability-related supports.
One of the first findings that we can make is that a large percentage of persons with
disabilities are currently inactive but feel they are able to work. However, these people
say they experience problems of all kinds, such as negative perceptions by employers,
transportation problems and a lack of training and experience. And yet persons with
disabilities constitute a skilled labour force and are part of the response to the major
labour shortage problem we are facing.228
Ms. Nancy Moreau
SPHERE-Québec
If we ensure that people have at least high school education, get back for some
retraining, and get the disability supports they require — for example, the help from other
people, technologies, wheelchairs, medications and so on — and if we ensure that the
community transportation system is accessible for people, the chances are very good
that the employment levels for people with disabilities will be very close to those of other
Canadians.229
Mr. Cameron Crawford
Canadian Association for Community Living
226
Evidence, Meeting No. 65, March 27, 2007 at 9:30 a.m.
227
Statistics Canada, Employability Issues, For the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social
Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, Ottawa, June 13, 2006, p. 13.
228
Evidence, Meeting No. 23, October 25, 2006 at 8:55 a.m.
229
Evidence, Meeting No. 30, October 27, 2006 at 11:20 a.m.
96
They don't understand what they need to do to accommodate somebody with a disability.
I think understanding that is the biggest barrier for them. Rather than trying to
understand, they'd rather look elsewhere. In jurisdictions where they have no choice —
and I think in Alberta you're seeing huge advancements in that particular area —
employers are looking at people with disabilities more and more, because their options
are fewer and they're making the accommodations they need. I think the biggest barrier
is fear. They just don't know what they need to do to accommodate somebody with a
disability.230
Ms. Corinne Pohlmann
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
1. Unmet Needs for Disability-Related Supports
Many witnesses indicated that the lack of accessibility to disability-related supports
is a major barrier to employment. Disability supports are technical aids and devices, as well
as human assistance, required by people with disabilities to accomplish the basic tasks of
daily living. Without these supports, many people with disabilities are prevented from
fulfilling their social and economic potential.
According to data collected from the 2001 PALS concerning people aged 15 and
over who use assistive devices, 22% of those with moderate limitations, 33% of those with
severe limitations and 50% of those with very severe limitations had unmet needs for
specialized equipment. The main reason cited was cost (affecting 48% of those who
needed help), while a lack of insurance coverage ranked second (affecting 36%).231
Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) also reported that
post-secondary students with disabilities have unmet needs for disability supports. In 2001,
it was estimated that there were approximately 51,000 post-secondary students with
disabilities, of whom 20% reported the need for disability supports to attend a postsecondary institution. Of these 10,000 students, only about 40% had their needs met,
leaving approximately 6,000 students with disabilities with unmet needs for supports.232
Public coverage for aids and support devices is not available in all provinces and
territories, and none of the provinces and territories provides access to the full range of
disability supports. Eligibility for financial assistance to offset the cost of these supports is
often linked to residency in a particular region or municipality, or to enrolment in public
230
Evidence, Meeting No. 65, March 27, 2007 at 9:45 a.m.
231
Statistics Canada, Participation and Activity Limitation Survey, 2001, Disability Supports in Canada, 2001,
Catalogue no. 89-580-XIE, p. 6 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/89-580-XIE/89-580-XIE03001.pdf.
232
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Diagnostique: People with Disabilities and the Labour
Market, Presentation to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status
of Persons with Disabilities, September 26, 2006, p. 4.
97
institutions (e.g., schools, residential facilities, etc.), and is based on income and eligibility
for other benefits such as social assistance. Once a person leaves these settings, supports
are generally withdrawn. This creates a disincentive to work, as the combined loss of
income-tested benefits and disability supports often outweigh after-tax earnings from work.
During our hearings, a number of witnesses raised this issue and argued that accessibility
to disability supports should be universal, regardless of income or place of residence.
Some witnesses proposed the development of a more integrated and effective
income and disability support system in Canada. The issue of a living wage was raised,
since persons with disabilities are more likely to have a low income than persons without
disabilities. In 2001, the average income of persons with disabilities aged 25 to 54 was
28% lower than that of similarly aged people without disabilities.233 Several witnesses
suggested that the federal government supplement the incomes of low-wage workers
through the tax system by implementing a “working income tax benefit.” This measure,
which has been discussed for several years, was finally introduced in Budget 2007. Under
the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), a refundable tax credit is paid to low-income
individuals who have annual earnings above $3,000. The maximum benefit for a lowincome single individual is $500 (reached at $5,500), which is reduced at a rate of 15%
when earnings reach $9,500. An additional supplement of $250 is paid to low-income
workers who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.234 In this case, the credit begins to
accrue when the earnings of a single-earner with a disability reach $1,750, and the
maximum credit is paid when earnings are between $5,000 and $10,000. The WITB is
discussed further in this chapter in the context of low-income workers.
In terms of disability-related supports, it is the priority for persons with disabilities across
the country, it is the priority of the national disability organizations, because an
investment in disability-related supports makes economic sense. If we are facing a labour
shortage, if we are facing a shortage in the trades, if we are requiring an influx of human
resources into our employment sector, well, for God's sake, provide disability-related
supports so that people with disabilities can participate.235
Ms. Marie White
Council of Canadians with Disabilities
233
Ibid. p. 6.
234
Department of Finance, March 19, 2007, pp. 80-81.
235
Evidence, Meeting No. 19, October 23, 2006 at 9:55 a.m.
98
For at least a decade now, the issue of disability supports hasn't been the only priority,
but it's been the single most important priority within the disability community, and there's
been virtually no progress on this file. This is a key result of there being a lack of
engagement by federal and provincial/territorial partners in this area, which is an
absolutely vital concern to the disabled community.236
Mr. Cameron Crawford
Canadian Association for Community Living
Provinces have remarked over the last number of years they think that about half the
people on their social assistance rolls are people with disabilities. The reason I got a little
confused is that we also estimate the number of people with disabilities currently on
social assistance who tell us through surveys they would be able to work but there are
things that get in the way, like transportation or employers not being able to provide
accommodation, or even what we call the “welfare wall”, where people get disability
supports while they're on social assistance, and then in some jurisdictions lose them as
they earn income. That creates a disincentive for them to participate in the labour
market.237
Ms. Caroline Weber, Office for Disability Issues
Department of Human Resources and Social Development
2. Other Barriers
The Committee was also told that the integration of people with disabilities in the
labour market requires greater access to transportation, learning establishments and
workplaces, as well as accommodations on the job (e.g., modified and flexible work hours,
technical equipment, modified workstations, etc.). Persons with disabilities require access
to labour market information, skills training and employment assistance services to prepare
for, find and maintain employment. Some witnesses stated that there are gaps in
employment programming for people with disabilities who do not have a strong attachment
to the labour market. The Committee also heard about the unique challenges of people
with a mental illness and those with episodic and “invisible” disabilities. Their attachment to
the labour force may be more sporadic, and they may require flexible work arrangements
to maintain employment. Employers also require assistance. They need support in
identifying and recruiting employees with disabilities as well as information on job
accommodation and assistive devices.238
236
Evidence, Meeting No. 30, October 27, 2006 at 11:50 a.m.
237
Evidence, Meeting No. 12, September 26, 2006 at 11:40 a.m.
238
Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work, A brief on Increasing the Employment of Persons with
Disabilities, Submitted to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status
of Persons with Disabilities, September 6, 2006.
99
In the workplace there are a myriad of barriers for women with disabilities. Research
which has looked at the employment support needs of persons with disabilities has
shown that the need for “modified work structures” such as handrails/ramps, accessible
transportation to and from work, parking, elevators, and washrooms, and modified work
stations, is almost twice as high (28% versus 15%) among persons with disabilities who
are unemployed as compared to persons with disabilities who are employed. This
suggests that a person’s need for such modified workplace structures may make them
more vulnerable to job loss and increase their difficulty in finding employment.239
Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women
Of all persons with disabilities, those with a serious mental illness face the highest
degree of stigmatization in the workplace and the greatest barriers to mainstream
employment. Adults and youth with psychiatric disabilities face many and varied
employment obstacles, such as gaps in work history, limited employment experience,
lack of confidence, fear and anxiety, workplace discrimination and inflexibility, social
stigma, and the rigidity of existing income support and benefit programs.240
Ms. Jodi Cohen
Canadian Mental Health Association
Many employers have moved from hiring because of a corporate social responsibility, to
actually viewing persons with physical disabilities as strengthening their corporate
resources and capabilities, and in some situations as creating a competitive advantage.
Still, there are some employers, particularly medium or small employers, for whom this is
not the case. In addition, where the disability is hidden, such as a mental health disorder
or epilepsy, that progress has not been as evident.241
Mrs. Andrea Spindel
Ontario March of Dimes
Employers certainly admitted to us that they do not know where to find qualified people
with disabilities, and seldom do they even reach out to service providers in their
community. There is certainly a need, then, to increase awareness of disability issues in
the employer community, as well as to help employers to be more forthcoming and open
with workplace accommodation.242
Mr. Alar Prost
Innovera Integrated Solutions
239
Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Employability of Women with Disabilities: Breaching
the Disability Wall, A Brief to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the
Status of Persons with Disabilities, Consultations on Employability in Canada, September 2006, p. 3.
240
Evidence, Meeting No. 35, November 9, 2006 at 8:35 a.m.
241
Evidence, Meeting No. 29, October 27, 2006 at 8:45 a.m.
242
Evidence, Meeting No. 63, March 21, 2007 at 3:50 p.m.
100
B. Role of the Federal Government
Although witnesses recognized that provincial and territorial governments as well as
the private and non-profit sectors have significant responsibilities with respect to enhancing
employability among persons with disabilities, they underlined that the federal government
also has an important “role to play in disability, in making employment available for people
with disabilities, and in facilitating the development of an inclusive labour market.”243 Many
identified a need for a national labour-market strategy for persons with disabilities. Others
emphasized the need for better collaboration on disability issues among all levels of
government, non-governmental organizations and stakeholders. Some witnesses
recommended the creation of a national disability act that would not only address the issue
of employment but would also provide systemic solutions and mechanisms to advance the
goals of full inclusion, participation and citizenship of persons with disabilities in Canadian
society.
The Government of Canada must take the lead in forging a new labour market strategy,
based on the tenets of full inclusion and universal design, that will more effectively
address the historic level of unemployment and under-employment that continues to
confront so many Canadians with disabilities.244
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
The major initiative, I think, would be to look at a national disabilities act, which would
require publicly funded organizations, institutions, crown corporations, and so on to make
accessibility a higher priority and provide some funding and some incentive, and
employer and institutional training, particularly human resource systems, but whole levels
of the organization getting education about what they can do about it.245
Mrs. Andrea Spindel
Ontario March of Dimes
While our document recognizes that all levels of government and the private and nonprofit sectors have a role to play, today we wish to emphasize the important role that the
federal government needs to play as a catalyst for change, first — as our colleagues from
the March of Dimes mentioned earlier — by setting the right context and framework
243
Evidence, Meeting No. 19, October 23, 2006 at 9:50 a.m.
244
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, Canadians with Disabilities Need a New Labour Market Strategy,
Notes and recommendations to be presented to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social
Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, October 27, 2006, p. 2.
245
Evidence, Meeting No. 29, October 27, 2006 at 9:50 a.m.
101
through the establishment of a national disabilities act that would articulate national
standards and definitions for many areas, including employment and income support,
and would promote inclusion in all aspects of community life.246
Mr. Robert Collins
Partners in Employment-London/Middlesex
Recommendation 3.17
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
consultation with provincial and territorial governments and
stakeholders, continue to develop and implement a national disability
act to promote and ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in all
aspects of Canadian society.
Members of the Committee believe that the federal government must show
leadership and, in collaboration with provincial/territorial governments and other
stakeholders, support initiatives that remove barriers to labour force participation of
persons with disabilities and that contribute to their integration into paid employment or
self-employment. Over the years, the federal government has implemented a number of
initiatives to achieve these objectives. This section of our report discusses some of these
programs.
1. Human Resources and Social Development Canada Programs
HRSDC offers a number of programs to help persons with disabilities obtain and
keep employment. Programs vary depending on whether an individual is eligible for
Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. Federal funding is also distributed to provinces and
territories to contribute to the costs of programs and services that increase employment
opportunities for persons with disabilities.
a) The Opportunities Fund
Founded in 1997, the Opportunities Fund is a contribution program with an annual
budget of $30 million. Most of this budget ($26.7 million) is spent on contribution
agreements designed to help people with disabilities overcome barriers to employment.
The remaining funds are spent on operating costs. To qualify for assistance under the fund,
people with disabilities must not be eligible for EI (including Employment Benefits). Funding
may be provided to cover the cost of participants’ wages or related employer costs, as well
as overhead costs related to the organization, delivery, and evaluation of activities,
246
Evidence, Meeting No. 30, October 27, 2006 at 10:20 a.m.
102
including staff wages. Participants may also be eligible to receive contributions to cover all
or part of the costs of various expenses, such as specialized services, equipment,
dependant care, accommodation, transportation and tuition.247
Most witnesses who talked about the Opportunities Fund were very satisfied with
the outcomes of this program. This finding is also supported by the results of an evaluation
published in 2001, which showed that participants improved their skills, employability, selfconfidence, self-esteem and quality of life. Employers and organizations also benefited
from their participation in the fund. About one-third of employers saw a change in their
organization’s attitude toward hiring persons with disabilities, and almost two-thirds hired at
least one of the participants, mostly on a full-time permanent basis.248 A second summative
evaluation was undertaken in 2003. Preliminary results suggest that a majority of clients
are satisfied with the program and that it continues to be relevant. The evaluation also
showed “that the program fills a service gap in helping people with disabilities who are not
well served by other federal or provincial government programs.”249
Despite the fact that the Opportunities Fund has a huge load to carry, its budget has
not increased in the last decade. Therefore, its real value has declined. The Committee
was told that the program has a waiting list. Considering the number of people with
disabilities who are unemployed and ineligible for other federal labour market support,
many witnesses recommended that the program’s budget be increased. Some witnesses
also indicated that there is a need for longer-term interventions for those persons with
disabilities who have been out of the labour market for long periods or who have never had
a strong attachment to the labour market. As well, the need for flexibility in programming
was raised by a few witnesses, particularly with respect to accommodating the unique
needs of people with recurring or episodic disabilities who may require employment
assistance over a longer period of time. We agree with our witnesses.
247
For
more
information
on
the
Opportunities
Fund,
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/disability_issues/funding_programs/opportunities_fund/index.shtml.
248
Human Resources and Development Canada, Summative Evaluation of the Opportunities Fund for Persons
with Disabilities, Evaluation and Data Development, Strategic Policy, HRDC, August 2001
http://www.sdc.gc.ca/asp/ gateway.asp?hr=/en/cs/sp/edd/reports/2001-000459/page02.shtml&hs=pyp.
249
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities,
Chapter 3, 2006, p. 51.
103
see:
The Opportunities Fund is the only intervention available for those persons with
disabilities who have had no EI attachment. This budget has been static since 1997. The
$30 million allocated to this fund has been eroded by inflation and should be $36.5 million
today to deliver the same level of service with no growth.250
Mr. Brian Tapper
TEAM Work Cooperative Ltd.
Quadruple the resources in the Opportunities Fund and expand its terms and conditions
such that this critical federal instrument can more effectively support effective long-term
interventions and skill development opportunities targeted primarily at those persons with
disabilities who have multiple barriers to the labour force and as a consequence have
become marginalized citizens of Canada.251
Neil Squire Society
Recommendation 3.18
The Committee recommends that the federal government increase
funding for the Opportunities Fund and expand the terms and
conditions of this program to support effective long-term interventions
and skills development opportunities, especially with respect to
essential skills training. A portion of the increased funding could be
used to enhance the participation of employers and to provide
employers and employees with knowledge about disability issues,
accommodation in the workplace, and the tools available to create an
inclusive workplace. Particular attention should be given to monitoring
and reporting results to ensure that the program achieves its
anticipated outcomes.
250
Evidence, Meeting No. 20, October 24, 2006 at 8:55 a.m.
251
Neil Squire Society, Executive Summary, A brief prepared by the Neil Squire Society for the Standing
Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Consultations on Employment in Canada, August 31, 2006, p. 2.
104
b) Multilateral Framework for Labour Market Agreements for
Persons with Disabilities
The Multilateral Framework for Labour Market Agreements for Persons with
Disabilities took effect on April 1, 2004. Under this framework, the federal government
contributes to the costs of programs and services that improve the employment situation of
persons with disabilities.252 Provincial governments can determine their own priorities and
approaches to address the needs of people with disabilities in their jurisdictions but they
have agreed on a number of priority areas. These include education and training;
employment participation and opportunities; bringing together employers and persons with
disabilities; and building knowledge. The federal government contributes fifty per cent of
the costs of the programs, up to the amount identified in each bilateral agreement. In 20052006, the federal contribution to participating provinces under these agreements was $218
million.253 On November 22, 2007, the Minister of Human Resources and Social
Development announced that the agreements would be extended until March 31, 2009
with an annual investment of $223 million.254
During our hearings, a number of witnesses questioned the success of Labour
Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities. Some suggested that there is a need to
review and revise these agreements. Others argued that the level of funding is simply
inappropriate and does not take into account the multiple barriers to employment that
persons with disabilities need to overcome in order to participate in the labour market.
In 2003, the ministers responsible for social services approved the multilateral framework
for labour market agreements for people with disabilities. It replaced what was then
known as EAPD, or employability assistance for people with disabilities. While the goal of
this framework is to improve the employability of Canadians with disabilities, it cannot do
so at the current levels. The current funding levels are not adequate. We have an
injection of funding in the 2003 budget of $193 million. It should be doubled, at the very
252
The province of Quebec did not endorse the framework but has signed a distinct bilateral agreement with the
federal government. The territories support the principles of the framework but have not signed bilateral
agreements due to issues with the Territorial Financing Formula. For more information on the Multilateral
Framework
for
Labour
Market
Agreements
for
Persons
with
Disabilities,
see:
http://socialunion.gc.ca/pwd/multi2003_e.html.
253
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities,
Chapter 3, 2006, pp. 49-50.
254
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, The Government of Canada helps people with
disabilities to fully participate in the workplace, News Release, November 22, 2007,
http://nouvelles.gc.ca/web/view/en/index.jsp?articleid=363029&.
105
least. That needs to occur because current labour market agreements don't take into
account the situation of people with disabilities.255
Ms. Marie White
Council of Canadians with Disabilities
c) Other Programs
Other programs administered by HRSDC include Employment Benefits and Support
Measures (EBSMs), the Canada Pension Plan Disability benefit, the Social Development
Partnerships Program (disability component), the Aboriginal Human Resources
Development Strategy (disability component) and programs that offer financial assistance
for post-secondary education.
As discussed in Chapter 2 of our report, EBSMs are provided under Part II of the
Employment Insurance Act. Eligible persons with disabilities may receive assistance
through four employment benefits: Targeted Wage Subsidies, Self-Employment, Skills
Development and Job Creation Partnerships.256 A client-focused support measure is also
offered through Employment Assistance Services. In 2005-2006, the rate of participation of
persons with disabilities in EBSMs was 4.6%.257 A number of witnesses argued that it is
difficult for people with disabilities to accumulate the required number of hours to qualify for
certain EI benefits as many do not have a strong attachment to the labour market. Some
witnesses also questioned the effectiveness of these measures, as employers who hire
persons with disabilities with the assistance of wage subsidies may terminate their
employment once the funding is eliminated. An overview of results of summative
evaluations conducted in different jurisdictions found that “EBSMs appeared to yield some
modest positive net impacts on participants, depending on the program, client type and
jurisdiction.”258
As the committee knows, labour market participation by people with disabilities is
significantly lower than that by the mainstream population. Because the most effective
federal government employment support programs are tied directly to people's
255
256
Evidence, Meeting No. 19, October 23, 2006 at 9:50 a.m.
For
more
information
on
Employment
Benefits
and
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/epb/sid/cia/grants/ebsm/terms_conditions.shtml.
Support
Measures,
see:
257
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, 2006-2007Departmental Performance Report, p. 26
http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dpr-rmr/2006-2007/inst/csd/csd-eng.pdf
258
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Employment Insurance 2005 Monitoring and
Assessment Report, submitted to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development
Canada by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission, March 31, 2006, p. 89
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/ei/reports/eimar_2005.pdf.
106
attachment to the labour market and the EI system, many people with disabilities are
ineligible and are therefore underserved.259
Mr. Bob Wilson
Social and Enterprise Development Innovations
Employers only willing to hire a person under a grant program, such as, Targeted Wage
Subsidy may result in repeated periods of unemployment and short term employment. As
soon as the funding is up, the person is let go and must start the job search all over
again.260
Canadian Paraplegic Association
The Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPPD) benefit provides income protection to
Canada Pension Plan contributors who cannot work because of a severe and prolonged
disability. One of the program’s goals is to facilitate a return to work for those who are able
to do so by offering the services of a vocational rehabilitation program.261 Over the period
2003-04 to 2005-06, there has been a 39% increase in the number of CPPD recipients
returning to work.262
The Social Development Partnerships Program (disability component) provides
grants and contributions in support of national activities of non-profit social agencies
working to address the social development needs and aspirations of persons with
disabilities and to promote their inclusion and full participation as citizens in all aspects of
Canadian society.263 In 2005-2006, a portion of the $11 million allocated under this
program was invested in employment-related projects for persons with disabilities.264
As mentioned in the previous section of our report, funding is also available to help
Aboriginal people with disabilities prepare for, find and retain work through the Aboriginal
Human Resources Development Strategy. In addition, HRSDC encourages Aboriginal
Human Resources Development Agreement holders to include people with disabilities in all
259
Evidence, Meeting No. 27, October 26, 2006 at 1:15 p.m.
260
Canadian Paraplegic Association, Executive Summary, Brief submitted to the Standing Committee on
Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, 2006, p. 3.
261
For
more
information
on
the
Disability
Vocational
Rehabilitation
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/asp/gateway.asp?hr=/en/isp/pub/factsheets/vocrehab.shtml&hs=.
262
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, CPP Disability Overview, submitted to the Standing
Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities,
September 26, 2006.
263
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Social Development Partnerships Program – Terms
and Conditions http://www.sdc.gc.ca/asp/gateway.asp?hr=/en/hip/sd/04_SDPP_TCs.shtml&hs=pyp#1.
264
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Federal Government Employment Related Programs
for People with Disabilities, Presentation to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social
Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, September 26, 2006, p. 9.
107
Program,
see:
services and activities they offer.265 Little is known about the success of this component of
the Aboriginal Human Resources Development Strategy. Considering the low levels of
employment among Aboriginal people in Canada, members of the Committee are
concerned that Aboriginal people with disabilities face multiple barriers to employment and
believe that more must be done to help them overcome these serious impediments.
Recommendation 3.19
The Committee recommends that one of the objectives associated with
the recently proposed $500 million investment in new labour market
programming be the successful integration into the labour market of
persons with disabilities, with a goal to increase opportunities for
those who face multiple barriers to employment. New funding levels for
this objective should be established in accordance with federal–
provincial/territorial agreements.
Recommendation 3.20
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada conduct a thorough assessment of the disability
component of the Aboriginal Human Resources Development Strategy
and on the basis of this assessment make the necessary revisions to
enhance the labour force participation of Aboriginal people with
disabilities.
The federal government also provides assistance to post-secondary students with
disabilities through several programs, including the Canada Student Loans Program, the
Canada Study Grant for the Accommodation of Students with Permanent Disabilities and
the Canada Access Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities.266 In 2004-2005, $22
million in grants were disbursed to students with permanent disabilities.267
The Committee was told that, beyond the need for financial assistance, postsecondary students with disabilities also encounter difficulty in accessing the learning
environment. While members of the Committee think that a national disability act would
help address general problems related to physical access to buildings and transportation
services in Canada, we also believe that more needs to be done to immediately improve
265
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities,
Chapter 3, 2006, p. 55.
266
For
more
information
on
these
grants,
see
the
CanLearn
http://www.canlearn.ca/en/shared/pay/apply/ON/ft/public/apply_grant/disabilities.shtml.
267
Human
Resources
and
Social
Development
Canada,
Canada
Loans
Program
—
Annual
Report
2004-2005,
2007,
pp.
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/learning/canada_student_loan/publications/CSLP-AR-0405E.pdf.
108
Web
site
at
Student
23-24,
accessibility to post-secondary educational establishments in particular. In addition, it is our
view that more can be done to assist post-secondary students with disabilities who have
completed their education but need assistance to find and maintain employment.
[T]he bigger issue in post-secondary education is actually the accessibility of the learning
environment, that there are some things that students need that they actually can't just
buy themselves. If you go into a lab and you need some special modification in that lab
equipment, students can't just modify the lab with their own money or access to the
grant. There may be personal aids also that they can't provide themselves or can't
always bring into the classroom. So those are some issues that need to be addressed.
There are other issues about accessibility in the post-secondary environment that I think
we aren't quite able to reach with the individual grants and loans.268
Ms. Caroline Weber
Department of Human Resources and Social Development
Recommendation 3.21
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
consultation with provincial and territorial governments and
stakeholders, assess the need for and develop initiatives to improve
accessibility within the learning environment for students with
disabilities.
Recommendation 3.22
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
consultation with provincial and territorial governments and
stakeholders, assess the need for and develop initiatives to facilitate
school-to-work transitions for young people with disabilities.
2. Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program
Western Economic Diversification Canada offers programs to assist people with
disabilities in developing or expanding their small businesses. The Entrepreneurs with
Disabilities Program helps persons with disabilities living in Western Canada who need
business support by providing services such as business plan development, mentoring and
counselling, training in business management, and access to business loans up to
$125,000.269 Since its creation in 1997-1998, the program has provided 750 loans totalling
268
Evidence, Meeting No. 12, September 26, 2006 at 11:55 a.m.
269
Western Economic Diversification Canada, Business Financing for Western Canada — Entrepreneurs with
Disabilities Programs http://www.wd.gc.ca/finance/programs/edp_e.asp.
109
$16.2 million to entrepreneurs with disabilities, 65% of whom are currently operating
businesses.270
3. Legislative Measures and Policies to Achieve Employment Equity
Canada has a number of legislative measures, policies, programs, and practices
designed to achieve employment equity for persons with disabilities. The federal public
service, federally regulated employers and separate employers271 are all subject to the
Employment Equity Act, which aims to achieve equality in the workplace for four
designated groups: women, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities, and members of
visible minorities. The Canadian Human Rights Act (sections 2 and 15) requires the federal
government and federally regulated employers to provide workplace accommodation
unless doing so would result in undue hardship. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
has also developed a Policy on the Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the
Federal Public Service.
Taken together the federal public service, federally regulated employers (including
Crown Corporations) and federal contractors are the nation’s largest employer. In 2004,
persons with disabilities represented 3.1% of the workforce for all employers covered under
the Employment Equity Act (not including federal contractors).272 “When compared to
labour market availability of 5.0%, based on the 2001 Participation and Activity Limitation
Survey (PALS), the representation of people with disabilities was 61.8% of their
availability.”273 In 2005-2006, the level of representation of people with disabilities was
higher in the federal public service (5.8%) than among federally regulated employers
(2.7%).274 However, according to the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s Annual
Report 2006, the higher level of representation in the public sector is likely due to a higher
level of self-identification and an aging workforce, as “persons with disabilities continue to
receive less than their expected shares of hires” (2.6% as of March 2006).275
Many witnesses raised concerns with regard to the need to sensitize employers to
disability-related issues and the duty to accommodate employees with disabilities. Some
witnesses recommended the establishment of a program to assist employers, particularly
small and medium-sized businesses, with the costs associated with accommodating
270
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities,
Chapter 3, 2006, p. 54.
271
Separate employers are listed in Schedule I Part II of the Public Service Staff Relations Act.
272
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities,
Chapter 3, 2006, p. 61.
273
Ibid.
274
Canadian
Human
Rights
Commission,
http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/pdf/AR_2006_RA_en.pdf.
275
Ibid., p. 11.
110
Annual
Report
2006,
2007,
pp.
11-15
employees with disabilities. Others proposed that the federal government provide
incentives to employers to encourage them to offer long-term employment to people with
disabilities. A number of witnesses also suggested that the federal public service should be
a champion and a role model with respect to the employment of persons with disabilities.
We must continue to foster awareness, action, and a workplace culture that is welcoming
to persons with disabilities. From both physical and cultural perspectives, we need a
workplace that makes people feel comfortable to be able to identify their needs, and to
accommodate them we all need to have greater sensitivity and willingness as well as
accommodation practices.276
Ms. Karen Ellis
Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada
Smaller businesses will probably need some support in terms of being able to cover the
costs of technical equipment. There is, of course, a duty to accommodate already in
place through human rights law, but to make that possible — and here I think the
Government of Canada could help, either directly or through the provinces — create a
new fund so that some of the costs of accommodation can be covered by public funds.277
Mr. John Rae
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
I think that's a very big piece of it, because in my mind we have to do a better job, with
the support of the government, in selling the concept of hiring people with vision loss,
because there are very many people out there who are working at all different levels. But
it's overcoming that initial fear. We usually find that once an employer has hired
somebody with vision loss, they tend to hire more people with vision loss. But it's getting
that first person through the door, getting them convinced that a person with the proper
supports, with adaptive equipment and a few other changes, can quite easily do a job
that's very competitive, beside their peers.278
Mr. Bill McKeown
Canadian National Institute for the Blind
Another thing the federal government could do is lead by example, as one of the biggest
employers in Canada, if not the biggest. The private and non-profit sectors also need to
see that you, as a national government, value the abilities of people with disabilities. If
276
Evidence, Meeting No. 12, September 26, 2006 at 11:35 a.m.
277
Evidence, Meeting No. 30, October 27, 2006 at 11:15 a.m.
278
Evidence, Meeting No. 65, March 27, 2007 at 10:20 a.m.
111
you're not able to increase the representation of people with disabilities in your
workforce, that sends a very strong negative message to other employer groups.279
Mr. Louis Buschman
As an individual
Members of the Committee believe that the federal government should be a role
model for employers across the country and an employer of choice for people with
disabilities. The federal government must strive to build a respectful and inclusive work
environment that recognizes and values the diverse skills and abilities of people with
disabilities, and must ensure that appropriate accommodations are implemented.
Recommendation 3.23
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
consultation with employers and stakeholders, develop new tax
incentives to encourage employers to make the necessary
accommodations to hire and retain employees with disabilities (e.g.,
technical equipment, modified workstations, etc.).
Recommendation 3.24
The Committee recommends that the federal government assess and
enhance its role as a champion and role model in the creation and
development of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities,
including by using its purchasing power to acquire products and
services produced or provided by persons with disabilities; by
extending coverage of the federal contractors program to include more
employers; by reviewing and enhancing employment equity measures;
and by ensuring that the full spectrum of employment opportunities of
the federal government and its agencies include persons with
disabilities.
Recommendation 3.25
The Committee recommends that the federal government take further
steps to enhance pay and employment equity in Canada; affirm that
pay equity is a fundamental human right protected under the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights law; and devise an
effective methodology for job evaluation, job comparison and wage
adjustments.
279
Ibid. at 11:25 a.m.
112
4. Disability Supports
In Canada, provincial and territorial governments are responsible for most programs
that provide disability supports for persons with disabilities and that assist informal
caregivers. The federal government provides financial resources for these supports
through the Canada Health Transfer and the Canada Social Transfer. It also offers direct
assistance through income tax relief to persons with disabilities and their caregivers.
Income tax measures include: the medical expense tax credit; the disability tax credit; the
child disability benefit; the disability supports deduction; the caregiver credit; the infirm
dependant credit; the refundable medical expense supplement; and other personal income
tax measures.280 In addition, the federal government is directly responsible for regulating
supports for First Nations and Inuit peoples, as well as for veterans and members of the
Armed Forces.
Members of the Committee recognize that access to disability-related supports is
essential to the health, safety, quality of life and productivity of persons with disabilities.
People with disabilities do incur additional costs for these supports. To enhance the
participation of persons with disabilities in post-secondary education and in the labour
force, we need to increase access to disability-related supports.
Recommendation 3.26
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada establish pilot projects under the Labour Market
Agreements for Persons with Disabilities to assess the feasibility and
effectiveness of providing disability-related supports (including
mobility devices) to eligible participants to facilitate their integration
into the labour market. The list of disability-related supports that would
be eligible for funding should be developed in consultation with the
provincial and territorial governments, disability groups and Aboriginal
organizations.
LOW-INCOME WORKERS
A more competitive international marketplace, rapid technological change, the shift
toward a knowledge-based economy and a host of other structural forces continue to
shape the way Canadians work and the relationships they have with their employers.
These structural changes have had a pronounced impact on the Canadian workplace,
especially with regard to low-skilled, low-wage workers. According to Statistics Canada, the
280
For information on tax measures for persons with disabilities, see: Canada Revenue Agency,
What
can
people
with
disabilities
claim
as
a
deduction
or
credit?
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tax/individuals/segments/disabilities/deductions/menu-e.html.
113
incidence of low-wage jobs (i.e., earning less than $10 per hour in 2001 dollars) remained
fairly stable (around 16%) between 1981 and 2004, while the incidence of well-paid jobs
($30 or more per hour) increased from 8.5% to 11.4% during the same period.281 Between
1981 and 2004, average real wages for workers aged 17 to 64 in low-wage jobs increased
by 2.6%, compared with a 3.1% increase in other jobs. In terms of the former, average
wage growth among women in low-wage jobs was about one-half of that among men. The
opposite result occurred with respect to average wage growth in other jobs, as women’s
average wages grew by more than two and one-half times those of men, a result that is no
doubt due, in part, to the fact that the proportion of female workers with a university degree
more than doubled between 1981 and 2003.282 Low-wage work is prevalent among
workers with low levels of education.283
Changes in the labour market over the past decade or two have had a significantly
detrimental effect on many employees. Precarious forms of employment are increasing,
with more temporary work, part-time contracts, and seasonal jobs. This means that fewer
workers are able to obtain enough pay, enough hours, and enough benefits to allow
families to make ends meet.284
Mrs. Susan Nasser
Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers
In the past, the “welfare wall” has been a key issue, meaning that many people who are
trapped in welfare do not have the opportunities to get off social assistance. We would
suggest that there is also a “low-wage wall” behind which hundreds of thousands of
workers are trapped in poorly-paying jobs with few if any benefits. These kinds of jobs
offer almost no opportunities for education, training or advancement and even act as
barriers to those objectives. Many workers who occupy these jobs are working long
and/or irregular hours and many are also working far below their level of education and
training.285
National Council of Welfare
281
R. Morissette and G. Picot, Low-paid Work and Economically Vulnerable Families over the Last Two
Decades,
Statistics
Canada,
April
2005,
pp.
8-9
http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/11F0019MIE/11F0019MIE2005248.pdf.
282
Ibid., p.5 and Table 6, p. 29.
283
Statistics
Canada,
Low
Wage
and
Low
Income,
Income
Research
Paper
Series,
Catalogue
no.
75F002MIE
—
No.
006,
April
2006,
p.
9
http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/75F0002MIE/75F0002MIE2006006.pdf.
284
Evidence, Meeting No. 20, October 24, 2006 at 8:45 a.m.
285
National Council of Welfare, Brief to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development
and the Status of Persons with Disabilities concerning Employability in Canada, September 28, 2006, p. 5.
114
Although low-wage workers are vulnerable to living on a low income, relatively few
experience low income as a permanent state.286 Despite the fact that about 20% of
Canada’s population experienced low income for at least one year between 1999 and
2004, only 2.2% lived on a low income every year during this period, roughly half the rate
of persistent low income during period 1993 to 1998. Almost 50% of low-wage workers are
their family’s major income earner. Single individuals and lone parents tend to exhibit the
highest incidence of low income. The percentage of Canadians living on a low income after
taxes fell to 10.8% in 2005, a rate substantially lower than the peak of 15.7% in 1996.287
Another symptom associated with the current structural changes in the Canadian
workplace relates to growth in non-standard, temporary jobs, also known as “precarious
work.” According to a recent report on federal labour standards under the Canada Labour
Code, today roughly 32% of Canadian workers are employed in temporary, part-time or
self-employed jobs, seven percentage points above that found at the end of the 1980s.
Although not all of this employment is involuntary, it is thought that 75% of temporary
workers, and 25% of part-time and self-employed workers would prefer full-time permanent
work, as these jobs usually pay more, provide insurance and pension benefits and often
entail less employment strain (e.g., employment uncertainty).288
Currently 13%, or close to 1.7 million workers, are working in temporary situations doing
contract, seasonal, casual, or agency work. In 1989, one in ten new hires was a
temporary worker. Right now the ratio is five to one in the number of workers who do not
have full-time jobs. Two million Canadians work in poverty situations. They put in
40 hours a week but don't even reach the poverty line.289
Mr. Jorge Garcia-Orgales
United Steelworkers
In the context of federally regulated enterprises, it is estimated that about 26% of the
workforce is employed in non-standard employment. Moreover, non-standard employment
is concentrated in certain sectors such as road transportation, where 23% of workers are
self-employed or contract workers hired directly by federally regulated employers, while
286
It is important to differentiate between low-wage and low-income workers. Although low-wage workers refer
to workers with low hourly rates of pay, it does not necessarily follow that all of these workers live on low
incomes, since income from other family members must be considered. Low-income workers are those
whose family income is below Statistics Canada’s after-tax low income cutoff. Statistics Canada low-income
cutoff is a statistical measure that identifies the income threshold below which a household will spend, on
average, at least 20 percentage points more of its income than the average family on food, clothing, and
shelter (given family and community size).
287
Statistics Canada, Income in Canada, 2005, May 2007, p. 86 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/75-202XIE/75-202-XIE2005000.pdf.
288
H. Arthurs, Commissioner, Fairness at Work: Federal Labour Standards for the 21st Century, Final Report of
the
Federal
Labour
Standards
Review,
2006,
p.
27
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/labour/employment_standards/arthur_report/pdf/final_report.pdf.
289
Evidence, Meeting No. 63, March 21, 2007 at 4:00 p.m.
115
another 6% are supplied by employment agencies. The incidence of temporary and
contract work is also thought to be relatively high in small- and medium-size enterprises.290
Federal labour standards cover well below 10% of the Canadian workforce. Despite
the relatively small number of workers covered under Part III of the Canada Labour Code,
the federal government has a responsibility to ensure that labour standards governing
federally regulated employers and their workers promote fair, healthy, stable, and
productive workplaces — a truncated version of HRSDC’s strategic outcome for the Labour
Program.291 At the moment, the federal government is analysing the recommendations
contained in the Final Report of the Federal Labour Standards Review and is consulting
with stakeholders. Many changes have occurred in federally regulated workplaces since
the introduction of Part III of the Canada Labour Code, and all members of the Committee
encourage the Minister of Labour to move swiftly to update this legislation by proposing
amendments that promote more productive federally regulated workplaces and provide
workers with the best minimum employment standards possible.
In addition to the growing preponderance of precarious employment in the
Canadian labour market, our testimony pertaining to employability among low-income
workers encompassed several other issues, including the need to provide stronger work
incentives (e.g., higher after-tax earnings) and better access to affordable housing and
child care.
A. Work Incentives
High marginal personal income tax rates imposed on individuals can create
significant disincentives to work. In the case of individuals receiving social assistance, for
example, increased income from earnings results in higher income taxes, lower social
assistance payments, and a reduction in means-tested refundable tax credits and social
services. As illustrated in Figure 1, a typical single parent with one child who increases his
or her earnings from $0 to $10,000 would lose 78 cents of every dollar earned. This
situation compares unfavourably to, for example, that of a single parent with one child who
increases his or her earnings from $40,000 to $50,000. In this case, the single parent
would lose 41 cents for every dollar earned, which is still a significant reduction but not as
large as that faced by the single parent on social assistance. The high marginal tax rate for
social assistance recipients is sometimes referred to as the “welfare wall.”
290
H. Arthurs, 2006, p. 231.
291
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, 2007-2008 Estimates: Report on Plans and Priorities,
2007, pp. 58 to 62 http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/0708/hrsdc-rhdsc/hrsdc-rhdsc-PR_e.asp?printable=True.
116
Figure 1 – Effective Marginal Tax Rates in Canada
Notes: “Net income tax” refers to taxes less benefits (including social
assistance). Effective marginal tax rates represent the reduction in
benefits, and increase in taxes, for each additional dollar earned. The
chart is based on a weighted average of Alberta, British Columbia,
Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia,
Quebec and Saskatchewan. Social assistance benefits levels and
reduction rates vary significantly across provinces. No earnings
exemptions have been applied.
Source: Department of Finance, The Economic and Fiscal Update,
November 2005, p. 129 http://www.fin.gc.ca/ec2005/ec/ecce2005.pdf
The Committee was told that if Canada is to remain competitive, we must facilitate
stronger labour market attachments among all Canadians. The National Council of Welfare
reminded the Committee that by addressing the issue of employability for low-income
Canadians we will also lower current and future economic costs to our social services,
health care and justice system. Many groups called for measures to increase the economic
resources of low-income individuals, to remove financial barriers to labour force
participation and to reduce the impact that poverty has on the lives of Canadians.
There are different ways you can deal with the working poor, but it just seems
fundamentally wrong to think about having a system where somebody can work full-time,
a full year, and not meet the poverty level. That just does not make sense in a society
that’s trying to be productive and competitive anywhere.292
Mrs. Sheila Regehr
National Council of Welfare
Many proposals were suggested by witnesses to help raise income levels among
low-wage workers. These included a national antipoverty strategy, an employment tax
credit, reduced tax rates and/or a higher basic personal tax exemption, an income-tested
292
Evidence, Meeting No. 13, September 28, 2006 at 12:10 p.m.
117
basic refundable tax credit, higher minimum wages, and reforms to Employment Insurance
(e.g., to enhance the adequacy of benefits, extend coverage, etc.).
Two of these proposals — a higher federal minimum wage and an income-tested
refundable tax credit — received the most attention. Responsibility for establishing federal
minimum wage rates was delegated to provincial/territorial governments more than a
decade ago. Effective December 1996, the applicable provincial/territorial adult minimum
wage became the federal minimum wage for workers (including workers under 17 years of
age) covered under Part III of the Canada Labour Code. Although most witnesses who
supported an increase in the federal minimum wage thought that $10 per hour was
sufficient to meet the needs of low-income workers, there was no consensus on the
economic impact of increasing the federal minimum wage.293 The Committee was told that
a single federal minimum wage rate would not accommodate regional labour market
conditions and, if set too high, could result in job losses.
With regard to an income-tested refundable tax credit, many witnesses supported a
measure called the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), a policy proposal first raised in
the November 2005 Economic and Fiscal Update and finally introduced in Budget 2007.
This measure is intended to help people over the welfare wall and to strengthen the
incentive to work among low-income workers already in the labour market by providing a
supplement to help “make work pay.”
I recommend a fairly general policy, such as an income tax credit on employment. This
would give workers a subsidy. For example, it could be approximately $3 or $4 per hour
for all hours worked. This kind of policy, which is in place in the United States, has been
fairly effective in reducing poverty. In Canada, the Department of Finance briefly touched
upon a similar policy in a previous budget but it has not yet been developed. In short, I
think that a tax credit on employment would be a beneficial policy.294
Dr. Andrew Sharpe
Centre for the Study of Living Standards
I think all of us would support tax credits for low-income earners. It's good for a lot of our
small and mid-sized businesses and it's good for the community, so it would be difficult to
speak against that position. I think all of us would agree.295
Ms. Diane Brisebois
Retail Council of Canada
293
The issue of a federal minimum wage was also discussed in the recent report on the review of federal labour
standards. See: Federal Labour Standards Review, Fairness at Work: Federal Labour Standards for the 21st
Century, 2006, pp. 245 to 249 http://www.fls-ntf.gc.ca/doc/fin-rpt-e.pdf.
294
Evidence, Meeting No. 13, September 28, 2006 at 12:30 p.m.
295
Evidence, Meeting No. 36, November 9, 2006 at 10:55 a.m.
118
Indeed, for many low- and modest-income families, the effective marginal tax rate, after
factoring in income-tested benefits, is higher than 60% and higher than the rate facing
Canada's top income earners. This is not only inequitable but it also sends a strong
negative message about the merits of working, saving, and upgrading one's skills in the
economy.296
Mr. Michael Murphy
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
As previously noted in this chapter of our report, the WITB is a refundable tax credit
paid to low-income individuals whose earnings are above $3,000 ($1,750 in the case of
workers eligible for the Disability Tax Credit). The maximum benefit for single workers is
$500 (when earnings reach $5,500), $750 (when earnings reach $5,500) for workers who
are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, and $1,000 (when earnings reach $8,000) for
single parents and couples. The WITB is reduced at a rate of 15% when earnings reach
$9,500 (in the case of single individuals) and $14,500 (in the case of couples and single
parents). It is estimated that this measure will strengthen the attachment to work of more
than 1.2 million individuals already in the workplace as well as help to encourage roughly
60,000 individuals to begin working.297
The Committee supports this measure and considers it to be a good foundation on
which to strengthen work incentives among low-income workers in the years ahead. We
encourage the federal government to consult with provincial and territorial governments to
ensure that the WITB is implemented in harmony with provincial and territorial social
assistance and support programs.
Recommendation 3.27
The Committee recommends that the federal government expand the
Working Income Tax Benefit to address the low-income wall by
including more low-income workers, specifically by raising the
maximum income amounts for single workers and single parents. The
federal government should assess the Quebec and Saskatchewan
models for ways to reduce the lag time between assessment of income
and receipt of benefit.
Recommendation 3.28
The Committee recommends that the federal government consider
requesting that provincial and territorial governments devote some
portion of the Canada Social Transfer to finance comprehensive and
296
Evidence, Meeting No. 9, June 20, 2006 at 9:45 a.m.
297
Department of Finance, March 19, 2007, pp. 78 to 82 http://www.budget.gc.ca/2007/pdf/bp2007e.pdf.
119
effective labour market adjustment support to help social assistance
recipients enter financially rewarding employment. Income support
paid to social assistance recipients participating in these labour market
adjustment programs should be treated as earnings for the purposes
of the Working Income Tax Benefit.
B. Housing
Housing is undeniably an important employability support. The Committee was told
that without acceptable housing, individuals are unable to focus on finding and maintaining
employment.298 Low-income households and the working poor are more likely to live in
rented accommodation and to live in “core housing need” than other households.299
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), in 2001 “45.6% of
working-age renter households whose maintainers had weak ties to the labour force were
in core housing need.”300 Groups particularly at risk of falling into core housing need
include Aboriginal households, recent immigrant households, people living alone and
single-parent households.301
I'm glad we've been able to have this opportunity to speak about some of the underlying
issues related to employability, such as affordable housing, and it's great that we've
spoken so much about it. It's hard for us to believe here in Calgary that we would ever
have an excess of affordable housing, but I can understand how that could happen in
other communities. That's why a national housing initiative couldn't distance itself from
the local community. Certainly, the federal government should not ever be working in
isolation from the provincial governments and the local municipal government.302
Ms. Ramona Johnston
Vibrant Communities Calgary
298
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines acceptable housing as housing that is in adequate
condition, of a suitable size for the household and affordable.
299
Households in core housing need do not have acceptable housing.
300
John Engeland and Roger Lewis, “Exclusion from Acceptable Housing — Canadians in Core Housing Need”
in Horizons, Volume 7, Number 2, Policy Research Initiative, December 2004, p. 27
http://policyresearch.gc.ca/page.asp?pagenm=v7n2_art_05.
301
Ibid.
302
Evidence, Meeting No. 35, November 9, 2006 at 9:55 a.m.
120
It's really on the affordable housing side of things that we have a massive shortage.
Unfortunately, we now have an economy where it's costing so much for government to
put another unit out in the marketplace to satisfy need. It's a big problem. It's going to
take years and years to try to build that stock.303
Mr. Ken McKinlay
Saskatchewan Home Builders' Association
Some witnesses suggested that the federal government should establish a national
affordable housing strategy and increase the supply of affordable housing. In 2001, the
federal government established the Affordable Housing Initiative, an investment
commitment of some one billion dollars delivered through bilateral, cost-shared
agreements with each province and territory. The second phase of the Initiative,
announced in 2003, focuses on funding for housing targeted at low-income households in
communities where there is a significant need for affordable housing. As of September 30,
2007, four-fifths of the federal allocation was committed, and the Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation (CMHC) continues to work with its provincial and territorial partners to
take up the remaining funding to increase the supply of affordable housing.304
The Committee notes that in 2006, the federal government established the Offreserve Aboriginal Housing Trust, the Northern Housing Trust and the Affordable Housing
Trust, which combined entail a spending commitment of $1.4 billion to be notionally
allocated over a three-year period on a per capita basis. In addition, the federal
government recently announced $526 million (over two years) for a new Homelessness
Partnering Strategy aimed at combating homelessness in communities across Canada and
extending the renovation programs for low-income households delivered through the
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. 305
Recommendation 3.29
The Committee recommends that the federal government maintain and
extend affordable housing programs — in consultation with the
provinces and territories and stakeholders — to increase the supply of
affordable housing and thereby enhance the employability of lowincome individuals, including Aboriginal people, recent immigrants and
single-parent families, three groups whose core housing needs are
relatively high.
303
Evidence, Meeting No. 38, November 10, 2006 at 11:00 a.m.
304
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation,
schl.gc.ca/en/inpr/afhoce/fias/fias_005.cfm.
305
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Canada’s New Government Commits $526 Million to
Combat Homelessness and Extend Funding to Renovation Programs, Press Release, Ottawa, December
19, 2006 http://news.gc.ca/cfmx/view/en/index.jsp?articleid=263819.
121
Affordable
Housing
Initiative,
http://www.cmhc-
C. Early Learning and Child Care
Virtually all of the growth in Canada’s aggregate labour force participation rate in the
past decade is attributed to growth in labour force participation among women. The labour
force participation rate among women 15 years of age and over increased from 57.8% in
1997 to 62.1% in 2006. By comparison, the rate among men increased from 72.2% to
72.5% during the same period.306 In fact, Canada’s participation rate for women aged 15 to
64 has approached levels comparable to that found in most Nordic countries and, in 2005,
was almost 13 percentage points above the average for all OECD countries.307 One of the
reasons underlying the upward trend in female labour force participation in Canada is
thought to be the introduction of several child- and family-related policies (e.g., National
Children’s Agenda, Early Childhood Development Agreement, extended EI parental
benefits, and Multilateral Framework on Early Learning and Childcare, etc.) during this
period.308
There is no doubt that access to affordable and high-quality early learning and child
care in Canada contributes to increased labour force participation among low-income
individuals, especially women. Several witnesses told the Committee that the high cost of
child care is a major financial disincentive for low-income parents to strengthen their
attachments to work, including participation in training and other labour market
interventions. Early learning and child care also has implications for the development of
children, Canada’s future workers.
Many witnesses supported the creation of a national publicly funded early learning
and child care system that would respect the principles of quality, universality, accessibility
and developmentally appropriate programming (the QUAD principles). Some witnesses
also described a need for additional affordable and high-quality child care spaces, pointing
out that waiting lists in some regions are an impediment to labour force participation.
We know child care services support the employability of parents, particularly women.
Women are now the majority in virtually all university programs. Without adequate child
care services, we will have decreased labour force attachment among mothers, and that
will continue to contribute to skilled labour shortages. We acknowledge the new choice in
child care allowances, and we recommend the development of a publicly funded child
care system and the immediate action of the federal government on a commitment to
create new child care spaces.309
Ms. MacFarlane
Sustained Poverty Reduction Initiative
306
Statistics Canada, Labour Force Historical Review 2006, 71F00004XCB, 2007 CD1, Main Tables.
307
OECD, OECD Employment Outlook: Boosting Jobs and Incomes, 2006, Statistical Annex, Table B, p. 250.
308
E. Tsounta, Why are Women Working So Much More in Canada? An International Perspective, IMF Working
Paper, WP/06/92, April 2006, pp. 11-12 http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2006/wp0692.pdf.
309
Evidence, Meeting No. 36, November 9, 2006 at 10:45 a.m.
122
We recommend that the government institute a quality early childhood care and learning
system that is universally accessible and affordable. Good quality accessible child care is
a support that is needed by many, including single mothers, to make employment a
viable option. The government must give this much greater priority for it to become a
reality. This would really go a long way to addressing some of the barriers that women in
particular face in reentering the paid workforce.310
Mrs. Susan Nasser
Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers
Canada's productivity relies on working mothers with young children. They contribute $53
billion annually to Canada's GDP. That reliance is only increased due to widely predicted
shortages in skilled labour, yet Canada and most provinces have not built a network of
income supports and public services, such as quality affordable child care, to broadly
facilitate women's economic and social contribution.311
Mrs. Jody Dallaire
New Brunswick Child Care Coalition
Recently, I was looking over Statistics Canada numbers, and surprisingly, Alberta has the
lowest participation of women in the workforce. I said, no, no, no, they have it wrong. So I
looked twice, and it's true. Apparently, Quebec has the highest participation of women in
the labour force. The reason is very easy — it took me two pages to find it — the day
care system. There are factors in the market that work differently than just a job offer.
The day care system in Quebec — and I'm not going to say whether it's good or bad, it's
just the way it is — encourages women to go back to work much sooner after they have
children. Alberta doesn't have that, and a lot of women still tend to stay at home.312
Ms. Andreea Bourgeois, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Members of the Committee recognize that low-income Canadians are a diverse
population that faces multiple barriers to full participation in Canadian society and the
workplace. We believe that a range of policy instruments is needed to address these
barriers, including assistance to facilitate greater access to affordable early learning and
child care. In 2006, the federal government announced its intention to terminate the Early
Learning and Child Care agreements with the provinces and replace these with a Universal
Child Care Benefit and support for the creation of child care spaces in the workplace. In
terms of the latter initiative, Budget 2007 announced that $250 million would be added to
the Canada Social Transfer base beginning in 2008-2009 to help provinces and territories
create child care spaces. In addition, a 25% investment tax credit will be available to
businesses that create child care spaces in the workplace to a maximum of $10,000 per
space created. Moreover, Budget 2007 announced that the federal — provincial/territorial
310
Evidence, Meeting No. 20, October 24, 2006 at 8:45 a.m.
311
Evidence, Meeting No. 21, October 24, 2006 at 10:45 a.m.
312
Evidence, Meeting No. 22, October 24, 2006 at 2:10 p.m.
123
arrangements regarding early learning and child care that were established in 2000 and
2003 would be extended to 2013-2014.313
Recommendation 3.30
The Committee recommends that the federal government ensure full
funding for a national public early learning and child care system,
including existing private child care centres, and pass legislation to
enshrine principles of accessibility, quality and accountability in such a
system, in consultation with provinces, territories and stakeholders.
WORKERS IN SEASONAL EMPLOYMENT
As illustrated in Chart 3.3, seasonal employment exists to varying degrees in all
main industry groups in Canada. Although the incidence of seasonal employment for the
labour market as whole is small, it has grown marginally from 2.8% of total employment in
1997 to 3.1% in 2006. Despite this modest growth, it is thought that the average monthly
variation in employment accounted for by seasonality has declined over the years as a
consequence of technological change and relative growth in demand for services and
manufactured goods.314
313
Department of Finance, March 19, 2007, pp. 124-125 http://www.budget.gc.ca/2007/pdf/bp2007e.pdf.
314
S. de Raaf. C. Kapsalis and C. Vincent, “Seasonal Work and Employment Insurance Use,”
Perspectives on Labour and Income, Statistics Canada, September 2003, Vol. 4, No. 9, p. 5
http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/75-001-XIE/0090375-001-XIE.pdf.
124
Chart 3.3 - Distribution of Seasonal Employment by Industry, 2006
Public Administration
Other Services
Accommodation and Food Services
Information, Culture and Recreation
Health Care and Social Assistance
Educational Services
Business, Building and Other Support Services
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Leasing
Transportation and Warehousing
Trade
Utilities
Construction
Manufacturing
Forestry, Fishing, Mining, Oil and Gas
Agriculture
0.0
5.0
10.0
15.0
20.0
25.0
30.0
Per Cent
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Historical Review 2006 ; and the Library of Parliament
As evidenced by the data shown above, workers in seasonal employment are key
contributors to economic activity in many businesses, especially those operating in primary
industries (e.g., agriculture, forestry, fishing, etc.); construction; and information, culture
and recreation industries. Seasonal employment is most prevalent in agriculture, where
almost one in four workers is employed in a seasonal job.
Although these data are not shown in Chart 3.3, of the 431,000 workers aged
15 and over who were employed in seasonal jobs in 2006, the largest proportion (16%)
was employed in the construction industry, followed by the information, culture and
recreation industry which accounted for 14.4% of total seasonal employment. Prince
Edward Island had the highest proportion of seasonal workers (11.4% of total employees in
2006), followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (10.6%), New Brunswick (6%) and Nova
Scotia (5.2%).
The Committee was told that seasonal workers are vital to many local and regional
economies across the country, especially in Atlantic Canada. Moreover, seasonal
employment is a reality of the Canadian labour market, and part of this reality is seasonal
unemployment. Many factors can impede year-round employment among those engaged
in seasonal work including limited employment opportunities; policy-induced work
125
disincentives; immobility; limited education, training and job skills; and inadequate labour
market information.315
Short of eliminating the fisheries industry in Atlantic Canada, there is no way to get
around the problem of seasonal workers in the short run. It is not the fault of the workers
that it is seasonal work.316
Ms. Shirley Seward
Canadian Labour and Business Centre
Most of the witnesses who raised the issue of seasonal employment did so in the
context of EI. Some witnesses argued that EI is providing a subsidy to seasonal industries
and workers. In this context, it was argued that the EI program was not designed to support
individuals who make regular and frequent claims for benefits. Others felt that EI does not
sufficiently recognize the importance of seasonal workers.317
Some witnesses suggested that measures should be implemented to encourage
seasonally employed workers to obtain full-time, full-year employment. Those who
opposed policies designed to attract workers away from seasonal activities and encourage
them to accept non-seasonal, year-round jobs argued that this approach would exacerbate
skills shortages in seasonal industries. We need to find a way to enhance the productive
skills of workers in seasonal employment and lengthen their employment spells without
creating labour market imbalances in seasonal sectors of the economy.
Enhancing labour mobility among seasonal workers and establishing labour-sharing
arrangements to extend the duration of seasonal jobs was proposed as one way of
lengthening employment spells among seasonally employed workers. We believe this
approach has merit, provided workers are not forced to move.
315
According to a recent research report prepared for Human Resources and Social Development Canada,
there are basically four ways to address seasonal unemployment: 1) encourage unemployed people to move
to regions with better employment opportunities; 2) accept seasonal unemployment and provide permanent
income support for the unemployed in the off-season; 3) extend the season for part-year jobs to as close to a
full-year as possible; and 4) create either full-year jobs or part-year jobs in the off-season through an
economic development strategy. See: A. Sharpe and J. Smith, Labour Market Seasonality in Canada:
Trends and Policy Implications, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, Research Report Number 2005-01,
February 2005, p. 15 — http://www.csls.ca/reports/csls2005-01.pdf.
316
Evidence, Meeting No. 9, June 20, 2006 at 10:10 a.m.
317
According to the most recent data available, seasonal claims represented 30.4% of all regular claims made
in Canada in 2005-2006. There were significant regional differences in the incidence of seasonal claims,
ranging from a low of 11.8% in Nunavut to a high of 54.6% in Prince Edward Island (Canada Employment
Insurance Commission, 2006 Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report, submitted to the
Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada, March 31, 2007, p. 14,
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/ei/reports/eimar_2006.pdf .
126
Immobility in the seafood industry is particularly important, as the seasons for
employment can be short. Broader food-processing seasons can be linked together to
extend the period of seasonal employment. This would allow fish workers to engage in
employment opportunities in other areas. A number of the skills are transferable,
especially in the areas of quality control sets. There must be at least some incentive,
however, to assist the workers to move to other locations. The Province of New
Brunswick is working with fish processing employees to provide a measure of support to
facilitate employment in other seasonal industries that complement the crab season, for
example particularly in blueberry and potato processing.318
Ms. Johanna Oehling
National Seafood Sector Council
The Committee was told that because EI imparts disincentives to work, some
employers, including seasonal ones, are unable to find enough workers to meet their
needs. Others stated that seasonal employers face recruitment challenges and need to
allocate resources to staff training at the beginning of every season. In the absence of EI,
seasonal employers would face greater challenges retaining their seasonal workforces
from season to season.
It has been a common occurrence for industry to communicate to us that local EI offices
are suggesting to seasonal workers that they find employment in other industries that can
offer year-round employment. This short-sighted action has exacerbated the labour
shortage for industry and led to more industry frustration and discontent.319
Mr. Victor Santacruz
Canadian Nursery Landscape Association
At the Moncton office, where I often answer the telephone, I received a call from an
employer who has a fish processing business in Shédiac. He asked me very honestly
how he could help his employees obtain employment insurance benefits. I thought I had
misunderstood; he repeated his question. He told me he worked from May to October
and did not want to lose his qualified employees. He told me they were the best and if
they went elsewhere to find a fulltime job, he would really be in trouble. He had no one to
replace them. He asked me what he should do so his employees qualify for employment
insurance. I gave him the information he asked me for and that was it. That happens
often.320
Ms. Andreea Bourgeois, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Some witnesses argued that training should be offered to seasonally employed
workers during periods of unemployment to enhance their skills and employability. These
318
Evidence, Meeting No. 15, October 5, 2006 at 11:30 a.m.
319
Evidence, Meeting No. 25, October 26, 2006 at 8:40 a.m.
320
Evidence, Meeting No. 22, October 24, 2006 at 2:15 p.m.
127
workers would then be in a better position to take advantage of other jobs that may be
available at different times of the year, a situation that could help alleviate skills shortages
experienced by seasonal employers. Another measure to alleviate short-term skills
shortages in seasonal industries is to expand the use of temporary foreign workers, an
issue that is discussed in greater detail in the next chapter of our report. Opponents of this
approach maintained that labour market policies should focus on providing workers already
in Canada with the necessary skills to ensure that an adequate supply of labour is available
season after season.
There has been much discussion and debate recently on the topic of bringing in foreign
workers to meet the shortages of the Canadian labour market; yet more efforts should be
made to maximize and effectively utilize the Canadian labour pool.321
Ms. Johanna Oehling
National Seafood Sector Council
In recent years, the federal government has launched a number of EI pilot projects
to test ways to reduce EI disincentives and other shortcomings facing claimants residing in
areas of the country with high unemployment rates (i.e., 10% or more). For example, in
2005, three pilot projects were introduced to test the impact of: (1) averaging “the best 14
weeks” of earnings in the qualifying period to make EI benefits more reflective of the
earnings of those with sporadic work patterns; (2) reducing the qualification requirement of
new entrants and re-entrants from 910 hours to 840 hours of insurable employment; and
(3) raising the earnings exemption to the greater of $75 or 40% of weekly benefits (from
$50 or 25%) to strengthen attachments to work of those receiving benefits.322
In addition to these pilot projects, on December 3, 2007 the federal government
announced a further extension (until June 6, 2009) of a pilot project that was introduced in
June 2004 to address a problem commonly referred to as the “black hole,” a situation that
arises when seasonally employed claimants are unable to obtain enough weeks of EI
benefits to bridge the period between the end of one work season and the beginning of the
next. This pilot project provides five additional weeks of benefits to claimants residing in
high unemployment regions of the country. According to an evaluation of this pilot project,
“large proportions of non-seasonal (65.5%) and seasonal (73.2%) claimants without a gap
in their income stream have also been entitled to five additional weeks of benefits under
the pilot project.”323 Some witnesses regarded the intent of this pilot project as providing
vital support for seasonal sectors of our economy; others were critical of the project’s
design since, it also applies to non-seasonal workers. In addition, the increased benefit
321
Evidence, Meeting No. 15, October 5, 2006 at 11:30 a.m.
322
Canada
Employment
Insurance
Commission,
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/ei/reports/eimar_2006.pdf.
323
Canada Employment Insurance Commission, 2005 Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment
Report, submitted to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development on March 31, 2006, p. 83,
http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/ei/reports/eimar_2005.pdf.
128
March
31,
2007,
p.
63
duration provided under this pilot project could have the unintended effect of restricting
labour supply, a result contrary to the goal of addressing skills shortages and strengthening
attachments to work.
As noted in Chapter 2, members of the Committee support and encourage the use
of pilot projects to test, evaluate and identify ways of strengthening EI’s labour market
support for both employers and employees. Furthermore, we make a number of
recommendations to increase investments in human capital that could serve to benefit
seasonally employed workers. Beyond this, we support the establishment of pilot projects
that provide: (1) incentives for seasonally employed workers to prolong their seasonal jobs,
where possible, through increased mobility; and (2) EI benefit top-up payments for
seasonally unemployed workers who accept employment during the off season or enrol in
training that provides the skills needed to increase employment opportunities during the off
season.
We also believe that the federal government, in partnership with provincial and
territorial governments, should do more to support community-directed economic
development in localities that are highly dependent on seasonal industries.
Recommendation 3.31
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada develop and implement an EI pilot project to test
the effectiveness of providing mobility assistance to seasonally
employed workers who extend the duration of their seasonal jobs by
moving within a region. This pilot project would assess the effects on
employability of providing, in addition to mobility support, a
supplementary EI benefit once a claim is established. The value of the
supplementary benefit would depend on the number of additional
weeks of seasonal employment worked. Participation in the pilot
project would be voluntary.
Recommendation 3.32
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada develop and implement a pilot project that
provides financial incentives to seasonal claimants who accept
employment or enrol in training during the off season.
129
Recommendation 3.33
The Committee recommends that federal regional economic
development agencies, in consultation with the provinces, territories
and stakeholders involved in community economic development,
establish initiatives that support community-driven economic
development projects designed to create off-season or year-round
employment opportunities in communities experiencing relatively high
levels of unemployment.
130
CHAPTER 4 — BEYOND OUR BORDERS:
SELECTING SKILLED IMMIGRANTS AND
UTILIZING TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS
Immigration has been a longstanding contributor to Canada’s labour supply. Many
witnesses recognized the important role immigration has played and will continue to play
helping Canada meet its skills needs. The Committee was told that immigration is expected
to account for all net labour force growth in Canada within the next 10 years. Some
witnesses suggested that Canada should rely less on foreign sources of skilled labour and
become more self-sufficient by ensuring that workers in Canada have the necessary
education and training opportunities to acquire the skills that are in demand. In our view,
Canada needs both immigration and increased human capital investments in our domestic
workforce if we hope to ensure that an adequate supply of skills is available to meet
employers’ needs in the years to come.
Today, one of the key policy objectives of Canada’s immigration program is to select
immigrants on the basis of their skills. Skilled workers represent the lion’s share of
Canada’s immigration intake under the “economic class,” a category that includes skilled
workers, business immigrants, provincial nominees and live-in caregivers.324 In recent
years, the economic class has accounted for between 55% and 60% of new permanent
residents admitted each year. However, this immigration category’s share of total landings
is somewhat overstated, since the spouses and children of principal applicants are
included in the economic class as well. Canada also permits the temporary entry of foreign
workers to help employers meet their skills needs when they are unable to recruit enough
resident workers. Temporary foreign workers are becoming an increasingly important
source of skills, especially for certain sectors of the economy and regions of the country.
SELECTING SKILLED WORKERS
In 2006, the latest year for which annual data are available, Canada admitted
105,949 individuals as skilled workers, of which 44,163 (42%) were principal applicants.325
Skilled worker principal applicants accounted for 17.5% of our total immigration intake in
that year. As shown in Chart 4.1, this immigration category (excluding spouses and
children) has accounted for a declining share of total immigration since 2002.
324
Provincial nominees are admitted under agreements with provincial and territorial governments to meet their
local economic needs. Provincial nominees are not subject to the selection criteria used to assess skilled
workers. Live-in caregivers are admitted to Canada to work in private residences, provided the number of
domestic workers is insufficient to meet demand. Live-in caregivers are granted temporary resident status for
two years, after which they are eligible to apply for permanent residence.
325
Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2006: Immigration Overview-Permanent and
Temporary Residents, 2007, p. 11, http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/pub/facts2006.pdf.
131
Chart 4.1 - Skilled Worker Immigration — Principal Applicants, 1996-2006
25
70,000
60,000
20
50,000
15
Per Cent
40,000
30,000
10
20,000
5
10,000
Skilled Workers
Skilled Workers as a Percentage of Total Immigration
0
0
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and Library of Parliament
The current approach to selecting skilled workers came into effect in 2002 with the
implementation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) (and Regulations).
Citizenship and Immigration Canada maintains that in regard to skilled workers the IRPA
seeks to select immigrants with the capacity to work in a dynamic labour market: “the focus
is now on selecting immigrants with the flexible and transferable skills needed to succeed
in a rapidly changing, knowledge-based economy, rather than on qualifications for specific
occupations.”326 Despite this policy intention, it would appear that many skilled workers
admitted under these selection criteria are unable to work in their intended occupation
because their foreign education, skills and job experience are not fully recognized or
accepted in the Canadian labour market. The Committee was told that the non-recognition
of immigrants’ skills in the Canadian labour market is undermining our ability to attract
skilled workers to Canada.
Under our current skilled worker point system, we're attracting people who to some
extent are already established in their own country. They have certain expectations when
they come here. They want to settle down. They want to be part of Canada. Then, when
they come here, their credentials are not being recognized. They can't find jobs. To them,
it's like Canada has opened its arms and invited them to a dance party, but when they
326
Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration 2005, 2005, p. 17.
132
come, not only can they not find a partner, there's not even music being put on. So they
decide to go home. When they go home, they tell their friends.327
Mr. Tung Chan
United Chinese Community Enrichment Services Society
Furthermore, it is estimated that a sizeable proportion of migration to Canada is
temporary. According to Statistics Canada, between 1980 and 2000 approximately 35% of
working-age male immigrants left Canada within 20 years of their arrival. Out-migration
rates were highest among those admitted as skilled workers or under the business class.
Not surprisingly, exit rates were highest when the economy was weakest.328
Individuals applying for permanent residence as skilled workers are selected
according to the “points” system.329 This system assigns points according to six
assessment factors — education (up to 25 points), official language (up to 24 points), work
experience (up to 21 points), age (up to 10 points), arranged employment (up to 10 points)
and adaptability (up to 10 points).330 Combined, these points equal a maximum of 100 and,
as of September 2003, applicants must obtain at least 67 points to be considered
admissible. In addition to obtaining the “pass mark,” principal applicants must show that in
the past 10 years they have at least one continuous year of experience in full-time paid
employment (or part-time equivalent) in an occupation requiring skill level O, A or B,331 and
demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources to settle in Canada. Only principal
applicants are subjected to this selection system.
Several witnesses suggested that the points system needs to be reformed to better
reflect the needs of the Canadian labour market.332 In some cases, the suggested reforms
would shift the focus away from formal educational attainment to arranged employment
327
Evidence, Meeting No. 34, November 8, 2006 at 11:40 a.m.
328
A. Aydemir and C. Robinson, Return and Onward Migration among Working Age Men, Statistics Canada,
March 2006, p. 21 http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/11F0019MIE/11F0019MIE2006273.pdf.
329
The Canada-Quebec Accord gives responsibility to Quebec to select its own skilled workers. A number of
other provinces have signed agreements with the Government of Canada to select immigrants who will meet
their regional needs (i.e., the Provincial Nominee Program-PNP). Immigrants selected under the PNP must
continue to meet federal health and security requirements, but are not assessed according to the skilled
worker selection criteria.
330
Appendix B contains a more detailed breakdown of the points assigned to each selection criteria.
331
Skill Level O refers to all management occupations (the National Occupational Classification codes for
management occupations begin with O). Skill Level A represents occupations usually requiring university
education and Skill Level B corresponds to occupations usually requiring college education or apprenticeship
training.
332
During the 38th Parliament, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
undertook a study on the recognition of the foreign experience and credentials of immigrants. In April 2005,
that Committee held hearings across the country, visiting all the provincial capitals as well as Calgary,
Montreal, Vancouver and Waterloo. We have considered a summary of the testimony pertaining to these
hearings and note that similar concerns were raised by some witnesses regarding the effectiveness of the
current points system in meeting Canada’s skills needs.
133
and work experience. In view of the adjustment problems many immigrants face in making
the transition into the Canadian labour market, consideration should be given to placing
more importance on arranged employment, especially if the occupation in question
requires a high level of formal education or skills training and is experiencing excess
demand. Members of the Committee believe that the points system needs to be adjusted
in a way that better reflects the specific occupational requirements of regional labour
markets and that provides a more realistic valuation of skilled workers’ human capital (e.g.,
formal education, skills training, work experience) vis-à-vis the Canadian labour market.
For example, if a skilled worker applying for admission can demonstrate that his or her
education, skills training or occupational credentials are recognized in Canada, this should
be assessed and points awarded accordingly.
Change language and arranged employment requirements to remove the barriers to
immigration of skilled tradespeople required by the residential construction industry.
There are a number of ways to rebalance the points awarded for language, education,
work experience, adaptability, and arranged employment that could be considered to
overcome this problem.333
Canadian Home Builders’ Association
The Committee recognizes that education is an important determinant of labour
market success in the long term. It seems counterintuitive that our current selection system
affords points for education levels below those usually required in today’s labour market:
“[a]dvanced studies are fast becoming a prerequisite for employment, with up to 70% of
new and replacement jobs now demanding post-secondary education — far exceeding the
number of PSE graduates available in the labour market.”334 Given the upward trend in the
skill intensity of occupational demand, it is unclear why points are awarded for education
below the post-secondary level.
While the Committee was told that the points system does not afford enough
recognition to skilled trades, we note that 22 points are awarded for a trade certificate or
apprenticeship (with at least 15 years of full-time study), the same number of points
awarded to applicants with two or more bachelor’s degrees at the university level (see
Appendix B).
Although the quality of education varies significantly around the world, Canada’s
points system does not reflect this; points are assigned for years of study and educational
qualifications irrespective of the country of origin. If points for education are not assigned
according to a Canadian standard, immigrants may find themselves looking for work in a
333
Canadian Home Builders’ Association, Employability in Canada Brief to the Standing Committee on Human
Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, September 6, 2006, p. 9.
334
Canadian Council on Learning, Canadian Post-Secondary Education: A Positive Record — An Uncertain
Future, December 2006, p. iv http://www.ccl-cca.ca/NR/rdonlyres/BD46F091-D856-4EEB-B361D83780BFE78C/0/PSEReport2006EN.pdf.
134
labour market where their schooling is valued less than it was in their country of origin.
Australia avoids this situation by requiring potential skilled migrants to have their postsecondary qualifications assessed by the relevant assessing authority before they
migrate.335 At the very least, consideration should be given to affording a higher
assessment to credentials that are recognized in the Canadian labour market compared
with those that are not.
Labour market success also requires strong language skills in one or both of
Canada’s official languages. According to the initial results (i.e., Wave 1) of Statistics
Canada Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada,336 inadequate official language skills
was identified as one of three key factors hampering immigrants’ integration into the
Canadian workplace (the other two were limited Canadian work experience and the nonrecognition of credentials). Of the estimated 116,700 newcomers who arrived in Canada
between October 2000 and September 2001 and who looked for work within the first six
months of landing, 22% identified a lack of skills in either official language as the biggest
hurdle to employment.337 Yet not all applicants assessed under the points system are
required to take a language test to determine how many points should be awarded for
language. In proving language proficiency, applicants may submit, with their application for
immigration, a written explanation and supporting documentation (e.g., an explanation of
training in English or French, an explanation of how frequently the applicant uses English
or French, and official documentation of education in English or French) as proof of the
language proficiency indicated in the application. An immigration officer then assigns points
on the basis of this information.338 Given the importance of language in terms of securing a
job, one wonders whether language testing should be mandatory for those applying to
enter Canada as skilled workers.
Recommendation 4.1
The Committee recommends that the federal government review the
assessment criteria used to select individuals who apply to immigrate
to Canada as skilled workers with a view to: restricting points awarded
for education to post-secondary education and training; providing
more points (perhaps bonus points) for education and trades training
335
S. Richardson and L. Lester, A Comparison of Australian and Canadian Immigration Policies
and
Labour
Market
Outcomes,
Report
to
the
Department
of
Immigration
and
Multicultural
and
Indigenous
Affairs,
September
2004,
pp.
20-1
http://www.dimia.gov.au/media/publications/pdf/comparison_immigration_policies.pdf.
336
About 12,000 individuals of the roughly 164,200 immigrants and refugees who entered Canada between
October 2000 and September 2001 were interviewed at three different points in time: six months (Wave 1),
two years (Wave 2) and four years (Wave 3) to gather information on their settlement experiences. See:
Statistics Canada, Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada: Process, progress and prospects, Labour
Market Entry, October 2003 http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/89-611-XIE/89-611-XIE2003001.pdf.
337
Ibid., p. 34.
338
Citizenship
and
Immigration
Canada,
Immigrating
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/skilled/qual-3-2.html.
135
to
Canada
as
a
Skilled
Worker
recognized in Canada; providing more points for arranged
employment; providing points for high-skills occupations experiencing
chronic shortages; providing points for Canadian work experience; and
awarding points for official languages based on approved official
language tests.
Recommendation 4.2
The Committee recommends that the federal government consider
restructuring the points system to reward potential immigrants who
can demonstrate that they have had their credentials assessed by an
approved assessment agency. Although the results of these
assessments may alter the decision to immigrate, at the very least they
will serve to refine applicants’ expectations and provide them with
important, but necessary, information on any further education,
training and licensing required to work in their designated occupation
in Canada.
As shown in Chart 4.1, skilled worker principal applicants as a percentage of our
total immigration intake fluctuated between 17.5% and 23.5% during the period 1996 to
2006. Given the prospect of growing labour market imbalances in the next decade and
beyond, members of the Committee support continued efforts to maintain the intake of
skilled worker principal applicants to no less than one-fifth of our annual immigration. This
policy should be reflected each year in Canada’s Immigration Plan.
Recommendation 4.3
The Committee recommends that the federal government adopt a
multi-year Immigration Plan and, to the greatest extent possible, make
a commitment to ensuring that skilled worker principal applicants
account for at least 20% of our total annual immigration intake. In
addition, Citizenship and Immigration Canada should give high priority
to reducing the inventory of skilled worker applications for immigration
to Canada. For greater clarity, it is not the Committee’s intent that this
recommendation adversely affect the intake of immigrants in other
immigration categories.
TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS
In addition to admitting skilled workers as permanent residents, Canada also admits
foreign workers on a temporary basis. In 2006, Canada admitted 112,658 temporary
foreign workers to meet the skills needs of the Canadian labour market. As evidenced by
136
the data depicted in Chart 4.2, not all foreign workers who enter Canada on a temporary
basis are highly skilled. In fact, these data show that the proportion of highly skilled339
foreign workers has declined since 2000. In 2006, skilled foreign workers accounted for
roughly 36% of total foreign workers, down from almost 54% in 1996. Although Central
Canada remains the destination of most temporary foreign workers, Western Canada’s
share of foreign workers has been rising rapidly in recent years, due to the overall
tightening of the labour market in British Columbia and Alberta. In 2006, roughly 36% of all
temporary foreign workers went to British Columbia and Alberta, up from one quarter at the
beginning of the decade.340
The Committee was told that greater use should be made of temporary
workers — both skilled and unskilled — to help ensure that Canada has enough workers to
meet the needs of employers, some of whom are becoming increasingly reliant on
temporary foreign workers to maintain or increase production. However, this view was not
shared by all, as some witnesses questioned the rationale for admitting foreign workers
into this country, especially low-skilled workers, given the number of unemployed workers
in Canada.
60,000
60
50,000
50
40,000
40
30,000
30
20,000
Skilled Foreign Workers
Skilled Foreign Workers as a Percentage of Total Foreign Workers
10,000
20
10
0
0
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Library of Parliament
339
Highly skilled refers to Skill Level O, A and B.
340
Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2007, p. 72, http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/pub/facts2006.pdf.
137
Per Cent
Chart 4.2 - Annual Flow of Skilled Temporary Foreign Workers
Before a temporary foreign worker is admitted to Canada, an employer’s job offer
must be assessed by Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC).341 In
this context, HRSDC personnel are supposed to confirm that: “the wages and working
conditions associated with the job offer are standard for that type of employment; the job
cannot easily be filled by a qualified and available Canadian; and allowing a foreign
national to fill the position is unlikely to have a negative effect on the Canadian economy
and labour force.”342 Some witnesses questioned HRSDC’s labour market assessments
regarding the difficulty employers have in filling particular positions. We recognize the
concurrent existence of shortages and surpluses of similarly skilled workers in Canada. We
also recognize that low wages (along with other factors discussed in Chapter 2 of our
report) can impede geographical mobility for many unemployed workers, especially if the
job offer entails moving halfway across the country.
HRSDC requires a labour market opinion to be provided when a temporary work permit
is approved. They have to consider several factors. I want to highlight two of them. One
factor is whether hiring a temporary worker addresses a labour shortage. Labour
shortages in industries such as agriculture, child care, or elder care are in large part a
result of poor working conditions and low wages in these sectors, as opposed to a
shortage of low-skilled workers in Canada [...] Another factor that the HRSDC labour
opinion requires before approving a temporary worker is — and this is important for
us — whether the wages and working conditions offered are sufficient to attract
Canadian citizens or permanent residents to, and retain them in, that work. We believe
that this factor is too often overlooked. In essence, the Canadian government has
adopted a policy of bringing in cheap foreign labour to perform the work that Canadians
do not want to do, rather than addressing poor and unsafe working conditions in certain
sectors.343
Ms. Veena Verma
Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives — KAIROS
We have some members in Alberta, and I bring their example because they're the ones
who have been bringing the majority of concerns to us. They don't have any employees
right now. Some of their garden centres, some of their landscape companies, and some
of their nurseries actually aren't operating in some cases. Some of them have gone out of
their way to pay over $5,000 to bring in a foreign worker for twelve months, and
sometimes eight months, just to do the job. We have a lot of people in Canada who can
do this work, and obviously we want Canada first. We have areas of high unemployment,
so why not bring those people to other areas? Why not facilitate it?344
Mr. Victor Santacruz
Canadian Nursery Landscape Association
341
Not all temporary workers need a work permit (e.g., some guest speakers, performing artists, athletes,
providers of emergency services, business visitors and diplomats).
342
Citizenship
and
Immigration
Canada,
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pub/index-2.html.
343
Evidence, Meeting No. 26, October 26, 2006 at 10:40 a.m.
344
Evidence, Meeting No. 25, October 26, 2006 at 8:45 a.m.
Fact
138
Sheet
14:
Temporary
Foreign
Workers
[T]he CLC questions the employer's promoted myth of a widespread skills shortage in
Canada. There is growing evidence that employers are using the claim of skills shortage
to employ foreign workers in a range of skills categories thereby avoiding the obligation
to provide workers with acceptable working conditions and wage levels.345
Mr. Hassan Yussuff
Canadian Labour Congress
The Committee was told that some temporary workers, especially seasonal
agricultural workers, are subjected to substandard living accommodations and working
conditions. The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) permits agricultural
producers to hire agricultural workers from a number of countries for a specific period of
time (no longer than eight months). Like employers who hire temporary workers in general,
agricultural employers are also required to try to hire unemployed Canadians to meet their
labour needs. If employers are unable to hire enough Canadian workers to meet their
labour needs, they may apply to hire foreign workers under SAWP provided that the wages
to be paid are the same as those paid to Canadian workers (applications involving rates of
pay below those paid to Canadian workers are not approved). Moreover, an employer
must sign a contract with seasonal agricultural workers outlining the wages, job duties and
conditions related to the transportation, accommodation, and health and occupational
safety of contracted employees.346 HRSDC expects working conditions to conform to
provincial labour standards and that accommodations (which are provided by the employer
as part of the contract) be approved by the appropriate provincial or municipal authority.347
Some witnesses suggested that employers who do not respect their contracts with
seasonal agricultural workers or do not meet minimum provincial labour standards should
be penalized. Although federal authority is very limited in these areas, the federal
government is certainly in a position to deny subsequent applications from employers who
do not comply with the rules of the program.
Many of these workers work 12 to 15 hours a day without overtime pay or any type of
holiday pay. They use dangerous chemicals and pesticides with no safety equipment or
protection and training. They live in substandard housing, which I have pictures of, with
leaking sewage and inadequate washrooms. They have an inability to access most
employment insurance benefits despite their contributions. They face various barriers to
accessing adequate housing services. And they're prohibited from forming collective
bargaining and joining unions. For actually taking a stand for anything they believe in,
they could be sent home. As such, many workers are reluctant to stand up for their rights,
since employers find it easier to send workers home at their own expense instead of
dealing with their serious concerns. The lack of an appeal mechanism in the seasonal
345
Evidence, Meeting No. 62, March 20, 2006 at 3:55 p.m.
346
Under the SAWP employers must pay for work permit fees and two-way airfare, of which a maximum of $450
may be recouped from workers’ pay.
347
Human Resources and Social Development Canada, “HRSDC Assessment Under the Seasonal Agricultural
Worker Program” http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/epb/lmd/fw/seaagrass.shtml#haws.
139
agricultural worker program forces many workers to remain silent out of fear of being
expelled from the program.348
Mr. Chris Ramsaroop
Justice for Migrant Workers — Ontario
I know there's an underlying statement that in particular some of the unions make when
referring to temporary workers, which is that this is just a way for construction industry
employers to bring in cheap foreign labour. I want to say that is absolutely not the case.
In fact it doesn't make sense. It's very expensive for a company to go out and find
temporary foreign workers. There are relocation, travel, recruitment, and retraining costs,
none of which you have with the Canadian worker. In short, should we be accepting any
of these sorts of unfair treatment? Absolutely not. It is an absolute responsibility of the
federal government to ensure that this not happening. However, those potential problems
should not be dissuading us from ensuring that temporary foreign workers are a source
of future labour supply.349
Mr. Jeff Morrison
Canadian Construction Association
Several witnesses expressed the view that temporary foreign workers should be
given an opportunity to apply for permanent residence while in Canada, a feature that
already exists in the Live-in Caregiver Program.350 Some proponents of this idea also
suggested that a similar approach be taken to “regularize” undocumented individuals who
have a significant attachment to the Canadian labour market, but reside illegally in this
country.
Our employment and immigration policies were developed in an era when unemployment
was a national challenge. The new challenge is finding workers, and we will be in a
vicious international competition for immigrants with developed countries, such as the
U.S., Europe, and Australia, which are experiencing the same demographic trends and
labour shortage challenges […] We need to modernize our immigration system, and in
particular the point system, so that it recognizes the diverse needs of Canada's labour
348
Evidence, Meeting No. 29, October 27, 2006 at 8:50 a.m.
349
Evidence, Meeting No. 24, October 25, 2006 at 11:50 a.m.
350
Under the Live-in Caregiver Program applicants must: have successfully completed the equivalent of a
Canadian high school education; have at least six months of full-time classroom training or 12 months of fulltime employment (including six continuous months with one employer) in a field or occupation related to the
job being sought as a live-in caregiver; be able to read, write and speak either English or French in a working
environment; and have a written employment contract with a future employer. After completing at least two
years under the Live-in Caregiver Program, individuals may apply for permanent residence in Canada
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pub/caregiver/caregiver-2.html#2.
140
market. We need to put more emphasis on Canadian work experience and school
credentials, and less emphasis on foreign education and experience. We need to make
the temporary foreign worker programs into bridging programs to permanent
residency.351
Ms. Joyce Reynolds
Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association
As announced in Budget 2007, the federal government intends to introduce a new
process for allowing, under certain conditions, the landing of foreign students with
Canadian credentials and skilled work experience, and skilled temporary foreign workers
who are already working in Canada. It is estimated that some 25,000 Canadian-educated
foreign students and skilled foreign workers will be able to apply for permanent residence
each year ($33.6 million will be allocated over the next two years for this purpose).352
Depending on the success of this initiative, future consideration could be given to
expanding this initiative to other temporary foreign workers who have significant Canadian
working experience.
Some witnesses told the Committee that hiring temporary foreign workers entails an
administrative burden that needs to be reduced. Hiring foreign workers is costly and, in
some cases, long processing times can have a direct impact on an employer’s operations.
The Committee is aware of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s service modernization
initiative and applauds the steps that have been taken recently to enhance administrative
efficiency. In this context, we note the recent establishment of temporary worker units in
Vancouver and Calgary, on a trial basis, to help facilitate the entry of temporary workers in
sectors where they are needed most. More recently, the federal government extended,
where appropriate, HRSDC’s Labour Market Opinion from 12 to 24 months, thus paving
the way for longer periods of employment among foreign workers employed under the Pilot
Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training (National Occupation
Classification skill levels C and D). Effective February 23, 2007, concurrent processing for
Labour Market Opinions and foreign national work permits is expected to reduce the overall
processing time required to approve applications for temporary foreign workers.353 The
Committee supports the recent allocation of $50.5 million over the next two years to
support improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (e.g., expanding the online application system and maintaining lists of occupations where workers are known to be
in short supply) and encourages Citizenship and Immigration Canada to continue to seek
ways to reduce the administrative burden facing employers who need quicker access to
temporary foreign workers.
351
Evidence, Meeting No. 28, October 26, 2006 at 3:00 p.m.
352
Department of Finance, The Budget Plan 2007 ASPIRE to a Stronger, Safer and Better Canada, March 19,
2007, p. 218 http://www.budget.gc.ca/2007/pdf/bp2007e.pdf.
353
Citizenship
and
Immigration
Canada,
“Improvements
to
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/press/backgrounders/2007-02-23.html.
141
the
foreign
worker
program”
Citizenship and Immigration needs to be more in tune with the process, more involved
not only in creating approvals, but in assisting to enforce the rules of the program set out
by HRSDC. There have been improvements, but there can still be more consistency
among Service Canada HRSDC offices across the country in terms of the application of
the rules of the program and especially in processing times […] In Alberta, for example, it
is upwards of 12 weeks for an employer to get an approval and that can often go longer.
Then when an employee applies overseas, they're looking, depending on the embassy,
at anywhere from six weeks to four months […] That means lost productivity as that time
goes on […] The other major other issue employers would like to see is limiting HRSDC
to the job description, working hours and the wages, leaving out matters such as air fare
and some other requirements that are in the program that make it more of a burden on
the employer than it needs to be.354
Mr. Gregg Badger
Canadian Meat Council
Recommendation 4.4
The Committee recommends that Citizenship and Immigration Canada
examine and report on ways to facilitate the transition of foreign
workers from temporary to permanent status and conduct a thorough
assessment of the means and implications of recognizing, as
temporary foreign workers, illegal workers who can demonstrate their
successful integration into the Canadian labour market.
Recommendation 4.5
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
cooperation with provincial and territorial governments and
stakeholders, take immediate action to end abuse and exploitation, and
ensure labour rights and appropriate working and living conditions of
participants under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the
Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.
Recommendation 4.6
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada, in formulating its Labour Market Opinion
pertaining to an employer’s application to hire foreign workers, also
assess the applicant’s efforts to attract and train workers in Canada.
354
Evidence, Meeting No. 63, March 21, 2007 at 3:40 p.m.
142
INTEGRATING IMMIGRANTS INTO THE LABOUR MARKET
Given immigration’s important role as a contributor to both the quantity and quality
of labour in Canada, it is important to help immigrants make a quick and successful
transition into the Canadian labour market. More often than not, when immigrants first enter
the labour market there is usually a period of adjustment during which work experience is
acquired, language skills are improved, and education and occupational credentials are
assessed. Throughout this period, immigrants usually experience lower earnings and
higher rates of unemployment compared with Canadian-born workers with similar
attributes.
A growing body of evidence suggests that recent immigrants are experiencing
greater difficulties integrating into the Canadian labour market compared with earlier
cohorts. For example, immigrants who entered Canada within five years of the 1981
Census had an unemployment rate of 7.1%, compared with 7.9% among Canadian-born
individuals. According to the 2001 Census, the unemployment rate among new arrivals
was 12.7%, compared with 7.4% among Canadian-born individuals. In other words, the
relative unemployment rate among new arrivals almost doubled during this 20-year
period.355 In 2001, the relative unemployment rate among new arrivals with the highest
levels of education was 3.5 times higher than among Canadian-born individuals with
graduate degrees.356 More recent data published by Statistics Canada indicates that these
observations are also applicable to recent immigrants aged 25 to 54.357
According to Statistics Canada, immigrants residing in Canada for less than five
years had low-income rates of 24.6% in 1980, 31.3% in 1990 and 35.8% in 2000.358 In
2000, recent male immigrants aged 25 to 54 employed full time earned an estimated 19%
less than their Canadian-born counterparts, while female immigrants earned about 20%
less than Canadian-born women.359
355
C.
Lochhead,
The
Transition
Penalty:
Unemployment
Among
Immigrants
to
Canada,
Canadian
Labour
and
Business
Centre,
July
http://www.clbc.ca/files/Reports/Fitting_In/Transition_Penalty_e-CLBC.pdf.
356
Canadian Labour and Business Centre, CLBC Handbook on Immigration and Skill Shortages, p. 24 of 36
http://www.clbc.ca/files/Reports/Immigration_Handbook.pdf.
357
In 2006, the relative unemployment rate among new arrivals in this age group was 2.3 times higher than
similarly aged Canadian-born workers. In addition, the relative unemployment rate among recently arrived
immigrants aged 25 to 54 with a post-secondary degree or diploma and a university degree were 4.2 and 3.9
times higher respectively than similarly aged and educated Canadian-born workers (D. Zietsma, The
Canadian Immigrant Labour Market in 2006: First Results from Canada’s Labour Force Survey, Statistics
Canada, 2007, http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/71-606-XIE/71-606-XIE2007001.pdf).
358
G. Picot and F. Hou, The rise in low-income rates among immigrants in Canada, Statistics Canada,
June 2003, p. 9 http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/11F0019MIE/11F0019MIE2003198.pdf.
359
Statistics Canada, The Canadian Labour Market at a Glance, 2005, June
http://dsp-psd.communication.gc.ca/Collection/Statcan/71-222-X/71-222-XIE2006001.pdf.
143
2006,
Recent
2003
p.
91
NOIVMWC has testimonies from newcomer women to show that this cohort of immigrant
women and men are better qualified than ever before, yet they are worse off
economically than any previous less-educated cohorts. Employability for us immigrants
has come to mean being consigned to “McJobs” — dead end, low waged, and unskilled
work — or short-term contract work with little or no benefits in a flexible labour market.
Underemployment is the immigrant's curse, and we are the victims of skill erosion and
what Professor Jeffrey Reitz refers to as brain waste.360
Anurahda Bose
National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada
According to Wave 2 data collected through the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants
to Canada, which focuses on prime working-age immigrants (i.e., 25 to 44 year olds)
especially principal applicants in the skilled worker category, 80% of these immigrants
worked in at least one job during their first two years in Canada (the breakdown for skilled
workers, immigrants in the family category and refugees was 90%, 78% and 62%
respectively).361 Although the employment rate of prime working-age immigrants moved
toward the national average over the 104-week period after landing, it was still
18 percentage points lower than the national rate for similarly aged Canadian workers by
the end of this period. Roughly one-half of employed prime working-age immigrants held
more than one job during their first two years in Canada. Of those who looked for
employment 6 to 24 months after landing, 26% cited the lack of Canadian work experience
as the most difficult problem in getting a job. This problem was followed by a lack of
acceptance or recognition of foreign work experience or credentials (21%), language
barriers (15%) and a lack of jobs (14%).362 “Despite these challenges, the share of
newcomers who said they were satisfied with their job increased from 74% six months after
landing to 84% two years after landing. Job satisfaction was higher for those who were
able to use their training, who worked in their intended occupation or who worked fulltime.”363
360
Evidence, Meeting No. 65, March 27, 2007 at 11:30 a.m.
361
Statistics
Canada,
Longitudinal
Survey
of
Immigrants
to
Canada:
Progress
and Challenges of New Immigrants in the Workforce 2003, October 2005, p. 7
http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/89-615-XIE/89-615-XIE2005001.pdf.
362
Ibid., p. 10. A roughly similar ranking (though smaller in magnitude) of these difficulties was reported among
immigrants interviewed after 25 to 48 months of their arrival (Wave 3) (G. Schellenberg and H. Maheux,
“Immigrants’ perspectives on their first four years in Canada: Highlights from three waves of the Longitudinal
Survey of Immigrants to Canada,” Canadian Social Trends, April 2007, Table 9,
http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/11-008-XIE/2007000/pdf/11-008-XIE20070009627.pdf).
363
Ibid., p. 11.
144
Many witnesses who appeared before the Committee identified similar problems
experienced by immigrants trying to make a transition into the Canadian labour market.
These witnesses made several recommendations to help newly arrived immigrants make
the necessary adjustments to the Canadian labour market. For example, we were told that
Canada should provide better labour market information to potential immigrants before
their arrival in Canada. Immigrants need to receive accurate information about available
jobs, potential difficulties obtaining Canadian work experience in their intended occupation,
and what needs to be done to have their education and other credentials assessed and
fully recognized.
I applied for immigration through proper channels […] I did the interview, but they did not
give me the right information. They said to me, you have a lot of opportunities in Canada.
Right now you can enter […] When I came, I found the scenario was totally different. I
worked here at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a volunteer for three years and
seven months. On my own discipline, I have done 10,000 samples to them, but I left that
one on the 31st of January of this year because there is no hope to get a job. How can I
survive? I have two kids and my wife. My wife also did one year of voluntary work at
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Both of us did higher studies in U.K.364
Mr. Abdul Malek
Canadian Centre for Global Professionals
Members of the Committee believe that it is extremely important to provide potential
immigrants with accurate and timely information about the way the Canadian labour market
operates and what is required to find employment in their intended occupation. In doing so,
immigrants may decide to take steps (e.g., have their credentials assessed) before
immigrating to facilitate a smooth transition into the Canadian labour market. At the very
least, with this information immigrants should arrive in Canada with more realistic labour
market expectations. In this context, we support the initiative to create a Foreign Credential
Referral Office within Citizenship and Immigration Canada to inform potential immigrants
and newcomers already in Canada about the Canadian labour market, credential
assessment and recognition requirements, and pathways to assessment services in
Canada.365
We recommend providing potential immigrants with clear and accurate information about
working in Canada prior to their immigration […] increasing the funding for language
programs that offer occupation-specific language training, employment preparation, and
paid work placement […] providing child care support and more flexible hours for ESL
364
Evidence, Meeting No. 65, March 27, 2007 at 10:20 a.m.
365
Department of Finance, March 19, 2007, p. 218.
145
students to improve accessibility […] offering incentives to employers who will provide
work placements or internships to immigrants to help them gain Canadian work
experience.366
Ms. Lori Willocks
Calgary Immigrant Aid Society, Vibrant Communities Calgary
Many witnesses suggested that adjustment support for newcomers to Canada
should focus on providing: opportunities to acquire Canadian work experience; bridge
support for those who need upgrading to raise their qualifications to Canadian standards;
and greater access to job-related language training. All of these measures were
characterized by witnesses as important initiatives to help newcomers gain access to their
intended occupations or find jobs that fully utilize their skills and knowledge.
We urge the Government of Canada to work with provincial governments, professional
organizations, and licensing bodies to ensure loans and other resources are available for
qualifying exams and upgrading, to develop academic assessment tools and testing, and
to ensure retesting is accessible and affordable. We need to increase the opportunity for
foreign-trained professionals to acquire more Canadian experience under supervision,
and accelerate the accreditation or retraining process through English and French
language training, including long-term and/or immersion language training where
needed.367
Ms. Karen Dempsey
National Council of Women of Canada
[O]ne of the areas where the federal government could really make a big difference is
funding ESL for skilled immigrants. What happens now is that there's much more of
generic ESL provided and not ESL for professionals. At their initiative, certain colleges
have tried to do that, but they have really struggled for lack of funding. That's a big
support that could happen, and the coordination of the foreign credentials […] the
number one issue I had hoped to make was that the federal government would actually
fund Canadian workplace training. A StatsCan survey has shown that the number one
issue is not so much language, as we would have thought, as it is the lack of Canadian
workplace practice experience. You get engineers, doctors, architects, and construction
workers who have all the skills and a lot of experience, but what they miss is that little link
that doesn't give them the Canadian registration because they haven't had Canadian
workplace practice. I think my colleague was absolutely right in saying that much of what
they need is that lexicon, that currency of practice, the way people talk in a workplace in
Canada. You only get that from being in a Canadian workplace.368
Ms. Shyla Dutt
Pacific Foundation for Diversity
366
Evidence, Meeting No. 35, November 9, 2006 at 8:55 a.m.
367
Evidence, Meeting No. 20, October 24, 2006 at 9:15 a.m.
368
Evidence, Meeting No.33, November 8, 2006 at 9:30 a.m.
146
The federal government provides financial support to facilitate labour market
adjustment among immigrants through several initiatives (e.g., Workplace Skills and
Enhanced Language Training initiative) delivered primarily by Citizenship and Immigration
Canada and HRSDC. The Enhanced Language Training initiative is a relatively recent
measure that provides immigrants with job-specific language training and other services
that help them secure employment (e.g., internships, temporary placement, help obtaining
licensure, job search assistance). In 2007-2008, Citizenship and Immigration Canada
expects to spend roughly $41.5 million on this initiative. Given the magnitude and
persistence of adjustment problems faced by newly arrived immigrants, many members of
the Committee believe that more funding should be provided to help immigrants, especially
those who are highly skilled, to acquire Canadian work experience and skills upgrading to
attain a Canadian standard. Support for the latter could combine both repayable and nonrepayable assistance, both of which could be determined according to financial and labour
market needs.
Recommendation 4.7
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine the
need for a special program to provide financial assistance in the form
of loans and grants to newly arrived immigrants who require education
or training to upgrade their credentials in order to attain Canadian
accreditation.
Recommendation 4.8
The Committee recommends that Citizenship and Immigration Canada
monitor closely the demand for job-related language training and seek
additional funding as required to meet the needs of highly skilled
immigrants who are unable to find employment in their intended
occupation because they lack adequate official language skills.
Recommendation 4.9
The Committee recommends that one of the objectives associated with
the recently proposed $500 million investment in new labour market
programming could be the successful integration of newly arrived
immigrants into the Canadian labour market. In pursuit of this
objective, a subsidy could be paid to employers who provide work
opportunities to immigrants who are unable to find employment in their
intended occupation because they lack Canadian work experience.
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CONCLUSION
There is little doubt that Canadian policy-makers are about to be challenged by an
unstoppable demographic event. In 2011, the baby-boom generation will begin to reach the
age of 65. Although some workers in this demographic group have already left the
workforce, most will leave the labour force during the next two decades. This event,
combined with the long-term decline in Canada’s fertility rate, will contribute to a major
slowdown in labour force growth. Within the next ten years, immigration is expected to
account for all net labour force growth.
Slower growth in the supply of skills, combined with the continually rising skills
needs of the labour market, increases the likelihood that the skills shortages problem
currently facing some employers across the country will worsen. To alleviate these labour
market imbalances, the Committee recommends a number of measures to increase the
participation of under-represented groups in the labour market as well as to increase
investments in education and training, a key ingredient to improving Canadian productivity
and economic prosperity.
A labour force that possesses the quality and quantity of skills needed in the
workplace is a necessary, although insufficient, condition for meeting Canada’s labour
market needs in the years ahead. We must also ensure that workers’ skills are recognized,
accepted and utilized fully by employers in all regions of the country. We can no longer
afford to waste the skills of domestic- and foreign-born workers.
As noted at the outset of our report, addressing the labour market challenges that
Canada will face over the next decade and beyond will not be solved today. But we need to
move quickly to ensure that better policies are in place to address Canada’s current and
future employability challenges. It is our hope that the recommendations presented in this
report will contribute to the development of these policies, collectively referred to as an
employability strategy, and that these policies will produce a more inclusive, skilled and
adaptable workforce to meet Canada’s labour market challenges in the years ahead.
Finally, members of the Committee would like to thank all of the groups and
individuals who took the time to submit a brief and/or to testify at one of our many meetings
held across the country. Without their thoughtful consideration and expertise, along with
their patience in view of several interruptions to our study, our report would not have been
possible.
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LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS
Recommendation 1.1
The Committee recommends that federal and provincial/territorial
governments contribute funding and work together with business,
labour, educators and other key stakeholders to further the
development of a national human resources planning capability by
expanding the sector council model. As a first priority, efforts should
focus on establishing a sector council on health care services.
Recommendation 1.2
The Committee recommends that the federal government support the
establishment of stronger links between the skills needs identified
by sector councils and those provided through the educational
system to ensure that curricula reflects, and continues to develop in
concert with, Canada’s socio-economic needs.
Recommendation 1.3
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada improve the quality and timeliness of labour
market information and provide more detailed skills-based demand
and supply forecasts for regional and local labour markets.
Recommendation 1.4
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada continue to work with the Canadian Council of
Directors of Apprenticeship to standardize apprenticeship training
and certification programs across the country, to increase the
number of Red Seal certifications and to extend Red Seal
designations to trades that require compulsory certification.
Recommendation 1.5
The Committee recommends that all signatories to Chapter 7 of the
Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) continue to work toward full
compliance, particularly in terms of workers with foreign training
who are fully licensed in one jurisdiction, and that the Forum of
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Labour Market Ministers continue to examine avenues for improving
the AIT’s mobility provisions as well as beginning discussions to
expand the number of occupations covered under Chapter 7 and
ensure the protection of technical and professional occupational
standards.
Recommendation 1.6
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine
the moving expenses provision of the Income Tax Act with a view to
extending this provision to individuals who must leave their principal
residence to work on a temporary basis, provided their principal
residence is retained.
Recommendation 1.7
The Committee recommends that the federal government provide
funding to assist individuals who agree to relocate to enter
employment in occupations experiencing skills shortages.
Recommendation 1.8
The Committee recommends that skilled workers — as defined in
Part 6, Division 1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection
Regulations — applying to immigrate to Canada, especially those
whose designated occupation is regulated, be fully informed by
Immigration Officers and other stakeholders abroad as to the
education, training and licensing requirements to practise in the
province or territory in which they intend to reside. Applicants
should be fully informed of credentials assessment services in
Canada and should be strongly encouraged to have their credentials
assessed by an approved agency prior to immigrating to Canada.
Recommendation 1.9
The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to
pursue, in cooperation with provincial and territorial governments
and other stakeholders, a national agency for the assessment and
recognition of credentials, especially foreign credentials. The
Committee proposes that this agency adopt a broad mandate to:
(1) promote national standards for the certification and licensing of
workers; (2) develop and provide avenues for the assessment of
credentials and the licensing of internationally trained individuals
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who immigrate to Canada; (3) ensure that equivalency exams are fair
and accurately reflect the knowledge requirements expected of
individuals educated in Canada; (4) promote international awareness
about our education and certification requirements for various
occupations; and (5) promote the development and adoption of a
system for recognizing prior learning and work experience to
facilitate access to the formal education system.
Recommendation 2.1
The Committee recommends that the federal government consider
expanding and restructuring the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax
Credit and the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant to encourage growth
in apprenticeships and the completion of apprenticeship training
generally.
Recommendation 2.2
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine
and evaluate, in coordination with the provinces that do not already
have a similar program, a federal training fund based on the Quebec
model, into which all employers with payrolls over $1 million are
required to invest the equivalent of 1% of their payroll, minus the
amount they verifiably spend on workplace literacy and other
training.
Recommendation 2.3
The Committee recommends that the Forum of Labour Market
Ministers and the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada work
together to examine and implement ways to better integrate
apprenticeship training and post-secondary education across the
country. It is thought that a more integrated system would increase
the attractiveness of apprenticeship training and accommodate the
movement of individuals between both systems.
Recommendation 2.4
The Committee recommends that the federal government encourage
employers to provide workplace literacy training by permitting them
to deduct some multiple of literacy training-related expenses that are
incurred relative to some predetermined period or base year.
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Recommendation 2.5
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, set
concrete national targets in the short, medium and long terms to
raise Canada’s literacy rates based on the International Adult
Literacy and Skills Survey. The Committee recommends that the
federal government begin as soon as possible to develop and
implement a ten-year plan with adequate funding to achieve these
targets through a coherent national adult learning strategy, including
bilateral accords with each province and territory.
Recommendation 2.6
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, commit to
adequate, long-term, stable, transparent, core funding for national,
provincial, territorial and regional literacy coalitions, and other
education and training-based organizations, including funding for
public awareness and learner outreach projects; financial and
logistical access and support for learners; professional
development; family literacy approaches; and partnerships between
levels of government, and between employers and labour.
Recommendation 2.7
The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to
monitor the impact of the Canada Student Loans Program on
students from low-income families, students from immigrant
communities, students from rural and remote parts of Canada,
Aboriginal students and students with disabilities, to ensure that
these students have equitable access to student financial assistance
programs. The federal government should monitor debt levels
associated with student loans and ensure, through non-repayable
financial support, that borrowing costs do not constrain access to a
post-secondary education.
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Recommendation 2.8
The Committee recommends that the federal government consider
the following changes to the student loan system in its discussions
with provincial and territorial governments pursuant to the proposals
in Budget 2008 and issue a response to the Committee:
1. Significantly reduce or eliminate the federal student loan
interest rate;
2. Create a federal Student Loan Ombudsperson to help
students navigate the loan system, objectively resolve
problems and ensure that students are treated with fairness
and respect;
3. Provide better relief during repayment of student loans,
including expanding eligibility for permanent disability
benefits, interest relief and debt reduction;
4. Create enforceable federal standards governing the conduct
of government and private student loan collection agents,
subject to the policy objective of helping students find ways
to repay their loan;
5. Ensure that student borrowers are made aware of the total
cost of their loan and receive regular, clear, accurate
statements of account;
6. Amend the “lifetime limit” on student loans such that they
are not repayable until six months after the completion of
full-time studies, including doctoral programs and medical
residency;
7. Reduce the discriminatory ban on bankruptcy protection for
student loans to two years;
8. Work with the provinces and territories to ensure that each
Canadian student loan borrower can integrate all federal and
provincial/territorial loans into one single loan for simpler
repayment; and
9. Reinstate the six-month interest-free grace period.
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Recommendation 2.9
The Committee recommends that the federal government review
Canada Student Loan repayment policies and practices to ensure
that students who incur high levels of debt under the Canada
Student Loans Program have sufficient flexibility to repay their
loans. Consideration should be given to specifying conditions for
extending the period at which loan repayment begins, as well as the
period at which interest on loans begins to accrue. This additional
flexibility is particularly important for individuals, such as medical
school graduates and other post-graduate students, who currently
cannot defer repayment despite ongoing training.
Recommendation 2.10
The Committee recommends that the federal government provide
long-term, stable funding in a dedicated post-secondary education
transfer, in continuing collaboration with the provinces and
territories.
Recommendation 2.11
The Committee recommends that, subject to provincial and territorial
agreement, the federal government continue to fund capacitybuilding initiatives in Canada’s post-secondary education system
and that consideration be given to providing ongoing funding for
post-secondary infrastructure.
Recommendation 2.12
The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to
monitor the borrowing needs of part-time learners, including mature
students, to ensure that they have adequate access to publicly
funded, needs-based financing.
Recommendation 2.13
The Committee recommends that the federal government review the
Income Tax Act with a view to broadening the applicability of tuition
and education tax credits, as well as the tax credit for interest paid
on student loans, to provide more financial incentives to adults to
engage in lifelong learning.
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Recommendation 2.14
The Committee recommends that the federal government ensure that
funding is provided to finance cost-shared projects that make use of
technologies to expand lifelong learning opportunities, particularly
projects that address the learning needs of workers in geographical
areas where access to Canada’s post-secondary education system is
limited.
Recommendation 2.15
The Committee recommends that the federal government establish
assistance measures for workers, especially low-income workers, to
allow them to participate in lifelong learning.
Recommendation 2.16
The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to
work with the provinces and territories to improve the effectiveness
of measures delivered under Labour Market Development
Agreements. Primary consideration should be given to improving the
effectiveness of Employment Benefits and Support Measures in
addressing Canada’s growing skills shortages.
Recommendation 2.17
The Committee recommends that the federal government review the
definition of “insured participant” under section 58 of the
Employment Insurance Act with the intent of broadening eligibility
for Employment Benefits and Support Measures.
Recommendation 2.18
The Committee recommends that, pursuant to Part V of the
Employment Insurance Act, the federal government develop and
implement pilot projects to:
1. Assess the impact and effectiveness of various qualification
requirements and coverage conditions to identify program
reforms that would strengthen work incentives, enhance
employability and better address the needs of self-employed
workers; and
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2. Assess the effectiveness of EI contribution rebates for
employers who: provide training to enhance the employability
of workers in seasonal employment, older workers, Aboriginal
workers and workers with disabilities; alleviate specific skill
shortages; and enhance the basic skills of individuals with low
levels of literacy.
Pilot project costs associated with this recommendation should not
be included as part of the expenditure limit contained in section 78 of
the Employment Insurance Act.
Recommendation 2.19
The Committee recommends that, subject to cost-shared funding
arrangements and agreements with the provinces and territories, the
federal government provide financial assistance to support
measures that reduce the high school dropout rate.
Recommendation 3.1
The Committee recommends that the Minister of Labour encourage
provincial and territorial labour ministers to establish a working
group to examine barriers to continued employment among workers
once they reach the age of 65, especially with regard to mandatory
retirement provisions that continue to operate in some parts of the
country.
Recommendation 3.2
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine
section 15 of the Canadian Human Rights Act with a view to defining
as a discriminatory practice the termination of an individual’s
employment because he or she has reached the normal age of
retirement for employees working in similar positions.
158
Recommendation 3.3
The Committee recommends that in their next triennial review of the
Canada Pension Plan the Ministers of Finance consider possible
changes to the Plan to better accommodate concurrent work and
partial pension payments, and examine the need for actuarial
adjustments to Canada Pension Plan payments with a view to
ensuring that the impact of this program on seniors’ decisions to
remain in the workplace is, at the very least, neutral.
Recommendation 3.4
The Committee recommends that the federal government monitor
and assess the impact of the proposal in Budget 2008 to increase the
Guaranteed Income Supplement earnings exemption to $3,500.
Recommendation 3.5
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine
the efficacy of broadening the age and community eligibility criteria
under the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers. In addition,
consideration should be given to broadening the scope of this or
some other program to support internship and mentorship
opportunities for older workers. In the event that the Targeted
Initiative for Older Workers program is broadened, funding could
come from the newly announced $500 million investment in new
labour market programming, given that one of the stated objectives
of this spending is to increase the labour force participation of
under-represented groups in the Canadian labour market.
Recommendation 3.6
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada conduct a comprehensive evaluation, in full
consultation with Aboriginal groups, of the Aboriginal Human
Resources Development Strategy to assess the results to date and to
determine whether the Strategy can: meet the needs of Aboriginal
working parents (particularly single mothers); meet the needs of a
rapidly growing young Aboriginal population that will reach working
age in the near future; and achieve its long-term goal of raising the
Aboriginal employment rate to a level comparable to that found
among non-Aboriginal Canadians. Based on the results of this
evaluation, the federal government should, if necessary, dedicate
159
additional resources as needed, in particular by adopting long-term
strategies of ten years to provide Aboriginal organizations, including
band governments, planning and consultation time in the beginning
years so they can take full advantage of the opportunities offered,
and make any necessary modifications to the Strategy to enhance its
effectiveness in meeting the employability needs of Aboriginal
people.
Recommendation 3.7
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
partnership with provincial/territorial governments and Aboriginal
stakeholders, take immediate steps to strengthen the commitment to
provide high-quality, culturally relevant elementary and secondary
education to Aboriginal students. Indian and Northern Affairs
Canada should develop culturally sensitive measures and programs
to reduce the high school drop-out rate among Aboriginal students
and to better prepare students for post-secondary education. Pilot
projects that would allow students to be linked with successful
Aboriginal mentors should be used to strengthen school attendance
and completion. The Committee recognizes the particular need to
address education for First Nations and Aboriginal people from a
lifelong learning perspective which includes: early childhood
development; kindergarten to grade 12; post-secondary education;
adult education and training. Part of this approach must include a
commitment to build more schools on reserves to address the
chronic lack of classroom space.
Recommendation 3.8
The Committee recommends that the federal government commit to
better supporting Indigenous education institutions, taking into
consideration the proposals in Budget 2008.
Recommendation 3.9
The Committee recommends that the federal government take the
necessary steps to improve access to post-secondary education for
Aboriginal people. Among other initiatives, the eligibility criteria for
the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the University
College Entrance Preparation Program offered through Indian and
Northern Affairs Canada should be broadened, and the budget for
these programs should be increased and indexed to growth in the
Aboriginal post-secondary school-age population. The federal
160
government must continue to support the Indian and Northern
Affairs Canada Post-Secondary Student Support Program and
consider removing the two-per cent cap instituted in 1996.
Recommendation 3.10
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
collaboration with provincial/territorial governments and Aboriginal
stakeholders, develop a program to raise awareness among
Aboriginal people about the importance of, and economic benefits
associated with, completing a post-secondary education.
Recommendation 3.11
The Committee recommends that Human Resources
Development Canada encourage the participation of
people in trades-related training by working with
stakeholders to examine initiatives and budgets geared
to meeting the needs of Aboriginal workers.
and Social
Aboriginal
Aboriginal
specifically
Recommendation 3.12
The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to
support and implement fully the Racism-free Workplace Strategy to
reduce discriminatory barriers to employment, promote a better
understanding of Aboriginal cultural issues, and promote the socioeconomic advancement of Aboriginal people.
Recommendation 3.13
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
partnership with other governments and Aboriginal stakeholders,
develop innovative solutions to relocation problems that arise when
Aboriginal people, especially youth and women, move to urban
centres in search of employment.
Recommendation 3.14
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine
the feasibility of developing incentive-based programs to encourage
partnerships between employers operating near reserves and
Aboriginal stakeholders that would foster training and employment
opportunities on or near reserves.
161
Recommendation 3.15
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
partnership with provincial/territorial governments and Aboriginal
organizations, develop a national Aboriginal housing policy to
address the needs of Aboriginal people living on and off reserves. To
maximize the socio-economic benefits of this policy, skills training
should be provided to Aboriginal people who are interested in jobs
related to residential construction, housing services and other
occupations in the housing industry.
Recommendation 3.16
The Committee recommends that the federal government recommit
to an Aboriginal Business Strategy, in which it would support
Aboriginal economic development by setting fixed targets to make
Aboriginal-owned businesses a preferred supplier of services and
materials, especially in remote and northern regions.
Recommendation 3.17
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
consultation with provincial and territorial governments and
stakeholders, continue to develop and implement a national
disability act to promote and ensure the inclusion of people with
disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society.
Recommendation 3.18
The Committee recommends that the federal government increase
funding for the Opportunities Fund and expand the terms and
conditions of this program to support effective long-term
interventions and skills development opportunities, especially with
respect to essential skills training. A portion of the increased funding
could be used to enhance the participation of employers and to
provide employers and employees with knowledge about disability
issues, accommodation in the workplace, and the tools available to
create an inclusive workplace. Particular attention should be given to
monitoring and reporting results to ensure that the program
achieves its anticipated outcomes.
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Recommendation 3.19
The Committee recommends that one of the objectives associated
with the recently proposed $500 million investment in new labour
market programming be the successful integration into the labour
market of persons with disabilities, with a goal to increase
opportunities for those who face multiple barriers to employment.
New funding levels for this objective should be established in
accordance with federal–provincial/territorial agreements.
Recommendation 3.20
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada conduct a thorough assessment of the
disability component of the Aboriginal Human Resources
Development Strategy and on the basis of this assessment make the
necessary revisions to enhance the labour force participation of
Aboriginal people with disabilities.
Recommendation 3.21
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
consultation with provincial and territorial governments and
stakeholders, assess the need for and develop initiatives to improve
accessibility within the learning environment for students with
disabilities.
Recommendation 3.22
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
consultation with provincial and territorial governments and
stakeholders, assess the need for and develop initiatives to facilitate
school-to-work transitions for young people with disabilities.
Recommendation 3.23
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
consultation with employers and stakeholders, develop new tax
incentives to encourage employers to make the necessary
accommodations to hire and retain employees with disabilities (e.g.,
technical equipment, modified workstations, etc.).
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Recommendation 3.24
The Committee recommends that the federal government assess and
enhance its role as a champion and role model in the creation and
development of employment opportunities for persons with
disabilities, including by using its purchasing power to acquire
products and services produced or provided by persons with
disabilities; by extending coverage of the federal contractors
program to include more employers; by reviewing and enhancing
employment equity measures; and by ensuring that the full spectrum
of employment opportunities of the federal government and its
agencies include persons with disabilities.
Recommendation 3.25
The Committee recommends that the federal government take further
steps to enhance pay and employment equity in Canada; affirm that
pay equity is a fundamental human right protected under the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights law;
and devise an effective methodology for job evaluation, job
comparison and wage adjustments.
Recommendation 3.26
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada establish pilot projects under the Labour
Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities to assess the
feasibility and effectiveness of providing disability-related supports
(including mobility devices) to eligible participants to facilitate their
integration into the labour market. The list of disability-related
supports that would be eligible for funding should be developed in
consultation with the provincial and territorial governments,
disability groups and Aboriginal organizations.
Recommendation 3.27
The Committee recommends that the federal government expand the
Working Income Tax Benefit to address the low-income wall by
including more low-income workers, specifically by raising the
maximum income amounts for single workers and single parents.
The federal government should assess the Quebec and
Saskatchewan models for ways to reduce the lag time between
assessment of income and receipt of benefit.
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Recommendation 3.28
The Committee recommends that the federal government consider
requesting that provincial and territorial governments devote some
portion of the Canada Social Transfer to finance comprehensive and
effective labour market adjustment support to help social assistance
recipients enter financially rewarding employment. Income support
paid to social assistance recipients participating in these labour
market adjustment programs should be treated as earnings for the
purposes of the Working Income Tax Benefit.
Recommendation 3.29
The Committee recommends that the federal government maintain
and extend affordable housing programs — in consultation with the
provinces and territories and stakeholders — to increase the supply
of affordable housing and thereby enhance the employability of lowincome individuals, including Aboriginal people, recent immigrants
and single-parent families, three groups whose core housing needs
are relatively high.
Recommendation 3.30
The Committee recommends that the federal government ensure full
funding for a national public early learning and child care system,
including existing private child care centres, and pass legislation to
enshrine principles of accessibility, quality and accountability in
such a system, in consultation with provinces, territories and
stakeholders.
Recommendation 3.31
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada develop and implement an EI pilot project to
test the effectiveness of providing mobility assistance to seasonally
employed workers who extend the duration of their seasonal jobs by
moving within a region. This pilot project would assess the effects
on employability of providing, in addition to mobility support, a
supplementary EI benefit once a claim is established. The value of
the supplementary benefit would depend on the number of additional
weeks of seasonal employment worked. Participation in the pilot
project would be voluntary.
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Recommendation 3.32
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada develop and implement a pilot project that
provides financial incentives to seasonal claimants who accept
employment or enrol in training during the off season.
Recommendation 3.33
The Committee recommends that federal regional economic
development agencies, in consultation with the provinces, territories
and stakeholders involved in community economic development,
establish initiatives that support community-driven economic
development projects designed to create off-season or year-round
employment opportunities in communities experiencing relatively
high levels of unemployment.
Recommendation 4.1
The Committee recommends that the federal government review the
assessment criteria used to select individuals who apply to
immigrate to Canada as skilled workers with a view to: restricting
points awarded for education to post-secondary education and
training; providing more points (perhaps bonus points) for education
and trades training recognized in Canada; providing more points for
arranged employment; providing points for high-skills occupations
experiencing chronic shortages; providing points for Canadian work
experience; and awarding points for official languages based on
approved official language tests.
Recommendation 4.2
The Committee recommends that the federal government consider
restructuring the points system to reward potential immigrants who
can demonstrate that they have had their credentials assessed by an
approved assessment agency. Although the results of these
assessments may alter the decision to immigrate, at the very least
they will serve to refine applicants’ expectations and provide them
with important, but necessary, information on any further education,
training and licensing required to work in their designated
occupation in Canada.
166
Recommendation 4.3
The Committee recommends that the federal government adopt a
multi-year Immigration Plan and, to the greatest extent possible,
make a commitment to ensuring that skilled worker principal
applicants account for at least 20% of our total annual immigration
intake. In addition, Citizenship and Immigration Canada should give
high priority to reducing the inventory of skilled worker applications
for immigration to Canada. For greater clarity, it is not the
Committee’s intent that this recommendation adversely affect the
intake of immigrants in other immigration categories.
Recommendation 4.4
The Committee recommends that Citizenship and Immigration
Canada examine and report on ways to facilitate the transition of
foreign workers from temporary to permanent status and conduct a
thorough assessment of the means and implications of recognizing,
as temporary foreign workers, illegal workers who can demonstrate
their successful integration into the Canadian labour market.
Recommendation 4.5
The Committee recommends that the federal government, in
cooperation with provincial and territorial governments and
stakeholders, take immediate action to end abuse and exploitation,
and ensure labour rights and appropriate working and living
conditions of participants under the Temporary Foreign Worker
Program and the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.
Recommendation 4.6
The Committee recommends that Human Resources and Social
Development Canada, in formulating its Labour Market Opinion
pertaining to an employer’s application to hire foreign workers, also
assess the applicant’s efforts to attract and train workers in Canada.
167
Recommendation 4.7
The Committee recommends that the federal government examine
the need for a special program to provide financial assistance in the
form of loans and grants to newly arrived immigrants who require
education or training to upgrade their credentials in order to attain
Canadian accreditation.
Recommendation 4.8
The Committee recommends that Citizenship and Immigration
Canada monitor closely the demand for job-related language training
and seek additional funding as required to meet the needs of highly
skilled immigrants who are unable to find employment in their
intended occupation because they lack adequate official language
skills.
Recommendation 4.9
The Committee recommends that one of the objectives associated
with the recently proposed $500 million investment in new labour
market programming could be the successful integration of newly
arrived immigrants into the Canadian labour market. In pursuit of this
objective, a subsidy could be paid to employers who provide work
opportunities to immigrants who are unable to find employment in
their intended occupation because they lack Canadian work
experience.
168
APPENDIX A
SKILLS SHORTAGES IN KEY SECTORS: MANAGING
SKILLS SHORTAGES AND SURPLUSES IN CANADA367
The Shortages
Canada’s overall economy is operating at full production capacity, with unemployment
at the lowest level in three decades. In a recent report from the Bank of Canada,
51% of firms surveyed reported that they currently face labour shortages that will restrict
their ability to meet demand.
Many analysts are predicting labour shortages will affect all regions and sectors of
Canada by 2010. A recent study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business
reveals a growing long-term vacancy rate among Canada’s small businesses. It
estimates that there were 233,000 positions in small- and medium-sized businesses
unfilled for at least four months in 2005.
In some sectors shortages are pronounced in some parts of the country while surpluses
are evident in others. It is therefore no surprise that managing both labour shortages
and surpluses have emerged as a major concern for employers across Canada.
The current shortages stem from a combination of factors including an aging population
and declining birth rates. The Canadian economy is evolving requiring higher skills and
knowledge from workers. Productivity and competitiveness require a well trained
workforce. In some cases individuals have responded and are extending their schooling.
However many young people continue to leave school, ill prepared for today’s work
force.
Impact of Shortages
The extent of the severity of the problem affecting both large and small employers is
reflected in the following findings:
According to the Construction Sector Council, Construction Looking Forward
2006-2014; the new reality will be fewer workers and more work which threatens to limit
economic growth, affecting all business cycles, provinces and industries. Canada’s
367
Excerpt from the Alliance of Sector Councils, Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on
Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, Overcoming Skills
Shortages Sector-by-Sector, September 2006
169
construction industry will need to replace approximately 150,000 retiring workers
between 2005 and 2014 (Construction Sector Council).
The Mining Industry Human Resources Council predicts that over the next ten years,
industry growth coupled with looming waves of retirement will create a need for up to
81,000 people in the Canadian minerals and metals industry workforce.
The trucking industry requires approximately 37,000 new truck drivers a year over the
next five years (Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council).
The tourism industry projects growth of 300,000 new jobs over the next decade but the
lack of young new recruits to fill these jobs are converging to create unprecedented
labour shortages.(Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council).
Growth in manufacturing will require up to 62,000 skilled workers in aircraft
maintenance by 2016.
78% of employers in the installation, maintenance and repair of appliances and
electronic sector have indicated recruitment of skilled employees is their main
challenge. More than one-third of the current workforce is 55 or older. Twenty-five per
cent of the current workforce plan to retire in the next 5 years. (Installation, Maintenance
and Repair Sector Council).
The Motor Carrier Passenger Council estimates that the bus industry will be facing a
critical shortage of skilled and qualified mechanics and drivers to replace the estimated
45% of employees who will be retiring in the next five to seven years.
It is estimated that close to 40% of existing police workforce will retire over the next five
years. (Police Sector Council).
Almost one-half of employers in the automotive repair industry (48.1%) and 57% of
employers in the motorcycle repair sector reported that a lack of qualified staff was a
significant issue for their organization. (Canadian Automotive and Repair Council).
The biotechnology industry has identified a shortage of mangers with science and
management competencies. (Biotechnology Human Resource Sector Council).
From 2001 to 2008 the plastics processing industry will add 28,500 more jobs while
turnover will bring 25,000 new workers to the industry each year. (Canadian Plastics
Sector Council).
The apparel sector in Canada is starting to grow again after having gone through a
major restructuring where about half the jobs in the sector were lost between 2001
(104,000) and 2005 (62,000). The sector is transforming itself from a blue collar to white
collar sector with close 5,000 new technicians’ jobs being required by mid 2007 and
170
another 12,000 higher skilled production, technical and management jobs to be created
over the next 5 to 7 years.
The Electricity Sector Council estimates that almost 40% of the current workforce will be
eligible to retire by 2014. In some industry sectors (nuclear) or regions (British
Columbia) the profile is worse with 40 % of the workforce approaching retirement. The
industry will be challenged to replace those retirees with individuals of comparable and
experience.
In Alberta there are more than $120 billion worth of capital works projects on the books,
employers will need to fill 400,000 new jobs by 2010 and to date the Alberta
government has identified where 300,000 workers will come from.
It is anticipated there will be a serious succession issue in the area of cultural
management as a generation of senior cultural managers prepare to take retirement.
Sixty-six per cent of employers in Canada reported having difficulty filling positions with
particular difficulty in filling positions for engineers, drivers, mechanics, electricians and
skilled trades. (Manpower, 2006).
Fifty thousand skilled metal tradespersons will be needed in the next five years.
(Canadian Tooling and Machining Industry).
The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association is projecting a 42% vacancy rate
across Canada by 2007.
In the next 15 years the manufacturing sector will require an estimated 400,000 workers
due to retirements. (Canadian Labour and Business Centre).
A 2005 study found that 62 of 76 major industrial associations are already having
trouble finding the help they need. (Canada West Foundation).
171
APPENDIX B
ASSESSMENT CRITERIA AND POINTS AWARDED FOR
THE PURPOSE OF SELECTING SKILLED WORKERS
UNDER CANADA’S IMMIGRATION PROGRAM
Factor One: Education
Maximum 25
You have a Master’s Degree or Ph.D. and at least 17 25
years of full-time or full-time equivalent study.
You have two or more university degrees at the 22
bachelor’s level and at least 15 years of full-time or fulltime equivalent study.
You have a three-year diploma, trade certificate or 22
apprenticeship and at least 15 years of full-time or fulltime equivalent study.
You have a university degree of two years or more at the 20
bachelor’s level and at least 14 years of full-time or fulltime equivalent study.
You have a two-year diploma, trade certificate or 20
apprenticeship and at least 14 years of full-time or fulltime equivalent study.
You have a one-year university degree at the bachelor’s 15
level and at least 13 years of full-time or full-time
equivalent study.
You have a one-year diploma, trade certificate or 15
apprenticeship and at least 13 years of full-time or fulltime equivalent study.
You have a one-year diploma, trade certificate or 12
apprenticeship and at least 12 years of full-time or fulltime equivalent study.
You completed high school.
5
Learn more about the specific requirements and definitions of terms.
173
Factor Two: Official Languages
Maximum 24
1st Official Language
High proficiency (per ability)
4
Moderate proficiency (per ability)
2
Basic proficiency (per ability)
1 to maximum
of 2
No proficiency
0
Possible maximum (all 4 abilities)
16
2nd Official Language
High proficiency (per ability)
2
Moderate proficiency (per ability)
2
Basic proficiency (per ability)
1 to maximum
of 2
No proficiency
0
Possible maximum (all 4 abilities)
8
Learn more about the specific requirements and the documents you need.
Factor Three: Experience
Maximum 21
1 year
15
2 years
17
3 years
19
4 years
21
Learn more about specific requirements for earning work experience
points.
Factor Four: Age
Maximum 10
21 to 49 years at time of application
10
Less 2 points for each year over 49 or under 21
View the full age chart to determine your points.
174
Factor Five: Arranged Employment In Canada
Maximum 10
You have a permanent job offer that has been confirmed 10
by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
(HRSDC).
You are applying from within Canada and have a temporary work permit
that was:
issued after receipt of a confirmation of your job offer 10
from HRSDC; or
you have a temporary work permit that was exempted 10
from the requirement of a confirmed job offer from
HRSDC on the basis of an international agreement (e.g.,
NAFTA), a significant benefit to Canada (e.g., intracompany transfer) or public policy on Canada’s academic
or economic competitiveness (e.g., post-graduate work).
Learn more about specific requirements and conditions.
Factor Six: Adaptability
Maximum 10
Spouse’s or common-law partner’s education
3–5
Minimum one year full-time authorized work in Canada
5
Minimum two years full-time authorized post-secondary 5
study in Canada
Have received points under the Arranged Employment in 5
Canada factor
Family relationship in Canada
5
Learn more about specific requirements and conditions.
Total
Maximum 100
Pass Mark
67
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/skilled/qual-5.html )
175
APPENDIX C
LIST OF WITNESSES
Organizations and Individuals
Department of Human Resources and Social
Development
Date
Meeting
2006/06/01
4
2006/06/08
6
2006/06/13
7
2006/06/20
9
Barbara Glover, Acting Director General, Labour Market Policy
Cliff Halliwell, Director General, Policy Research and
Coordination Directorate
Karen Jackson, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Skills and
Employment Branch
Corinne Prince-St-Amand, Acting Director General, Foreign
Workers and Immigrants
Department of Human Resources and Social
Development
John Atherton, Director General, Active Employment Measures
Barbara Glover, Acting Director General, Labour Market Policy
Donna Kirby, Acting Director General, Canada National Literacy
Programs
Peter Larose, Director General, Workplace Partnerships
Directorate
Andrew Treusch, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy
and Planning
Statistics Canada
Alain Bélanger, Coordinator, Demography Division, Research
and Analysis Section
Philip Cross, Manager, Current Economic Analysis
François Nault, Director, Culture, Tourism and the Centre for
Education Statistics
Susan Stobert, Manager, Participation and Activity Limitation
Survey
Maryanne Webber, Director General, Labour and Household
Surveys Branch
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Robert McKinstry, Senior Policy Analyst
Michael Murphy, Executive Vice-President, Policy
Canadian Labour and Business Centre
Clarence Lochhead, Senior Researcher
Shirley Seward, Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Policy Research Networks
Sharon Manson Singer, President
Ron Saunders, Director, Work Network
177
Organizations and Individuals
Canadian Healthcare Association
Date
Meeting
2006/09/21
10
2006/09/26
12
2006/09/28
13
2006/10/03
14
Sharon Sholzberg-Gray, President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Medical Association
Colin McMillan, President
William Tholl, Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Nurses Association
Lisa Little, Senior Nurse Consultant, Health Human Resources
Planning
Canadian Pharmacists Association
Janet Cooper, Senior Director, Professional Affairs
Brian Stowe, President
Health Action Lobby
Pamela Fralick, Chief Executive Officer, The Canadian
Physiotherapy Association
Department of Human Resources and Social
Development
Cathy Drummond, Director General, Services for People with
Disabilities
Nancy Lawand, Director, Canada Pension Plan Disability Policy
Caroline Weber, Director General, Office for Disability Issues
Public Service Human Resources Management
Agency of Canada
Karen Ellis, Vice-President, Public Service Renewal and
Diversity
Kami Ramcharan, Director General, Diversity Division
Centre for the Study of Living Standards
Andrew Sharpe, Executive Director
Groupe de réflexion et d'initiative des immigrants
diplômés à l'étranger
Renaud Arnaud, President
Movement for Canadian Literacy
Wendy DesBrisay, Executive Director
National Council of Welfare
Sheila Regehr, Director
Alliance of Sector Councils
Andrew Cardozo, Executive Director
Mining Industry Human Resource Council
Paul Hébert, Executive Director
178
Organizations and Individuals
Date
Meeting
2006/10/05
15
2006/10/23
18
2006/10/23
19
Software Human Resource Council Inc.
Paul Swinwood, President
Biotechnology Human Resource Council
Colette Rivet, Executive Director
Canadian Automotive Repair and Service
Jennifer Steeves, Executive Director
Cultural Human Resources Council
Susan Annis, Executive Director
Electricity Sector Council
Catherine Cottingham, Executive Director and Chief Executive
Officer
Norm Fraser, Vice-President, Operations
National Seafood Sector Council
Phil LeBlanc, President, IMO Foods Canada Limited
Johanna Oehling, President
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Bradley George, Director, Provincial Affairs, Newfoundland and
Labrador
National Association of Career Colleges
James Loder, Director and Board Member, Newfoundland and
Labrador
Newfoundland & Labrador Workplace/Workforce
Learning Committee and Literacy Newfoundland and
Labrador
Ed Brown, Director
Kimberley Gillard, Executive Director
Society of Rural Physicians of Canada
Michael Jong, President
James Rourke, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Health Sciences
Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland
John Wootton, Editor, Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine
As an individual
Jean Ann Ledwell
Council of Canadians with Disabilities
Marie White, National Chairperson
Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union
Lana Payne, Communications and Research
179
Organizations and Individuals
Date
Meeting
2006/10/24
20
2006/10/24
21
2006/10/24
22
Newfoundland and Labrador Association for
Community Living
Melanie Thomas, Executive Director
Sean Whiltshire, Chief Executive Officer, Avalon Employment
Corporation
CUPE - PEI (Canadian Union of Public Employees)
Leo Cheverie
National Council of Women of Canada
Karen Dempsey, Vice-President, Economics
Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers
Susan Nasser, Executive Director
Leslie Williams, Master of Social Work Student
TEAM Work Cooperative Ltd.
Tova Sherman, Executive Director, ReachAbility
Brian Tapper, Board Member
As an individual
Florence Javier
Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia
(AWENS)
Leslie Childs, Workplace Educator
Margan Dawson, Executive Director
National Adult Literacy Database Inc.
Sue Folinsbee, Principal
Charles Ramsey, Executive Director
New Brunswick Child Care Coalition
Jody Dallaire, Coordinator
Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of
Women
Patricia LeBlanc, Member, Advisory Council
Brigitte Neumann, Executive Director
Acadia Centre for Small Business & Entrepreneurship
Elly Danica, Consultant, Older Worker Transitions
Shawnna Keddy, Project Coordinator, Community Development
Atlantic Institute for Market Studies
Stephen Kymlicka, Senior Policy Analyst
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Andreea Bourgeois, Senior Policy Analyst, New Brunswick and
Prince Edward Island
180
Organizations and Individuals
Date
Meeting
2006/10/25
23
2006/10/25
24
2006/10/26
25
2006/10/26
26
Nova Scotia Department of Education
Keith Messenger, Strategic Planning and Policy Analyst, Skills
and Learning Branch
As an individual
Marie-Pier Archambault
Pierre-Alexandre Clermont
Fondation de la langue française pour l'innovation
sociale et scientifique
Jean-Marc Beausoleil, Agent de développement de solutions et
de projets
Quebec Federation of University Students
Philippe-Olivier Giroux, President, Conseil national des cycles
supérieurs
Apollinaire Ndobo, Vice-President, Conseil national des cycles
supérieurs
SPHERE-Québec (Soutien à la personne handicapée
en route vers l'emploi au Québec)
Nancy Moreau, Director General
Lyne Vincent, Project Officer
Canadian Construction Association
Alfonso Argento, Chairman
Jeff Morrison, Director, Government Relations and Public Affairs
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
André Lavoie, Senior Policy Analyst
Quebec Interprofessional Council
André Gariépy, Director General
Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment
Bonnie Kennedy, Executive Director
Canadian Nursery Landscape Association
Harold Deenen, Co-Chair, Human Resource Committee
Victor Santacruz, Executive Director
Frontier College
John Daniel O'Leary, President
Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus
Judy Cutler, Director, Government and Media Relations
William Gleberzon, Director, Government Relations
181
Organizations and Individuals
Date
Meeting
2006/10/26
27
2006/10/26
28
2006/10/27
29
Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives (KAIROS)
Jennifer Devries, Program Coordinator, Refugees and Migration
Cecilia Diocson, Executive Director, National Alliance of
Philippine Women in Canada
Francisco Rico-Martinez, Co-Director, FCJ Refugee Centre
Veena Verma, Barrister & Solicitor, Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton
McIntyre & Cornish LLP
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/ University
of Toronto
Karen Lior, Executive Director, Toronto Training Board
Peter Sawchuk, Acting Head, Centre for the Study of Education
and Work
As an individual
David MacGregor, Professor of Sociology, King's University
College at the University of Western Ontario
Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work
Carole J. Barron, President and CEO
Norma Ricker, Director, Employment Partnerships
SEDI (Social and Enterprise Development
Innovations)
Simon Bailey, Project Coordinator
Bob Wilson, Director, Self Employment
Canadian Food Industry Council
Cheryl Paradowski, Executive Director
Canadian Home Builders' Association
Paul Gravelle, Coordinator, Education and Training
Mary Lawson, Past President
David Wassmansdorf, Immediate Past President
Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association
Joyce Reynolds, Executive Vice-President, Government Affairs
Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council
Kevin A. Maynard, Executive Director
Justicia for Migrant Workers - Ontario
Chris Ramsaroop, National Organizer
Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal
Clinic
Avvy Yao-Yao Go, Director
182
Organizations and Individuals
Date
Meeting
2006/10/27
30
2006/11/08
33
2006/11/08
34
Ontario March of Dimes
Judy Quillin, Director
Andrea Spindel, President and Chief Executive Officer
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
John Rae, President
As an individual
Marvin Caplan
Canadian Association for Community Living
Cameron Crawford, Director, Research and Knowledge
Management
Ontario Federation of Labour
Pam Frache, Director, Education
Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups
Orlando Buonastella, Organizer
Steve Mantis, Secretary
Partners in Employment-London/Middlesex
Mark Anderson, Member
Robert Collins, Director, Goodwill Industries
Bruce Rankin, Manager, Employment Services
ASPECT
Norma Strachan, Executive Director
Community Social Planning Council of Greater
Victoria
Jane Worton, Member
Pacific Foundation for Diversity
Shyla Dutt, Member
Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Bonnie Blank, President
International Association of Bridge, Structural,
Ornamental and Reinforcing IronWorkers - Local 97
Perley Holmes, Business Manager
International Union of Painters & Allied Trades
Pat Byrne, Business Manager, District Council 38
Muscular Dystrophy Canada
Ken M. Kramer, Chair
183
Organizations and Individuals
Date
Meeting
2006/11/09
35
2006/11/09
36
2006/11/10
37
United Chinese Community Enrichment Services
Society
Tung Chan, Chief Executive Officer
Barbara Mitchell, Manager, Employment Centre
Canadian Down Syndrome Society
Kirk Crowther, Manager, Advocacy Leadership
Dale Froese, VATTA Committee Member
Canadian Mental Health Association
Jodi Cohen, President and Chair, Alberta Division
Disability Action Hall
Colleen Huston, Coordinator
Denise Young, Director, Community Development
Vibrant Communities Calgary
Ramona Johnston, Director
Lori Willocks, Settlement Coordinator, Calgary Immigrant Aid
Society
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Dan Kelly, Vice-President, Western Canada
Literacy Alberta
Elaine Cairns, Chair
Ian Kennedy, Vice-President
Retail Council of Canada
Diane J. Brisebois, President and Chief Executive Officer
Dianne Johnstone, Director, Government Relations and
Membership Services (Alberta)
Sustained Poverty Reduction Initiative
Christine MacFarlane, Director
Leigh Sherry, Policy Analyst
The Logistics Institute
Karyn W. Ferguson, Program Director
Linda Lucas, Director at Large
As an individual
Trudi Gunia
Calories Restaurants
Janis Cousyn, Proprietor
184
Organizations and Individuals
Date
Meeting
2006/11/10
38
2007/03/20
62
2007/03/21
63
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
Ron Hitchcock, Chair , Human Rights Committee
Larry Hubich, President
Provincial Interagency Network on Disability (PIND)
Ron Bort, Chair, Saskatchewan Voice of People with Disabilities
Bev Duncan, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Home Builders' Association
Ken McKinlay, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Labour Force Development Board
Mark Hanley, Management Consultant, Points West
Management Consultants
Canadian Council on Learning
Paul Cappon, President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Labour Congress
Karl Flecker, National Director, Anti-Racism and Human Rights
Department
Hassan Yussuff, Secretary-Treasurer
Canadian Paraplegic Association
Ellen Hicks, Director, Advocacy and Communications
David B. Hinton, Executive Director, National Office - Ottawa
Fédération canadienne pour l'alphabétisation en
français
Gaétan Cousineau, Director General
Police Sector Council
Geoff Gruson, Executive Director
Canadian Dental Association
Irwin Fefergrad, Registrar, Royal College of Dental Surgeons of
Ontario
Wayne Halstrom, President
Canadian Meat Council
Gregg Badger, Vice-President, Placement Services
James Laws, Executive Director
Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
Monica Lysack, Executive Director
Innovera Integrated Solutions
Alar L. Prost, President
185
Organizations and Individuals
Date
Meeting
2007/03/22
64
2007/03/27
65
United Steelworkers
Jorge Garcia-Orgales, Researcher, Canadian National Office
Association of Canadian Community Colleges
Gerald Brown, President
Department of Human Resources and Social
Development
Gerald Gosselin, Director, Aboriginal Peoples Directorate,
Citizen and Community Service Branch, Service Canada
John Kozij, Director, Aboriginal Strategic Policy, Aboriginal
Affairs, Employment Programs Policy and Design
Marilyn Lumsden, Senior Policy Advisor, Aboriginal Affairs,
Employment Programs Policy and Design
National Association of Friendship Centres
Peter Dinsdale, Executive Director
Native Women's Association of Canada
Sherry Lewis, Executive Director
As an individual
Louis Buschman, Consultant
Canadian Centre for Global Professionals
Monjur Chowdhury, Chief Executive Officer
Abdul Malek, Director, Research
Canadian Council of Professional Engineers
Marie Lemay, Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Lucie Charron, Economist
Corinne Pohlmann, Director, National Affairs
Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Linda Silas, President
Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science
Kurt H. Davis, Executive Director
CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind)
Bill McKeown, Vice-President, Government Relations
Catherine Moore, Director, Consumer and Government
Relations
186
Organizations and Individuals
National Organization of Immigrant and Visible
Minority Women of Canada
Anurahda Bose, General Director
Mirjana Pobric, Project Coordinator
187
Date
Meeting
APPENDIX D
LIST OF BRIEFS
Organizations and individuals
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
Alliance of Sector Councils
Arsenault, Paula
ASPECT
Association of Canadian Community Colleges
Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia (AWENS)
Biotechnology Human Resource Council
Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus
Canadian Association for Community Living
Canadian Automotive Repair and Service
Canadian Centre for Global Professionals
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Construction Association
Canadian Council of Chief Executives
Canadian Council of Professional Engineers
Canadian Council on Learning
Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work
Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Canadian Down Syndrome Society
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Canadian Food Industry Council
Canadian Healthcare Association
189
Canadian Home Builders' Association
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Meat Council
Canadian Medical Association
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Network of National Associations of Regulators (CNNAR)
Canadian Nursery Landscape Association
Canadian Nurses Association
Canadian Paraplegic Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Policy Research Networks
Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association
Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science
Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
Clermont, Pierre-Alexandre
CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind)
Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria
Congress of Democratic Unions
CSN
Cultural Human Resources Council
Department of Human Resources and Social Development
Disability Action Hall
Electricity Sector Council
Fédération canadienne pour l'alphabétisation en français
Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union
Fondation de la langue française pour l'innovation sociale et scientifique
190
Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain
Frontier College
Groupe de réflexion et d'initiative des immigrants diplômés à l'étranger
Gunia, Trudi
Health Action Lobby
Innovera Integrated Solutions
International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers
- Local 97
Javier, Florence
Justicia for Migrant Workers - Ontario
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Literacy Alberta
Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador
Mennonite Central Committee Canada
Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Mining Industry Human Resource Council
Movement for Canadian Literacy
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
National Adult Literacy Database Inc.
National Advisory Council on Aging
National Association of Career Colleges
National Association of Friendship Centres
National Council of Welfare
National Council of Women of Canada
National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada
National Seafood Sector Council
191
Native Women's Association of Canada
Neil Squire Society
New Brunswick Child Care Coalition
Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living
Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women
Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers
Ontario Federation of Labour
Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups
Police Sector Council
Provincial Interagency Network on Disability (PIND)
Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada
Quebec Federation of University Students
Quebec Interprofessional Council
Retail Council of Canada
Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission
Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology
SEDI (Social and Enterprise Development Innovations)
Society of Rural Physicians of Canada
Software Human Resource Council Inc.
SPHERE-Québec (Soutien à la personne handicapée en route vers l'emploi au Québec)
Statistics Canada
Sustained Poverty Reduction Initiative
TEAM Work Cooperative Ltd.
The Logistics Institute
United Chinese Community Enrichment Services Society
United Steelworkers
192
Vibrant Communities Calgary
Xie, William
193
REQUEST FOR GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the Committee requests that the government table a
comprehensive response to this Report.
A copy of the relevant Minutes of Proceedings (Meetings Nos. 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14,
15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 62, 63, 64,
65, 66, and 78) of the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament and a copy of the
relevant Minutes of Proceedings (Meetings Nos. 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and
19) of the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament are tabled.
Respectfully submitted,
Dean Allison, MP
Chair
195
Introduction
The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) wishes to submit a dissenting report to
the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the
Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) report entitled “Employability in
Canada”.
The mandate of the committee was to review the matter of employability in
Canada and recommend to the government ways in which to provide an effective
pan-Canadian employability strategy that will meet the labour market needs of
employers and the skills training and other employment needs of all Canadians.
As members of the Conservative Party of Canada we fundamentally believe in
the general thrust of this study. We believe that the best social program is a
good job with a good salary. We recognize that the federal government has an
important role to play in ensuring that all Canadians have the tools they need to
succeed.
In fact, we have laid out our Advantage Canada plan that seeks to ensure that
we have the best educated, most skilled and most flexible workforce in the entire
world. The demands of a 21st century global economy and the challenges of
growing labour shortages across the country demand nothing less from the
greatest nation on earth. We believe that the Prime Minister, the Minister of
Human Resources and the Minister of Finance have laid that groundwork over
the course of the past two years.
Although this is a dissenting report, we recognize the committee’s hard work in
completing this report. That being said, there are fundamental differences
between all major parties on how to best achieve these goals. As such, the
intent of this dissenting report is to complement the recommendations made
rather than oppose the study in its entirety.
Many of the recommendations put forward in the report go well beyond those
relating to employability in Canada and include broad program changes that span
the spectrum of federal and provincial jurisdiction. Many of these proposed
recommendations remain uncosted, untested and unsupported by our provincial
and territorial partners.
Unlike members of the opposition who can make recommendations and not
worry about the long term consequences of what they say we, as members of the
government, must be more cautious with our words. We cannot support
recommendations that will have billions of dollars in costs to the public purse with
little or no evidence to suggest that these changes will be effective in giving
unemployed Canadians the skills they need to succeed. We cannot support the
many recommendations that infringe upon the jurisdictional and constitutional
197
rights of our provincial and territorial partners when they have not been
consulted.
Ultimately, we can not wholeheartedly support recommendations under the guise
of an employability study that have little or nothing to do with helping Canadians
gain and keep meaningful jobs and we cannot support the implementation of
drastic steps that run counter to programs this government has recently
announced and put into operation.
Investments in Learning
The committee agreed that significant investments must be made in education
and training if we are to compete in a new economy. What the committee failed
to do was recognize the significant investments that this government has already
taken to support post secondary education and training.
Budget 2008 made significant investments in students by creating a new Canada
Student Grant Program that will support Canadian students in need with $350million investment in 2009-10, rising to $430 million by 2012-13. This new
needs-based grant system, a system that student groups have been calling for,
will help 100,000 additional students receive higher education as compared to
the previous Liberal system.
This government has also made significant investments in post secondary
education in Budget 2008 by investing $3.2 billion through the Canada Social
Transfer. This is a 40% increase over the previous government’s funding levels.
After a $25 billion cut to the CST by the previous government, this investment
comes as a breath of fresh air to Canadian students and parents.
All told, this government is investing $8.4 billion this fiscal year to support post
secondary education and students through transfers to provinces, direct
spending and tax measures.
Older Workers
This government continues to have faith in the abilities of older workers and we
know that many of them want to continue their important contributions to their
employers and their communities. In Budget 2008, we are building on the
success of proven programs to help older workers affected by layoffs in
vulnerable communities by investing an additional $90 million over three years in
the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers program. These funds raise the total
investment in the TIOW program to $160 million over five years.
198
Chapter 4 – Beyond Our Borders – Skilled Immigrants and Temporary
Foreign Workers
Canada must tap into the resources of skilled immigrants and temporary foreign
workers if we are to continue the economic growth of recent years. That is why
this government has worked to ensure that Canada's immigration policies are
more closely aligned with the needs of the labour market by providing $85 million
over the next two years to support the enhancement of the Temporary Foreign
Worker Program. This program will make it easier and faster for employers to fill
skill shortages and jobs for which qualified Canadians cannot be found.
This government has also begun to facilitate the transition to permanent
residence for temporary foreign workers and Canadian-educated foreign
students who have demonstrated their ability to succeed and a desire to remain
in their new home.
We have also recently established the Foreign Credential Referral Office to
provide prospective immigrants overseas and new arrivals in Canada with
information about the Canadian labour market and foreign credential assessment
and recognition requirements. To that end, this government has provided a total
of $73 million over a six year period to allow the program to further strengthen
foreign credential assessment and recognition processes in both regulated and
non-regulated occupations.
Conclusion
These are just a few areas where we feel the committee has ignored the actions
of the government and proceeded to make recommendations that will negatively
affect programs that are already providing real results.
This study was meant to be about employability, about lessening the potential
problems of a looming labour market shortage and about providing a better future
for all Canadians. Instead, it has been subverted in some instances to propose a
wide array of changes having very little to do with the original goals of the study.
The actions of the government have largely been ignored during the course of
this two year study and we cannot support recommendations that have not taken
into account the significant investments this government has already made in the
areas of employability and job creation.
199
Employability in Canada: Preparing for the Future -- Report of the Standing
Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons
with Disabilities
Bloc Québécois Dissenting Opinion
First of all, the Bloc Québécois would like to thank the stakeholders and witnesses who
took part in this study on employability for their invaluable contribution.
In the view of the Bloc Québécois, the Committee’s report, Employability in Canada:
Preparing for the Future, largely fails to respect the areas of jurisdiction of Quebec and
the provinces.
The Committee’s proceedings extended from June 2006 to March 2008. The resulting
report covers worker mobility, seasonal workers, Aboriginal workers, older workers, the
shortage of skilled labour, workplace illiteracy, and recognition of foreign credentials.
Some of the recommendations do apply to responsibilities of the Canadian government,
such as employment insurance benefits, the national dimensions of the Labour Market
Information System and the placement service, activities that occur Canada-wide and
measures that could apply to the First Nations.
But the Report also contains recommendations dealing with areas that are not the
responsibility of the federal government: literacy, health, education, negotiations
between the provinces, recognition of credentials and diplomas...
The Bloc Québécois vigorously rejects the recommendations designed to establish a
national strategy involving strengthened accountability mechanisms and performance
indicators tied to federal transfers. Quebec and the provinces must be able to set their
own priorities and orient their own employability activities within those priorities, which
are defined on the basis of their own unique needs.
Obviously there are differences between the policies and legislation of Quebec and those
of the provinces, but the differences reflect political, economic and social priorities
specific to Quebec and to each province. A national employability strategy would
encroach on areas of jurisdiction proper to Quebec and the provinces and transform
Quebec from a program innovator and designer into a simple program manager.
Although the members of the Standing Committee conceded from the start that
“[e]ducation, training and many other matters related to Canadian workplaces are areas of
responsibility that fall primarily within the purview of the provincial and territorial
governments”, they then proceeded to ignore this fact despite the Bloc Québécois’s
repeated reminders and protests, as the following quotation from the Report shows:
201
It is our intent that the recommendations in this report will contribute to the
development of an effective pan-Canadian employability strategy that will, in
the years ahead, meet the labour market needs of employers and of all segments
of the working-age population, particularly those with low skills, low incomes
and low workforce participation rates. Members of the Committee realize that
the development of a pan-Canadian employability strategy will require an
ongoing commitment and greater cooperation between federal, provincial and
territorial governments. Although some of the recommendations in our report
may fall within the purview of provincial/territorial responsibility, this should
not be construed as an attempt to extend the reach of the federal government
into areas of provincial/territorial jurisdiction. Rather, we simply believe that
there is a need for federal leadership in areas of national importance.
When it speaks of “federal leadership” in its report, the Committee is effectively
proposing a levelling-down in Quebec in areas where its progress has been widely
recognized. In defiance of Quebec’s prerogatives, the Committee thinks the federal
government should assume leadership by interfering in the following areas:
o a national early learning and childcare system, when Quebeckers already have
access to daycare services for seven dollars a day;
o the accessibility of postsecondary education, when Quebec’s system is the most
generous in Canada;
o curriculum content;
o recognition of credentials;
o a sector council on health care;
o a national adult learning strategy.
The Bloc Québécois would like to point out that recommendations in committee and
Senate reports are often used by the federal government as a basis for new measures. It is
thus crucial that the reports target areas in which the federal government has the
constitutional right to intervene.
For example, the Canadian Mental Health Commission was set up in 2007 in response to
a Senate report entitled Out of the Shadows at Last (May 2006). The Senate committee
recognized that neither the provider groups nor the provincial and territorial governments
to which many of its recommendations were addressed were under any obligation to
respond to those recommendations. Its members wondered “how to maximize the
chances of this report’s recommendations being acted upon. It has become clear that a
mechanism of some sort is needed both to undertake certain critical tasks at a national
level and also to maintain a needed national focus on mental health issues.”1
So the Senate committee conceded that the Commission would be an instrument for
federal intrusion. The Harper government, for all its talk of “open federalism”, did not
1
http://www.parl.gc.ca/39/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/Com-e/SOCI-E/rep-e/pdf/rep02may06part2-e.pdf (p.432).
202
hesitate to implement the measure, even though Quebec had already set out its priorities
for 2005-2010 in its own action plan on mental health.2
Under sections 92(7) and (16) of the Constitution Act, 1867, health and social services are
the exclusive responsibility of Quebec and the provinces. And yet, since as far back as
1919, Ottawa has been doing more and more in these sectors, forcing Quebec and the
provinces to respect so-called “national” standards and objectives.
Quebec has exclusive jurisdiction over education. Sections 93 and 93A of the
Constitution Act, 1867 are explicit about this. However, despite the straightforwardness
of these provisions, federal intrusions in education have been proliferating, and Ottawa is
trying by every possible means to impose its own priorities.
The federal government’s health and education initiatives (apart from a handful of
exceptions applying to Aboriginal people, veterans and so forth) have no constitutional
basis at all; they rest on nothing but Ottawa’s spending power, which it uses to justify
ever more intrusive intervention.
By invoking good causes, the federal government finds pretexts to worm its way into
areas of Quebec’s jurisdiction such as service management, quality criteria, activity
coordination, the national strategy and now employability and labour force mobility.
By establishing special-use funds to be applied uniformly all across Canada, the federal
government sets priorities that do not necessarily correspond to those of the Quebec
government, even though the latter has effective management of its own education
network and thus a true understanding of the needs of its educational institutions.
Is this blatant display of its desire to play a leading role in education the federal
government’s way of trying to make an end run around the 1997 agreement giving
Quebec exclusive jurisdiction over vocational training? Whether the subject at issue is
education, training or learning, they all fall solely within the exclusive jurisdiction of
Quebec and the provinces.
Training: one example of a provincial jurisdiction
Employability in Canada: Preparing for the Future puts forward a number of ideas and
proposals for what should be done about training; yet the agreements between Canada
and Quebec (and some of the provinces) on Part II of the Employment Insurance Act have
proven their effectiveness.
In the 2007 budget, the government offered, based on these same agreements, to
negotiate the integral transfer of labour market development programs to the provinces
that are currently participating in co-management agreements: Prince Edward Island,
Yukon, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
2
Government of Quebec, Ministry of Health and Social Services (2005), Plan d’action en santé mentale 2005-2010 — La
force des liens.
203
Also in the 2007 budget, the government discussed the possibility of transferring to
Quebec and the provinces responsibility for carrying out training programs for the three
clienteles that still come within Ottawa’s jurisdiction: young people, older workers and
persons with disabilities.
Signed in December 1997, the Canada-Quebec Labour Market Development
Implementation Agreement spelled out the rules and responsibilities of the Quebec and
Canadian governments. Quebec is responsible for designing and carrying out active
employment assistance measures similar to the Employment Benefits and Support
Measures (EBSM) described in Part II of the Act.
Such agreements enable the provinces and territories to shoulder greater responsibility for
introducing active measures, creating programs adapted to the needs of their populations
and regions, and eliminating pointless overlap and duplication. The present report casts
all of this into question.
It is vital that the Canadian government recognize that each region and province has
unique needs, reflecting its natural resources, its economy, its labour force, its priorities
and characteristics, and so forth. Each region and each province has its own special
features and ways of doing things.
Quebec and the provinces are carrying out their responsibilities for labour force mobility
without any need for federal involvement. The Quebec government agreed with the other
provinces last August at the Council of the Federation on ensuring labour force mobility
throughout the entire country by April 2009.
Quebec and Ontario have announced that they will be collaborating on eliminating
barriers to trade and improving labour force mobility between them. Following the
cooperation agreement signed in 2006, Quebec and Ontario are preparing an up-to-date,
comprehensive economic and trade agreement based on the existing bilateral agreements
on public procurement and labour force mobility in the sectors of construction,
transportation and health. Alberta and British Columbia have already lowered trade
barriers between them.
Quebec has also launched negotiations for mutual recognition of all skilled trade
qualifications between itself and France. This France-Quebec agreement could be of
significant help in achieving a similar transatlantic treaty, which is currently under
discussion between Ottawa and the European Union. While the France-Quebec
cooperation would fit into the framework of such a treaty, it is also independent of it and
can go ahead autonomously. This kind of negotiation between Quebec and a European
country is possible because it reflects the areas of jurisdiction of Canada’s provinces.
Immigrant and foreign workers: specifying each party’s roles
In 1991, Canada and Quebec signed an agreement under which Quebec accepted
responsibility for selecting skilled workers from abroad. The agreement also included
new responsibilities for Quebec with regard to immigration.
204
Recognition of immigrant and foreign workers’ credentials also falls under Quebec’s
jurisdiction, as does the assessment of what additional training is needed for such
recognition.
In this context, the Canadian government’s role should be to make sure before workers
arrive in Canada that their skills and credentials are suitable for the province where they
wish to settle. In this way, new arrivals would not be faced with unpleasant surprises.
The Canadian government could also accelerate the process of obtaining work permits, so
that this part of the process would not be a drag on skilled workers’ entry into the labour
market.
In conclusion
The Bloc Québécois considers that the report the Committee has produced is
disrespectful and irresponsible, because it recommends to the federal government that it
invade areas of jurisdiction exclusive to Quebec and the provinces. The Bloc Québécois
repeatedly advised the Committee to redirect its proposed measures toward areas of
federal jurisdiction, but the Committee’s members preferred to call for duplication and
interference.
205
Employability Study – Supplementary Opinion from the NDP
The NDP commends the committee members and staff for their commitment to hear a
wide range of expertise and opinion in determining the best ways forward to address
employability issues in Canada. The unanimously approved main text of the report
contains many progressive recommendations requiring response and action from the
government. However, there are several significant gaps that are addressed in this
supplementary report, for which we respectfully request a formal government response.
The Purpose of Enhancing Employability
A subtle yet potent theme of this study was how to match the skills and training of
Canadians to the needs of employers and the economy. We are disappointed that the main
text of the report does not recognize that the economy must work for the maximum
benefit of workers, as well as the other way around. As long as economic growth is
considered an end in itself, and the labour force a measurable commodity, government
measures necessary to build a healthy economy and a strong society will remain elusive.
First and foremost, the NDP recognizes and affirms that a primary objective of our
economy – must be to ensure secure, rewarding, well-paying jobs for all Canadians. It
follows that federal policy on employability must seek to minimize precarious, nonvoluntary part-time, and low-paying employment; to address underemployment and lowwage barriers to better jobs; to ensure that all motivated and qualified Canadians have
equitable access to education and training; to ensure full labour rights; and to maximize
full workforce participation for all capable, working-age Canadians.
Recommendation NDP-1: The NDP recommends that the government formally
recognize that a primary objective of the economy is to ensure secure, rewarding,
well-paying jobs for all Canadians.
Precarious employment and working poverty
Several witnesses testified that Canada’s job statistics mask a troubling increase in
precarious, part-time and low-wage employment, and a resulting rise in the number of
working poor. The committee heard that some 35% of the workforce and 40% of women
are currently in precarious and contingent work, such as temporary, part-time and
contract jobs with no benefits and little chance of progression.1
Many witnesses spoke of the barriers to skills training, education, and well-paying
employment; however, the main text of the report pointedly omits mention of these
barriers. Among them are the deficiency of social programs – income supports,
affordable child care, transportation supports, and access to literacy and learning
opportunities, among others – and what one witness termed a “low-wage wall behind
which hundreds of thousands of workers are trapped in poorly-paying jobs with few if
any benefits. These kinds of jobs offer almost no opportunities for education, training or
1
Sheila Regehr, National Council of Welfare, 28 Sep 2006; Susan Nasser, Nova Scotia Association of
Social Workers, 24 Oct 2006
207
advancement and even act as barriers to those objectives.” 2
No one in Canada should be forced to live in poverty, including and especially those who
work full-time year-round. Regrettably, this fundamental principle of Canadian society
was not included in the main text of the report, despite the testimony from one witness
that “almost one in three children living in poverty now in Canada has at least one family
member who is working full-time for the full year.”3
Recommendation NDP-2: The NDP recommends that the government commit to
reducing non-voluntary instances of precarious employment and to ensuring that no
full-time, year-round worker in Canada lives below the poverty line, and that the
government work with employers and other stakeholders to develop a povertyreduction strategy to realize this commitment. This strategy should necessarily
include reversing the untargeted corporate tax cuts from the 2007 economic update
and instead making targeted investments for the benefit of everyday Canadians.
Comprehensive job and skills strategy required
The NDP is pleased that the committee recommends necessary improvements to the
Working Income Tax Benefit. However, the employability study clearly found that a far
more comprehensive strategy is required – including employers, labour, and the
education / training sector4 – to create quality jobs and a flexible, competitive workforce.
The committee heard that any inefficiencies in matching employers’ needs with skilled
labour are not simply a skills shortage,5 but rather a more complex condition that requires
reversing long-standing government and employer attitude and practice:
“We reject the notion that there's a labour shortage per se, or that too few workers
are employable. In fact, we think we're facing an erosion of modest income and
well-paying jobs, under-investment in training and education on the part of
government and employers, systemic non-recognition of prior learning and
internationally trained credentials, employer reticence to accommodate workers
with disabilities and injured workers, inadequate public resources to address
literacy issues for Canadian-born and newcomer workers, plus inadequate
adjustment programs.” – Pam Frache, Ontario Federation of Labour, 27 Oct 2006
The committee heard repeatedly from national sector councils and associations that a
concerted effort is required to prevent critical shortages of key professionals and to
ensure an efficient labour market that matches education and training with demand for
specific skills and knowledge – this, at a time when the federal government is shortsightedly downloading training to the provinces with no conditions or coordination.
Recommendation NDP-3: The NDP recommends that the government develop a
pan-Canadian job and skills training strategy that engages and requires the
participation of employers, labour, and the education / training sector, with a view
to maximize workforce participation for all capable, working-age Canadians and
2
Sheila Regehr, National Council of Welfare, 28 Sep 2006
Susan Nasser, Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers, 24 Oct 2006
4
Shirley Seward, Canadian Labour and Business Council, 20 Jun 2006
5
Pam Frache, Ontario Federation of Labour, 27 Oct 2006; Peter Sawchuk, Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education, 26 Oct 2006
3
208
ensure an efficient labour force matching skills supply with demand.
Literacy
We are pleased that the committee recommends the equivalent of a pan-Canadian
strategy on literacy and lifelong learning, in particular setting concrete targets for raising
Canada’s literacy rates and implementing a ten-year literacy strategy, as first proposed by
an expert literacy panel to the Liberal government in 2004.
However, the committee heard from several witnesses that federal funding levels for
adult literacy have been inadequate for many years, that a significant increase is required
to recognize the crucial role of literacy in Canada’s economic and social progress, and
that national and regional literacy organizations need multi-year, core funding to continue
their crucial roles as coordinators of Canada’s grassroots literacy efforts.6
Recommendation NDP-4: The NDP recommends that the government significantly
increase funding for adult literacy programs, including multi-year, core funding for
national and regional literacy organizations.
Postsecondary Education
We are disappointed that the main text of the committee report did not recommend the
creation of a federal strategy for postsecondary education, as proposed in the testimony of
the Canadian Council on Learning. Without a set of pan-Canadian objectives and a plan
to measure and achieve them, Canada’s piecemeal approach to higher education will
continue to weaken the international competitiveness of our workforce and our economy.
We note that several key stakeholder groups who did not testify for this study have
publicly argued that the increase in federal education transfers fall at least $1 billion short
of the fair federal share for core funding, and that federal funding remains unaccountable
unless it is separated from the CST as a dedicated PSE transfer.7
Recommendation NDP-5: The NDP recommends that the government, in
collaboration with provinces and territories, implement the principles enshrined in
Bill C-398, the Canada Postsecondary Education Act, which guarantees stable,
adequate federal funding to protect the accessibility, quality, affordability and
integrity of Canada’s public colleges and universities.
We are pleased that the government has finally created a comprehensive federal system
of student grants that includes middle-income students. However, the new system would
provide less than one-half of tuition fees for low-income students, and barely the cost of
textbooks for middle-income students. Further, basing the grant on income discriminates
against those students who choose or need to travel away from home to attend the
postsecondary institution that meets their academic needs.
Recommendation NDP-6: The NDP recommends that the government significantly
increase the budget of the Canada Student Grant Program and consult with student
6
John O’Leary, Frontier College, 26 Oct 2006; Wendy desBrisay, Movement for Canadian Literacy, 28
Sep 2006; Kim Gillard, Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador, 23 Oct 2006
7
Press releases on 19 March 2007, from each of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the
Canadian Federation of Students, and la Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec
209
groups and other postsecondary stakeholders before September 2008 in order to
identify and address critical flaws in the program before its first year of operation in
September 2009, including incorporating a significant needs-based component.
Mandatory Retirement
The Committee heard that ending mandatory retirement should not be used as a solution
to the skills shortage or to poverty amongst seniors, and would in fact have the opposite
effect of reducing job opportunities for today’s unemployed and removing the pressure
on governments and employers to train and recruit young workers.
“There was no appetite whatsoever on the part of the general population, business
and labour leaders, or the hundreds of people involved in Atlantic Canada and
Saskatchewan, to use a lengthened working life as a solution to skills issues.” –
Shirley Seward, Canadian Labour and Business Council, 20 Jun 2006
Instead, the federal government must protect the right of workers to retire with adequate
retirement income, specifically by making improvements to CPP, OAS and GIS and
ensuring more secure, well-paying jobs for working-age Canadians.
Recommendation NDP-7: The NDP recommends that the government reject raising
the age of mandatory retirement, and instead enhance income security for seniors.
Aboriginal Canadians
Recommendation NDP-8: Further to committee recommendation 3.9, for greater
clarity the NDP recommends that the government remove the two-percent cap on all
social spending at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in order to realize
improvements to aboriginal K-12 education, housing, recreation, early childhood
care, and welfare payments in addition to postsecondary education.
Persons with disabilities
We are disappointed that recommendations related to persons with disabilities refer only
to enhancing access without acknowledging the structural barriers to work. At least one
witness called for a comprehensive economic strategy for persons with disabilities,
including not just training and assistance devices, but also support for affordable housing,
transportation, and income security as a means of developing an individual’s
employability for the long-term. The same witness also asked that the government extend
the Federal Contractors Program (FCP) (which requires employers with a national
workforce of 100 or more employees to commit to employment equity as a condition for
bidding on large federal contracts), to employers with 20 or more employees.8
Recommendation NDP-9: The NDP recommends that the government develop a
comprehensive economic strategy with and for persons with disabilities, and that the
government extend the FCP to employers with 20 or more employees.
Pay Equity
8
John Rae, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, 27 Oct 2006
210
We are disappointed that the committee recommendation regarding pay equity omits two
key requests by the National Council of Women (NCW) in its presentation to the
committee: (1) to replace the existing federal pay equity scheme with comprehensive and
proactive pay equity legislation; and (2) to develop easily accessible procedures to access
equity processes for non-unionized women, as well as for part-time, casual, seasonal, and
contractual workers.9 Given a recent report by the Canadian Labour Congress finding that
women continue to earn 70 percent of men’s wages (68 percent for postsecondary degree
holders), more concrete action is clearly required to address this persistent inequity.
Recommendation NDP-10: The NDP recommends that the government implement
the full recommendations of the NCW regarding pay equity.
Temporary Foreign Workers and Seasonal Agricultural Workers
We are pleased that the committee recommended the examination the transition of
temporary workers to permanent resident status. The TFWP and SAWP have drastically
departed from the Canadian tradition of welcoming skilled workers as permanent
residents (to join the stream to becoming full citizens), have become highly exploitative
worker experiences in Canada, and must be significantly revamped before any expansion.
There is no mechanism to prevent, detect or stop abuse of temporary workers, who above
all must be treated to the same benefits, rights and respect as Canadian workers.
Therefore we are disappointed that recommendation 4.5 does not include the concrete
solutions submitted by several witnesses.10 To comply with the space limits imposed on
this supplementary report, the NDP has detailed these solutions in a letter to the Ministers
of Labour and Human Resources, from whom we request a formal response.
Recommendation NDP-11: The NDP recommends that the government work with
the provinces and other stakeholders to implement concrete solutions to prevent,
detect and stop abuse in the TFWP and SAWP.
9
Karen Dempsey, National Council of Women of Canada, 24 Oct 2006
Chris Ramsaroop, Justicia for Migrant Workers, 27 Oct 2006; Veena Verma, Canadian Ecumenical
Justice Initiatives (KAIROS), 26 Oct 2006; Hassan Yussuff and Karl Flecker, Canadian Labour Congress,
20 Mar 2007
10
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