Continuing Education + Job Training // Publishing since 1999
Editorial

Budgets Are Plans

By WENDY TERRY - June 20 2019

(Then There is What Really Happens)

We all make plans but then life happens. For adult students who count on the government plans set out in budgets, policy statements and election campaigns, they are often not quite sure what help will actually be there for them.

Below, I made a chart of articles Learning Curves has done over the past three years on federal/provincial budgets, reports of advisory groups and election platforms. Within these descriptions we have looked at how different levels of government, including the municipal government, support adult learning. These stories can be found by going to www.learning-curves.ca and looking for that specific issue. 

Then life happens. For instance, the adult learning opportunities in each municipal councillor’s ward are of secondary importance to them as adult education is seen as largely provincially funded and developed. But adult education is more about what is locally accessible as adults rarely pick up and move to take a program of study away from where they work and their kids go to school. So Learning Curves encouraged you to ask councillor candidates about your adult learning needs 

In the last Municipal election October 22, life happened. Instead of 47 wards being represented by councillors in Toronto, the number was reduced by the province to 25 mid-election, and now these 25 only have time to deal with provincial funding cuts never mind adult education opportunities in their ward. 

Then life happened provincially. For a number of years we had a Premier, Kathleen Wynne, who was an adult educator, had taught ESL, and had a M.Ed in Adult Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. In every elected position she held ,as school trustee, Minister of Education, Premier , she organized specific studies on adult education provision. When she thought about education she also thought adult education. Now Wynne is gone and we have Ford whose focus is on cutting to reduce the deficit. Dare we ask about plans for adult education, which is usually off the radar, to bring it on the radar, perhaps to be then seen as a place to cut? 

Now what will happen to the plans of the Liberal Federal government for training, post election this fall? If they win, will they carry on with their plans, if they don’t win, will a new government follow their plans? Not likely. One has to remember Canada is a federation and each province (10) and territory (3) has different agreements with the federal government around policy to do with training, (a federal mandate), education (a provincial mandate), the environment, and so on. Life has happened recently as Alberta and Ontario have elected Conservative governments. They are not going along with the Liberal federal government on the environment, will they go along with the existing federal provincial labour force agreements. If we have a Conservative federal government. What will be their plans for training? 

What are the Liberal plans laid out in their most recent 2019 budget? To offer the Canadian Training Benefit is the one plan described. Note if you go online to see the Canada 2019 Budget, you will find that it is written in plain language and clearly explained unlike most previous budget write ups. The Canada Training Benefit would give workers a credit balance of $250 a year up to a lifetime limit of $5000. Your credit balance would be shown on the information the Canada Revenue Agency sends you each year. You can use this credit to refund the costs of taking a course. That is the money. What about the time? There are leave provisions planned, like maternity leaves. You would not have to give up your job to go back to school. Mind it further states “The Government intends to consult with provinces and territories on the design of the new Canada Training Benefit.” That could take a while. 

They also plan a new Employment Insurance Training Support Benefit, which would provide workers with up to four weeks of income support through the Employment Insurance (EI) system. Where can you find a four week course you ask? Well, Sheridan offers four week courses in computers over the summer see page 9 for story and ad. And to be sure, if there is an adult education market that has increased support to attend, you can be assured other educational providers will tailor their offerings. Think of the expansion in Second Career offerings with the development of this provincial program. Mind they do not they expect to launch in late 2020, that is a year past this fall 2019 election. 

Perhaps the Canada Job Benefit Plan was presented clearly in graphics as it is more of an election platform than a plan that will be 100% for sure implemented. It depends on who gets elected to run the federal government this fall. 

Last year’s 2018 federal budget looks much different but the chance that what was written up has been implemented is more likely. In the Skills for Tomorrow’s Economy section there is a section on Improving the Quality of Career Information and Program results. Now here is where government gobbledegook kicks in. They will support an Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Linkage Platform, got that? They explain that it “will help to better track and make available important labour market information.” 

Mind this platform will also be used “to monitor government programs and to ensure they are achieving their objectives.” What does that mean for you? Well, if you have ever applied to the provincial Second Career program for support to retrain after being laid off, you will know that you must pick a program that will train you work in a labour market shortage area or you will not be funded. So their objective, train people to fill labour market shortages as identified in the Platform. 

The 2019 budget paper goes on to a section titled Progress on Lifelong Learning. They note that government has made progress on it’s 2017 Budget commitments to enhance student aid. We quote “ It has expanded eligibility for Canadian Student Grants and Loans for part-time students and for full- and part- time students with children, and introduced a three year pilot project that will provide adults returning to school on a full-time basis after several years in the workforce with an additional $1,600 in grant funding per school year.” Learning Curves always recommends our readers to ask the financial services office if there is any help. There often is. And starting in August 1, 2018 the help described above is available. 

In the 2017 Federal Budget which Learning Curves detailed in their Eall 2017 issue, we noted you could take a course and not be cut off EI. This was again noted in the Progress on Lifelong Learning in the 2018 Budget, it refers to the federal process of implementation in Canada. “ The Government has also made progress with provincial and territorial partners to promote and expand the use of Employment Insurance ( EI) flexibilities to ensure that unemployed adults who pursue self-funded training are able to keep their EI benefits.”

As this change has been put place starting with the 2017 Budget, we have hopes that being able to take a course while on EI, one you choose and pay for, will not result in your being but off EI as you would have been before, no matter who gets elected this fall. 

Don’t forget to ask the federal candidates who come knocking on your door what their plans are for lifelong learning programs and tell them what would help you. 

One thing Learning Curves promotes is Learning Information services for adults. The Building the Workforce Report of Tomorrow: A Shared Responsibility is the report of the Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel and it identified this learning information problem in June 2016. Actually those who spoke to them did, the panel heard that there were learning information needs and career path needs. They heard that individuals were not aware of the full array of education and career opportunities available to them. We wrote this report up in detail in our Fall 2016 issue.

 In our Fall 2017 issue we noted that Finland has Learning Information Centres. We noted, “Within these Finnish Centres they have labour market training information but the hook in for the adult is their idea to take a course- learning information- as Step 1. Planning a Career Pathway may grow from looking for a course but as Step 2.” 

Why not ask your federal candidates who come knocking on your door if they would add learning information centres into Employment Ontario Centres?


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