Arif Virani

Your member of parliament for

Parkdale-High Park

Arif Virani

Your member of parliament for

Parkdale-High Park


Budget 2017: Education and Skills Training By the Numbers

Education lays the necessary foundation for Canadians to improve their quality of life. I know how rewarding, challenging, and essential a good education is.  Access to affordable publicly supported education, coupled with hard work, gave me all of the opportunities I have enjoyed in Canada, and allow me, today, to serve as your elected representative in the House of Commons.

But I also appreciate that in today’s rapidly changing world, life-long learning has become critical. I am proud to be part of a Government that recognizes the critical need to support education – no matter one’s age or financial capacity– and to stand behind a Budget that provides critical support for education and job training.

Renewing Investments in Pathways to Education Canada

Not every young person has the same opportunities. In low-income communities there is often a lack of resources that traps people, from generation-to-generation, in a cycle of poverty, poor education, and disenfranchisement.

Pathways to Education is a charitable organization that supports lower-income individuals, that come from disproportionately racialized and newcomer communities across Canada, to complete high school and successfully transition into post-secondary education and employment. When I visited with Pathways recently in Regent Park with Minister Hajdu, I heard about the incredible success for students involved in the program. On average, high school graduation rates increased by 85% in communities in communities that offer a Pathways program.

Budget 2017 will renew our Government’s support for this organization by providing $38 million over four years. With this renewed funding, Pathways to Education will provide more vulnerable youth with the supports they need to succeed in school, including tutoring, career mentoring and financial help, such as scholarships and internships.

Teaching Kids to Code

Setting Canadians up for success needs to start early. Our Government is investing in our youth by offering coding education for children through kindergarten to grade 12 to set them up for success later in life. Budget 2017 will provide $50 million over two years to support these teaching initiatives.

Expanding Digital Learning Opportunities

Budget 2017 investments go beyond setting our youth up for success. Our Government will provide $29.5 million over the next five years for a new Digital Literacy Exchange program to support non-profit organizations to implement initiatives that teach basic digital skills, including how to use the Internet safely and effectively, at pre-existing facilities such as public libraries, refugee housing complexes and seniors’ homes. The program will focus on vulnerable groups such as low-income individuals and families, and seniors.

Helping Canadians Get New and Better Jobs

Each year, the Government invests nearly $3 billion so that provinces and territories can offer a range of programs, from skills training to career counselling to job search assistance, to help unemployed and underemployed Canadians improve their skills and get their next job. This is done through Labour Market Transfer Agreements with the provinces and territories. But we know we need Agreements that are more flexible and responsive to the needs of employers and Canadians, especially those who are currently underrepresented in the workforce.  So our Government has committed to significantly reforming the Labour Market Transfer Agreements, in collaboration with the provinces and territories. This reform will ensure that more Canadians get the assistance they need to find and keep good jobs in the new economy, and build better lives for themselves and their families.

In addition to this collaborative reform, Budget 2017 will invest an additional $1.8 billion over six years to expand the Labour Market Development Agreements. For Canadians looking for work, this means more opportunities to upgrade their skills, gain experience or get help to start their own business. It also means more support, like employment counselling, to help them plan their career.

Currently, a large number of unemployed and underemployed Canadians are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI)-funded training under the Labour Market Development Agreements. To ensure that these Canadians continue to have access to the supports they need to get their next job, Budget 2017 will invest an additional $900 million over six years for new Workforce Development Agreements.

Extend Eligibility for the Tuition Tax Credit

We are committed to providing support and access to resources for Canadians of every age. The Tuition Tax Credit plays an important role in this effort, and helping to reduce the cost of post-secondary and occupational skills courses.

Currently, students who take occupational skills courses below the postsecondary level (e.g., training in a second language or in basic literacy and numeracy to improve job skills) at a college or university cannot claim the Tuition Tax Credit, but those who take similar courses at a non-post-secondary institution can claim it. To level the playing field, Budget 2017 will expand the range of courses eligible for this credit to include occupational skills courses offered at a post-secondary institution in Canada, and to allow the full amount of bursaries received for such courses to qualify for the scholarship exemption.

Investing in Adult Basic Education in the North

The Northern Adult Basic Education Program is designed to provide residents in the three territories with targeted training so that they can participate more fully in the labour market. To support the delivery of adult basic education services by local colleges, Budget 2017 will provide $14.7 million over three years to extend and enhance the Northern Adult Basic Education Program.

A New Veterans’ Education and Training Benefit

Our Government is committed to facilitating a smooth transition to civilian life, and supporting our veterans’ well-being.

To help, Budget 2017 proposes to amend legislation to create a new Education and Training Benefit. This benefit will provide more money for veterans to go to college, university or a technical school after they complete their service, through an investment of $133.9 million over six years.

The new program would begin in April 2018 for veterans honourably released on or after April 1, 2006. Veterans with 6 years of eligible service would be entitled to up to $40,000 of benefits, while veterans with 12 years of eligible service would be entitled to up to $80,000 of benefits.

But I know that going back to school is not the best option for everyone. That’s why I’m proud Budget 2017 proposes to amend legislation to enhance the Career Transition Services Program. The services offered will be expanded to include coaching and job placement assistance, all of which would be provided through a national contractor starting in April 2018. The investment will total $74.1 million over six years.

Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan

To help Canadians get the skills they need to succeed, our Government has established the Innovation and Skills Plan. To deliver the greatest benefits for Canadians, the Plan will target six key areas—advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and clean resources—with a focus on expanding growth and creating jobs. To ensure that the Plan would meet the real needs of Canadian workers and businesses, our Government undertook broad consultations, and heard from more than 100,000 Canadians, including industry leaders, academics, Indigenous leaders and other orders of government.  Our new Plan will set clear and ambitious targets to:

  • Grow Canada’s goods and services exports—from resources, advanced manufacturing and others—by 30 per cent by 2025.
  • Increase the clean technology sector’s contribution to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Double the number of high-growth companies in Canada, particularly in the digital, clean technology and health technology sectors, from 14,000 to 28,000 by 2025.

In addition, Budget 2017 will provide new funding for an investment of $1.5 million over five years to help Canadians prepare for the economy of tomorrow by promoting the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and digital literacy, particularly for women, girls and underrepresented groups.

Thank you for your engagement on Budget 2017, and for tuning into my Budget series! This installment concludes my Budget series, but if you want to learn more, visit

“We’re very happy to see that the government is committed to helping low-income Canadians access opportunities, particularly youth who face many barriers who successfully achieve an education and employment.”-

Jesse Clark, Director, Pathways to Education

“We are quite happy when I saw the different superclusters, all those sectors are sectors in which Colleges and Institutes have a great track record. To the icing on the cake, was the announcement of the social innovation funding. I am extremely, extremely happy about that. Also the work integrated learning linked to myTax that this time will be for post-secondary students so I was extremely happy about that”

Denise Amyot, President and CEO, Colleges and Institutes Canada

“Budget 2017 lays out an ambitious agenda for the Government and signals their openness to embracing a new 21st century approach to growing the economy.” – Benjamin Bergen, Executive Director, Council of Canadian Innovators

“We are proud to have Actua formally recognized in today’s Budget speech as a national leader in building skills and confidence in science and technology among youth across Canada. For twenty–‐five years we have focused on engaging the hardest to reach youth, including girls and Indigenous youth, and we are thrilled that the government’s Innovation Agenda is focused on skills development and inclusivity.“

Jennifer Flanagan, President and CEO, Actua