The employment insurance section of the Government of Canada website is shown on a laptop in Toronto on April 4, 2020. The federal government is looking at ways to speed-up the introduction of skills-training help for out-of-work Canadians, say groups involved in helping implement the program. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jesse Johnston

With workers at home, feds eye ways to fast-track training program, groups say

More than 2.1 million people have applied for EI in the last two weeks

The federal government is looking at ways to speed-up the introduction of skills-training help for out-of-work Canadians, say groups involved in helping implement the program.

The training help was scheduled to arrive at the end of the year in the form of an annual tax credit and time off through the employment insurance system for workers that wanted to upgrade their skills, or learn something new to help their job hunt.

Promised in last year’s budget, the training benefit was the subject of intense discussions among senior government officials and post-secondary training institutions immediately before the current pandemic landed in Canada.

Now, the conversations have turned to how to use the economic shutdown from COVID-19 as a catalyst to speed up the training benefit’s introduction, says Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada.

Groups say the thinking is how to get workers now stuck at home or out of work to take programs to prevent their skills from becoming rusty while they don’t use them regularly.

More than 2.1 million people have applied for EI in the last two weeks.

“It is a chance to upgrade your skills, to sharpen your skills, and, as we say, to be ready to help accelerate Canada in a recovery faster,” Davidson said in an interview.

Denise Amyot, president of Colleges and Institutes Canada, says the thinking is to prepare for after the pandemic and reduce the time needed for an economic recovery.

Also factoring into decisions, she says, is that not every business may make it through the sharp downturn the country is facing.

A recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business of the small- and medium-sized businesses it represents suggested about one-third that are closed due to COVID-19 aren’t sure that they’ll ever reopen their doors.

Amyot said there is a need to measure which skills the economy will need after the public health response to ensure there isn’t a vacuum of skills.

“Right now, if we have jobs or businesses that are completely disappearing, it means we need to ensure that people are training for those jobs that will get through this pandemic,” Amyot said in a telephone interview.

“And we need measures that can be implemented quickly.”

She added that some workers may also be taking time at home to reconsider their career paths and may be looking at retraining options that can be done remotely.

“They don’t want to lose their skills so they’re looking for training opportunities,” she said, before adding that some skilled-trades training ”is not that easy to do online.”

One big question is how to help workers who want it to pay for training, especially if federal help barely covers the cost of necessities.

The Liberals’ pre-election budget last year put aside more than $1.7 billion over five years to create a tax credit and pay for dedicated time off for workers to take skills-training programs. It was aimed to be in place by December 2020.

Canadian workers earning between $10,000 and about $150,000 a year would receive an annual $250 refundable tax credit, accumulating over time, to offset the costs of learning new job skills.

The idea was to help workers throughout their careers to adapt to changes within their chosen fields, or to help them acquire a whole new skill set to change professions. Some of the thinking behind it was to avoid some of the negative ripples from automation.

Federal policymakers weren’t considering a sudden downturn when they drafted the program. The program also envisioned a tuition component, but the change in circumstances may give governments a chance to see if there’s a way to step in with some help, Davidson said.

READ MORE: Canada looking to disinfect used masks, Dr. Tam asks they not be thrown away

READ MORE: Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Provincial Election candidates for the North Island riding. (Campbell River Mirror graphic)
Over 4,300 mail-in ballots returned so far in North Island district

Elections BC provides progress report before vote count

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

Campbell River Remembrance Day Ceremony 2019. Campbell River Mirror file photo
Campbell River Remembrance Day Ceremony to go ahead in reduced form

Public asked not to attend; event will be streamed on social media, Shaw TV

Father Charles Brandt, a hermit priest. File Photo
Black Creek environmentalist and Catholic priest-hermit Father Charles Brandt passes away

He devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitats

Two suspects seen outside of Gord Knight Auto on Oct. 27 at around 4:15 a.m. Campbell River RCMP are looking for information on these suspects’ identities. Photo supplied by RCMP
RCMP look for suspects in break-in cases

Two suspects caught on surveilance video

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

MNP senior economist Susan Mowbray presents the State of the Island Economic Report on Thursday night to conclude the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s virtual summit. (VIEA image)
Not-so-rosy State of the Island report caps off virtual summit

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s summit took place online Oct. 27-29

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A study by SlotsOnlineCanada notes there is at least 88 hours of top-rated horror movies for Canadians to consume this Halloween. (Unsplash)
Spooks and Chill study reveals Canada’s favourite horror flicks

88 hours of top-rated horror movies can fill COVID-19 Halloween

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

Most Read