Eliminating Barriers to Retraining

Executive Summary

With Canada’s fragile economic recovery ongoing the need for individuals to quickly gain access to knowledge and skills is essential. In this context, government needs to take immediate action to eliminate barriers to retraining while ensuring all Canadians have an equal opportunity to find stable and meaningful employment. The federal government should take an active approach to improve financial assistance in a targeted way that helps those who need it most.

Canada’s students recognize the value of a financial aid system that effectively addresses the needs of all who want to get an education and improve their skills. A highly educated population opens opportunities for individuals to make a meaningful contribution to Canada’s labour force on a path to financial independence. CASA believes that nobody should have to put their savings, assets, or retirement on the line if they need help to get the skills employers are looking for.

It is expected that there will only be two people of working age for every senior in Canada by 2056. (Statistics Canada) This means that every individual will have to be more productive in the years to come to continue the economic growth that affords Canadians a high quality of life. Further, it is expected that the growth of the knowledge economy will mean that 70% of new jobs will require a post-secondary education. (Canadian Council on Learning) It is clear that, for the most sustainable economic recovery, getting people back to work will mean getting people back to school. CASA is calling on the federal government to make this a reality and to eliminate barriers to retraining in the 2014 federal budget.

The federal government must remove employment penalties for working students. Budget 2014 should invest to completely exempt in-study income from the assessment criteria of the Canada Student Loans Program.

The federal government should encourage good financial planning and prioritize retraining by amending the Canada Student Loans Program assessment of borrower assets to increase allowable limits to RRSP contributions and exempt $10 000 in personally held financial assets.

The federal government ensure the Canada Student Loans Program meets the needs of students by increasing the weekly loan limit amounts from $210 to $245 per week.