As the theme of this year’s Pre-Budget highlights, the world is facing immense challenges at the moment, climate change being one of them. In order for Canada to achieve a low-carbon economy and do its part for the planet, the country is going to need to have a workforce that is highly skilled, educated, and innovative that will be equipped to respond to the necessary changes in our world. Such a workforce is critical to establishing creative ways to reduce carbon emissions while maintaining a strong economy, but can only exist if post-secondary education remains a foundation of the country.
While Canadian post-secondary education is strong, more can be done to increase access to the diverse populations that make up Canada. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s report, Policies for Stronger and More Inclusive Growth in Canada has noted that while Canada’s economy has been growing, not all population groups have equally benefited from this growth. Inequities continue to persist and show that Indigenous peoples, women, mature students, migrants, and those struggling with their mental health are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed. As a country, we know that education serves as a strong social and economic equalizer. Expanding access to education greatly contributes to the advancement of a country’s economy. If Canada is going to be competitive and a global leader on addressing the climate crisis, it is important that each and every person have access to a high quality and innovative post-secondary education.
Summary of recommendations:
- Recommendation #1: The federal government create an upfront, non-repayable Canada Student Grant for graduate students with high financial need, at an estimated cost of $58 million.
- Recommendation #2: The federal government remove the requirement for international students to seek an additional work permit to pursue co-op opportunities when it’s not a mandatory part of their program, and instead automatically permit this work under their existing study permit.
- Recommendation #3: The federal government create a targeted stream of the Repayment Assistance Plan for those on parental leave.
- Recommendation #4: The federal government reduce financial barriers to apprenticeships by expanding the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant to cover all years of study at an estimated cost of $72 million.