Feds launch Skills Boost program to help adults to back to school
The federal government is revealing details about a new grant to help more Canadians afford to go back to school to upgrade their skills or even pursue a new career path.
Employment Minister Patty Hajdu launched Skills Boost at St. Clair College in Windsor on Wednesday.
She says through a new $1,600-per-year Canada Student Grant and new flexibilities for Employment Insurance, going back to school will be within reach for 43,000 more Canadians in the middle class, as well as those working hard to join it.
Skills Boost includes several measures announced in Budget 2017 that will be available for the school year beginning this fall as part of a $287.2 million three-year pilot project.
Students eligible for the Canada Student Grant for Full-Time Students and who have been out of high school for at least 10 years will receive an additional $1,600 per school year ($200 per month) in top-up funding.
“This new, extremely generous assistance offered by the federal government will ease many of the pressures on these students,” says Patti France, president of St. Clair College. “And providing them with a more affordable and accessible education will ultimately improve their lives in immeasurable ways."
An estimated 43,000 low- and middle-income Canadians will benefit from the top-up funding in the 2018–19 academic year.
And, for the first time, working and unemployed Canadians whose employment situation has significantly changed from the previous year can see their current income used to assess Canada Student Grant eligibility.
This means a person who experiences a drop in income won't be unfairly automatically disqualified for assistance based on their previous year's earnings.
Skills Boost also means expanded access to Canada Student Grants for part-time students and students with dependent children, to further break down financial barriers to post-secondary education.
"As an adult learner myself, who went back to school as a single mom of two children, I know that adult learners can face challenges to pursuing post-secondary education—not only because of the cost of education itself but also because of the financial pressures and time constraints of supporting our families,” says Hajdu.
The government says these measures are expected to benefit Canadian women in particular, who often strive to improve their career prospects, while balancing family responsibilities.
Women represent nearly two-thirds of the Canada Student Loans Program's part-time recipients, while approximately four out of five students receiving the Canada Student Grant for students with dependent children are women.
Support is also coming this fall for Canadians who find themselves out of work and want to go back to school.
Today, if an unemployed worker is receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, they may lose their eligibility for those benefits if they return to school or undertake training, which interferes with their availability for work, without the necessary referral from designated authorities.
Starting in fall 2018, an unemployed person will be able to go back to school to get the training they need to find a new job—without fear of losing the EI benefits they needs to pay rent and buy groceries.