Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

March 13, 2009 17:32 ET

Progress on Canada's Economic Action Plan to Support Canadians Affected by the Economic Downturn

LONDON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 13, 2009) - Today, the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, highlighted the progress being made by the Government of Canada to support Canadians through the Economic Action Plan.

In these uncertain economic times, the Government is taking measures to help Canadians across the country, and it has moved quickly to ensure that additional support provided through the Economic Action Plan is available to workers fast. Considerable progress has been made in implementing the Canada Skills and Transition Strategy.

"Canadians who are looking for new job opportunities by upgrading their skills deserve every opportunity to succeed," said Minister Finley. "Investing in training is one of the best measures any government can take, not only to protect our country and its employers and employees today, but also to ensure that Canadians can take full advantage of the jobs of tomorrow."

Labour Market Development Agreements - an additional transfer of $1 billion over two years to provinces and territories helps them deliver skills training support for up to 100,000 workers who qualify for EI benefits. The funding will be available in April 2009.

Strategic Training and Transition Fund - an investment of $500 million over two years helps provinces and territories make skills and training programs more flexible, supporting an extra 50,000 workers, whether or not they qualify for EI. The funding will be available in April 2009.

Targeted Initiative for Older Workers - an additional $60-million investment supports an additional 250 communities in transition by providing new skills training for workers aged 55 to 64 will be available by April 2009.

Support for Long-Tenured Workers - two new measures provide an estimated $500 million over two years to extend income benefits for long tenured workers participating in longer-term training, and allow earlier access to Employment Insurance (EI) regular income benefits for eligible workers investing in their own training using all or part of their earnings resulting from a lay-off, such as severance pay. Both of these measures will be implemented in partnership with provinces and territories.

Extended Employment Insurance Benefits - an estimated $1.15 billion provides nationally the advantages of an extra five weeks of EI benefits currently offered as part of a pilot project that until now has only been provided in specific regions with high unemployment. In addition, the maximum duration of benefits available under the EI program in areas of high unemployment would be increased by five weeks, raising it from 45 to 50 weeks.

Improvements to Work-Sharing Program - an additional $200 million over two years helps keep Canadians working and minimizes the impact of the economic downturn by helping companies avoid layoffs while their industry recovers. These improvements became effective February 1, 2009.

Considerable progress has also been made in housing investments for Canadians and helping municipalities build stronger communities:

Renovation and Retrofit of Social Housing - a one-time investment of $1 billion for renovation and retrofit of existing social housing to help house some of the most vulnerable, including seniors, single parent families, recent immigrants and Aboriginal households. Of this, $850 million will be cost shared with provinces and territories and will be available by April 1 for provinces and territories who have signed amended Affordable Housing Initiative agreements. Arrangements are also in place for the implementation of measures for the CMHC-administered social housing units. Projects will be selected through a Request for Proposals process.

First Nations Housing - an investment of $250 million to support new on-reserve housing and renovations of existing social housing serving First Nations communities across Canada, as well as creating jobs and developing skilled trades. By April, funding will be available to support new housing, the renovation of existing social housing and for complementary housing activities on reserve, following the engagement of First Nations. This is in addition to $150 million provided by INAC to First Nations for housing activities.

Northern Housing - recognizing the distinctive needs of the North, $200 million to support the renovation of existing and construction of new social housing in the three territories. One half of this will be provided to Nunavut, where the need is greatest, and $50 million for each of the other territories. Funding will be available by April for territories which have signed amended Affordable Housing Initiative agreements.

Housing for Low-Income Seniors and Persons with Disabilities - an investment of $475 million for the construction of new housing for low-income seniors and persons with disabilities. This will help ensure that Canadians on fixed incomes live with independence and dignity and remain in their communities, close to family and friends. This will be allocated based on population and funding will be available by April for provinces and territories who have signed Affordable Housing Initiative agreements.

Municipal Infrastructure Loans - up to $2 billion in direct, low-cost loans to municipalities for housing-related infrastructure to maintain strong and prosperous communities. This includes water lines, sewers and neighbourhood regeneration projects. By April, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will be in a position to process loan applications through the Municipal Infrastructure Lending Program for housing-related infrastructure initiatives.

"The Government of Canada will continue to work hard to support Canadians during the global recession by moving aggressively to ensure the Economic Action Plan is implemented rapidly," said Minister Finley. "We will help protect Canadians from the downturn, while providing solutions to secure long-term growth, maintain confidence and promote recovery in all regions of the country."

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

Contact Information

  • Office of Minister Finley
    Michelle Bakos
    Press Secretary
    Human Resources and Skills Development
    Media Relations Office