Editor’s Note: Every autumn, like every other business and institutional advocacy group in the country, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) furnishes the government in Ottawa with its “wish list” for what it would like to see in the subsequent year’s federal budget.
CICan, representing most of the colleges in the nation (St. Clair is a CICan member) filed its recommendations for the 2024 federal budget last week – a document that it entitled “Future Proofing Canada”.
Here are its highlights:
Over 95 percent of Canadians, and 86 percent of Indigenous peoples, live within 50 kilometres of a public college, institute, cegep or polytechnic. With their extensive footprint, colleges make a difference in communities across the country. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and look towards 2030, Canada is presented with a host of challenges – high inflation, labour shortages, large-scale economic transformations, and our need to become a net-zero emissions economy.
In short, Canada needs future-proofing. Colleges deliver programs that are rooted in evidence – and they do so quickly. Our experience-based learning helps people build the employment-focused skills they need to thrive immediately in the workforce and to grow into careers five and ten years from now. Colleges provide vital research capacity that addresses real-world problems identified by business and community partners and helps them innovate and grow. Our members prioritize inclusion to make the journey from education to employment flexible, equitable and accessible to all. Canada’s colleges provide learners, businesses and communities a pathway to future-proofing.
CICan’s 2023 pre-budget submission focuses on tangible proposals that leverage existing programs and funding to help Canadians prepare for the future of work and empower businesses to boost innovation and navigate change.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Driving Business and Community Innovation
Recommendation 1: Accelerate business-led research-and-development by doubling the impact of the Tri-Council College and Community Innovation Program through a new $331 million investment over five years, with a permanent increase of $85 million per year ongoing.
2. Building a Future-Proof Workforce
Recommendation 2: Adopt the following measures to address systemic labour shortages now and into the future:
• In conjunction with industry and postsecondary sector, invest $25 million over five years to develop career road maps for key industries, to help Canadians see their pathway into the net-zero economy;
• Re-align federal training and learning programs, such as the Canada Training Benefit and Canada Student Financial Aid Program, to support employment transitions through learning assessments and retraining of up to a year in length;
• Create permanent residency streams for international students studying in programs that support identified labour needs, such as those of the net-zero economy and the care economy.
3. The Next Generation of Campus Infrastructure
Recommendation 3: Accelerate the achievement of Canada’s net zero goals by creating a new Green Postsecondary Infrastructure Fund, with a minimum of $500 million a year over five years being dedicated to helping colleges achieve net zero emission campuses.
Recommendation 4: Undertake an inventory of critical strategic skills infrastructure to ensure that Canada has the training space available to meet the needs of key economic sectors moving forward.
4. Bringing the Future to All Communities
Recommendation 5: Accelerate net zero initiatives in communities by investing $100 million over five years in a new network of 50 College Sustainability Centres across Canada to leverage college assets including campus infrastructure, industry, and community partnerships to meet Canada’s net zero goals.
5. Keeping our Commitment to Reconciliation
Recommendation 6: Commit to fully supporting Indigenous peoples’ right to postsecondary education by working with national Indigenous organizations, Indigenous institutes, colleges and universities to address ongoing barriers to access and success and to integrate land-based learning and Indigenous ways of knowing in postsecondary programs.
6. A Global Future
Recommendation 7: Increase support to developing countries to build capacity in their skills development systems, recognizing the critical role education and skills training play in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.