Windsor

Ontario first to get new federal incentives for adult students

Ontarians will be the first to cash in on federal incentives that make it easier and cheaper for mature students to head back to school.

Adult students able to collect EI while attending post-secondary institution

Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced new federal incentives to encourage mature students to head back to school. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Ontarians will be the first to cash in on federal incentives that make it easier and cheaper for mature students to head back to school.

With hopes of addressing the labour shortages some industries face across Canada, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu announced the launch of the new initiative in Windsor, Ont. Wednesday, called 'Skills Boost.'

Collect EI and go to school

A major component of the announcement is allowing those who collect Employment Insurance (EI) to continue receiving that money while attending a post-secondary institution. Currently, those adults who are collecting EI must choose one or the other.

"It's to reflect that studying and skills development is just as important as looking for a job," said Hajdu, adding that it also leads to a less likelihood of unemployment.

After being laid off of his job as a cable guy, James Allison was in search of a new career path that would provide some stability for his family into the future. It's been a financial struggle for Allison to pay child support, car payments, insurance and other bills while juggling a job and training to start a new career.

James Allison said heading back to school for a new career as an adult would have never been possible without government assistance. (Jason Viau/CBC)

The 38-year-old father estimates his tuition costs so far at roughly $25,000, but said he must only pay back a fraction of the loan because of government grants for mature students. Allison is now in his second year of the robotics program at St. Clair College.

"This would have not been possible, at all," said Allison. "There's no way I could do child support, a full-time job and school, there's no way."

More grants for mature students

Another incentive for adults to return to school is new grant money, which is cash that does not have to be re-paid. For anyone who's been out of high school for at least 10 years, they qualify for an additional $1,600 per school year.

In addition, full-time students with children will receive up to $200 per month per child, and part-time students with kids can get up to $1,920 per year in grants.

Ontario has been the first province to work with us to change their intake processes so that we can move forward as quickly as possible.- Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu

"What we're hoping is that this policy intervention will allow people to improve their skills, get that better-paying job, but also start to address those labour shortages that we're starting to see across the country," said Hajdu.

Coming fall 2018

All of these changes were outlined in the 2017 federal budget and will take effect beginning in the fall semester of 2018 for all Canadians.

"Ontario has been the first province to work with us to change their intake processes so that we can move forward as quickly as possible," said Hajdu.

The new program will also look at each person's current year earnings, instead of the previous year. This would paint a more accurate picture of someone's financial situation in the event they're laid off or move into a lower-paying job.

The feds estimate these changes will help 43,000 Canadians in the next school year.

About the Author

Jason Viau is a video journalist, TV host and radio newsreader at CBC Windsor. He was born in North Bay, but has lived in Windsor for most of his life. Since graduating from St. Clair College, he's worked in print, TV and radio. Email him at jason.viau@cbc.ca