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April 26, 2021

An investment in skills, training and innovation

Budget 2021 is finally here, and given November’s Speech from the Throne promised “the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers,” expectations were certainly high across the post-secondary sector! Between our eight recommendations to pre-budget consultations and a flurry of meetings with ministers, members of parliament and senior government officials, we’ve been incredibly busy and eager to see what’s in store. In no particular order, here’s where we are grateful for opportunities and where we see room for improvement in Budget 2021:

On education and training as a key component of Canada’s sustainable recovery, the budget promises over $5.7 billion over the next five years to help young Canadians pursue and complete their education, to provide additional relief from student loan debt for young graduates, and to create new training and work opportunities.

On helping employers train and recruit workers, $960 million over three years for a new Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program will help Canadians access the training they need to find good jobs in sectors where employers are looking for skilled workers.

On driving innovation, more SMEs will be able to benefit from college and institute expertise thanks to an investment of $46.9 million over two years to support additional research partnerships through College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program:

  • Investing in CCI was one of our pre-budget recommendations and will empower SMEs, social, health and community organizations to restart the economy! This is a big win for the sector and we’re so pleased to see the budget recognize the critical role colleges and institutes play in driving innovation across the country.
  • Remember our letter-writing campaign? In January, we asked SMEs and innovation partners to share the impact of applied research opportunities with their local college or institute on their businessYour examples paid off!

On early learning and child care, new measures aimed at making it more accessible across the country will help many people, women in particular, access the labour market. As the main providers of training for workers in early learning and child care, colleges and institute will certainly play an important role in increasing capacity across the sector.

On sustainability, colleges and institutes continue to build the greenest campuses possible, train workers with green skills, and contribute to green innovation through thousands of applied research projects.

  • We were glad to see new measures to build a greener economy, including funding for infrastructure. Unfortunately, this budget does not contain new funding specifically for post-secondary institutions.

On improving access to post-secondary education, the budget promises many opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous people, new immigrants, and those in official-language minority communities. This is especially important as this pandemic has had an increased impact on already vulnerable populations. Read our full Budget 2021 news release for details.

So, what comes next? we’re keen to get back to our regular advocacy and engage actively with key federal departments and stakeholders in the coming weeks as the announced programs are designed and implemented!

  • As the voice of colleges and institutes in Ottawa, our advocacy ensures that the needs of college and institute learners, innovators, and communities remain top of mind, and that government decisions position our members to support a resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery. Be active in your communities and on social media to promote colleges and institutes as key players and be sure to let us know of visits and meetings that take place!
  • Use our white paper, COVID-19 and Beyond, in your discussions to highlight how Canada can leverage the full capacity of colleges and institutes to build a recovery-ready workforce, drive innovation, and support sustainability!

Get ready to change the narrative!

With the challenges of the past year comes the opportunity to redesign a paradigm that reflects the world we wish to build. As leaders now begin to look forward, future-oriented post-secondary institutions must also re-evaluate their role in Canada’s innovation ecosystem.

Last week, in our special episode of Perspectives LIVE, we took a sneak peek at what it means to change the narrative in post-secondary education. Today, our immersive virtual conference, over three days, six streams, and 50+ sessions is ready to begin. There are already more than 1100 participants registered representing 18 countries!

There is still time to register!

Don’t miss our keynote speakers, live sessions and pre-recorded presentations, daily extracurricular activities, and unique social and networking opportunities! Select your one-, two-, or three-day registration package. 

Must read: the path to a net-zero carbon future

As we celebrate Earth Day, our brand-new paper on sustainability highlights the critical role of colleges and institutes in helping Canada achieve net-zero emissions by 2050! Even as last week’s federal budget proposed $17.6 billion for green initiatives, it’s clear Canada must adopt a whole-of-country approach and will require strong leadership from post-secondary institutions. Everyone has a role to play!

Leading the Way to a Net-Zero Carbon Future presents the role of colleges and institutes on four pillars: green skills for a net-zero future, applied research and living labs, Indigenous and nature-based solutions, and leveraging campuses.

In the face of a climate emergency and pandemic recovery, leadership in sustainability is more important than ever. With their extensive footprint, expertise in equipping learners with job-ready skills, and an applied research innovation pipeline to small and medium-sized businesses, colleges and institutes are ideally positioned to support Canada’s transition to a net-zero future!

On equity, diversity and inclusion

Like many organizations, over the past year we have been reflecting on what equity, diversity, and inclusion really mean and are undertaking a thorough evaluation of our own role in addressing systemic racism and oppression. On the occasion of Diversity Month in Canada, read our full statement.

Free work-integrated training in long-term care!

Now accepting applications! Funded by the Government of Canada, the new Supportive Care Assistant Program is designed to quickly address acute labour shortages in the long-term care sector and is now offered by select colleges and institutes across Canada, completely free.

Begin your career pathway to become a fully certified personal care provider! The program includes six-weeks of online training followed by a four-month paid work placement. Students will have the opportunity to discover a new career and make a difference in their community while earning a wage.

This new work-integrated training program is part of our Building Capacity in Long-term Care project. Over the next year, up to 2,600 assistants will be trained nationally thanks to the Supportive Care Assistant Program. Employers will also receive a wage subsidy of $5,000 per student.

Vote on your favourite student works of art!

College and institute campuses are full of talented student artists! For this year’s Student Art Showcase, we invited students to submit work that reflects on the last year and inspires new ways of looking at the years to come: on connectedness, community, disruption, and reconciliation. We received over 200 submissions!

Our dedicated Art Committee has selected finalists in each of the six categories: printmaking; textile, mixed media, or sculpture; photography; digital illustration or animation; painting; and drawing. Now it’s your turn to vote on your favourites!

The winner in each category will receive a monetary prize of $350, courtesy of TD Insurance, and have their art exhibited at our Ottawa office, where it will be visible to visiting Members of Parliament, senior government officials, international dignitaries, college and institute officials, and of course CICan staff!

Must read: Supporting NEET Indigenous and newcomer youth

Through virtual focus group sessions, key informant interviews, and an online survey, over 50 college and institute administrators and community stakeholders shared insights that will provide decision makers with the data needed to better support disenfranchised groups in Canada and to help build a more competitive workforce!

Our new environmental scan highlights college and institute programs, program components, tools, and resources designed to support Indigenous and newcomer youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) and identifies both facilitating factors and barriers to the uptake of these resources.

The scan marks an important beginning to our new Skills Compass program that will help young NEET Canadians develop the life skills and essential skills they need to go back to school and prepare for a career!

Learn about reducing your sodium consumption

Did you know that, in Canada, the average daily sodium intake is estimated at almost twice the amount needed? And a diet high in sodium is one of the top risk factors for chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease. Use these new Beyond Salt sodium-reduction teaching materials to help improve public healthone grain at a time!

As part of our two-year Beyond Salt project, colleges and institutes, and nearly 200 students in culinary programs across the country, collaborated on the development and testing of seven sodium-reduction based lesson plans that are now available online as open education resources!

A big thank you to the participating institutions! These valuable resources will have an immeasurable impact on the lives of Canadians. Beyond Salt is funded by Health Canada as part of its Healthy Eating Strategy and, after two years, is now coming to an end.

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that Bow Valley College recently introduced a suite of new course offerings through an innovative Competency-Based Education (CBE) model? Through the CBE model, students beginning their educational journey at the college go through an assessment to uncover skills they already have, then receive a custom learning pathway which will help them acquire knowledge in the gaps that remain. This bold, innovative, and flexible delivery is an excellent alternative to the traditional classroom setting for people who want to reskill or upskill! 


North Island College appointed Lisa Domae as sixth president. Domae succeeds John Bowman, who retired in March after serving as NIC president for nearly eight years.

Seneca College announced the appointment of Marianne Marando as its new vice president, Academic. Returning to Seneca after five years at Durham College, Marando will take on the role effective July 2021.


Nov 30 - Dec 1st, 2022
CICan on the Hill + Student Showcase
Ottawa, National Arts Centre
Dec 5 - 9th, 2022
Leadership Institute for French-speaking Managers
Quebec City, Château Laurier
Dec 5 - 7th, 2022
Perfectionnement pour les responsables internationaux
Québec, Hôtel Château Laurier
View more


Stay safe and healthy on campus. Download the COVID Alert app.

Visit Wellness Together Canada for free online mental health and substance use support.

Send Us Your News

One of our main goals at Colleges and Institutes Canada is to champion and share the innovations and awesomeness of our members. You can help! We want to hear about your new applied research, industry and community partnerships, international education, important financial investments and more. Add to your media mailing lists! We’ll share member institution News Releases and other upcoming announcements online and with our national media contacts based in Ottawa.