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April 3, 2017

A closer look at the federal “Skills Budget”

The federal government promised a budget focussed on skills and it did not disappoint, presenting a plan for spending that directly responds to college and institute mandates. Budget 2017 signals the government’s commitment to skills, innovation and inclusive economic growth, all of which intersect on campuses across Canada. It should come as no surprise then that many ministers have been touring our member institutions over the last week to announce new programs and initiatives.

Budget 2017 includes measures aimed at providing all Canadians with the skills they need to succeed and adapt in a rapidly evolving labor market. These can be broken down into three categories: access, skills, and innovation.


This government seems to understand that the first step to ensuring that Canadians have access to fulfilling jobs, is to make post-secondary education, including skills training and reskilling, more accessible. By promising expanded access to grants for part-time students and under-represented groups, the budget will provide more Canadians with a path to meaningful employment.

Among the new measures, the Government introduced a three-year pilot project to test new approaches that make it easier for adult learners, including those with dependent children, to qualify for Canada Student Loans and Grants.

The budget also includes significant investments to support Indigenous students, including $50 Million for the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) and $14.7 million over three years starting in 2017–18 to extend and enhance the Northern Adult Basic Education Program. Budget 2017 also proposes to increase funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) by $90 million over two years, beginning in 2017–18. This funding will support the post-secondary education financial needs of over 4,600 students over the two-year period.


The biggest budget item on skills is definitely the creation of a new organization to support skills development and measurement in Canada. This is based in large part on the recommendations of the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, who pitched the idea of a FutureSkills Lab. Though the name may not have stuck, the mandate of the new structure remains similar, with a focus on identifying the skills required by Canadian employers and exploring new approaches to support skills development. To fund its creation, Budget 2017 provides $225 million over four years, starting in 2018–19, and $75 million per year thereafter.

The budget also addresses Work-Integrated Learning with additional funding for Mitacs that will allow them to provide 10,000 work-integrated learning placements for Canadian post-secondary students and graduates each year—up from the current level of around 3,750 placements.


Though there was very little support for research in the budget, pending the release of the Science Review report, colleges and institutes still fared well when it comes to support for their brand of innovation. Of particular interest is the renewal of the Community and College Social Innovation Fund, which will receive $10 million over two years.

Budget 2017 also proposes to establish Innovation Canada, a new platform that will coordinate and simplify the support available to Canada’s innovators. With their expertise in partnered innovation, colleges and institutes will have a lot to bring to this discussion in each of the sectors identified:  advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and clean resources.

Similarly, a proposed investment of up to $950 million over five years in support of a small number of business-led innovation “superclusters” with potential to accelerate economic growth will be of interest to colleges and institutes. The competition will launch in 2017 and focus on highly innovative industries such as advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital technology, health/bio-sciences and clean resources, as well as infrastructure and transportation.

For the rest, we will likely need to wait for the results of the government’s Fundamental Science Review and the unveiling of its Innovation Agenda to have a clearer sense of where this government is heading with respect to the funding of applied research. CICan will keep a close eye on both, so stay tuned.

Member News

CICan 2017 Conference update!


CICan’s 2017 Conference is less than a month away and we couldn’t be more excited! For those joining us, visit the Conference website for a list of host conference hotels. Please book as soon as possible as hotel blocks have limited availability.

Click here to register for the event.

Be social and network with the CICan 2017 Conference app. For app download instructions, click here. For any other questions, contact Bruce Landry here.

The National Survey of Online and Distance Education in Canadian Post-Secondary Education

CICan is pleased to share the upcoming launch of a National Survey of Online and Distance Education in Canadian Post-Secondary Education and encourages all colleges and institutes to participate in this important initiative. The survey, launching in April 2017, will focus initially on credit courses and programs in public funded post-secondary institutions.

Dr. Tony Bates, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University, will lead research and will analyze the survey results with his team of both Independent Canadian and International researchers; while, eCampusAlberta, BCcampus, Campus Manitoba, Contact North and eCampusOntario have all committed financial and in-kind resources to help launch this important project.

At this time, there are no current national data on how many students are taking online courses, or what proportion of courses in Canadian universities or colleges are online. Tricia Donovan, Executive Director or eCampusAlberta, believes that “[i]t is critical that we try to capture this data across Canada, as it can provide an important snapshot of the growing participation in online learning and distance education country-wide.”

The results will be made available to and owned by Canadian colleges and universities, and will be publicly available for the International Council for Open and Distance Education’s World Congress on Online Learning in Toronto, October 17 -19, 2017.

For more information, contact Tony Bates.

Re$earch Money launches new publication on Canadian innovation


Canada is a hub of innovation. From developing ocean technology to helping small businesses fight cybercrime, Canada is where cutting-edge technologies meet ground-breaking research and top-notch talent.

Re$earch Money Inc.’s new publication, Canadian Innovation News (CIN), outlines these and other ways that Canadian innovation is changing the world, and provides information on how you can connect and collaborate with the top researchers, innovators and organizations in Canada.

The most recent issue also includes an Op-Ed from CICan’s President and CEO, Denise Amyot, outlining the amazing contributions colleges and institutes bring to the field of applied research.

The latest issue can be downloaded free here.

Interested in learning more? Contact Rebecca Melville.

Advance your clean-tech research and equip your grads with the skills for a green economy


Did you know colleges and institutes can be reimbursed for hiring a clean tech intern through the CICan Clean Tech Internship program? It’s an opportunity to both advance clean-technology research or activities and equip graduates with the skills for a green economy.

CICan is now accepting applications for the 2017-18 CICan Clean Tech Internship program. Thanks to financial support from Environment and Climate Change Canada, the program offers eligible employers a subsidy of up to $15,000 to hire an intern for 6-12 months.

You can share this opportunity with your industry partners to connect them with qualified STEM graduates, or hire those graduates as interns to support your institution’s clean tech initiatives!

CICan has placed more than 175 graduates in internships across Canada, with compelling results: 80% of those who have completed their placement are now either employed in their field or continuing their education. Read a few of the program’s many success stories here.

For additional information, visit the Clean Tech Internship website.

Public Policy Forum launches Your Energy Future program

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The Public Policy Forum (PPF), in partnership with Action Canada was pleased to launch Your Energy Future, a national policy engagement and leadership program that blends the strength of Action Canada’s leadership program with PPF’s depth in convening and examining policy issues of importance to Canada.

As governments across the country are beginning to rethink their approach to energy development, Your Energy Future aims to involve Canada’s youth in the discussions and ask the question: How does the current direction of Canada’s energy future align with the views of our future leaders?

With this in mind, PPF and Action Canada have developed a Your Energy Future website, with information about policy change and, most importantly, a call for submissions for future leaders to take part.

Successful applicants will participate in a rigorous five-part program that combines leadership training, education, and community engagement exercises over a nine-month period. The culmination of their work will be presented to a group of senior leaders, and released in the form of a report, under the Public Policy Forum banner next March.

Don’t miss your chance to take part! The deadline for applications is April 21, 2017.

This project is made possible with funding from the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, the Lawson Foundation and the Government of the Northwest Territories.

For more information, contact Rhonda Moore.

Planning for Canada presents at National Metropolis Conference


On March 18, Planning for Canada received a warm welcome at the National Metropolis Conference in Montreal – an annual forum for researchers, policy makers, representatives from community, and settlement organizations to share and exchange knowledge and experience in the field of immigration and settlement. The Planning for Canada presentation brought together practitioners of pre- and post-arrival services and demonstrated the power of effective partnerships in preparing newcomers for success in Canada.

The workshop focused on Planning for Canada’s streamlined continuum of service and was delivered by representatives of Planning for Canada’s Ottawa team and pan-Canadian referral partners: George Brown College, COSTI Immigrant Services, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, and CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses.

Funded by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), CIIP delivers the joint pre-arrival initiative Planning for Canada with the Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) Program. CIIP is managed by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan); COA is managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) is building an app to offer first-time international students practical living information to help adjust to their new environment? The helpful tool comes as NSCC’s international student cohort has nearly tripled in three years. The app will act alongside NSCC’s website and orientation sessions. Read more about the app here.


Sheridan College was pleased to welcome a new Dean of International Students. Dr. Michael Allcott will take the position after having served in international education for more than thirty years, most recently as Director of the International Program at Trent University.

NAIT also welcome a new Dean of the institute’s School of Applied Sciences and Technology. Stewart Cook will take the role after a 20-year career with the institute’s Machinist program. Cook began serving as Interim Dean in September 2016.


Canada’s 150th Anniversary! 

Submissions for CICan’s Canada 150 project are ongoing. Check out our Canada 150 website for more details.

CICan’s Leadership Institutes 

Registration is live for CICan’s 2017 Leadership Institutes. Click here to register.

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