2019 BUDGET: Liberals promise tax credit, EI benefit to help workers retrain

The moves are part of more than $1.7 billion in planned new spending over five years

Canadians could soon be able to put $250 a year toward upgrading their skills, and get help to pay their bills during dedicated time off, because of measures in today’s federal budget meant to help workers prepare for shifts in the labour market.

The moves are part of more than $1.7 billion in planned new spending over five years, and hundreds of millions more thereafter, although that appears to fall short of what the government has been told is needed to help workers make decisions about their careers.

The Liberals are proposing to give every Canadian worker earning between $10,000 and about $150,000 a year a $250 refundable tax credit for training that can be saved up over time, a plan that is expected to cost $710 million over the next five years.

READ MORE: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

The budget says the credit is expected to launch in late 2020 — possibly a year after this fall’s federal election — and will apply to the costs of programs at eligible universities, colleges and training institutions.

The government also says it plans to create a new employment-insurance benefit to cover up to 55 per cent of earnings for those who take time off from a job to attend a training program, which will cost $1.04 billion over five years.

The benefit could push up EI premiums — the Liberals are promising a break to some small businesses to offset the “upward pressure” on premiums as a result — but the actual costs won’t be known until EI rates are set later this year.

The Canadian Press

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2019 federal budget

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