In the face of a pandemic that has changed all of our lives, workers in Canada have shown remarkable resilience. Whether adapting to work from home, restructuring entire businesses to manufacture personal protective equipment, or heading to their frontline job in the middle of a lockdown, the determination and ingenuity of Canada’s workforce have kept our economy moving during an unprecedented and challenging two years.
At the start of the pandemic, the federal government introduced significant economic support to allow our workers and businesses to make ends meet.
Those investments worked. Canada’s economy has since recovered 112 percent of the jobs lost at the outset of the pandemic. Our unemployment rate in February 2022 was at 5.5 percent, which is lower than prior to the pandemic. Job creation is remarkably strong, and even our hardest-hit sectors are starting to get back up and running.
But with our unemployment rate hitting near-record lows during the pandemic, some businesses are still struggling to find workers. This is a problem in Canada and around the world. A strong and prosperous economy requires a diverse, talented, and constantly growing workforce. And yet too many Canadians—women with young children, new graduates, newcomers, Black and racialized Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities among them—are facing barriers to finding meaningful and well-paid work.
In Budget 2022, the government is putting in place important measures that will help address those issues and meet the needs of our workers, our businesses, and the Canadian economy so that it can keep growing stronger for years to come.
The federal government has made historic investments to help workers succeed and ensure that Canadian businesses have access to a diverse, skilled workforce. These include:
- $30 billion over five years to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system;
- Expanding the Canada Workers Benefit to support an estimated one million additional Canadians, which could mean $1,000 more per year for a full-time, minimum-wage worker;
- More than $3 billion over three years to support nearly 500,000 new job and training opportunities, including by helping mid-career workers transition to in-demand jobs, and helping young Canadians gain valuable work experience;
- Making post-secondary education more accessible by doubling the Canada Student Grants amount until July 2023—meaning up to $6,000 per year in non-repayable aid for full-time students in need—and by waiving interest on Canada Student Loans through to March 2023;
- Introducing a $15 per hour federal minimum wage and legislating 10 days of paid sick leave to improve the working conditions for the nearly one million workers in the federally-regulated private sector; and,
- Increasing the length of Employment Insurance sickness benefits from 15 to 26 weeks, as of summer 2022.
Budget 2022 delivers on childcare, growing our economy, allowing more women to enter the workforce, and giving every Canadian child the best start in life. To meet the demands of persistent labour shortages, the federal government plans to set a higher annual target of 451,000 permanent residents by 2024 – the majority of which are skilled workers.