Canada Training Benefit could be boon for small business – or a bust

Toronto, May 29, 2019 – The Canada Training Benefit announced in the 2019 federal budget could be a disaster for small businesses if it is implemented without consideration to their needs, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). CFIB president Dan Kelly will be presenting these recommendations and the perspective of CFIB’s members to the Senate of Canada this evening.

“Canada’s skilled labor shortage is getting worse, and small firms are the hardest hit,” said Kelly. “Providing a training benefit to workers is a positive step, but the needs of employers need to be factored into the equation.” As it stands today, employers would be required to provide leave and job-protection to employees regardless of the type of training an employee wishes to pursue. “Providing government funding to allow a worker to study Latin or interpretive dance is one thing, but forcing an employer to hold open a job while they do it is a step too far.”   

The Canada Training Benefit will provide funds and provisions that will protect workers’ jobs while they undertake training requiring a leave of absence. While CFIB does not support the plan in its current form, it could form an important part of a training culture with some key changes:

  • Increase the amount of the EI premium rebate so that employers only pay the employee rate on the first $20,000 of EI premiums paid for all firms, regardless of size.
  • Require a joint application involving both the employer and employee for anyone requesting training that would involve a leave of absence.
  • Suspend the one-week EI waiting period for the benefit so employees can benefit from the EI payment as quickly as possible.
  • Allow employers the option of topping up their employee’s pay during the training period without the employee losing access to their EI benefits.
  • Minimize red tape associated with receiving the employer rebates by automating the process based on the previous year’s tax filings.

“Small business owners already do a lot of formal and informal training, so they’re onboard with helping their employees learn new, relevant skills,” added Kelly. “This training benefit could be a good thing for both employers and employees if the government ensures the needs of small employers are considered.”

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at