Federal Fall Economic Statement Promises Investments in Net-Zero Skills, Clean Technologies

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland introduced the Fall Economic Statement (FES) in a context of great economic uncertainty and doubt.

The general theme coming into this Fall Economic Statement was the balance between mitigating inflationary pressure on the economy (through reduced spending) while still moving forward on key files (both economically and politically) such as the acceleration of the green transition and the progressive increase of funding in healthcare and housing.

This balance is in fact addressed in the first few pages to the FES with an acknowledgement of the negative impacts that the rise in inflation has had on Canadians across the country. The recent positive economic outputs and fiscal health of Canada (compared to G7 counterparts) could have been legitimate reasons for optimism, but Minister Freeland remained prudent in her opening remarks and mentioned the uncertainty that comes with multiple countries engaging in significant monetary interventions.

To counterbalance the anticipated economic downturn, the government plan is to create and promote an environment favorable to private investments in the short term to generate more competitiveness and innovation in sectors of long term economic and, mostly, strategic importance.

To do so, the government announced the introduction of the Canada Growth Fund, a 30% tax credit for green technologies, and a new Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency. There are also multiple policies to support labour shortages across the country, as well as supporting first-time home buyers through new programs. Some Canadians will be supported through the elimination of federal interest on Canada student loans and apprentice loans, increases in old age security, and enhancement to the Canada Workers Benefit.

Overall, the 2022 Fall Economic Statement builds on the commitments made in last spring’s budget, with a clear emphasis on attracting investments in green technology while building the necessary workforce to support these sectors.

Below is a selective summary of the FES which outlines its key measures. The HRAI team invites member inputs as we engage with key government departments to flesh out the proposed measures and determine how they can benefit HRAI members.

FES Measures of Interest to Members:

  • An Investment Tax Credit for Clean Technologies: The 2022 Fall Economic Statement proposes a refundable tax credit equal to 30 per cent of the capital cost of investments in (among other things) low-carbon heating equipment, including active solar heating, air-source heat pumps, and ground-source heat pumps.
  • The Sustainable Jobs Training Centre: The Centre would bring together workers, unions, employers, and training institutions across the country to examine the skills of the labour force today, forecast future skills requirements, and develop curriculum, micro-credentials, and on-site learning to help 15,000 workers upgrade or gain new skills for jobs in a low-carbon economy. The Centre would focus on specific areas in high demand, starting with the sustainable battery industry and low-carbon building and retrofits.
  • A new sustainable jobs stream under the Union Training and Innovation Program: The Union Training and Innovation Program supports union-based apprenticeship training in the skilled trades. Funded projects through this stream would support unions in leading the development of green skills training for workers in the trades. It is expected that 20,000 apprentices and journeypersons would benefit from this investment.
  • The Sustainable Jobs Secretariat: To effectively support workers on the road to sustainable, good-paying jobs, the government will launch the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat to offer a one-stop shop for workers and employers. It will provide the most up to date information on federal programs, funding, and services across government departments as Canada works to build a low-carbon economy with opportunities for everyone.
  • The 2023-25 Immigration Levels Plan: tabled on November 1, 2022, the plan lays out a path to further increase immigration in the coming years to reach 500,000 immigrants in 2025—the majority of whom will be skilled workers who will help to address persistent labour shortages, including in healthcare, manufacturing, and the building trades. To address ongoing application backlogs, speed up processing, and allow for skilled newcomers to fill critical labour gaps faster, the government has committed an additional $50 million in 2022-23 for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada.
  • Supports for Youth Employment: $301.4 million over two years, starting in 2023-24, through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program, to provide wraparound supports and job placements to young people facing employment barriers
  • Investing in Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Competitiveness: To do this, the government will work with industry experts and unions to build on past investments and help make Canada the premier destination for investment in clean technology manufacturing that will create and maintain good-paying jobs, and help build a net-zero economy. Following these consultations, new measures will be announced, as part of Budget 2023, to ensure Canada’s competitiveness and create good jobs.
  • Student Loan Relief: The 2022 Fall Economic Statement proposes to make all Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans permanently interest-free, including those currently being repaid, beginning on April 1, 2023. This change has an estimated cost of $2.7 billion over five years and $556.3 million ongoing.

HRAI will continue to engage with relevant ministries to obtain relevant details for members. For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 235 or email mluymes@hrai.ca.

See also coverage of the Immigration Policy in the Daily Commercial News.

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