Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the Canada Apprentice Loan initiative is now open for business and accepting applications.
The initiative is intended to help current apprentices complete their training and encourage more to pursue a career in the skilled trades.
The Canada Apprentice Loan, which was introduced in Economic Action Plan 2014, provides apprentices in Red Seal trades across Canada with access to interest-free loans. These loans will help apprentices address the costs they encounter during technical training, including educational fees, tools and equipment, living expenses and forgone wages.
"Apprenticeships play an important role in Canada's post-secondary education system and are a key provider of the vital skills and knowledge necessary to power and grow the Canadian economy," said Harper at the Annacis Island campus of the British Columbia Institute of Technology. "The Canada Apprentice Loan initiative will allow young people from across the country to access jobs in the skilled trades that are in-demand in different sectors and regions – from shipbuilding in the east, to mining in the north, to oil and gas projects in the west."
It will be managed by the Canada Student Loans Program, within Employment and Social Development Canada.
Apprentices registered in a Red Seal trade apprenticeship will be able to apply for loans of up to $4,000 per period of technical training. The loans are interest-free until after loan recipients complete or leave their apprenticeship training program, up to a maximum of six years.
Those interested in applying for the Canada Apprentice Loan can do so through the Canada Apprentice Loan Online Service which is available through Canada.ca/apprentice.
The Canada Apprentice Loan is one of many initiatives that the Government has undertaken to encourage apprenticeships and career training. Other efforts include apprenticeship grants, Employment Insurance benefits for apprentices taking technical training, tax credits and deductions for employers and apprentices.
According to Statistics Canada, almost 360,000 people are enrolled every year in over 400 apprenticeship and skilled trades programs. But only half of apprentices are completing their programs due to financial strain during technical training.
The Conference Board of Canada predicts that the country will need one million additional skilled workers by 2020.
From March through June 2014, the Government of Canada held discussions on the Canada Apprentice Loan with key stakeholder groups including training providers, apprenticeship organizations and industry representatives as well as with provincial and territorial governments.