Letter to the Finance Minister regarding innovation, skills and work-integrated learning

Publication Type

Dear Minister Morneau,

In Budget 2018, you highlighted the need to position Canadians for success in the global economy by supporting new and innovative approaches to skills development.

Already, your government has invested in a number of important initiatives to enhance Canada’s future talent pool: the Future Skills Centre, Mitacs, the Youth Employment Strategy and the new Student Work Placement Program.

As employers, educators and students, we believe that the most efficient and effective way to prepare Canada’s youth for the coming skills revolution is to embrace a national work-integrated learning (WIL) strategy. WIL opportunities such as co-ops, internships, apprenticeships and applied research projects enable students to apply their skills and knowledge in the workplace.

They introduce young people to potential new career paths, while providing businesses with access to new talent, energy and ideas.

Now is the time to make Canada the world leader in WIL – to commit to ensuring that every post-secondary student in the country has access to a valuable work experience by the time they finish school. This is not just a job for government: all of us have a role to play in supporting young Canadians and making this vision a reality.

We, the undersigned, join the Business/Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) in recommending the following actions, and fully support BHER’s pre-budget submission to the Standing Committee on Finance (appended):

  1. Launch a National WIL Strategy and create a National Taskforce to implement it.
  2. Commit additional federal funding to the existing WIL matching platform investment (e.g. Orbis/Magnet) to increase functionality and reach more employers. The result will be a national WIL platform that will simplify WIL participation for employers and provide a place to house resources to help expand and develop new programs and share best practices.
  3. Increase WIL funding to support employers that offer meaningful WIL placements. This should focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises and companies that are new to WIL.
  4. Expand existing WIL programs to include humanities and social sciences students, international students and not-for-profit organizations.
  5. Place special emphasis on WIL funding for students from under-represented groups, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit students, to ensure WIL can truly be a social and economic equalizer.
  6. Leverage existing federal programs and initiatives, including the Innovation Superclusters Initiative and the Economic Strategy Tables, and changes to procurement policies that would reward companies that participate in WIL.
  7. Increase the number of WIL placements offered by the Government of Canada to maintain its position as an employer of choice and in support of its public service renewal.

As the Canadian economy faces an uncertain global environment, we need a well-prepared, well-educated, and highly skilled workforce to navigate these shifts.

We thank you for your investments to date, and urge your government to continue creating new opportunities for young people and breaking down barriers that prevent Canadians from reaching their full potential.


The Honourable John Manley
President and Chief Executive Officer
Business Council of Canada

Rob Henderson
President and Chief Executive Officer
BioTalent Canada

Greg D’Avignon
President and Chief Executive Officer
Business Council of British Columbia

Manjeet Birk
Executive Director
Canadian Alliance of Student Associations

Ray Massey
Acting Executive Director
Canadian Apprenticeship Forum

The Honourable Perrin Beatty
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Mary Van Buren
Canadian Construction Association

Jean Paul Gladu
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Dennis Darby
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Denise Amyot
President and Chief Executive Officer
Colleges and Institutes Canada

Claudia Sperling
Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada

Yves-Thomas Dorval
Président-directeur general
Conseil du patronat du Québec

Kevin Nilsen
President and Chief Executive Officer
ECO Canada

Michelle Branigan
Chief Executive Officer
Electricity Human Resources Canada

Gabriel Miller
Executive Director
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Robert Watson
President and Chief Executive Officer
Information Technology Association of Canada

Yung Wu
Chief Executive Officer
MaRS Discovery District

Pierre Gratton
President and Chief Executive Officer
Mining Association of Canada

Alejandro Adem
Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director

Rocco Rossi
President and Chief Executive Officer
Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Sarah Watts – Rynard
Chief Executive Officer
Polytechnics Canada

Jennifer Reynolds
President and Chief Executive Officer
Toronto Financial Services Alliance

Meric Gertler
U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities

Paul Davidson
Universities Canada

Scott Stirrett
Executive Director and Founder
Venture for Canada