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Responses to Questions Asked During Canada's

Voluntary National Review

1. What are the efforts being made in Canada for the youth in Canada so that the technology-driven job market does not exacerbate inequality in society?

The Government of Canada has committed to strengthening income security and to developing policy initiatives to help improve the economic and social security of Canadians, and to reduce poverty among families, seniors, youth and other vulnerable groups. Canadian youth subpopulations that are particularly vulnerable in the labour market include: youth in precarious employment and living in low income; youth with disabilities or mental illness; youth from minority groups; Indigenous youth; and, other sub-groups of the youth population that face persistent challenges. When considering the coming transformation of work, the accelerated development of robotics, automation and artificial intelligence will likely have an enormous impact on shaping the types of jobs and the necessary skills. In this context, it is probable that the employment reality for many youth will evolve rapidly increasing competition for jobs, particularly at the entry-level and for the most vulnerable. 

An important effort for the Government of Canada is to closely monitor the transformations in the world of work in order to better anticipate the impacts of these changes on youth, including on rising underemployment, precarious employment, decreasing job quality, and new modes of mobility. To this effect, data is being collected in order to develop and track important indicators that measure how changes in the job market impact youth. These indicators are also used to track progress. In particular, the Government of Canada has committed to a G20 target to reduce by 15% the number of low-skilled Canadian youth Not in Employment and Education or Training (NEETs) by the year 2025.

Canada’s youth (aged 15 to 24) unemployment rate is below prerecession levels (11.1% in May 2018) and relatively close to its all-time low (10.4% in 1989). Despite being at historic lows, nearly 1 in 10 Canadian youth are not pursuing employment, education or training; young men are slightly more prevalent in this group. These youth run the risk of entering a cycle of poverty.

The Innovation and Skills Plan is preparing Canadian youth for a more digital and data-driven economy through programs like CanCode. The CanCode Program supports initiatives providing educational opportunities for coding and digital skills development to Canadian youth from kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12). It also supports initiatives that provide K-12 teachers with training and professional development they need to introduce digital skills, coding and related concepts into the classroom.  The program aims to equip youth, including traditionally underrepresented groups, with the skills and study inceptives they need to be prepared for the jobs of today and the future. 

While Canadians know that quality education gives them the tools they need to succeed, many Canadians face multiple challenges that make it difficult to access post-secondary education and/or training. Youth may struggle to complete high school for a variety of reasons, such as having to balance school with a part-time job, or not having a home environment that helps them focus on their studies.

The Government of Canada has taken significant steps to make post-secondary education more affordable for students. For example, the Government has increased Canada Student Grants for students from lower- and middle-income families. Grant amounts for students from low- and middle-income families and part-time students were increased by 50%, giving over 360,000 students more financial assistance they will not have to pay back, and eligibility for these grants was expanded, making approximately 46,000 students newly eligible. The Government has also simplified the Canada Student Loans Program application process and increased the loan repayment threshold by approximately 23%, so that students do not have to repay their loans until they are earning at least $25,000 per year. This increased threshold helps to ease students’ transition into the workforce.

To ensure that Indigenous students have the same opportunities for success as other Canadian students, in 2017 the Government of Canada increased funding for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program. This increase in funding will support the post-secondary education and financial needs of over 4,600 First Nations and Inuit students enrolled in qualifying post-secondary programs. Eligible costs covered by the program may include tuition, books, travel support and living allowances all eligible students to focus their time and energy on their education.

In addition, through the new Skills Boost initiative, beginning in the fall of 2018, adults returning to school on a full-time basis after several years in the workforce will be eligible to receive additional grant funding per school year, on top of the other grants and loans available to students. This will also allow unemployed Canadians to continue receiving Employment Insurance benefits when taking self-funded training.

Educational supports for youth and adults help open the gateway into the workplace. As the job market increasingly places a premium on a diverse skill set, Canadians may need to upgrade their skills throughout their careers. Current transfers to provinces and territories in support of skills training and employment programs have also been made simpler, more flexible and more responsive to the needs of employers and workers, including those currently under-represented in the workforce. Taken together, this funding is helping individuals across all age groups and backgrounds—from youth to more experienced workers, newcomers to Canada, and persons with disabilities and others—so that all Canadians have the opportunity to find and keep good jobs.

To better prepare students for the world of work, the Government of Canada is supporting work-integrated learning opportunities for young Canadians in higher education. Since spring 2017, the Student Work Placements Program has supported multi-stakeholder partnerships, between employers and willing post-secondary education institutions, to work collaboratively to create 10,000 new work-integrated learning placements for young Canadians enrolled in STEM and business programs at post-secondary education institutions across Canada. Additionally, the Government of Canada is supporting the creation of up to 1,000 student work placements in the cyber security sector, and up to 500 new student work placements for students in the artificial intelligence sector, with specific support for female students. These placements will provide students with valuable work experience and help them acquire the work-ready skills they will need to drive growth and innovation when they graduate and enter the workforce.

Additionally, the Digital Skills for Youth program connects underemployed recent post-secondary graduates with small businesses and not-for-profit organizations where they can gain meaningful work experience to help them transition to career-oriented employment. Program participants will able to use the skills acquired during their studies and apply them in a professional setting. Moreover, they will be able to upskill if required to better meet the demands of the labour market.

Indigenous people are less likely to be employed than non-Indigenous Canadians, and for those who do work, they typically earn less. The new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program increases funding by 34% compared to the previous program, thus helping more Indigenous Canadians gain skills and find jobs to support themselves and their families. These investments will support Indigenous Peoples in developing employment skills and pursuing training for high-quality jobs. The Program also recognizes the unique needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis by establishing distinct programmatic and funding streams.

The Government of Canada supports young Canadians between the ages of 15 and 30 to get the information, skills, job experience and abilities they need to make a successful transition to the workplace through the Youth Employment Strategy. Canada’s approach to youth employment is being modernized in order to address the changes from technology driven developments. Youth employment in Canada is currently characterized by high rates of over qualification, high rates of involuntary part-time work, increasing student debt loads, and increasing rates of temporary and precarious work. Low skilled youth are being pushed out of the workforce and as a result, are finding themselves neither in employment, education or training. Accordingly, the modernized Youth Employment Strategy will be responsive to these various issues with better supports for youth, in particular those who face additional barriers to the labour market, by strengthening and scaling up proven measures and implementing innovative solutions to facilitate youth transitions from school-to-work in a context where rapid demographic and technological changes are transforming the world of work.

Finally, the Government of Canada has introduced innovative approaches into program design, delivery and measurement to ensure programs respond to emerging workforce needs, including those of the technology driven market. Through the Future Skills initiative, the Government of Canada will examine major trends that will have an impact on national and regional economies and workers; identify emerging skills that are in demand now and into the future, which may impact people’s education and training decisions; develop, test and evaluate innovative approaches to help Canadians gain the skills they need to adapt and succeed in the workforce; and share results and best practices with governments, the private sector, labour, educational and training institutions, not-for-profit organizations, academics and subject matter experts to support broader adoption of innovative approaches across Canada. An important share of the overall investments in the Future Skills initiative will target youth.

2. We recognize that Canada is one of the biggest development partners of the developing world, particularly the LDCs. How is Canada going to achieve or meet the targets of SDG 17 – Partnership for the Goals?

Canada recognizes and emphasizes the importance of partnership in working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Canada is engaging with a wide variety of partnerships—with other countries, civil society, multilateral organizations, and the private sector—to promote the SDGs. The SDGs cannot be achieved without broad and inclusive partnerships.

Canada’s international assistance exceeds $5 billion annually. Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy aims to direct international assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable. With half of the world’s poorest citizens living in sub-Saharan Africa, Canada committed to ensure that 50% of its bilateral international development assistance is directed to sub-Saharan African countries by 2021-2022. The 2018 federal budget announced $2 billion in new funding for international assistance over five years to support implementation of the Policy. Through this policy, Canada prioritizes the investments, partnerships and advocacy efforts that have the greatest potential to close gender gaps, eliminate barriers to gender equality and help achieve the SDGs. Canada has also committed to the World Humanitarian Summit’s Grand Bargain agreement, which exists between more than 30 of the biggest donors and aid providers, aiming to direct aid to the people that need it most.

Canada is a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, and supports several important initiatives under its umbrella that are working towards resolving development challenges through inclusive dialogue between stakeholders. For example, Canada is the Co-Chair of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, which looks for effective solutions for development in fragile contexts.

Through its many contributions to shaping the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, the Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction and the World Humanitarian Summit’s Grand Bargain, Canada has worked hard to shape a new and positive framework so that the remarkable development gains that have been achieved by some can be shared by all.

Under the Addis Tax Initiative, Canada and other donors have committed to a collective doubling of international assistance for domestic resource mobilization by 2020. Additionally, under Canada’s 2018 G7 presidency, the G7 Charlevoix Commitment on Innovative Financing for Development outlines an approach to promote economic growth in developing economies and foster greater equality of opportunity within and between countries. This supports innovative financing approaches and new international development partnerships to achieve greater sustainable development outcomes; explores opportunities to enhance the economic resilience of vulnerable developing countries; and affirms that bilateral Development Finance Institutions are important actors in mobilizing private sector financing.

For Least-Developed Countries (LDCs), Canada has extended duty-free treatments to imports through the Least Developed Country Tariff since 1983. In 2017, Canada amended rules of origin requirements to allow more apparel products from LDCs. Canada also fully meets its commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO) with respect to duty-free, quota-free and preferential rules of origin for LDCs.

Canada is a key contributor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and strongly supports the IMF in its role of ensuring global macroeconomic stability, a strong international monetary system and cooperative solutions to shared global challenges.

Canada is committed to engaging with LDCs as well as to achieving the SDGs in their entirety, and recognizes the central role of SDG 17 in the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

3. Particularly when there are emerging climate phenomena, extreme weather events which are more frequent and very often on an extremely large scale, what is Canada doing to address this, considering the convergence between ever swifter urbanization and climate change? Canada has always been an important partner for developing countries. What is your position, particularly in relation to the Dominican Republic, Small Island Developing States, and those of us particularly in the Caribbean who are in the path of hurricanes… [remainder of translation unclear].

Domestically, Canada is committed to building resilience to the impacts of climate change, including by supporting municipal efforts to increase resilience in urban areas. Federal support for municipal adaptation action includes:

Extreme temperatures and heat stress associated with climate change is a significant area of concern for urban areas. Canada is committed to protecting the health of Canadians from extreme heat through continued implementation of heat alert and response systems, heat health surveillance systems, and training and information to public health professionals and Canadians on heat illness.

Efforts are also being taken by other levels of government in Canada to build resilience to climate change, including in coastal communities. For example, more than 90% of Newfoundland and Labrador’s population is situated along the coastline which is affected by storm surges and erosion. The province is enhancing its network of coastal monitoring stations which currently includes 116 stations in the province, including five in Indigenous communities in northern Labrador. Data from these stations informs infrastructure, planning, and development decisions in the province.

Internationally, Canada is making continuous efforts towards Goals 11 and 13 to address climate change and its impacts on sustainable and resilient cities in the Dominican Republic and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Recognizing the unique vulnerabilities faced by SIDS, including in the Caribbean, Canada pledged $100 million over the next five years to support reconstruction and climate resilience efforts following last year’s devastating hurricanes in 2017. As G7 President for 2018, Canada announced in June 2018 that it will invest $162 million to build stronger and more resilient coasts and communities. This funding includes $100 million to support the expansion of Climate Risk Insurance coverage in vulnerable countries, including SIDS in the Caribbean, and $60 million to support the expansion of their clean energy systems and infrastructure, and to improve energy access for women and girls in SIDS.

Under the G7, Canada also committed to supporting resilient coasts and coastal communities through the Charlevoix Blueprint. Through this commitment, Canada will work in partnership across multiple sectors to identify and assess policy gaps, vulnerabilities, risks and needs, and share lessons learned and expertise. Canada’s efforts under the Blueprint will help support resilient and quality infrastructure in coasts and coastal communities and demonstrates Canada’s continued commitments in addressing climate change to promote urban resilience and sustainable development.

Canada is providing $300 million to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the largest dedicated international climate fund, helping developing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions) and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The GCF has already approved a number of projects in the SIDS, including: US $222M for a project to build and renovate infrastructure to improve access to safe water and sewerage systems in Fiji; and, US $26.9 million for a project that will improve port operations and build a climate-resilient port in Nauru. Canada has also announced other funding to support adaptation in SIDS, including $10 million to the Climate Risk Early Warning System initiative through the World Meteorological Organization to improve early warning systems in some of the most vulnerable communities.

Canada has also announced the following funding to support climate and environmental adaptation in SIDS:

Additionally, Canada has contributed over $4.5 million in humanitarian and emergency assistance to Pacific Island Countries (PICs) since 2015. Canada is funding $1.5 million to the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI) project, a World Bank multi-donor trust fund that provides select PICs with disaster risk assessment and financing tools to better adapt to the effects of climate change. The project also helps build the capacity of PIC, regional organizations and the risk insurance provider, on disaster risk financing, development of insurance products, and public financial management in response to natural disasters.

Finally, Canada is also a founding donor for the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIFF) – the first multi-country risk pool in the world, which is designed as a regional catastrophe fund for Caribbean governments to limit the financial impact of hurricanes and earthquakes by quickly providing financial liquidity when a policy is triggered.

4. Canada has launched a National Housing Strategy. To what extent has this Strategy made it possible to meet the challenges of SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities and the other SDGs?

Managing the growth of cities and addressing key issues like the location, quality and affordability of housing, accessible and affordable public transportation and equality of access to services and economic opportunities all play a key role in enabling healthy and resilient communities. Investing in affordable housing, efficient public transit and strategies for GHG mitigation, adaptation and resiliency to a changing climate will continue making Canadian cities desirable places to live, and well prepared to meet these future challenges.

The Government of Canada believes every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable home and that affordable housing is a cornerstone of inclusive communities. Canada’s first ever National Housing Strategy (NHS) is a 10-year, $40-billion plan that will give more Canadians a place to call home. The NHS also aligns with Canada’s climate change commitments by funding the development of new energy efficient housing that is near public transit, jobs, daycares, schools and healthcare. It also provides funding for energy efficient repairs and renewals. Consistent with a human rights-based approach to housing, the Strategy is grounded in the principles of inclusion, participation, accountability, and non-discrimination, and prioritizes the most vulnerable Canadians including women and children fleeing domestic violence, Indigenous peoples, seniors, people with disabilities, those dealing with mental health and addiction issues, veterans, and young adults.

The NHS establishes measurable outcomes and targets to reduce chronic homelessness by 50% and improve access to adequate and affordable housing. Over the next 10 years, the NHS will help Canadians in greatest need by creating over 100,000 new housing units, repair another 300,000 units, and reduce or eliminate housing need for as many as 530,000 households.

The NHS also aims to ensure existing rental housing is not lost to disrepair and to develop new, high-performing affordable housing integrated with supports and services. $13.2-billion has been earmarked to create up to 60,000 new units of housing and repair up to 240,000 units of existing affordable and community housing that are expected to achieve a minimum 25% reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. As such, these investments will also support Canada’s climate change agenda.

Furthermore, through the NHS, the federal government is taking definitive steps to progressively realize the right of every Canadian to access adequate housing as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The NHS will establish:

In addition to the National Housing Strategy, the Government of Canada is addressing homelessness in all regions of Canada through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS), a unique community-based program that provides direct financial support to communities across Canada to help them address their local homelessness needs.

The objectives of the HPS are achieved through several funding streams. These streams focus on the needs of homeless individuals and individuals at imminent risk of homelessness at the local level, and provide funding to help individuals gain and maintain a stable living arrangement.

The HPS provides direct funding to 61 designated communities (urban centres) across Canada to support their efforts in addressing homelessness. Following a comprehensive community planning process, communities determine their own needs/priorities, and develop appropriate projects.

HPS funding aims at supporting longer-term solutions to homelessness, such as Housing First projects and programs. Housing First, under the HPS is focused primarily on moving chronic or episodically homeless individuals from the streets or homeless shelters, directly into permanent housing and then providing the necessary supports to assist them in remaining stably housed while working towards recovery and reintegration into the community.

At the same time, communities still maintain the flexibility to address local priorities. The HPS funding may be used by communities to support a range of local initiatives to improve the self-sufficiency of homeless individuals and families, which could include connecting clients to income supports, pre-employment assistance, and life skills development (e.g. budgeting and cooking).

On June 11, 2018, the Government of Canada announced that it will be making bold changes to the federal strategy to prevent and reduce homelessness. The Government announced a total investment of $2.2 billion for homelessness over 10 years. By 2021-2022, this will double annual investments compared to 2015–16.

5. How and when will the Government of Canada entrench multi-stakeholder representation within SDG implementation and how will multi-stakeholder engagement occur with the SDG unit and in the development of the national SDG implementation strategy?

The Government of Canada recognizes the crucial importance of partnerships to achieve the SDGs. Across Canada, governments, organizations and individuals are already answering the 2030 Agenda’s call to action and convening new partnerships to respond in new ways to find solutions to common problems both domestically and abroad.

In order to support the development of a 2030 Agenda National Strategy that reflects a whole-of-society approach and will catalyze action on the SDGs across the country, the Government of Canada will launch a comprehensive engagement process.

The engagement process for the National Strategy will be based on the premise that the SDGs are not the single domain of one team or department. While there will be engagement events focused solely on the National Strategy, additional engagement activities will involve leveraging the engagement processes that have recently been completed, are underway or are upcoming across the Government of Canada on issues related to sustainable development. Accordingly, engagement will occur through a series of Ministerial and non-Ministerial events. A concerted effort will be made not only to hear from the major stakeholder groups but also from those people who are at the greatest risk of being ‘left behind’ including: Indigenous peoples, women and girls, immigrant and refugee populations, persons with disabilities, and individuals identifying with the LGBTQ2 community. Existing interdepartmental mechanisms and networks will be used to advance the work of the 2030 Agenda which will be complemented by additional engagement processes.

The Government of Canada will also administer a new SDG Funding Program for innovative and horizontal initiatives that support the achievement of the SDGs. The Program will support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by strengthening partnerships and engagement with Canadians, including provinces and territories, municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, academia, distinctions-based Indigenous partners, youth and vulnerable or excluded populations. It will be an opportunity to work in partnership with organizations to help deliver improved outcomes for Canadians, with the aim of leaving no one behind.

6. The efforts made to make women more engaged in all spheres of life in Canada are appreciated. Would you like to share some concrete examples with us?

The Government of Canada has undertaken a number of initiatives to increase women’s engagement in public life and the economy, including:

7. What kind of authority will the SDG Unit have to influence the development of Canada’s targets and indicators and how will you determine national priorities and develop ambitious, concrete and time-bound domestic targets?

8. How will you ensure the meaningful participation of multiple and diverse stakeholders in the development of targets and indicator selection?

9. Once targets are established, will the SDG Unit have the authority to ensure that the departments are integrating and monitoring the targets?

Please note that what follows responds to Questions 7, 8 and 9.

Statistics Canada, the Government of Canada’s statistical office, is the central focal point for reporting Canada's data for the global SDG indicators and works as a co-ordinating body for the National Statistical System. Statistics Canada is responsible for the collection, collation, analysis, presentation and dissemination of data for regular monitoring of Canadian progress against the global indicators and will work closely with partner departments and other levels of governments to ensure that Canada is positioned to report on the SDGs and track domestic progress. They will continue to work with the United Nations and partners on the global SDG indicator framework

The development of domestic targets will be informed by engagement with a variety of stakeholders, including other government departments, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous peoples, youth, civil society and the private sector. These targets will be aligned with priority areas and themes established throughout the National Strategy. Where additional indicators are necessary, Departments, working with Statistics Canada, will develop statistically robust indicators and methodologies to support the domestic targets. Statistics Canada, will harness available data and examine other existing data sets to report on these indicators.

Once developed, Statistics Canada will report both on the domestic and global indicators. The Government of Canada will monitor the overall impact and progress towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the National Strategy.

To support its commitment to achieve the 2030 Agenda, the Government of Canada launched an SDG Data Hub in May 2018, hosted by Statistics Canada. The SDG Data Hub is an online resource with valuable statistics and metrics to track Canada’s progress in achieving the 17 goals of 2030 Agenda.

The SDG Data Hub is the result of a partnership with several federal departments and agencies. Once fully populated, it will provide access to comprehensive statistics and measures from several Government of Canada departments and agencies, other levels of government, international organizations and industry. The SDG Data Hub will be an evergreen resource updated as new data and statistics become available. It will also evolve as global indicators are further developed and Canada specific targets and indicators are developed.

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