Languages Canada is very pleased with Minister Morneau’s attention to international education in the budget and the government’s clear support for our sector. The $147.9 million (Cdn) over five years to support promotion and outbound student mobility demonstrates that the government is listening to the sector in terms of strategic direction. The ongoing $8 million per year afterwards is an initial commitment to long term investment and a recognition that the sector is here to stay.
Languages Canada is committed to promoting Canada as a study destination and to fulfilling our contribution to Canada’s education, immigration, and labour market spheres. Our efforts in promoting Canada as a premier language study destination already receives the support and recognition of the federal government. Our strategic direction taken some years ago to take Canada’s quality language education offer abroad to support internationalization efforts should receive support in the new budget. And we are particularly excited about the potential to contribute in outbound mobility for Canadian youth - the timing is perfect as Languages Canada designs and develops programs with our government and institutional partners abroad to receive Canadian students. We believe language education needs to play a key role in achieving the objectives of the IES, and that without leveraging the knowledge and resources of our sector the return for Canada’s investment diminishes.
What is unclear at this point is the “how”. Will the investment be wisely spent? Will it recognize and respect the potential contribution of all the stakeholders and support their alignment? Some things are best done by the federal government. Others by the provinces. Yet other by agencies or representative bodies who understand the sector. And last but not least, our members (the institutions) are also important players and investors. Languages Canada members already invest well over $150 million a year promoting their programs and Canada, for example. Additionally, some improvements do not require a financial investment from the federal government. For example, a responsible access to work program for international language students is a policy decision that could have substantial impact on pathway programs, immigration objectives, labour shortages, and export revenues. Languages Canada would also like to see the government focus on this low hanging fruit that will cost Canadians nothing and contribute much.