Canada Learning Bond opportunity

The Canada Learning Bond is one of three incentive programs created by the federal government to encourage families to save for their children's future post-secondary education through Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs). What is unique about the CLB is that eligible families receive up to $2000 in funding regardless of their own contribution amounts. (Families can contribute zero dollars and still receive the CLB). The CLB is a vital boost to modest-income families whose children might otherwise not consider college or university as a pathway toward a future career.

In an advanced economy like Canada's, with post-secondary credentials so widely valued, the CLB can be a life-changing gift for millions of children. The CLB, along with the other federal incentive programs, aims to ensure widespread access to college and university, which research has shown to boost the earnings of graduates and to increase national prosperity. Recent research from the US illustrates how a university graduate will, on average, earn a lifetime income of $800,000 more than a high school graduate. Canadian data suggests similar positive trends.

Behavioral insight

Behavioral insight chart

Federal support for saving

Canada's three post-secondary savings incentive programs are:

Converting the opportunity into reality

RESPs are vital pillars of post-secondary financing in Canada. In 2019 alone, $996 million was withdrawn from RESP accounts, making them equal in importance to student loans. In the same year, $205 million in CLB payments were made, following a recent trend of year-after-year increases. SmartSAVER is proud to have collaborated with its partners to help drive the CLB participation rate up from 20% to 40%, and has learned along the way how to help modest-income families of all backgrounds overcome some of the barriers they face in accessing benefits.

SmartSAVER's success with the CLB is the result of three replicable strategies that were refined over the past decade:

RESPs and the Canada Learning Bond (CLB):
vital to modest-income Canadians!

Motivating modest-income families to save!

As a result of our efforts, online tools have been created and refined to promote RESPs and the CLB - explaining their benefits and demonstrating to families how much they can save. We have also streamlined the sign-up process and worked with financial institutions to improve their understanding of the CLB. This has enabled those institutions to train their staff who, in turn, can increase awareness among families. Collaborating with federal and provincial governments has resulted in large-scale programs to drive awareness of the CLB, including the provision of automatic RESP referrals in the Ontario "Birth Bundle". We are proud of these successes but we know there is more to be done, which is why we maintain our advocacy efforts, including a call for an amendment to the Income Tax Act that would enable First Nations to sign up their members for the CLB.