Colleges and Institutes Canada

A Year in Review



Letter from the CEO and Board Chair

To say this year was like no other would be an understatement. COVID-19 knows no boundaries, and around the world, people adjusted to an unprecedented crisis, finding new ways to work, reinventing themselves, and rising to new challenges in order to support and protect their community, through sacrifices big and small.

Despite difficult circumstances, our members stepped up in a big way during this crisis. They leapt into action, expediting the training of healthcare and frontline workers and helping manufacturers pivot to produce additional personal protective equipment, transport vaccines safely and more. They also worked hand in hand with our nation’s employers who often had to completely overhaul their businesses in order to survive, with SMEs disproportionately affected by the pandemic. To say we are proud of their work would also be an understatement.

At CICan, the pandemic forced us to redouble our efforts, as colleges and institutes needed a voice in Ottawa, perhaps more than ever before. It is slightly ironic that in a year when we could not meet in person, we participated in more advocacy meetings than ever before, ensuring that policy makers understood the impact of emergency measures on our members and their students, including the many international students who suddenly couldn’t enter the country. We also took on several new projects to provide additional support to our students and even help fill skills shortages in the long-term care sector. In that way, it was, against all odds, a time of significant growth for our association.

In a year that saw so much turmoil, we were also reminded of the critical importance of equity, diversity and inclusion. Movements like Black Lives Matter pushed us all to reflect on how we can be better allies to racialized Canadians and Indigenous people. Meanwhile COVID-19 brought to light systemic inequalities, affecting already vulnerable populations in a disproportionate way, including women.

As of the writing of this report, we can be optimistic that the pandemic is coming to an end, but we will not forget the lessons learned during this unbelievable year. Looking now to the recovery, we must ensure that it is sustainable and equitable. We sincerely believe that our members have a critical role to play in this regard, not just to help the many displaced workers find their way back to the labour market, but to continue working towards a better future for all. It is an honour to be a part of this system.

Denise Amyot
President and CEO

Dr. Paula Burns
Board Chair

Adjusting to COVID-19

In a year like no other, our association moved quickly to meet the unprecedented challenges caused by the largest global pandemic in generations. This required a whole-of-organization effort as priorities shifted to meet the urgent needs of our members and stakeholders.


Working with the government

COVID-19 had far-ranging implications that required the adoption of many new measures at the federal level. From border closures to emergency aid for students and employers, these decisions often had serious implications for colleges and institutes. Throughout the pandemic, we made sure their concerns were well represented and taken into account at the highest level. In fact, we worked with a total of 22 federal departments and agencies over the years on a range of issues.

  • One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic was the closing of our national borders and the implementation of strict restrictions for travelers coming into Canada, including international students. In light of the challenges, we worked tirelessly with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada to ensure that the needs of international students were being heard. We were instrumental in making sure international students forced to study online would remain eligible for post-graduate work permits, and making Canada the first country to reopen its doors to international students in October.
  • We also advocated on behalf of domestic students to ensure they had access to Canada Emergency Response Benefits (CERB) or the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit. Throughout the year we also defended the need for increased student financial assistance and deferred loan repayments as well as greater flexibility for federal work-integrated learning programs.

Sharing key information in a time of crisis

The first few months of the pandemic were characterized by rapid change with new policies and interventions announced at breakneck speed to match the evolving landscape. It could be hard to keep up, which is why we quickly launched several initiatives to facilitate information sharing within our broader network.

  • From the beginning of the pandemic, we created a new section on our website which was regularly updated to share details about new policies and decisions that affected our members.
  • We increased the number of virtual offerings, including webinars and workshops for our members, partners and stakeholder. This included project specific updates and broader discussions on issues affecting all colleges and institutes, as well as weekly webinars for our members giving them access to decision makers and the latest news on priority topics.
  • We also instituted regular meetings with the leadership teams of our member institutions, including our President Leadership Network, as well as regular updates with our regional counterparts across the country, and with the broader group of post-secondary stakeholders.

Adapting international activities

Travel restrictions and safety concerns made international travel all but impossible for our international division, but this did not stop our many projects overseas from continuing. Work on our various international programs, including Education for Employment, Young Africa Works and others continued online, and new linkages between member institutions and international stakeholders were created.


Shifting our student mobility program

Planned to launch in the Fall of 2020, our new student mobility program offered as part of Canada’s International Education Strategy had to be delayed because of the pandemic. Instead of waiting for the boarders to reopen, we launched a call for proposals to member institutions in October for innovative outbound student mobility projects. This upfront investment allowed member institutions to test different tools, supports and services to build inclusive study/work abroad opportunities, adjust programming to a COVID-19 environment, and served as a stepping-stone for the full implementation of the program, which will begin in the coming months.


Looking to the post-pandemic recovery

As the year progressed, many conversations turned to the challenges ahead, and in particular the need to bolster a strong economic recovery. This was the focus of much of the federal government’s Fall economic update and subsequent budget. For us, it has always been clear that colleges and institutes are ideally placed to support Canadians and help their communities respond, post-pandemic. As such, they have a critical role to play in Canada’s economic recovery. To ensure their role is well-understood, we published a white paper in November titled The role of colleges and institutes in Canada’s resilient recovery.


Taking care of our team

The well-being of our employees has always been a top priority, and we took several exceptional measures this year to ensure our team’s safety and well-being. In keeping with local public health recommendations, our corporate office in Ottawa has been closed for much of the past year, making working from home the new normal for everyone. Even when re-opening was authorized, nobody has been forced to return to the office at any point this year. For the few who did, strict safety protocols were put in place to keep them safe.

As an organization, we made sure everyone was equipped and supported to work from home. We also created an internal COVID Response Team to reflect on how best to adjust to our new reality and to look ahead to the future of our organization and our members.

We also recognize that this has been a difficult year for many of our employees. Lockdowns, school closures, isolation and worries about vulnerable relatives can take their toll after months of pandemic. As an employer, we made sure to remain flexible and surveyed our staff regularly to keep track of their well-being and help us address some of the stress we have all been dealing with, while providing access to external support.


We are proud to be the national voice of Canada’s colleges and institutes and have worked tirelessly over the past year to ensure their priorities are heard and understood by Canadians and key decision makers.


A record setting year for government relations

As noted above, the pandemic created an extraordinary need for advocacy in order to ensure the needs of our members and their students were understood and taken into account as emergency measures were adopted. This made for an especially busy year on the government relations front. In total, we took part in nearly 160 meetings with parliamentarians and key partners within the federal government. In many cases, we were able to include members, 68 of which participated in advocacy meetings with us this year.

Meetings by Organization and Member Involvement


Being our members’ voice in Ottawa

In addition to our COVID-19 related advocacy, we also represented our members needs in other formats.

  • As always, we took part in pre-budget consultations and outlined our recommendations in our submission to the Standing Committee on Finance. In addition, this year we submitted a joint submission specifically on innovation with our regional counterparts and key stakeholders.
  • We also continued our work on Copyright, taking part in a federal consultation on how to Implement Canada’s CUSMA commitment to extend our general copyright term of protection. In addition, we obtained intervener status in the Supreme Court of Canada appeal of the York Decision, presenting oral arguments at the hearing on May 21, 2021, with a decision by the Court expected within six months.
  • On applied research, we worked with the College Applied Research Taskforce and our National Research Advisory Committee, to launch a national letter-writing campaign to highlight how college and institute applied research supports community innovation. SMEs, innovation partners, and national stakeholders sent 115 letters to 79 members of parliament, including Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry Navdeep Bains; and Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, sharing the impact of college applied research on job creation, skills development, and innovation.

Engaging the public

Our advocacy efforts were supported by a variety of communication activities targeting national and regional media. Over the year, we published op-eds, provided interviews and were featured in media such as the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Canadian Press, Maclean’s, the Hill Times, Policy Options, the PIE News, Study Travel Magazine, and Le Droit.

We also continued to work with Marketzone Productions (now MZP) to publish Education for Employment Magazine, which is distributed with Canadian School Counsellor Magazine and Careering Magazine, as well as the Globe and Mail to produce two special features on colleges and institutes. Additionally, we collaborated with Re$earch Money to create a special feature called Applied Research Supporting Economic Recovery.

Throughout the year, we maintained a strong presence on social media, growing our audience considerably across all our platforms.

social media

total growth






2,107 total page likes





Being heard and delivering results

We can say with confidence that our advocacy efforts resulted in very positive developments this year. Our high-level work with IRCC and other departments made a difference for many people struggling with the impacts of the pandemic, including thousands of international students. Throughout the year, we also saw positive signals that our positioning on key topics such as skills development, innovation and the role of colleges in supporting a resilient recovery are being heard by the federal government.

This started with a very promising Throne Speech that announced no less than “the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers, including building new skills in growing sectors.” This trend continued with the Fall economic update and then the federal budget, which invested $5.7 Billion over five years on measures related to skills development. The budget clearly acknowledged the critical role of learning institutions in Canada’s economic recovery, as well as the specific contribution of colleges and institutes to the country’s innovation ecosystem. This included new funds, with an investment of $46.9 million over two years to support additional research partnerships through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s College and Community Innovation Program.

Build capacity

We are dedicated to bringing our members together and forging strong partnerships to empower the system as whole. By working in collaboration, we have created many new opportunities for colleges and institutes this year.


Building Capacity in long term care

The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the critical role that personal support workers play in our healthcare system. The shortage of these workers has been growing in recent years and has significantly increased during the pandemic. To help alleviate urgent needs, while training new workers in the sector, we launched the Building Capacity in long term care project, which was announced in December. Funded by Employment and Social Development Canada, the project will train approximately 2,600 new supportive care assistants thanks to an accelerated online program and paid internships.


Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) were big topics this year and for very good reason. While ongoing conversations around systemic racism, discrimination, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and Canada’s own history became more prominent in public discourse fueled by the Black Lives Matter movement and very public displays of racism, it also became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on racialized Canadians and minorities.

As an organization and system committed to better futures for all, we couldn’t ignore the call to do more and to do better. We met with our student and alumni committee to discuss how to CICan can be an ally and champion. We also created an EDI committee within CICan to help us tackle these sensitive, yet essential issues, both as an employer, and as a leading voice within the broader post-secondary sector. Realizing that there is still much to do, we took time to reflect on this and worked with our board of directors to craft an EDI policy for our organization to make sure we live up to the values of inclusion and to lead by example.

To make that commitment official, we also signed on to the Government of Canada’s 50-30 Challenge, which encourages Canadian organizations to increase the representation and inclusion of diverse groups within their workplace, while highlighting the benefits of giving all Canadians a seat at the table. Signing on to the challenge means that we have committed to achieving 50% gender parity on our board and senior management team; as well as at least 30% representation of other under-represented groups, including Indigenous people, racialized persons, people living with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ2 community.


Supporting under-represented and disadvantaged groups

Announced in 2019, the Unlocking Inclusive Pre-Apprenticeship Pathways continued this year in partnership with the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum to identify and adapt pre-apprenticeship training programs to meet the needs of under-represented and disadvantaged groups. This is especially important in the context of COVID-19, which exposed further skills gaps in the labour market.

We also launched a new program this year called the Skills Compass that will help engage young Canadians who are currently not in employment, education or training to develop the life skills, essential skills and career readiness they need to go back to school and prepare for a career. This three-year program is designed to meet the needs of unemployed or underemployed Indigenous and newcomer youth between the ages 18 to 30 years. In this initial phase, we worked on an environmental scan, which launched in April 2021.


Launching careers for the future

In addition to the Supportive Care Assistant program launched with the Building Capacity in Long Term Care project, our Career Launcher initiative continued to grow this year thanks to new subsidies for returning internship programs (Clean Tech, Digital Tech and Natural Ressources), as well as the creation of our new ImpAct Internships program. Funded by Employment and Social Development Canada this latest addition helps employers advance initiatives that align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and allows Canadian youth to gain critical skills essential for the 21st century and to become SDG ambassadors.


Supporting our international partners

Despite the challenges caused by the pandemic, we continued working with our many international partners this year.

Announced in 2019, our Education for Employment (EFE) Program – Al-Najah Tunisia program truly got off the ground this year as partnerships were established between member institutions and our local partners. We also successfully wrapped up EFE projects in Senegal and Mozambique, and set the groundwork for new partnerships to be announced in the coming months.

Our programs in Kenya also continued to gain steam. In fact, with so much activity in the country, we consolidated our efforts and reorganized the team to maximize our impact. The Kenya Education for Employment Program continued with great success, as did our collaboration with the Mastercard foundation on Young Africa Works. This included multiple calls for proposals and significant work on building partnerships between our members and Kenyan institutions.


Helping Canada progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Our work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continued this year, receiving a new and expanded presence on our website, and via our many projects. To help our members support sustainable development, we launched the SDG Toolkit for Canadian Colleges and Institutes in September. This practical guide was made available to all post-secondary institutions as an open educational resource and will serve as an evergreen tool that colleges and institutes can continue developing. It includes valuable information about the SDGs, tips on how to implement them in post-secondary contexts as well as best-practices and resources.

Additionally, we added a new category to our annual Awards of Excellence program to recognize and celebrate colleges and institutes that have shown remarkable leadership in the implementation and advancement of the SDGs. Finally, we signed on to the SDG Accord, joining an international network of postsecondary institutions and stakeholders committed to the goals.


Building internal capacity

With so many new projects, this was a year of significant growth for us as an association and many new positions had to be created. In total, our staff increased by 45% over the past fiscal year. As our team continued to grow, we launched several important internal projects to build capacity and better serve our members.

Continuing work that began in 2019 to develop competency profiles and the launch of core competencies for CICan as a whole, our HR department developed a list of competencies for all Job Families across the association, along with streamlined definitions for each. These were shared with staff in March and will help improve our talent management process by measuring performance expectations based on established standards.

In addition to a broad reflection on the future of CICan and the college system prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we also worked with a communications agency and embarked on a consultation with members stakeholders to develop an overarching narrative to better position our association and our members.


Making education more accessible for students

This year, we handed out a second round of bursaries as part of the Paul and Gerri Charette Bursary Program, which was launched in 2019. What’s more, in recognition of the particular challenges students have faced this year, we were able to double the amount of the bursaries awarded thanks to a very generous new contribution by Paul and Gerri.

The program provides support to college and institute students who face challenges or barriers, especially financial, to participating in and completing their post-secondary education. It also gives preference students from or attending colleges or institutes in rural, remote, or northern areas.


Recognizing excellence

Even though our annual conference was canceled in 2020, we still took some time to recognize our members, as well as exceptional individuals making a difference within their college or institute. Our awards of excellence were announced in May 2020, and since recipients could not be honoured in person, we created an online showcase to share their accomplishments.

As for our Distinguished Service and Outstanding Partner awards, both were announced during our annual general meeting, which was held virtually in June 2020. We were pleased to recognize former Niagara College president Dan Patterson for his many years of service, as well as Mitacs for its important contribution to the post-secondary education sector, providing valuable work-integrated learning opportunities for Canadian students across the country.


Planning for Canada

Even though the pandemic had a huge impact on the Canadian immigration process, our Planning for Canada project continued its activities to help new immigrants prepare for their arrival in these tumultuous times. The program pivoted to exclusively online delivery of services in April 2020 from its offices in India and the Philippines. The entire team has been able to safely work from home and provided services to over 2,200 new immigrants destined to all provinces and territories in Canada.


Facilitating mentorship for presidents

Building on the success of our celebrated leadership institutes, we developed a brand-new mentorship program with the support of our co-presidents (former college administrators Nicole Rouillier and Gilbert Héroux) and a national advisory committee. The program was launched in December and since then, 15 mentors have signed on and stand ready to offer personalized support to our newer presidents. We have also created a new webpage to help people register and facilitate those linkages.

Since we had to cancel our leadership institutes this past year, this is a great opportunity to engage with colleagues and learn from other presidents with several years of experience.

Drive Knowledge

We are proud to serve as Canada’s knowledge hub on the college and institute system, gathering data and producing studies to both improve understanding of the Canadian post-secondary sector and support our advocacy efforts, nationally and internationally.


Meetings in a virtual world

Even though we couldn’t meet in person this year, we were able to organize many public events, bringing together our members and stakeholders. These virtual exchanges allowed for discussions on a wide variety of topics and the exchange of best practice on hot topics. Moving things online also had the added benefit of making them more accessible, allowing us to reach a diverse audience and bring in different voices.

In total, we hosted 24 events this year, including 21 webinars and three forum type-events.

Event Title Event Type
CICan Applied Research Fall Update Webinar Webinar
CICan Applied Research Network Webinar: A conversation with NSERC Webinar
CICan Working Session – International Advocacy and IRCC Data Webinar
COVID-19: A Transformative Opportunity to Advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals Webinar
Cybersecurity Initiatives Program: Joining Forces to Secure Canada’s Research and Education Sector CICan Event
Emerging best practices to embed the SDGs in the TVET sector to build back better Webinar
Hiring and retention in a virtual reality Webinar
Information Session: Supportive Care Assistant Program Webinar
Integrating sustainability in your Career-Launcher internship Webinar
Knowledge Sharing Session on Virtual Mobility Programming CICan Event
Lessons from the pandemic: Resilience Webinar
Outbound Student Mobility Pilot Program – Innovation Fund Webinar
Implementing inclusive and equitable quality education to ensure no one gets left behind Webinar
Share, Learn and Connect: Working at a small business or NGO Webinar
Skills Compass Focus Group Session Webinar
To marketize or not to marketize: around the world in three approaches to technical education Webinar
TVET Intersectoral Forum: Best Practices and Policies from the Pacific Alliance and Canada CICan Event
Virtual Workshop on Cyber Security Webinar
CICan’s Call for Proposals for Assistant Personal Care Provider program Webinar
Demystifying the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Webinar
Expand Your Innovation Capacity Webinar
Information Session on RFPs under Young Africa Works-Kenya: Youth Employability through TVET project Webinar
SAGE Institutional Partnership Training on Gender Equality (Part 1) Webinar
The Canadian Collaborative Procurement Initiative (CCPI) Webinar

Introducing a new Perspectives Live Show

Since our flagship conference and several events had to be canceled in 2020, it was important for us to find new ways to engage with our members and stakeholders and share critical information on priority topics. To do this, we launched Perspectives Live, a brand-new interactive Web show that brought together experts and opinion leaders for a live discussion. We hosted eight episodes in English, and eight in French, on a variety of topics ranging from Rebuilding a Sustainable Economy in Crisis to Amplifying BIPOC Voices, and Future-proofing International Student Recruitment. The recorded shows were also made available on YouTube, which allowed us to reach viewers from all over the world.

Total Participants/Viewers: 4, 792 (combination of all the platforms)


International information sharing

Our international division hosted several meetings this year to facilitate information sharing with our members and international stakeholders. This included events by our new Partnerships & Knowledge Development team, including financial training sessions for EFE partnerships and another on Capacity Building for involvement in development cooperation projects. An important event on the lessons learned from our EFE program in Senegal was also held in March, marking the end of the project.

We also hosted a TVET Intersectoral Forum: Best Practices and Policies from the Pacific Alliance and Canada. Finally we launched a thorough report in July based on our previous Indigenous education symposium, that brought together experts from Canada, Chili, Colombia, Mexico and Peru in 2019.


Leading the way on microcredentials

With more and more Canadians looking to colleges and institutes for upskilling and reskilling opportunities, microcredentials have never been in such high demand, or so important to Canada’s economy. They can be incredibly varied however, with different approaches and programs on offer across the country. That is why we launched a national framework on microcredentials in March to offer a standard definition and guiding principles to help educators create nimble and responsive microcredentials that meet high quality standards and help learners choose the right credential for them.

Initial work on the definition and the guiding principles was conducted by a special committee of Vice-Presidents, Academic, representing colleges and institutes from across Canada. After consulting with members, employers, and other stakeholders, a consensus was reached that is supported by all the regional associations representing colleges and institutes: Atlantic Colleges Atlantique, l’Association des collèges privés du Québec, BC Colleges, the British Columbia Association of Institutes and Universities, Colleges Ontario, the Council of Post-Secondary Presidents of Alberta (COPPOA) and the Fédération des cégeps, as well as regional representatives from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.


Colleges and Institutes Canada


The accompanying summarized financial statements of the Colleges and Institutes Canada are the responsibility of management. They have been derived from the Association’s complete financial statements which have been prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles using information available to May 13, 2021, and management’s best estimates and judgements.

Management has developed and maintains a system of internal controls to provide reasonable assurance that all assets are safeguarded and to produce relevant, reliable and timely financial information, including the accompanying financial statements.

The Board of Directors discharges its duties relating to the financial statements primarily through the activities of its Audit Committee. The Audit Committee meets at least annually with management and the external auditors to review both the financial statements and the results of the audit examination with respect to the adequacy of internal accounting controls. The external auditors have unrestricted access to the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee also considers, for review by the Board of Directors, the engagement and re-appointment of external auditors.

The financial statements have been audited by Deloitte LLP on behalf of the membership. The Board of Directors met on May 26, 2021 and approved the financial statements.

Denise Amyot
President and CEO

Ramon Lashley
Vice President, Corporate Services


May 26, 2021


Colleges and Institutes Canada

Summarized Statement of Financial Position

March 31, 2021, with comparative figures for 2020



Current Assets $ 35,183,214 $ 23,095,651
Investments 2,676,794 2,603,360
Investments – Endowment Fund 1,134,587 974,914
Capital Assets, net 816,445 705,572
Intangible Assets 17,572 63,298
$ 39,828,612 $ 27,442,795
Liabilities and Net Assets
Current liabilities $ 34,678,158, $ 22,495,253
Lease Inducements 114,759 136,277
Net Assets 5,035,695 4,811,265
$ 39,828,612 $ 27,442,795
Summarized Statement of Operations
Year ended March 31, 2021, with comparative figures for 2020



Project Revenue $ 35,009,323 $ 33,438,026
Less: direct Project Expenses 26,489,099 25,696,602
Net project contribution 8,520,224 7,741,424
Membership fees 3,527,894 3,205,646
Other 255,551 445,697
12,303,669 11,392,767
Human resources $ 10,543,385 $ 8,930,513
Amortization of capital assets 203,714 166,128
Other 1,491,813 1,626,642
12,238,912 10,723,283
Excess of revenue over expenses
$ 64,757 $ 669,484


All of the achievements listed in this annual report would not have been possible without the continued support of our members and of our many partners in industry, government, and from other associations in Canada and around the world who share our commitment to excellence in education.

Thank you also to the remarkable members of our Board of Directors, for sharing their time and knowledge, as well as to all the individuals involved in our various advisory committees and Leadership Institutes whose input ensures we continue to meet the needs of our member institutions.

Finally, thank you to the entire staff of CICan for their continued hard work and dedication throughout this unusual and unprecedented year.