Employment CreationPublished on 15 November 2016 Hansard and Statements by Senator Joseph Day
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Minister, thank you for being here. My question in part goes to the issue you were speaking to with Senator Black in terms of temporary foreign workers, but I’m going to focus on our temporary national local workers, which is the problem with respect to the age group 15 to 24.
They’ve seen the stubborn recovery of the 2008 global financial crisis. There is virtually no sustained recovery in employment rates. We see statistics that a lot of jobs are being created, but when we dig into what jobs were created, most of them are temporary and low-paying jobs. The proportion of jobs that are temporary has risen from one in four in 1997 — 25 per cent were temporary — to virtually a third now.
Minister, we acknowledge that the government has established its Expert Panel on Youth Employment, and you’re facilitating at the same time the entry of temporary foreign workers and international students who are permitted to work. The number of young workers who enter Canada each year under the international experience and reciprocal employment programs has also doubled since 2006. On the one hand, you’re bringing in young workers — and I like these programs to give Canadian experiences to foreign students and vice versa — but we have a lot of youth who are not getting good job experiences, and I’m very worried about that.
How do you square these different approaches that are the policy of our government?
Hon. MaryAnn Mihychuk, P.C., M.P., Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour: Thank you for the question. It’s so important that we focus our attention on young people in Canada. The trend for precarious work is accelerating. It’s much more difficult for them to find their first job. It’s much more difficult to have meaningful experience and maintain that type of career path for young people than it was for me. The requirements are so much higher; the bar is higher. You need a minimum of grade 12. Let’s not forget that in the Prairies, indigenous people — it’s a passion of mine, obviously — 70 per cent never complete high school. Seventy per cent. Are we prepared to write off a whole group of people? I’d say “no.”
There are enormous challenges. Also, they have not recovered similar to other cohorts of the same ages.
We’re doing a number of things. Obviously, we increased the number of summer jobs, going from 34,000 to 78,500. This gives kids a chance to have that practical experience. We opened it up to small business, and they stepped up over 200 per cent, hiring young people into their shops and finding them meaningful work. We will continue that program and expand it to include science, technology, engineering and math, because there are aerospace opportunities — to look at career options in those fields. That’s one small area.
The second is integrated learning. Canada doesn’t do the best job on apprenticeships or co-ops. We could do better. Other G8 countries have done better. We have to figure out how we can make our system better, because you often hear businesses say, “We want young people. We might be prepared to take them, but they don’t have the experience. They’re not the skilled worker we’re looking for.”
We want to change the culture of business and see it as a responsibility and an opportunity to hire these bright young people. They come with enthusiasm, energy and are highly educated.
Our population is the most educated population in the world, so we can’t let them sit in the basement playing Candy Crush or whatever they’re playing. They want to work, and many of them who are working are working so-called “Mc jobs” — one, two and sometimes three different jobs — just to make a go of it.
Work-integrated learning is going to be a major initiative of the government. We hope to roll this out very soon and have some announcements shortly about this.
Industry has really stepped up. The Business Council of Canada has a goal of 100 per cent PSA participation in work-integrated learning. You just have to give them credit for moving the bar high. If that was the case, our young people would meet that level of experience and that would help a great deal.
Job experience is key. We’re working with businesses, institutions — colleges and universities — and unions. We’re going to invest $85 million in union training. Why? Because when you actually look at the data and the research, union-based training for apprenticeships has close to 100 per cent success. When a person comes through a union shop, they’re guided and helped through from apprenticeship 1, 2, 3 and 4; they’re provided coaching, mentorship and assistance to get through the whole system; and they work with businesses, which are often the ones supplying the equipment for those training centres so that it’s state of the art, so you have a worker who is fully integrated into your business and ready to go to work.
It’s a system that has close to a 100 per cent graduation rate, markedly different than the average statistics for completion of apprenticeships in Canada, which have been disappointingly low. Between 49 to 52 per cent of apprenticeships actually complete.
Now, we invest a lot of money in apprenticeship, and there are some significant systemic challenges that mean that, somehow, our system is failing if we have 50 per cent non-completion. We’re going to look at the best system. We’ll see how it works; it’s $85 million. I hope to have an announcement very shortly on that, along with Canada summer jobs, work integrated learning, and partnership with business. We’re going to try to give young people a chance to integrate into our work culture.