International Experience CanadaPublished on 30 November 2016 Hansard and Statements by Senator Percy Downe
Hon. Percy E. Downe:
My question is for Senator Harder as Government Representative in the Senate.
As you know, Senator Harder, I filed a written question some time ago that you were kind enough to speed up the answer on. It had to do with International Experience Canada, the youth exchange program.
The problem with the program, as I see it, is that we have a large number of young people coming in, but we don’t have an equivalent number of Canadian young people going overseas. People coming to our country have opportunities for employment and work while they’re here. It’s a very good program for Canada diplomatically and to explain our country to foreigners.
Unfortunately, youth unemployment is double the national average, and it’s suppressing wages and opportunities for Canadian young people who can’t find opportunities for employment in our country. Is the government considering changing the program?
I have a final, brief supplementary. So colleagues understand, there’s a host of countries that young Canadians are interested in going to: Australia, France and the United Kingdom. Then the numbers drop off dramatically.
The problem we have is that there’s a host of countries around the world with even higher unemployment for young people than Canada. I look, for example, at the numbers from Croatia: 200 positions were available for Croatia. They were completely filled. One Canadian went to Croatia.
I understand the positions are filled within minutes of the openings, so people are rushing for these opportunities. And why wouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t want to come to Canada to work?
I would fully support the program other than for the fact we have so many young people with no opportunities for employment. As I said earlier, my opinion is that it’s suppressing wages and opportunities. I look forward to the answer from the government.