Mr. Jake Epp (Provencher):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to direct my comments to the Department of Manpower and Immigration, specifically to on-the-job training. It appears this government has been dedicated to alleviating unemployment by a band-aid approach. For example, we have become the unhappy recipients of more types of programs than you can think of, such as LIP, OFY and Summer '73. Massive infusion of public moneys have been used to cut down the rate of unemployment. While the programs have merit in part-I do not want to be condemning in a general way-they are generally on a short-term basis. What we must concentrate on is long-term employment. On-the-job training, properly administered, could be a partial answer to that problem.
As I have stated in this House, I am very concerned about rural depopulation. I am also convinced that rural Canada has a labour force that can be utilized for the development of secondary industry in rural areas. Large numbers of our rural labour force are going to the cities to find employment that is more meaningful. Often they
January 30, 1973
receive on-the-job training in the cities which they do not receive in the rural areas. Often they are employed by companies in which they see job advancement as being more likely than in rural areas. How is the on-the-job training program working in the areas to which I refer?
We are all aware that the age group between 18 and 25 is experiencing the highest rate of unemployment. Many of these people after completing high school go to the city only to be dissilusioned by the workaday world. Often they cannot find meaningful employment or any employment at all. With the minimum wage rate rising in many provinces, employers are not willing to hire these young men and women and offer them a long period of on-the-job training. Rather, they continue to prefer older employees, people with experience who have been on the labour market for some time, who do not need further training or who need only limited training.
As I see it, three problems have developed in the field of on-the-job training. The first is that communication with regional offices has been difficult in some areas in Manitoba. Employers were placed in the unfortunate position of having to press the government for specific details in relation to the program. While the department often came out with a variety of glossy printed material, employers were not able to get specific answers from the department once they had read the material.
I submit that departmental officials should be in the field to help employers get started with the program. The department has spent large sums advertising the merits of the program and trying to get employers to take part in it. It seems incongruous to me that in these circumstances employers should find difficulty in obtaining information.
Second, No. 12 of the fact sheets presented by the department requires employers to show technical and financial competence to provide full-time employment. Surely, departmental officers can decide without an exchange of bureaucratic red tape whether a firm can in fact afford to employ a person for on-the-job training. If we look at the training schedule on the basis of a 40-hour week for 40 weeks, we are looking at an outlay per employer of approximately $1,000. The government reimburses an average of 62.5 per cent during the training. I suggest there are better ways of determining the financial position of employers than by requiring them to fill out one form after another.
Lastly, employees have been asked in certain cases to provide specific work schedules for trainees. While I can see merit in this requirement up to a point, I believe these
schedules should not be such as to force an employer to second guess the question whether or not an employee should be accepted under this program. Employers generally consider that employees should be exposed to various areas of the industry rather than made subject to a specific schedule.
In conclusion, I should like to submit that on-the-job training has merit. 1 welcome the program, as a former teacher, but I suggest the department take a look at some of the bureaucratic practices which are being followed and the administrative detail which is required at the present time. This, I feel, is minimizing some of the positive effects the program could have.
Subtopic: MANPOWER-ON-THE-JOB TRAINING PROGRAM-REASONS FOR LACK OF APPLICATIONS