May 24, 1984

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

BUSINESS OF SUPPLY

PC

John Wise

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John Wise (Elgin) moved:

That this House condemns the continuing failure of the Government's policies to restore even pre-recession levels of employment opportunities for young people at a time when hundreds of thousands of young Canadians are about to join the labour force from our schools and universities and Canada's unemployment rate for young adults remains the highest of any western industrial nation.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to lead off debate on an extremely important matter facing all governments, whether they be municipal, provincial or the federal Liberal Government we have in office at the present time. I am sure everyone would agree that one of the most critical challenges facing Canadian society, our business and industrial labour leaders, politicians at all levels, is that of youth unemployment. I am sure everyone would agree as well that how this challenge is met will shape the character of Canadian society for decades to come. Because of this challenge, and because of the deep concern we have for the fact that the present Liberal Government has not been able to deal adequately with the problem of youth unemployment, my colleagues and I have utilized one of those rare occasions we have today to put this motion before the House.

I think it would be interesting to examine and compare the record of this Government and that of the last Conservative Government in 1979-80. During that nine-month period in which we were in office we created jobs at the rate of 7,000 per month, for a total of some 60,000 jobs. In the 49 months since the election of this particular government, we find that it did not create jobs, that in fact the number of young people employed decreased by nearly 300,000. During the nine months we were in office we created jobs at the rate of some 7,000 a month, and during the period of time this Government has been in office it has decreased the number of jobs by 7,000 per month.

Official statistics indicate that at the present time we have some 525,000 to 550,000 young Canadians out of work. Indeed, if we examine some of the statements by the Minister of State for Youth (Mrs. Hervieux-Payette), who unfortunately is not in the House, and neither is the present Minister of

Employment and Immigration (Mr. Roberts)-I hope their schedules will permit them to join us before the-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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LIB

Jean-Jacques Blais (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Blais:

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Cabinet is meeting this morning, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

That is not a point of order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Guilbault):

Order, please.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

Have you been blackballed, J.J.?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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PC

Howard Edward Crosby

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crosby:

They kicked him out for leaking that document.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Guilbault):

Hon. Members also know that it is not in order to reflect on the presence or otherwise of Members in the House.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Deans:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I personally apologize to the Hon. Member who has the floor. I would not have risen, but Cabinet or not, the House of Commons sits on Thursday mornings.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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PC

John Wise

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wise:

Mr. Speaker, if we-

[DOT] (mo)

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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LIB

Peter Joseph Lang (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Youth))

Liberal

Mr. Lang:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Minister of State for Youth (Mrs. Hervieux-Payette) is presently on a speaking engagement in Montreal. She is travelling back and will be here this afternoon.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Guilbault):

It is not orderly to reflect on the presence of Members in the House of Commons, nor is it useful for the House proceedings to determine where Members are across the country.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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PC

John Wise

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wise:

Mr. Speaker, I hope that exchange will not be taken off my time.

If we examine some of the statements which are being made across the country, and they are few and far between, by the Minister of State for Youth, we will find that she has actually admitted to the fact that the true number of unemployed young adults in the country is close to 700,000 rather than 550,000. There are about 1.2 million young Canadians in colleges and universities in the country. Within the next 10 days those young Canadians will be leaving schools, universities and other institutions of learning. A conservative estimate would be that approximately 50 per cent of those people will be joining the summer workforce. We could add 600,000 to that 700,000 and, if we did a bit of mathematical calcula-

May 24, 1984

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tion, we would find that the actual number of young people who are out of work across the country is in the neighbourhood of 1.4 million Canadians.

During its 16 years in office the Liberal Government has been the architect of the unemployment crisis facing Canada and Canadians today. In 1968 when the Government first took office, total unemployment was approximately 358,000. Last year, in 1983, total unemployment had risen to 1.448 million Canadians. In 1968 one out of every 22 working people was out of a job. Last year that ratio rose to one out of every eight workers. In 1968 the unemployment rate was 4.5 per cent. In 1983 it rose to 11.9 per cent. In 1968 UIC benefits totalled some $438 million. In 1983 those benefits grew to $10.2 billion. During this 16-year period total unemployment in Canada increased by approximately 400 per cent.

As bad as the figures of total unemployment are, the youth unemployment situation in the country is even worse. In 1968 the unemployment rate for youth was 7.7 per cent, or 3.2 per cent higher than the total unemployment rate. In 1983 the youth unemployment rate rose to 19.9 per cent, or 8 per cent higher than the total unemployment rate last year. These are staggering increases. However, neither the total unemployment rate nor the youth unemployment rate should be accepted in a modern industrial economy. Youth comprise about 25 per cent of the Canadian workforce and about 37 per cent of its unemployed. When the hidden unemployed, those who have given up looking for jobs because there is no work available, are included in the unemployment totals, youth unemployment then comprises over 40 per cent of those who are unemployed.

These are stark numbers. In more human terms, continuing levels of high youth unemployment could alter the fabric of Canadian society. The longer a young person unsuccessfully looks for work, the more a sense of hopelessness sets in. As the months go by, young unemployed people start losing faith in themselves, their friends and their families and begin to question the worth of society.

I am sure everyone would acknowledge that it will take more than money to solve the youth unemployment problem. It will take attitudinal as well as structural changes. Governments and society face a major task in handling and coping with this problem.

The youth population of Canada indeed has been declining recently. In January of 1984, there were some 4.371 million Canadians aged 15 to 24. That was some 80,000 fewer than in the same month of last year and 182,000 fewer than in January of 1981. The number is expected to drop by an additional 90,000.

I am also sure that everyone would acknowledge the fact that as the Canadian economy expands, obviously more jobs are created. The youth unemployment rate should decline more rapidly and an improved economy will ultimately provide a solution to the youth unemployment rate.

However, waiting does not address the deep problems being faced by young people in this country today. The federal

Government should and could be taking certain actions in various areas to alleviate these problems. The Government should make greater use of the tax system through utilization of unemployment tax credits to encourage youth employment.

Since the Government has already announced that it will be using its purchasing power to encourage the hiring of women and the handicapped, we are of the firm opinion that this same policy should be extended to Canada's youth. The hiring of young people will not be very beneficial if it only leads to lay-offs of older personnel. Therefore consultation must take place among industry, business and labour to ensure that the worker displacement problem does not happen.

Greater emphasis should be placed on training and retraining programs in order to meet the present and future skill needs of the workplace. Task forces have studied and white papers, books, reports and reams of paper have been written about the unemployment needs of the 1980s and 1990s. However, governments, universities, industry and labour must work together in order to ensure a fulfilment of these needs. Greater use ought to be made of the career access program and the apprenticeship programs. As an example of what the future holds if nothing is done now, the National Advisory Panel on Skill Development Leave has pointed out that 35 per cent of Canada's working women, especially in the clerical, banking services and telephone sectors, could be unemployed by the 1990s because of advancement in technology alone.

Consideration should be given to the use of unemployment insurance funds as a development tool as well as a maintenance fashion. This would allow for more creative use of the unemployment insurance system. Too many young Canadians graduate from training programs or educational institutions and cannot find work. It is not because their skills are not in demand but because they cannot make contact with the employer who needs them. In the current fiscal year some 50 per cent of the graduates of classroom training courses are still out of work three months after graduation. In addition, the Ontario Government has shown that community college graduates have an unemployment rate of some 23 per cent as compared with an Ontario youth unemployment rate of some 14.7 per cent. I understand that one of the areas of major unemployment has been the computer-related field. With the ever-increasing use of computers, I find this to be an incredible statistic.

Clearly, therefore, as job-creation agencies, Canada Manpower centres across this country have not been performing adequately. These centres ought to be computerized so that the unemployed as well as the potential employers know what is available to them across the country. The longer it takes to get a job, the more discontented a person becomes with the Canada Manpower centres. As Members, we have all certainly experienced the difficulties with those centres almost on a daily basis. There ought to be better provision of counselling services at these centres throughout the country. The unemployed should not be treated as mere statistics.

More consultation is needed with the provinces as far as educational funding is concerned. We acknowledge the fact

May 24, 1984

that the British North America Act gave overlapping responsibility and jurisdiction for education between the federal and provincial governments. The Minister of Employment and Immigration has stated that the federal Government's traditional role of being responsible for upgrading educational skills indeed should be rethought. Too often, unfortunately, the federal Government's rethinking has evolved into federal Government dictating-dictating how and where money would be spent. That does not solve the problem but co-operation and consultation with the provinces will certainly help. A federal-provincial conference on educational funding should be called at the earliest possible moment.

In several parts of this country young people face a future of almost permanent unemployment. Wage subsidies and employment tax credits will be of little value in these economically depressed regions. In such regions there ought to be programs of community-based entrepreneurial development which will assist individuals and groups wishing to start new businesses to raise money, to cut through the red tape, to identify markets and to train workers.

These ten proposals, Mr. Speaker, will help to alleviate the problem of youth unemployment. Just as importantly, they will help to ensure the future skill needs of the country. These proposals would not necessarily, though I admit a couple of them would, entail the expenditure of more money. Rather they would entail a reallocation of present funds.

I recognize that my time has almost expired, but let me conclude by quoting the Hon. Member for Central Nova, the Leader of the Official Opposition (Mr. Mulroney):

No amount of make-work projects and Government schemes-no gimmicks- can substitute for sustained economic growth based on lower interest rates, technological innovation, and increased trade. These are the means to growth. These are the means to full employment. These are the means which will assure young Canadians the opportunities they deserve.

Let me conclude by repeating one of my opening sentences: How this challenge is met will shape the character of Canadian society for decades to come.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Permalink
LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Guilbault):

At this time in our proceedings a ten-minute period is provided for questions or comments relating to the remarks of the Hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. Wise). Are there any questions?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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LIB

Peter Joseph Lang (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Youth))

Liberal

Mr. Lang:

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Member is related to the quotation of his Leader who talked about the importance of lower interest rates. It is somewhat like talking about the importance of motherhood. Is the Hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. Wise) suggesting that the Conservative Party has changed its position on interest rate policy, that the Conservative Party will put in exchange controls or some other measure to lower interest rates? What is it that the Hon. Member suggests the Conservatives will do differently to lower interest rates and provide more jobs for young people?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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PC

John Wise

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Wise:

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the Hon. Member's question. I am sure he must feel somewhat uneasy in view of

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the fact that the main thrust of the motion today is based on youth unemployment. I would have expected him to have placed that subject in very high priority and utilized the opportunity left open to him to direct a question with reference to the subject of youth unemployment. He has chosen not to do so. He has chosen to raise another broader issue on the Canadian economy, more specifically on interest rate policy as far as this Party is concerned. That would take much time to be able to respond adequately.

If the Hon. Member would take the time to check Hansard, he would find we are so concerned about that subject that our Party selected it as a topic on a recent Opposition day. I would recommend to the Hon. Member for Kitchener (Mr. Lang) that he check and read Hansard for that particular day. It will certainly enlighten him very much.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Guilbault):

The Chair would like to follow up on the point raised by the Hon. Member for Elgin. Questions asked of a Member who has just delivered a speech must be related to that speech.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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LIB

Peter Joseph Lang (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State (Youth))

Liberal

Mr. Lang:

Mr. Speaker, I believe the question was directly related. I related it to his last remarks and the quotation in the Hon. Member's speech. He quoted his Leader who was downgrading the importance of specific government initiatives to deal with youth unemployment. He called them gimmicks and said that the real method of dealing with youth unemployment was to reduce interest rates. That is the relationship. I think the Hon. Member should read his own speech; then he will see the relevance of the question put to him.

Aside from that, the importance of interest rates is a relevant point. When interest rates go down, economic growth increases and we have more employment in general in the Canadian economy. Of course, it provides more opportunity for jobs. I agree with the Hon. Member in those remarks.

The reason I am putting a question to the Hon. Member is that I do not believe his Party has any different policies with respect to interest rates than the present Government. For them to say that they have a low interest rate policy is misleading.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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May 24, 1984