May 24, 1984

PC

Howard Edward Crosby

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crosby:

Mr. Speaker, I will content myself with the hope that the Hon. Member will use his good offices to pass this message on to the autorities responsible so that they may rectify this serious complaint. I noticed that the Minister is present in the House of Commons and she as well may take this into consideration.

The excuse given for not posting these government-funded jobs was that there were restrictions with respect to them. The first restriction was that the applicant had to live within the federal constituency for which the job was intended and the second was that there might be special restrictions. I do not think that that is any reason for not posting the jobs. I know that in my own area, there is no such requirement of residency in a special federal constituency. Some people are perhaps a

little suspicious that there may be something going on behind the scenes by way of pointing certain people in certain directions in order to obtain this employment. If the jobs were posted for everyone to see, we would be more assured of fairness.

I would like to make one further comment and ask another question of the Hon. Member with respect to a remark he made during the course of his speech. He said that we all want to maximize the efforts of Canadians to create more employment. I think that is a goal which we all desire devoutly. I would like to point out to the Hon. Member that independent agencies like the Conference Board of Canada as well as the Minister of Finance (Mr. Lalonde) have said in their economic predictions for the future that unemployment will continue at its current high rates for the next year or two and even longer. There is no indication that the economy will improve to the extent that we can reduce the unemployment rate to a figure less than 10 per cent or 11 per cent.

At the same time as this was being said, the Hon. Member's colleague, the Minister of Justice (Mr. MacGuigan), said in a speech which he made in the Province of British Columbia recently that full employment is possible and that if he became the leader of the Party, he would reduce unemployment dramatically over the next five years and reduce it back to its previous levels of 3 per cent or 4 per cent. Because the Hon. Member has access to information that is not available to Members of the Opposition, I would like to ask him if he knows how the Minister of Justice will reduce the unemployment rate in Canada if he becomes the leader of the Party.

Surely the Minister does not need to wait until he is the leader of the Party to implement a plan he may have to eliminate unemployment in Canada or reduce it to the level of 2 per cent or 3 per cent from its current level of 11 per cent. Surely he should share that plan not only with his colleagues in the Liberal Party but with his colleagues in Parliament. Let us get to work on the war on unemployment.

The Minister of Justice said in his speech that he did not accept the forecast of a 10 per cent unemployment rate for years to come and that he knows how to reduce that figure so that the unemployment rate between 1985 and 1988 will on average be less than the 9 per cent predicted by the current Minister of Finance. Perhaps the Hon. Member would share his thoughts with us and tell us how his colleague, the Minister of Justice, will reduce the unemployment rate to below the levels predicted by his other colleague, the Minister of Finance.

Perhaps the Hon. Member may simply say that there is no such plan, that we are stuck with the unemployment rates that were predicted by the Minister of Finance and that there is nothing that can be done about it. If that is the attitude of the Government with respect to unemployment and if the Government does not agree with the Minister of Justice who says that we can wage a war on unemployment and reduce it very dramatically, then I think the Government should quit and let someone else take over who will try to reduce unemployment.

May 24, 1984

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

John Gerald (Jack) Masters

Liberal

Mr. Masters:

Mr. Speaker, I believe that my time is almost up. I did mention that I am an optimist. All of us must realize when looking at projections that they are only projections and will remain projections unless something else happens. I can recall a time, Mr. Speaker, when I was a sales manager and I predicted in a very-pardon the expression-conservative manner a 10 per cent growth in sales. I found that the growth in sales went to 30 per cent and yet every economic barometer from the beginning of the year on which I based what I thought might be an optimistic prediction indicated that it was gloom and doom time and that we would not do well. These barometers were from early January. By December, because of all of the things that went on in the economy in general, those predictions did not hold true.

1 am not sure what my hon. colleague has in mind when he speaks of totally reducing unemployment. I think it is a goal for which we will all continue to strive but I would remind the House that projections are merely that. They are a form of looking into a crystal ball after having been given the best information at a given point in time. We sometimes do not meet the expectations of projections and we sometimes far surpass them. As an optimist, I think we will surpass them in this instance.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Herbert) Order, please.

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MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE

LIB

Harold Thomas Herbert (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Herbert):

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed Bill S-ll, an Act to implement conventions between Canada and the Republic of Tunisia, Canada and the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Canada and the United Republic of Cameroon and Canada and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, an agreement between Canada and Kenya and conventions between Canada and the Arab Republic of Egypt, Canada and the Republic of the Ivory Coast and Canada and Sweden for the avoidance of double taxation with respect to income tax, to which the concurrence of this House is desired.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE
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BUSINESS OF SUPPLY


The House resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. Wise: 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. Supply And the amendment of Mr. Deans: That the motion be amended by deleting the period after the word "nation" and adding the following thereafter: "-and in particular the Government's adoption of the United States interest rate and monetarist policies, thereby reducing employment opportunities for young Canadians.


PC

Flora Isabel MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Flora MacDonald (Kingston and the Islands):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to my colleague, the Hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. Wise), for having brought before the House for debate today an issue which the Government is always loathe to raise for debate, to bring into the House or to have examined. Indeed, when the previous speaker, the Hon. Member for Thunder Bay-Nipigon (Mr. Masters), addressed this issue in response to an Opposition Day motion, he glossed it over, if I may say, as if there were no real crisis in the country with regard to youth unemployment. What the Hon. Member does not seem to realize is that one out of every five young persons in this country is unemployed today. That is a national disgrace, sir, in a country like Canada.

The number one issue in this country today is unemployment. The number one issue under this Government a year ago was unemployment. If the Liberal Government were to be in office a year from now the number one issue would still be unemployment. That is the reason why the Canadian people will not accept this kind of government any longer.

Hon. Members who have spoken previously in this debate have said that Canada's employment rate as compared to the other ten western industrialized countries ranks eighth. That is where we stand in comparison to our counterpart countries in the industrialized world. However, when it comes to where we stand as compared to those countries with regard to youth employment, we rank last. Again, I say that that is a tragedy which the Hon. Member for Thunder Bay-Nipigon does not seem to recognize.

To put the statistics on the record again, Mr. Speaker, the rate of unemployment in Canada for those between the ages of 20 and 24 was 18.5 per cent last year. In the United Kingdom, that rate of unemployment was 18.2 per cent, in Australia it was 14.6 per cent, in the United States it was 14.5 per cent, in Sweden it was 7 per cent and in Japan it was an incredibly low 4.1 per cent. That is 4.1 per cent in Japan and 18.5 per cent in Canada.

Even if we were to look at the latest figures available to us for the young people in this category, we would find that in the United States the present rate of unemployment for young people is 12.2 per cent and in Canada the present rate is 17.1 per cent. That is a difference of five percentage points between Canada and the United States.

I suppose one can say that it is easy to rattle off a lot of statistics. They are really a group of words just bunched together. However, what you have to do is stop and analyse what those statistics mean in human terms. That is when one sees that they mean hundreds of thousands of young Canadians between the ages of 18 and 25 who are unable to get jobs

May 24, 1984

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and whose lives are being scarred by a set of circumstances which they did not create. That is what one hears when one talks to young people, when one talks to the one young person out of the five who is unable to get a job in this country.

Often when we hear this tragedy discussed we hear it discussed in terms of the economic costs of unemployment, how much it costs us in employment insurance, in dollar terms. But how seldom do we hear this tragedy discussed in terms of the social costs to the country, and the greatest social cost to this country today is in the 500,000 young people who are out of work, the almost two million people in total who are without jobs in Canada today. We are not only losing their creativity and productivity, their ability to help develop this country, but these young people are also being condemned to a loss of dignity, a loss of self-worth and a loss of the very thing which each of us had on coming into the workforce. We had a feeling that we could do something to contribute to this country, a feeling that Canada needed us. But the young people of today are being condemned to a feeling that somehow or other they are not needed, that there is nothing they can contribute, and that is what brings about the loss of self-worth.

What is worst of all is that these young people are being forced by circumstances which they did not create to now assume the burden of paying for those errors. They are being forced to pay for the mistakes made by the present Liberal Government, particularly in the last four years.

When I mention mistakes, I look back to the economic plans, misguided Budgets and inappropriate policies brought forward by this Government in the last four years, certainly with the 1981 Budget in such sectors as the energy sector. What did those policies do? They caused widespread unemployment right across the country. There are the mistakes not only of introducing these policies, but the mistakes which the Government has made in administering the programs which it says are going to help out.

The Special Employment Initiatives Program, for example; how was that administered? It was administered by padding up Liberal ridings, treating the unemployed in this country, especially the youth unemployed, as if somehow or other a double standard should exist, that if they lived in a riding other than those held by a Liberal Member of Parliament they should not be considered as unemployed.

There has been a mistake made by the Government in not aggressively developing new and comprehensive training and counselling programs which could really prepare our young people for the changing and highly competitive world of new technologies.

I know that those comments may in some sense sound partisan. I believe they are true, but let me go beyond the comments and quote from some of the studies which are being done to show what is really happening to young people in our country today. I will quote from a recent report, Sir, of the Canadian Mental Health Association, entitled "Unemployment: Its Impact on Body and Soul". Chapter 6 in that study is headed, "Are youth the silent victims?" I would like to just quote from page 35 of that study, which says:

It is cruel irony that while our social institutions promote the importance of economic independence as a measure of maturity, our economic policies have created a situation in which youth are hard-pressed to find employment. They thus remain, by social definition, immature and dependent. This "dependency" can take the form of reliance on parents, on the state, on drugs. Regardless of its form, it is counter-productive to blame young people for their predicament when it is policies and structures that have created the context in which growth is stifled.

That, Sir, is not said by a body which is given to partisan statements. That is said by the Canadian Mental Health Association which has studied the impact of unemployment on young people. When it makes that statement it uses such words as "dependency, reliance, predicament". If I were to emphasize those words, Sir, I would say that they bring home, far more than statistics, what is really happening to people under the age of 25. Those words put the human, tragic face upon numbers and unemployment rates and the seasonally adjusted totals which we hear every time Statistics Canada releases its report on the labour force.

Let there be no mistake, Sir, the figures did not grow so alarmingly, nor remain high, because our young people are unwilling to work. That is not the case. It is not because they do not want to go to work. It is because they cannot find a job, any job at all, and the social consequences are alarming, particularly among those looking for their first jobs rather than continuing on in post-secondary education.

The study I quoted from, which was produced by the Canadian Mental Health Association, points out that unemployed youth are likely to feel bored, with nothing to do, no money to do it with, no clear goals and no sense of purpose. Second, they are likely to flounder in their search for a sense of personal identity; third, to have lower self-esteem than their peers who are employed or in school; fourth, to feel humiliated, and blame themselves for not staying in school or trying harder; fifth, to feel angry at, and resentful of, themselves and their parents, teachers, employers, governments and other institutions; and, finally, to be disillusioned with themselves and their society.

It is interesting to see some of the headlines which appear in the newspapers which collaborate these statements. I have one here which reads, "Jobless Youth: Hope the Major Casualty". And another reads, "Youth Revolt Feared Unless Jobs Available". This is what is happening to young people, and it is documented and clear if the Government would only take a look at what is happening. These are the feelings of young men and women supposedly, Sir, in the prime of their lives. In days past they would normally have been planning their futures. They would have been thinking about getting married, dreaming of being promoted in their jobs, or planning on buying a home or a car. That is the sort of thing they can no longer envisage. They cannot think about it. Instead, at the age of 20 or 21 they are prepared to give up. They have already been looking for a year or two years and they see no real future for themselves. No job, no money and a rapidly diminishing self-respect is the legacy that the Liberal Government has given to these young people.

May 24, 1984

Let us not be deceived, Sir, into thinking that these symptoms are restricted solely to those who go straight from high school into the labour force. Although statistics show that young people who receive no post-secondary education are less likely to find a job, schooling itself is no longer a guarantee of entry in the labour force. When I was looking at these statistics, Sir, one thing came very clearly to mind. They showed that 73 per cent of those young people who were unemployed have only a high school education or less. That points out the need for a clear remedial and fundamental skill development training. That is what is really needed by these young people. Not just for education's sake, but to give them the skills to enrol in training. Give them the fundamental education so that they can get enrolled in training programs. But what did the Government do two years ago? It cut off funding for literacy and basic training programs.

However, that is for the young people who have a high school education or less. Look at the others who have gone on and put in years of study and preparation, young people who are graduating from university and community colleges and can find no work to go to. No wonder they begin to ask themselves why they bothered to do it in the first place. Why did they bother juggling part-time jobs during the school year and search for and work hard at summer jobs so that they could get enough money to pay for their education? Why did they bother to go so heavily into debt to graduate and then find that they have no means of paying back those loans? That is what the young people of today are asking; to do all that and then find there are no jobs. No wonder they are disillusioned, no wonder they are giving up on the system.

This leads us to other problems and social burdens that unemployment brings about. Just recently there was a study done which shows the linkage between youth unemployment and crime. This comes to light in a book entitled Economic Opportunity and Crime. It says that in the case of crimes of violence we can demonstrate a fairly strong relationship between these offences and deteriorating economic conditions mainly reflected by unemployment. We have hypothesized that assaults will increase as a result of frustration of unemployment. I do not need to turn to economic or academic studies to bear this out, Mr. Speaker. I just want to read from a letter written by a widow who is in dire financial straits. She said that her son left home. He was away only one month. He tried hard, he could not find a job and welfare would not help him, so he stole food just so he could live. As a result the boy was put in a correctional centre for what he did, and he was not the only young boy who was there because of that.

Earlier this week in the Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs I asked whether or not we were undertaking in depth studies in Canada to show the correlation between unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, and the social costs that will be with us long after new jobs are created. As yet there has been almost nothing done in this field in Canada, but we need those studies in the same way that we need this Government and this Parliament to address the

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problem. Not from the point of view, Mr. Speaker, of trying to patch up the problems, not to look for band-aid solutions, but to begin a different kind of approach, one that will see us investing in human resources inthe way we have invested in natural resources in the past.

We have nto had in this country a commitment by the Liberal Government that the development of the human potential in this country is as important and as critical as is the development of equipment or plant or natural resources. That attitude has to be turned around, Sir. Our greatest resource in this country is our people. We have to give the same kind of capital investment to the development of our people as has been done with the other sectors of our economy in the past. That, Sir, is what this Party is committed to. The studies we have done have shown that this is the only way to turn around this situation of youth employment.

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Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
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?

Walter David Baker

Mr. Baker:

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Hon. Member. At the beginning of her remarks she was very unkind to the Liberal Government. She also mentioned the number of young people who will be seeking employment this summer so that they can return to university and trade schools and so on.

I would like to know if, in areas of high unemployment and where there is practically no industry, she supports the Government's summer student employment programs and, generally speaking, whether she supports direct government job creation in those areas I mentioned?

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

Flora Isabel MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Miss MacDonald:

The Hon. Member comes from Newfoundland. He certainly should know something about high unemployment in this country and the tragedy that this Government has not even recognized the problems of Newfoundland in any way, shape or form. He should be up there demanding that the Cabinet Ministers in his Government do something about turning around their attitude toward Newfoundland. It has been a disgrace and he should know it. I want to tell him that for a long time the intensive development of long-term jobs will be most critical. Certainly the summer programs have been supported, but what do they do for the 500,000 young people who will not have access to them? There are many in his riding of Gander-Twillingate who will not be beneficiaries of that program. What, may I ask, is he prepared to say on their behalf, because the Government is saying nothing for them.

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

Harold Thomas Herbert (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Herbert):

Before giving the Hon. Member the floor, I should comment that questions are directed to the person who has made a speech. The person who has made a speech should not be directing comments or questions to the questioner. The Hon. Member for Gander-Twillingate (Mr. Baker).

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

Walter David Baker

Mr. Baker:

Mr. Speaker, of course there was a reason I asked the question. The Hon. Member who just spoke was part of the Government in 1979 and the first part of 1980. One of the most disgusting things that the Government did at that time, in which the Hon. Member was a key player, was to lay

May 24, 1984

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down the law and say that there would be no direct job-creation programs from the federal Government. It said that perhaps the private sector should create the jobs. That is precisely why I asked the question, Mr. Speaker. That will be a key question in the next federal election. That is a key question in areas of high unemployment where private enterprise does not exist to any great degree at all.

If the Hon. Member is saying that she supports the Summer Student Employment Program and wants more money to go into it and other direct job creation programs, then she is at variance with her Party. That is why I ask the question. Would the Hon. Member reconsider her answer in view of what happened when the Conservative Party took power?

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

Flora Isabel MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Miss MacDonald:

Mr. Speaker, when the Conservative Party was in power the unemployment rate in the country was a lot lower than it is at the present time. He must bear the blame, along with everyone in that Party, for what has happened in the last four years. It is the policies of that Government that have driven the unemployment rate to the extreme height it is at today.

Of course the Hon. Member was not here earlier today when the various points as to what steps would be undertaken were spelled out. However, his constituents will know what they are. I would like him to know, Mr. Speaker, that the people in his riding are going to be asking him what he has done in the last four years to bring down the unemployment rate in Gander-Twillingate and the many other parts of Atlantic Canada which have suffered more than any other part of the country because of the policies of the Liberal Government.

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LIB

Yvon Pinard (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Pinard:

There are Tory Governments in those provinces.

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LIB

Harold Thomas Herbert (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Herbert):

Are there any other questions or comments? Another supplementary question, the Hon. Member for Gander-Twillingate.

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

Walter David Baker

Mr. Baker:

Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member has still not answered the question. It is a key question. It is an important question of Government policy. It is an important question of Opposition policy. It is an important question that the Hon. Member is going to have to answer now or when the campaign is on, as will every person running for the Progressive Conservative Party. She still has not answered the question.

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Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
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PC

Flora Isabel MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Miss MacDonald:

Mr. Speaker, I do not quite understand the Member reiterating a question which I have answered two or three times. I realize it takes a little longer to get through to him. I have known that over the years, as have others. However, since he has asked about areas such as his part of the country, I will repeat what was said by the Hon. Member for Elgin earlier this morning.

In several parts of Canada 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 would assist individuals and groups wishing to start new businesses to raise money, to cut through red tape, to identify markets, and to train workers. That is what has not been happening and that is what must happen so that people can get permanent jobs.

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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 did not have any intention of posing a question to my colleague, the Hon. Member for Kingston and the Islands (Miss MacDonald). However, in view of the exchange which has taken place, I would like to direct a question to her. Has she had an opportunity to examine the record? I know she is an extremely busy Member. Can she recall that during the nine months when we were in Government we created some 60,000 jobs? That was a creation of 7,000 jobs a month. Would she agree that if we examine the record for the 49 months since this Government was re-elected to office we will see that during that period of time they have lost a total of 300,000 jobs? In the nine months we were in power we created jobs at a rate of 7,000 per month. In the 49 months since this Government has been in office they have lost jobs at a rate of 7,000 a month.

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LIB

Harold Thomas Herbert (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Herbert):

A short response from the Member for Kingston and the Islands.

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PC

Flora Isabel MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Miss MacDonald:

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good and valid point which should be made. I hope the Member for Gander-Twillingate takes very strong cognizance of these important figures. In the last four years we have seen a major setback to the labour force of the country. We have still not recovered to the point where those in the employment force are at the level they were at in 1981. That is a tragedy. Those people are unemployed and the young people are still the hardest hit.

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LIB

Harold Thomas Herbert (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Herbert):

The period for questions and comments has ended. For continuing debate, the Hon. Member for Burin-St. George's (Mr. Simmons).

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May 24, 1984