Mr. Sergio Marchi (York West):
Mr. Speaker, I will be speaking for 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes question and answer, followed by my friend from St. Boniface for the remaining 10 minutes.
This Liberal opposition day motion deals with the critical challenge facing youth. When we speak of unemployment, apprenticeship programs, training and the youth corps, the motion is not only valuable but very timely. We identify summertime with many things, one of which is the quest for summer employment of Canada's youth, particularly those students who will be returning to school.
I remember as a student not too many years ago seeking employment during the summer to sustain my high school fees which at that time were $500 a year, followed by my university tuition fees. Opportunities seemed unlimited. I remember working for Cilio Carpenters Co., E & M Precast, and two summers at the North York Board of Education on a number of very interesting community projects. I also worked with the Summer Canada programs in effect at that time. I had a feeling as a young person leaving school and looking for work to pay my tuition that there were no bounds or limits to future opportunities. All I needed was the desire and the willingness to pick up a shovel or pen and work for three months. In fact I probably had a better appreciation of the so-called struggles of academic life.
Times have changed. Perceptions have changed. When I meet with young Canadians in my constituency office now I get a very different message from the one I had when I embarked on summer employment, as did many others in this room. They do not have that sense of hope or that sense that opportunities are unlimited. They have the reverse feeling, one of very low expectations.
Talking about expectations, a recent Gallup survey studied the perceptions and feelings of young Canadians. It discovered that within the age group of 18-year olds to 29-year olds in Canada over 45 per cent of these expect their standard of living to decline over the next 20 years. Only 20 per cent of the sample actually expected an improvement. That is a pretty dismal failing mark for one's future when we have those numbers expressed by young Canadians who are pursuing a variety of different career choices.
When we look at some of the statistics we begin to understand why over 45 per cent of young Canadians do not look to the future with any great sense of hope. The youth unemployment rate for April 1993 was 17.8 per cent, which translates into 420,000 young people. In my
May 31, 1993
province it is the same ratio, 17.5 per cent or 150,000 young Canadians without jobs.
Look at the statistics of the student summer unemployment rate for students aged 15 to 24 returning to school. In 1988 Canada had an unemployment rate for student returns of 10.2 per cent. It went up in 1992 to 17.9 per cent. Last year in my province the figure was over 20.3 per cent.
Looking at the Challenge and SEED programs that I announced in my riding a few days ago, there were a number of very worthy initiatives, unlike my friend from Windsor who suggested that somehow people are picking up garbage in the alleys. These are very worthy and interesting projects that were approved with my urging and with the support of the local Canada employment office. These will provide a number of young Canadians with very productive summer jobs.
However, looking at the big picture, just at the time that college and university student enrolments have increased from some 790,000 in 1985 to over 900,000 last year, the number of jobs being created thanks to the federal summer programs is diminishing because the number of dollars being given to those efforts has almost been halved. In 1985, 94,000 jobs were created. In 1988, 76,000 jobs were created. Last summer only 54,000 jobs were created.
The creation of jobs is going down as the number of students going into post-secondary education is going up. Is it any wonder that of those young Canadians in that survey, over 45 per cent had very diminished expectations and a lack of any hope. That is what government should be about, providing hope and opportunities. When we looked at the most recent federal budget-the ninth in this government's record-there was no opportunity for young people and mature people. There was nothing about youth and inspiring a sense of excitement in young Canadians. In fact the budget presented by this government was described by government members as a budget that was intended to stay the course.
When we read the statistics on unemployment going up and job creation going down, how can we justify a budget that actually promotes itself as a budget of staying the course as if that course was working for Canadians across the country.
The motion presented by my friend, the member for York North, also talks about the need for apprenticeship programs. Compare us to other countries in the world. For example, last year Germany had over 1.8 million Germans on apprenticeship programs, which is over 7 per cent of the German work force.
Last year in Canada apprenticeships totalled 128,000 Canadians, which is 1.1 per cent of the work force. We talk about the new economies, the economies of high tech, the jobs of yesteryear and the jobs held today by a generation of Canadians who are reaching retirement age.
I look at my own constituency in the construction field or the trades where the majority of individuals are the age of my parents: the carpenters, electricians, tool and die makers and bricklayers. These are jobs that computers will not be overtaking and are jobs that still require the knowledge and talent of those professions. Yet where are the apprenticeship programs that are to train and encourage young Canadians not to be ashamed of learning a trade through college or apprenticeship and will actually change the psychology from one of regret because the person did not go on to university to being in a position of having a very positive undertaking?
However, we do not have the infrastructure for apprenticeship programs which permits young Canadians to enter that trade and to learn those skills. We do not have a jobs corps or a youth service in this country. That is why our party will be talking about those initiatives during the campaign.
When we speak of the economy of tomorrow, when we talk about the jobs of tomorrow, when we talk about a world that is changing the way it does business and with whom and how, it must begin to bring in the variables of our youth. Rather than being happy and complacent about youth that have diminished expectations, we as a government and a national Parliament, as an institution, must take hold of that youth constituency and reverse those diminished expectations into exciting prospects. They will find who they can be and in the process what they can do for our country.
That is why today, of all the topics that we could have selected for an opposition day, we in the Liberal Party and caucus decided to talk on the eve of summer of the challenge facing young people. Also, as they face it, our country faces it. If we do not overcome it, they will face a problem and our country will face a crisis.
May 31, 1993
Subtopic: ALLOTTED DAY, S. O. 81-YOUTH EMPLOYMENT