May 31, 1993 (34th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Ron J. Duhamel


Mr. Ronald J. Duhamel (St. Boniface):

Mr. Speaker, the motion today is first and foremost one about the tragedy of unemployment.
The question we have to ask is why it is a tragedy. It is because there is a loss of hope among those who are unemployed. There is a loss of confidence. Once one is unemployed and cannot find employment then one starts to believe that one no longer is able to make it. Then despair sets in. Once that happens it becomes very difficult to turn it around.

May 31, 1993
I am delighted that my colleagues have brought forward this motion. It is one of the most significant challenges facing all levels of government today. Let us look at the current situation.

In this country today, more than 1.6 million men and women are out of work. Many people say this figure is closer to three million, if we include those who have stopped looking because they think there are no jobs out there and those who had to retire because at their age they had no other option.
Today 421,000 young men and women are looking for jobs. They are ready and willing to work, to make a commitment to society, but they have no jobs.

It is a serious tragedy when we see over 1.6 million Canadians, more than 400,000 of whom are young people, without work. They are people who have lost hope in many instances. They are people who are beginning to lose confidence. They are people who are starting to despair.
Let me share with my colleagues and people who are listening just a few cases that I have in my riding. There is a well-skilled carpenter who started his trade at a very young age and has never been unemployed for any significant amount of time. He has been unemployed for more than a year with no hope of finding employment and he had been working for over 30 years. He came to see me with two others who had the same kind of experience and they despair because they do not believe there is any work on the horizon.
Let me talk about a young man who recently married. He and his wife are putting off having children because his wife is still employed but he has been unable to find employment. He is young, husky and strong with the right attitude but he cannot find work.
The accountant came to this country a number of years ago, worked very hard and was extremely successful. His company downsized and some people were let go. He has been unable to find work for the last sue months and he
has written literally hundreds of letters. He comes with the very finest qualifications and recommendations.
What about the women who are new Canadians? In their own countries they were teachers, librarians or civil servants. They are highly educated by all normal formal standards and yet there is nothing, absolutely nothing. They are willing to take on any jobs available.
In one case a woman has two young daughters who will be going to university in September. She is wondering whether she and her husband will have the money to support their children while they go to university.
Let me talk about some recent university graduates. A young woman graduated with a degree and did outstandingly well. She had high marks and tremendous recommendations. She has been looking for work for months and has found nothing.
A young man with a masters degree in economics has been a graduate for a couple of years. The best job he has had so far paid $6.50 an hour for six months. That was a contract and it is over.
I know a graduate with an MPA, a masters in public administration. He has a tremendous attitude, is willing to work but has had only short-term jobs. He just lost his last job that lasted a few months.
A man roughly my age and not yet ready to retire has lost his job. He cannot find a job in spite of the fact he has held some of the most senior positions in his line of work. He is despairing and losing hope.
There is nothing for the unemployed youth out there. They come in and talk to me frequently. Denise is willing to do anything: cut grass or paint. There is nothing out there.
Boris likewise is willing to go and plant trees anywhere or break rocks if necessary just to get a job. Peter is anxious to help his single parent family, his brothers and sisters but there is absolutely nothing out there.
When we look at youth unemployment we have to look at two categories. We have to look at those who are already in university and want to earn some money because student aid has not kept up and tuition fees, incidental fees and book prices have gone up. They now pay the goods and services tax and they are no longer able to keep up. In many instances where their families were able to help this is no longer the case.
May 31, 1993

We are also looking at young people who want to go to college and university for the first time and for whom there is nothing out there. For the very few there will be short-term, poorly remunerated jobs that will not allow them to save enough money to go on to further study and hopefully get a better job.
Youth unemployment today is roughly 18 per cent, over 400,000 people. In some provinces, it is in excess of 35 per cent and close to 40 per cent. This is absolutely shocking.
What does the media say about this? One would assume that a member from the opposition would be less inclined to support government but let me share with the House what students looking for jobs find difficult and frustrating. They are saying: "It is wrong to saddle youth with diminished prospects". That was written in the month of May. "Governments get failing grades in the summer job funding department" was another article that has been written.

One says: "There is nothing out there for students". Another article says: "Few opportunities for young people". Another article mentioned about this deplorable situation.

If we look at the government's major initiatives in summer employment we will find something very interesting since 1991. The Challenge program funding in 1991 was $143 million but it is now down to less than $116 million. Where the SEED funding was at $80 million, it is now at $88 million. It is a very slight increase but compared to the decrease in the Challenge funding of course it is not at all the same.
The number of jobs that are now created is roughly the same as what was created before in spite of the fact that there is more unemployment, less money and these young people are in the situation where their tuition and incidental fees have gone up at astronomical rates.
Let us also remember these are tremendously difficult times for our young people. There are virtually no jobs and if there are jobs they are short term, poorly remu-
nerated and will last only a few days or perhaps a couple of weeks. There have been massive cuts to the education sector. Transfers from the federal government to the provinces from 1985 to 1994 will be reduced by roughly $10 billion.
Basically the same amount of money has been spent for training and re-training, yet there are so many more unemployed. Student aid has not kept up. I could go on but I know I am coming down to the last couple of minutes.
I want to call the government to action. I asked the Deputy Prime Minister on May 11 what he was going to do about the more than 400,000 unemployed youth. Did he come forward with specific programs? Did he say: "Look, I will restore hope; I will remove the despair"? No, he talked about some philosophical arguments of getting it all right. While the government is getting it all right, there are a lot of people going hungry.
The Liberal Party is committed to establishing a national apprenticeship program and creating a Canadian youth service dedicated to environmental protection and responding to the social needs of our communities. We want our young people to get back to work. We want them to learn from work. We want them to be able to go to college and university and make even larger contributions to society. We want all Canadians who want to work to be able to work because with a job people find hope again and lose their despair.

They are ready to make a contribution to the development of this great country of ours. That is what we want as a party and as the next government of this country.

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