Partners: Government of Canada (GoC), Prime Minister's Office (PMO)/Minister of Youth, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Civil Society (Youth of Canada)
The 2016 Federal Budget has a section entitled “Helping Youth Obtain Valuable Work Experience”. The Government calls for a renewed Youth Employment Strategy where each year the Government invests more than $330 million in the Youth Employment Strategy to help young people gain the skills, abilities and work experience they need to find and maintain good employment. To expand employment opportunities for young Canadians, Budget 2016 proposes to invest an additional $165.4 million in the Youth Employment Strategy in 2016–17.
Funding will be used to: create new green jobs for youth, to help young Canadians gain valuable work experience, learn about our natural environment and contribute to economic growth in environmental sectors; increase the number of youth who access the Skills Link program, which helps young Canadians—including Indigenous and disabled youth—make a more successful transition to the workforce; and increase job opportunities for young Canadians in the heritage sector, under the Young Canada Works program. This funding would be in addition to the $339 million already announced for the Canada Summer Jobs program, to be delivered over three years, starting in 2016–17.
Fortunately, the budget section on this topic is not entitled “Helping Employers Obtain Valuable Young Workers (and pay them a lower wage)”. However, that is precisely the case and modus operandi with the current Youth Employment Strategy. In all programs offered under this strategy (Career Focus, Skills Link, Young Canada Works or Canada Summer Jobs), it is the Employer who must initiate actions to receive funding and recruit candidates under these programs. The Employer does not have a responsibility to declare or publish that they are hiring Canadian Youth under these programs, meanwhile the latter are receiving substantial wage subsidies. This is precisely why Canadian Youth can be happy to notice that the budget calls for an “increase in the number of youth who access the Skills Link program”, because the real need is for Canadian Youth to be able to access the programs in a tangible way, such as providing a full database and registry (Open Data Initiative/Access to Information Web Portal) of all entities receiving financing under these Programs so that Canadian Youth can be proactive in their search for gainful employment and directly address past or current contribution recipients in their quest to obtain valuable work experience. There is currently no or very little access to information (only Canada Summer Jobs) for Canadian Youth with respect to the Youth Employment Strategy.
The Canada Summer Jobs program helps employers create summer job opportunities for students. The program provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to create summer job opportunities for young people aged 15 to 30 years who are full-time students intending to return to their studies in the next school year. The program is part of the Government’s Youth Employment Strategy. The Canada Summer Jobs program should be expanded to all Canadian Youth, not just those “who are full-time students intending to return to their studies in the next school year”. This discriminates against Canadian Youth who are studying part -time due to disabilities or participation in high-level performance sports, or simply not in school anymore for lack of adequate financing/funds (banks who will not extend credit/loans, lack of family financial resources, lack of savings or work experience to have funds to attend school). Furthermore, the age restrictions for defining Canadian Youth on current programs should be extended to 35 years of age in accordance with a variety of public and private sector programs/activities who use that same definition (up to and including 35 years of age). The Youth Employment Strategy needs to reflect the fact that Canadian Youth are often in school much longer than previous generations, remain in school for longer due to an inability to find work, or choose to return to school at a later date in life due to inability to find gainful employment in their initial field of education (structural unemployment). Many of them return to live at home with their parents due to an inability to find substantial long-term well-remunerated employment. The Youth Employment Strategy should reflect the current economic and social dynamics of the 21st century; it is no longer the 1960's or 1970's when there was an abundance of work opportunities before and upon graduation from an educational/vocational institution.
Unfortunately, for too many Canadians, rising costs have made post-secondary education less affordable. The jobs available to Canadian Youth a scarcer and fewer are able to save for their education, and those who receive financial assistance often find it difficult to repay their loans. As Canada’s population ages, its prosperity will increasingly depend on young Canadians getting the education and training they need to prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Now more than ever, it is important that post-secondary education remains affordable and accessible, and that young Canadians have access to meaningful work at the beginning of their careers.
The Prime Minister's Youth Council should have Open Data elements in order to ensure maximization of purpose, scope and impact of this Council.
The Youth Service initiative which has a substantial provision of $105 million over five years should have Open Data elements integrated as Budget 2016 indicates that “further details will be announced in the coming months”.
The Expert Panel on Youth Employment which will report back to the Minister of Youth and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour should have Open Data elements implemented in an urgent fashion as the Panel is expected to deliver findings by December 2016 and should deliver real enhancements, which will need to be highlighted, to the Youth Employment Strategy. It goes without saying that Canadian Youth are probably the most connected generation of Canadian citizenry and real enhancements could include highly accessible Open platforms such as an App for smartphones for Canadian Youth to access all relevant information and data on all initiatives in the Youth Employment Strategy, in addition to www.youth.gc.ca
Increasing Co-op Placements and Strengthening Work Integrated Learning should have Open Data elements integrated to ensure that Canadian Youth, those currently studying or not, can have access to the maximum amount of information possible to access relevant and useful opportunities to gain valuable work experience. Furthermore, it should make it illegal/penalize/highly discourage Employers who abuse the worth/value of Canadian Youth by frequently having recourse to “unpaid/unremunerated” internships/placements/learning projects. If it is not strictly defined as volunteering, it should be “a just pay for just work”.