A Bold Job Creation Strategy: Could this Help Canada’s Youth Unemployment Rate?


Every year, Toronto experiences a flood of young people from Keswick, Port Hope, Stratford, Timmins, and many other Ontario towns and small cities. Many of those people come to Toronto to continue their educations at our fine universities, or to look for work. Their aspirations are often dashed when they realize that many of the long-time residents of our city can’t find jobs, leaving little hope for new residents.

High school and university students are in heavy competition for summer jobs, and it’s even worse after they graduate. There are also immigrants who come to our great city from all over the globe, looking for opportunities.

A job creation proposition

The Broadbent Institute hopes to change that. This year, they are launching a new campaign: New Deal for Young People. This will be an ongoing project focusing on the “development of a bold Youth Job Guarantee that would ensure those under age 25 have access to a good job, paid internship, or training position within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed”.”

The Broadbent Institute is “an independent, non-partisan organization championing progressive change through the promotion of democracy, equality, and sustainability and the training of a new generation of leaders”. It sounds great, but is it feasible?

The think tank is suggesting a $670 million annual investment by larger Canadian businesses to be matched by an equal amount from the federal government toward their Youth Employment Strategy (YES). The current budget for YES is approximately one billion.

A potential plan to lower youth unemployment

The federal government’s Youth Employment Strategy provides funding to employers and organizations to help young people get the information and gain the skills, work experience, and abilities they need to make a successful transition into the labour market. They provide assistance in three areas: skill development, career counselling, and summer job opportunities in Canada.

The corporate engagement would involve funding through surplus cash to create job placements. The Broadbent Institute suggests that the federal government support smaller businesses, non-profits, and the public sector to provide more opportunities for youth. It is estimated that boosting this program with the assistance of the private sector could create 186,000 three-month full-time co-op positions, paid internships, or summer job placements, all of which could pay $15 per hour.

Youth Employment Strategy: too good to be true?

Statistics Canada reported that in May 2014, the youth unemployment rate was at 13.3 percent, while the unemployment rate for people over 25 was 5.9 per cent. This plan aims to reduce that rate to 11.7%. Murad Hemmadi writes in Canadian Business that this will never happen. It’s unlikely that corporations will use their surplus to fund such a program, and why would they?

Many corporations are outsourcing, sending their work overseas and using unpaid interns. Those of us in the boomer generation are holding on to our jobs because we want to keep busy or we don’t have the pensions that our parents had. As boomers retire, there are dozens of millennials vying for those positions. New Deal for Young People is a program that we should all get behind. We need more action on this front to keep Toronto moving forward.

The Broadbent Institute’s plan may not be the best one, but this initiative or a similar plan could also provide more opportunities for young people in smaller towns and cities. They can remain in the place they call home if they want to, while youth in urban areas will have more opportunities so that one day they will be able to afford a home in Toronto. Right now, that definitely isn’t possible.

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