OTTAWA – MP Raquel Dancho, Conservative Shadow Minister from Diversity, Inclusion and Youth, and Deputy Shadow Minister Eric Melillo, are renewing their calls for support after Statistics Canada released numbers showing younger workers have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two Conservative MPs in a statement issued Friday said, “Young Canadians have been hit the hardest by the current economic crisis but were among the last to receive support. Students unable to find work were excluded from eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB); after weeks of pressure from Conservatives, the government announced a separate benefit for students, which has not yet taken effect.”
“Among Canadians aged 15-24, full-time employment dropped by over 20% among women and just under 20% among men. The part-time numbers were even more stark, with a nearly 50% drop in employment for women and a decrease of over 40% for men.
“The 15-24-year-old cohort accounted for more than a third of job losses in Manitoba, where 56% of job losses were among women. In Ontario, the unemployment rate among those aged 15-24 rose from 15.8% to 24% between March and April. At 12%, Northern Ontario has the second-highest unemployment rate in the province”.
MP Dancho and MP Melillo are disappointed but not surprised by the numbers.
“Many businesses were forced to make job cuts in part due to a slow rollout of emergency federal programs,” Dancho said. “And the first casualties, in many cases, have been younger workers with less experience.”
“High school and post-secondary students who were counting on finding full-time work this summer are finishing up their school years to find businesses laying off workers or closing their doors entirely,” Melillo added.
When the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) was initially announced, it contained no measures to help connect students with available job opportunities. Recognizing that no government benefit can replace genuine work experience, Conservatives successfully advocated for an amendment requiring CESB applicants to be connected to the Job Bank.
In addition to their immediate financial security and ability to pay their bills, unemployed young Canadians are worried that missing out on months of work experience will hinder them in future job searches. “No young Canadian wants a months-long gap in their resume,” MP Melillo said.
“In April, we called on the government to work with us on innovative programs that would match unemployed young people with available jobs,” MP Dancho stated. “We’re renewing that call today in light of these disheartening numbers.”
Dancho and Melillo noted that many industries, especially the agriculture and agri-food sector, are facing labour shortages due to the inaccessibility of temporary foreign workers. The Conservatives are proposing a program that would help unemployed students and young people fill these vacancies.
“Liberals have ignored the concerns of young people suffering through this crisis for far too long,” MP Dancho concluded. “Many young Manitobans are now out of work and left to pick up the pieces without support from the Liberal government.”
“Conservatives have proposed practical solutions to provide job opportunities to young Canadians,” Melillo concluded. “Young workers in Canada are still waiting for support. And we’re urging the government to act now.”