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Evidence of meeting #23 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was skills.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

David McGovern  Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy and Research Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development
Alison Hale  Director, Labour Statistics, Statistics Canada
René Morissette  Assistant Director, Research, Social Analysis Division, Statistics Canada
Amy Huziak  National Representative, Young Workers, Canadian Labour Congress
Marsha Josephs  Director, Government Relations, Canadian Youth Business Foundation
John Atherton  Director General, Employment Programs and Partnerships, Department of Employment and Social Development
Angella MacEwen  Senior Economist, Social and Economic Policy, Canadian Labour Congress
Philippe Massé  Senior Director, Economic Policy Directorate, Department of Employment and Social Development

4:15 p.m.

Assistant Director, Research, Social Analysis Division, Statistics Canada

René Morissette

First of all, it is accurate. However, usually when we look at the wage differences between genders, we standardize for the type of occupation, among other things, that men and women hold. In these charts, we haven't done that exercise. Part of the gender difference is still related to the fact that young women are in high-paying occupations to a lesser extent than men, and that plays a part. If you were to standardize for that, the gender differences would certainly narrow. That's one factor.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Peggy Nash

Thank you, Mr. Rankin.

Mr. Saxton, you have five minutes.

March 6th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Thank you, Chair.

My thanks to our witness for being here today for the beginning of this very important study.

I want to say from the outset that our government takes the issue of youth employment very seriously, which is why we've taken significant steps to help young Canadians get proper training and find meaningful employment. In fact, over two million young Canadians have been assisted by our government's programs since 2006 and thanks to these programs, we now have one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in the G-7.

However, we also recognize that as long as young people are looking for work, there's still more work to be done. That's why our recent budget, budget 2014, dedicated over $55 million to internships and over $40 million to help young entrepreneurs get the mentorship, financial support, business advice, and development space that they need to grow their ideas and their start-ups.

My first question is for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. Ms. Josephs, your organization does great work in empowering young entrepreneurs. How important is our government support for young entrepreneurs?

4:20 p.m.

Director, Government Relations, Canadian Youth Business Foundation

Marsha Josephs

Government support is absolutely important. We know that young entrepreneurs contribute to strengthening our economy. They create jobs for themselves and others. Without the government's support, we would struggle to help more young entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams of opening their own businesses. We're very appreciative of the foresight of the government to commit to continue to help CYBF in helping more young entrepreneurs across Canada.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

How can we encourage more young Canadians to become entrepreneurs and job creators?

4:20 p.m.

Director, Government Relations, Canadian Youth Business Foundation

Marsha Josephs

What we've heard in our round table discussions, loud and clear, is that young people do not know about entrepreneurship until very late in their education. They'd like to see entrepreneurial thinking and opportunity for co-ops included in the K-to-12 curriculum.

One thing for us all to consider is how we can help to introduce the virtues of entrepreneurship very early on to help our young people to have the right skills such as financial literacy, an issue that has been raised as lacking in our young people. There are lots of areas there that all of us can work on collaboratively to help young people see entrepreneurship as a viable career option.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Thank you very much.

My next questions are for Employment and Social Development Canada.

Most recently, our government reached an agreement with the provinces and territories for the Canada job grant. What impacts will the new Canada job grant have on youths seeking employment?

4:20 p.m.

John Atherton Director General, Employment Programs and Partnerships, Department of Employment and Social Development

I think the job grant is going to be fundamentally important for young people. I think it helps address some of the issues that were raised by the previous member about the match between skills and talent in the economy and employers' needs. The grant itself will provide a transformative opportunity for employers to reach into the employment system with some of their own funds to choose a person and choose the training that they need.

For young people, my sense is that this will be a tremendous opportunity for them because they'll have a direct link to an employer and an opportunity that, without the Canada job grant, they may not have had and quite likely would not have had. I think it's part of what our minister hopes is a transformative change in the labour market and something that connects not just young people but all Canadians to real jobs and provides them with the training that they need.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Thank you.

Also, to the Department of Employment and Social Development, we've heard a lot about the growing importance of apprenticeship programs. We've heard about countries in Europe like Germany that have very well-founded apprenticeship programs. In fact, we recognize this here in Canada as an important initiative as well, and that's why we've invested heavily in apprenticeship programs this year alone. In economic action plan 2014, we proposed the Canada apprentice loan for Red Seal trades with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year. What is your opinion as to the impact this will have on addressing both the skills gap as well as youth unemployment in Canada?

4:20 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Peggy Nash

Mr. Saxton, you're out of time, so a very, very brief answer, please.

4:20 p.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy and Research Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development

David McGovern

That's a big question.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Peggy Nash

Just very briefly address it, and then we'll come back to it in another round.

4:20 p.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy and Research Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development

David McGovern

I guess the government has signalled support for the apprenticeship system by announcing a number of new initiatives in recent budgets.

I can't really do justice to—

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Peggy Nash

We'll come back to it.

Thank you, Mr. Saxton.

Mr. Dubourg, go ahead for five minutes.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to start by welcoming our witnesses to the committee. Thank you for being here to help us with our study.

My first question is for Mr. McGovern.

I looked at all of the programs offered by the Department of Employment and Social Development. There are a lot. You have the apprenticeship incentive grant, the apprenticeship completion grant, the interest-free loan program for apprentices, flexibility and innovation in apprenticeship technical training, which is a pilot project, loans and grants, the youth employment strategy, skills link and Canada summer jobs, just to name a few.

This is what I'm wondering. Is there not some degree of redundancy in those programs, and above all, is there not some confusion among youth and employers, who have to make sense of them all?

4:25 p.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy and Research Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development

David McGovern

Thank you for the question. I am going to answer in English.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

Very well.

4:25 p.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy and Research Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development

David McGovern

The government understands that its supports for youth in their transition to employment are critical to Canada's economic growth and long-term prosperity. I guess, as I noted in my opening remarks, the youth employment strategy is the main federal initiative aimed at helping young people transition from school to work, and to enhance their employability. Through the YES program, the government invests over $330 million annually to help youth between the ages of 15 and 30 to get the information and to gain the skills and job experience they need to make a successful transition to the workplace.

Yes, there's also a horizontal initiative with our department in the lead, but it cuts across 10 other federal departments and agencies where we work in partnership.

Then the YES program offers three fundamental initiatives: Skills Links, which helps young people with additional barriers to employment develop basic employability skills and to gain job experience to assist them in making a successful transition to the labour market or to return to school. We also have Career Focus, which helps increase the supply of highly qualified youth by providing them with the information, skills, and experience they need to make informed career decisions. Then we have Summer Work Experience, which provides wage subsidies to employers to create summer employment.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

Thank you, Mr. McGovern.

I have only five minutes and I have other questions.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Peggy Nash

You have actually two minutes.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

I have two minutes. I don't have 25 minutes? Okay.

I represent a very multicultural riding in Montreal, Bourassa. I'd like to know what your department is doing to help immigrants, the disabled and visible minorities find jobs. As we all know, the unemployment rate is extremely high for these groups, who have a much smaller presence in the labour market.

4:25 p.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy and Research Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development

David McGovern

Thank you for the question.

I will answer in two parts.

We know that the employment rate for youth varies greatly between provinces. You heard from Statistics Canada. We also know that we have differences between youth in rural areas versus youth in urban areas, or highly urban areas like the one you described in Montreal. We also have differences that are based on different cohorts for aboriginal peoples, new immigrants to Canada, wards of the state, and so we have programs with which we try to actually target the specific requirements of those populations.

John, perhaps you could just add a little bit on Skills Link.

4:25 p.m.

Director General, Employment Programs and Partnerships, Department of Employment and Social Development

John Atherton

Sure. In communities like you're speaking of in the inner city of Montreal, the Skills Link programming is fundamentally important with its project base, a full continuum of supports, a menu, if you like. When it was designed and put in place some years ago, it was a world-leading design and today, as I travel the world in my work at the OECD, I still find countries that are looking to adopt a project-based approach. In fact, while Skills Link is a name, it is actually hundreds of different small programs that are specifically designed for communities and I'm sure that, as a member in that area, you can see the tiny programs at play.

Every year we help more than 11,000 disadvantaged kids through that program, kids who have not completed high school, and our results are pretty good. We had 5,700 of them in our evaluation of that 11,000 who found jobs, and another 1,700 returned to school.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Peggy Nash

Thank you, Mr. Atherton.

Thank you, Mr. Dubourg. Five minutes goes by quickly.

Mr. Keddy, to you for five minutes, please.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Welcome to our witnesses. It is a very interesting, timely, and important discussion here.

First, I have a couple of questions for Statistics Canada. When you look at the numbers, the unemployment rate is maybe not quite as bad as sometimes we hear it is. At the same time, we are all in agreement that any level of unemployment is probably higher than we would want to have, so the questions remain what do we do to combat that, as legislators and as parliamentarians, and how do we work with you folks, whether that is the Canadian Labour Congress or the bureaucracies in the country, to combat that.

I have a point of clarification. Your chart on page 4 says that, on average, unemployed youth have shorter unemployment periods, but I would expect youth would have shorter unemployment periods because I would expect they would be in school most of the time. Is this part of that consideration by Statistics Canada?