Thank you, Minister. I appreciate your being here. You've acknowledged the importance of all parties working together. Pulling in the same direction, we're much more successful.
The fact is that this was part of your mandate letter: to work in “collaboration with your colleagues” and to have “meaningful engagement with Opposition Members of Parliament” and also with “Parliamentary Committees”, so thank you for being here. You were also encouraged to set the bar higher for “openness and transparency”.
As the members of the official opposition, we support the government on issues with which we agree, and on other issues we hold the government to account when we feel the government is not heading in the right direction.
We agree that it's important that we train our youth, the next generation of leaders, to help them prepare for moving from schooling into the workforce. One thing on which I would disagree with you is older workers. I think you define them as 28 years of age. Older workers are not 28 years old: they're more like 50 years and up. They're older workers like me. I'm 67 and still going strong.
Minister, the previous government really put an importance on the trades and a growing country. The trade apprenticeship program was expanded greatly and has been very good at making sure our youth are trained in the red seal program if they have an interest in this field of work. It has opened up opportunities for the different genders, and we're quite excited about that.
You've said, Minister, that when we invest in Canadians, it's good. I'll just pass on a side note here, which is that the ice rink in front of the Prime Minister's office, the $5.6-million ice rink that will be open for a few weeks, is not a good use of taxpayers' money. Think of all the jobs and job opportunities for our youth if that $5.6 million were to be spent on helping youth.
The other point is that small business is the largest job creator in Canada, and I think the government is heading in the wrong direction in attacking our small businesses through increased taxation. A tax rate of 73% does not encourage growth in business or help youth to get jobs. It actually stifles that.
Minister, I also noticed in your mandate letter that in addition to working with committees and opposition parties and members, you're to work with the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Minister of Infrastructure, the Minister of Status of Women—you've been promoted from that—the Minister of Families and Children, the Minister of Science, and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, but there is no minister for seniors. I would suggest—