Mr. Speaker, last Friday I rose in my place to ask a question concerning the results of the labour force statistics which showed that there was an appalling lack of employment opportunities for the youth of this country and that the appalling situation has existed throughout the mandate of this government.
The data were quite clear. The participation rate for most Canadians runs between 63 per cent and 64.8 per cent, but for young people the participation rate dropped from 62.7 per cent back in 1989, which made it fairly close to the average for all Canadians, to an abysmal 48.8 per cent at the end of 1996.
It seemed to me that the loss of these 25,000 or 30,000 jobs among the youth group alone last year was reason enough for Canadians to begin to ask their government why this situation has resulted.
I know that in the answer the government is going to talk about the youth employment strategy which it unveiled today, but I would remind it that when the electors made it government they were assured in the red book that there would be apprenticeship training programs and programs where the government and employers would join together to provide the experience needed for young people to become acceptable full time workers. None of that has happened.
What is being proposed is basically a subsidy for private business and government departments to hire university students. The strategy is almost exclusively in that direction.
The opportunities for young people under 25 and even under 30 are so abysmal in this country that we are beginning to look like some of the less developed countries across the world.
Young people are not lazy. They are not stupid. They are well educated. They just have not had the chance to work in a job.
In the less developed countries young people have begun to invent jobs for themselves. They are street musicians. They are buskers. They are entertainers on the streets. They are squeegee kids who dart in and out at stoplights to clean windshields. That is the kind of stuff which ten years ago we saw only in less developed countries. Now we are seeing it in Canada. Right here, close to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, at the corner of Colonel By and Wellington we see it every day.
This is the only way these people have of making any kind of a living. It is time the government took more responsibility and lived up to the promises it made to the people when it took over the responsibility of running the federal government. It should be more attuned to the special needs of the very young, to make certain that the jobs program as promised is worked on.
After three and a half years all we have is program that is basically a repeat of most of the old programs that were tried years ago before expenditure became something government was extremely worried about and so those programs were cut.
There should be programs that encourage or force large employers to take on young people as apprentices. Instead what we have is a non-policy, and what has resulted is young people are volunteering for jobs, working in restaurants as waiters and waitresses for nothing hoping to get some tips. They are volunteering in offices for nothing-