Mr. Speaker, we are here tonight to discuss the topic of graduate unemployment and underemployment. Back in September a report was released showing that Canadian university graduates are being shut out of the job market at an alarming rate.
This report showed that a whopping one in five Canadian graduates is employed in a position that pays at the lower end of the income scale. This means that 20% of our university graduates are earning an income of less than the national median of $37,000. This income is not very much. Too many of our Canadian new graduates are living below the poverty line.
These findings mean that Canada has the highest proportion of poor university graduates of any of the OECD countries. While the majority of Canadian graduates do earn more than non-university graduates over the course of their lifetime, this report reveals that for far too many of our graduates, their degree is not worth their investment in both time and money. This is not right. We are talking about our best and brightest here. Instead of helping to strengthen our economy, their degrees and skills are being wasted.
I asked a question on this topic on September 27. Unfortunately, when I asked this question, the minister did not rise and talk about what the government is doing to actually create more jobs and create more opportunities for the most educated in our country. No, instead, the minister stood up and spoke about tax credits.
How do tax credits help graduates find jobs? What good is a tax credit if they do not have jobs? What message are we sending to our university graduates when after spending years and thousands of dollars on earning a degree, they are forced into jobs that are greatly below their education standard?
We know that our university grads are getting jobs at the low end of the income scale. What message are we sending to our youth when the only jobs available to them are part-time or shift work? What hope for tomorrow do we give to these people?
This is a question that I am often asked on the doorsteps in my constituency. My riding is one of the poorest in the GTA, yet many of the families that live there are spending their life savings or incurring extreme amounts of debt to send their children to school, only to then have their children graduate and not be able to find jobs or they find severely underpaying jobs.
While these graduates do not have well-paying jobs, the one thing we know they have for sure is debt. On average, Canadian students are graduating with a debt load of over $25,000, and tuition fees, unfortunately, continue to rise at four times the rate of inflation.
Getting a degree is not getting any cheaper, and now these graduates do not have jobs to look forward to to help them pay back their student loans. The fact that the cost for post-secondary education is rising coupled with low job prospects may in turn deter Canadians from pursuing post-secondary education. Many Canadians may decide that the debt associated with pursuing post-secondary studies is just not worth it.
If the government is as serious as it says it is about securing Canada's economic future, it would make a commitment to education. If it was really concerned with Canada's economic recovery, it would create real jobs and real opportunities for our nation's best and brightest.
Many youth and graduates in my constituency and across the country cannot find work at all. What are we saying to these people who are already marginalized because of their age, ethnicity, status in the country, and their household income? What are we telling them? Are we telling them that they are not worth planning for? Why not provide our graduates and our youth with a sense of importance and value? Why not provide them with opportunities, like jobs and access to post-secondary education?
Why not give them hope? On this side of the House, that is what we believe in. Our university graduates need jobs. They need real jobs that will help them make ends meet, that will help them support their families, that will help them and their children lead better lives. This is what we have been fighting for on this side of the House. We have been asking the government for a real economic recovery plan. We have been asking the government for real action on unemployment and underemployment.
I will ask my question again tonight, when will the government stop the inaction and come forward with a real jobs plan, with real opportunities for Canadian graduates?