Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.
I am pleased to join with my colleagues today in the House in support of the motion.
The government does a very good job of blowing smoke in mirrors. It totes around this notion that Canada's economy is not suffering and that we are not still experiencing the effects of the economic downturn, meanwhile ignoring the reality facing many Canadians and their families.
Many families in my constituency with whom I am speaking are still having trouble making ends meet. Not only that, but in order to make ends meet, many Canadians are forced to take on two, three or four part-time jobs. Why is this, one might ask? It is because far too many household supporting jobs have been lost and have disappeared. Canadians are being forced to turn to any form of employment that they can secure. These are usually more precarious forms of employment. I know that many of the constituents of Scarborough—Rouge River are burning the candle at both ends.
The current Canadian job market remains weaker than it was before the crisis in October 2008. Unemployment has risen to 7.3%. The proportion of part-time workers and involuntary part-time workers has also risen rapidly. Full-time, permanent, family supporting jobs remain very difficult to find in many areas across the country. The real unemployment rate, which, of course, includes labour force dropouts and involuntary part-time workers, was at 11.1% in July of this year, up from 9.4% in July 2008.
How the government can sit on that side of the House and argue that our economy is recovering fine and that Canadians are doing well is absolutely beyond me.
What is more is that this bleak job market and lack of real opportunity is even worse for Canada's youth. An article that was published in the Globe and Mail earlier this week outlined details from a recent study on Canada's problem with unemployed and under-employed university graduates. These are our best and brightest and yet, this week, when I asked a question in the House about this exact topic, the members opposite did not stand and talk about what they were doing to actually create more jobs and give more opportunity to the most educated in our country. Instead, they stood and spoke about tax credits.
What good is a tax credit if people cannot make enough money to pay any income taxes? This, unfortunately, is the bleak situation facing many of our youth today. They do not have jobs that pay enough for them to pay income taxes. What kind of life is that?
In my riding of Scarborough—Rouge River, the number one issue that I hear at the doorstep of my constituents is jobs, jobs for our youth, jobs for our elderly, jobs. The riding of Scarborough—Rouge River does not have very much to offer in the way of jobs. Unfortunately, the reality for many of my constituents is that they must travel into the downtown core of Toronto for work. From our area, that is a minimum of about a two hour commute each way, which is a four hour commute in a day for many of my constituents. I used to do that myself. This means that people are spending four hours a day on public transport, which means four hours away from their families, an extra four hours a day that their kids must spend in day care or with other support, and four hours where we could be working at our second jobs to earn more income that we are not getting at our first job.
What is worse is that many of my constituents do not work the regular 9 to 5. Many work shifts, overnight or into the wee hours of the morning, and then they must make that two hour trip back home on public transit which, at night time, can be even longer. This becomes an issue of public safety. When members of our families are waiting for buses on our street corners at all hours of the night, this is a huge concern, especially with the continuation of the proposed cuts to these services, especially transit in the greater Toronto area.
Many of the parents with whom I speak are very worried. They are worried about the welfare and the safety of their children. What messages are we sending to our youth when the only jobs available to them are part-time or shift work? What messages 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 hope for tomorrow do we give these people?
This is another question I am often asked at the doorsteps of my constituency, unfortunately. My riding is one of the poorest in the GTA and yet many of the families who live in my area are spending their life savings or incurring extra and extreme amounts of debt to send their children to school to get that university degree or college diploma, only to have their children graduate and not be able to find jobs or only find severely underpaid jobs.
What financial risks now face those parents? What hope do they have for retirement? What is the quality of life for them in retirement when they spend all of their life savings on their children's education?
I am also asked about the children and people who forego post-secondary education and enter directly into the workforce to help their families put food on the table. These youths are forced into part-time work, shift work and many times unsafe work, but there is no other option for them. They do this to put food on their families' table.
Many youth in my constituency cannot find work at all, which is very challenging for a community that has the largest youth to population ratio in the entire greater Toronto area. This is a huge problem for me and for the constituents of Scarborough—Rouge River.
What are we saying to these youths who are already marginalized because of their age, their ethnicity, their status in the country and their household income? What are we telling them? Are we telling them that they are not worth planning for? Many of the families in my riding with children and youth in this situation are very worried. I hear this on a weekly basis when I knock the doors.
The government likes to talk about being tough on crime. Why does it not deal with the real root causes of crime? Why not provide 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 and real opportunities?
On this side of the House, we believe that our youth are the future of our great country and that, because of this, we need to provide for our youth. We need to inspire them to be involved. We need to give them the opportunities to be successful, not just set them up to fail, which is, unfortunately, what I am seeing from the other side of the House.
Our youth, our university graduates and our college graduates need jobs. They need real jobs that will help them make ends meet, that will help them support their families and that will help them and their children lead better lives. That is what we, on this side of the House, are fighting for today.