Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time.
I would first like to commend the members of the finance committee for their excellent report on the employment challenges faced by young Canadians and for their recommendations.
As all hon. members know, this is a file on which the government has been particularly active and I welcome the opportunity to add a few observations to this discussion.
Let us start with the big picture. Overall, the economy is doing well. We bounced back from the 2008 recession in much better shape than most countries in the G7. On job creation, the numbers are solid. Over a million net new jobs have been created since 2009. That is 675,000 more than pre-recession levels. Contrary to what some people may think and some members of the media like to say, over 85% of the jobs that have been created are full-time positions, with more than two-thirds in high-wage industries.
As well, the IMF and the OECD expect that Canada will have one of the strongest-growing economies in the G7 for the next year, and the year after that.
Trade deals have been established with 44 countries, including South Korea and the 27 members of the European Union.
To top it all off, we will be presenting a balanced budget for next year.
The challenge is to ensure that we are thoroughly prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that are now before us.
One of the biggest opportunities is what is being called Canada's “new industrial revolution” in commodities and the extractive industries, specifically in the mining and oil and gas industries. It is estimated that investment in those areas over the next few years could reach as high as $650 billion. I am talking about offshore oil and gas in Newfoundland; precious metals in northern Quebec; mining operations in northern Ontario's Ring of Fire; new hydro developments in Manitoba; potash and uranium in Saskatchewan; bitumen reserves, oil and gas, and other resources in Alberta; and new mining developments in northern B.C. and across all three northern territories.
It is clear. We are going to need people with the skills, expertise, knowledge, and drive to see these and all other economic ventures come to fruition. This will translate into high-paying, high-quality jobs, primarily in occupations requiring university or college, or apprenticeships.
What does this opportunity mean for the young people of this country, young people who are getting ready to make the transition from school into the labour market, young people who are making the decision of what fields they are going to engage in as they go on to post-secondary education, as they go on to trades, as they go on to apprenticeships? What information do they need so they can challenge these new jobs and try to get employment for their future, to build a family, and to continue to build this great country?
First, it means that our economy is going to continue to expand and provide a huge number of opportunities for these young people.
However, as the committee report rightly points out, young people have particular challenges in getting a job and staying in the labour force. In Canada, the unemployment rate for young people is about double that of all other workers. The only good news is that young people tend to be unemployed for shorter periods of time—on average for 12 weeks, compared with twice that for workers over the age of 25.
I would like to point out that high youth unemployment is not just a Canadian phenomenon. It is a worldwide phenomenon or problem. In fact, our youth unemployment rate of 13.7% in 2013 was lower than the OECD average of 16.2%. For example, the U.S. rate was 15.5% and the rate in the U.K. was over 20%.
That being said, the government has a whole range of programs and policies to help guide and support young Canadians as they ready themselves for a positive career. These start at home with things like the registered education savings plan that allows families to put aside money in a tax-sheltered education savings account for future post-secondary education expenses. This is supplemented by the Canada education savings grant that can provide up to $7,200 more for Canadian youth for their education. Then there are Canada student loans and grants that continue to help hundreds of thousands of Canadian students pay for their post-secondary education.
As of this year, and because we want to encourage more people to get into the skilled trades, the student loan program has been extended with the $100 million a year Canada apprenticeship loan. It would help apprentices registered in the Red Seal trades to pay for technical training.
Recently, we also approved significant investments to expand the labour market information provided to young people across this country. This includes an additional $14 million annually on two new Statistics Canada surveys. Together, the surveys would provide Canadians, including youth, with relevant information on in-demand jobs by regions and by economic sectors. They would also provide reliable wage information from employers at the regional and local levels.
The youth employment strategy has a budget of over $360 million in 2014-15 and is helping young Canadians between 15 and 30 develop the skills and get the job experience they need for success in the workforce. The strategy includes such things as funding for Career Focus to support internships for post-secondary graduates and subsidies to employers to hire students through the Canada summer jobs program. Since 2006, our government has helped over six million youth obtain skills, training and jobs, and there is still more to do.
As hon. members know, the government has also transformed the labour market agreements and introduced the Canada job grant to bring private sector employers into the training mix. The Canada job grant gives employers a real stake in training programs and allows them to help shape those programs to better match their specific needs. By 2017-18, a total of $300 million per year will be invested nationally in the Canada job grant.
The government has also created more targeted supports for young people who have historically been under-represented in the labour force, particularly young aboriginal Canadians and young Canadians with disabilities. Upwards of 400,000 young aboriginal Canadians will reach working age over the next 10 years. We have a great opportunity with this population. Also, there are some 800,000 individuals with disabilities, including many young Canadians who are able to work but are not currently working, even though their disability does not prevent them from doing so. This represents enormous untapped potential.
The government is using the youth employment strategy, the opportunities funds for people with disabilities, and targeted funding for aboriginal youth to help young people in these groups get ready to participate full time in Canada's workforce.
In conclusion, a strong and growing economy marches forward on the skills and expertise of its workforce. That is why our government is committed to doing everything in its power to help young Canadians obtain the highest skill levels they can.
A stronger workforce would give us a more dynamic and faster-growing economy. This is something I am sure all of us here want to see and support for future years.