Mr. Speaker, I have the great pleasure of being here today. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-63, which implements the budget and, in particular, measures to protect Canadians who are interns, especially young Canadians.
We know that knowledge and expertise are essential to the success of our community, our society, and our economy. They are the drivers of innovation and keep Canada ahead of the curve when it comes to change.
They are also key to a strong and thriving middle-class and imperative for those seeking to join the middle class. That is why Bill C-63 is so important. It includes changes to ensure that interns are treated fairly when they are in workplaces in the federally regulated private sector to develop the skills they need and successfully transition into the workforce.
In budget 2017, we made a commitment to eliminate unpaid internships in the federal private sector where internships are not part of a formal education program. We recognize that internships can give Canadians the hands-on workplace-based learning experience they need to make a successful transition into the workforce. However, let me be clear: some internships, particularly those that are unpaid, can be unfair and exploitative. Young people and others who are desperate to find a way into the labour market can find themselves in situations that cause them undue hardship. We have all heard the stories of a supposed intern being used as free labour, and that is just not right.
We want to make sure that interns are treated fairly. To that end, Bill C-63 proposes changes that would amend the Canada Labour Code to prohibit unpaid internships, unless they are undertaken to fulfill requirements of a program offered by a secondary or post-secondary educational institution or vocational school or an equivalent institution outside of Canada. For those internships that are legitimately part of an educational program and are unpaid, the intern would be covered by a modified set of labour standard protections, such as maximum hours of work, weekly days of rest, and general holidays.
The proposed amendments are consistent with our government's fundamental position that interns should be paid for their work. The only justifiable exception is if an intern receives credit as part of an academic program. In this case, it is appropriate for the intern not to be paid. The majority of stakeholders, experts, and other administrations in Canada agree with us on this key principle.
The amendments are also consistent with our government's overarching goal of providing young Canadians with fair and meaningful opportunities through programs designed to help them gain the skills and experience they need to find good jobs. That is not all we are doing. We all know that the workforce today is dramatically different from what it was a decade ago. A changing economy means new challenges, concerns, and opportunities for employers, students, and post-secondary institutions. Students are telling us that it is hard to find jobs: with no experience, they get no job; but with no job, they get no experience. Post-secondary institutions are telling us that students need real work experience in their fields before they graduate and that employers need to be more connected with education.
We also recognize the need to better align what is taught in post-secondary institutions with the needs of employers, and we are committed to creating high-quality paid-work placements to give students the on-the-job experience they will need to succeed when they graduate. That is why we introduced the Government of Canada's student work placements. Over the next five years, almost 60,000 Canadian students will have paid-work placement opportunities, like co-ops, internships, and apprenticeships.
We will make it happen in two ways. First, we are investing $73 million over four years in student work placements. This funding will help to create close to 10,000 work placements for students in STEM and business over the next four years, with extra supports for under-represented students to make sure they are also offered placements. Our student work placements, in addition to our partnership with Mitacs, will ensure that 60,000 paid-work-placement opportunities are available for Canadian students over the next five years. These work placements will ensure that students develop the skills that employers are seeking, and that they become job-ready. It is part of our plan for creating the kind of economic growth that does not leave anybody behind and ensures that all Canadians have a shot of success.
Another key component of our plan is to give young Canadians the best start in their careers. Each year, our government invests more than $330 million through its youth employment strategy. We expanded this strategy and provided significant investments through budget 2017. We are investing more than $395 million over three years for the youth employment strategy, starting in 2017-18.
Combined with similar measures in budget 2016, these investments will help more than 33,000 vulnerable youth, including indigenous youth develop the skills they need to find work or go back to school; create 15,000 new green jobs for young Canadians in sectors like agriculture and renewable energy; and provide over 1,600 new job opportunities for young people in organizations that celebrate our Canadian heritage.
The youth employment strategy has three complementary streams: skills link, which helps young people who face more barriers to employment than others to develop the skills they need to get a job or to go back to school; career focus, which helps post-secondary graduates find jobs through paid internships; and Canada's summer jobs, which provides wage subsidies to employers to create summer employment for secondary and post-secondary students.
Young Canadians are the future of our economy and have the talent and determination to succeed in today's labour market. Since we formed the government, we have made it a priority to help them get the education and training they need to find good jobs and build good lives for themselves and their families. Our plan is working. Youth unemployment is now the lowest on record.
To conclude, the amendments we are proposing in Bill C-63 will help to ensure that interns in the federally regulated private sector are treated fairly while they gain the hands-on, practical experience they need to transition to the workforce.
More generally, I urge my fellow members to support Bill C-63 so that we can continue to make smart investments that will help students and anyone trying to secure a better future succeed.