Mr. Speaker, I rose in the House two weeks ago, on February 6, to ask the government, and particularly the Prime Minister, who is also the minister of youth, if the government was going to urgently reinvest in Katimavik.
Katimavik is an organization that provides youth across Canada with an incredible opportunity to participate in community work, among other things. I will expand on that a little later.
The organization directors approached us to tell us that Katimavik will have to close its doors by March 31 because of a lack of funding. In his answer to my question, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour said that helping young Canadians gain work experience was a government priority, but he made no mention of an imminent investment.
Since then, we have heard nothing. The Liberals have been in office for 18 months and they have not invested a cent in Katimavik. Meanwhile, the organization is celebrating its 40-year anniversary this year, in 2017. Unfortunately, this could be Katimavik's last anniversary, even though it has helped 35,000 young people in its 40 years of operation.
In less than a few weeks, in days really, the organization will have to close its doors because no announcement has been made. In 2012, the Conservatives reduced federal subsidies to Katimavik. The Prime Minister, who was the member for Papineau at the time, and still is, was outraged and asked the Conservatives to be honest enough to admit that they do not care about young people.
The Prime Minister promised to reinvest, to ensure that Katimavik is restored. In fact, to allow 1,700 young people to live the Katimavik experience every year, the organization needs $11.9 million. During the election campaign, the Liberals promised $105 million over five years. We have not seen a red cent for Katimavik since the Liberals came to power.
Katimavik's mission is to develop youth as engaged citizens and capable leaders and to foster respect, understanding, and reconciliation with indigenous peoples and with people from other cultures and regions.
Every day we hear the Liberals say that one of their priorities, if not their top priority, is to work on reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. This could be a concrete example of investing in that very reconciliation. One of the basic concepts of Katimavik is to provide young people with the opportunity to do an internship or volunteer in an indigenous community. Every dollar spent on Katimavik brings $2.20 to the community.
Young people between the ages of 15 and 29, the age group most affected by unemployment and precarious work, participate in Katimavik. This program also serves young indigenous youth. We know that the suicide rate is five to seven times higher in indigenous communities and that Katimavik addresses recommendation 66 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada which calls on “the federal government to establish multi-year funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation”.
What will the Liberals do by March 31 to save Katimavik? We would need to have—