Mr. Speaker, the youth unemployment rate is very worrisome. It has never been this high.
There is currently a youth employment crisis in Canada. It is a crisis that the government refuses to acknowledge, just as it refuses to acknowledge its abysmal job creation record. The youth unemployment rate reached its highest level in April 2008, before the recession. The official unemployment rate was then 11.8%. In September 2011, the youth unemployment rate reached 14%. Today, it is approaching 16%. That is about double the Quebec rate, which is around 7.6%. Canada's unemployment rate is 6.6%
However, programs such as skills link, which directly supports youth facing barriers to employment, are being dismantled by the Minister of Employment . Despite a youth unemployment rate of 16%, the minister tolerates the intolerable, that is, never-ending delays and broken partnerships with solid organizations with a proven track record, but whose future is now in jeopardy.
Does the minister not realize that leading organizations in our communities are waiting for him to take action, and also that his lack of action is hurting youth in need who could get help finding a job with well-established projects under the skills link program if only they were able to get the nod?
Is that the government's plan, to deliberately leave these young people out in the cold, people who need a little helping hand to improve their quality of life and take charge in order to find or keep a job? The Conservatives have already abandoned the regions and now they are abandoning our youth.
Young people are waiting for a nod from the government to contribute to the economy of their region. They are waiting for a nod to discover the dignity and pride that comes from getting a job. Will the minister give them the nod?
On November 25, 2014, I was asking the minister in this House about some problems related to the skills link program. To provide some background, my question on November 25 was about shedding some light on why the many applications for subsidies under the skills link program have been gathering dust for over a year. It took 18 months for a simple acknowledgement of receipt, while other integration projects were rejected entirely.
In my question to the minister, I asked him specifically why the youth employment centres in the Quebec City region all had their applications rejected. Their applications to implement a social and occupational integration program, a project that Service Canada has been a partner to for 10 years, were rejected out of hand.
Will the minister say that the projects were rejected for lack of funding? That would be too easy. There is more to it than that. When the program no longer has any funding, officials know it. However, in this case, the officials are being shut out and no longer understand what is happening with the program. The skills link program was working and was helping young people find employment.
I also met with young participants in the Chantiers urbains program, a project run by the Quebec City youth employment centre. I was touched by their stories and surprised at the ingenuity with which the staff carry out social and occupational integration projects while providing support to these young people to help them succeed.
The minister must take into account the efforts made by employment and training organizations to provide young people with a unique experience and a launch pad to success.
Twenty-two organizations, including 14 in Quebec, have contacted their MP to find out whether they could expect any funding soon. Most of them have been taking part in the program for many years. Some of these partnerships have been in place for eight or 10 years, and this is the first time they have faced such delays.
When will the minister take action?