Madam Speaker, I rise today to offer support for the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie's motion, Motion No. 194, and I would like to thank him for bringing this issue to the floor for debate.
Canadians have worked hard to achieve the lowest unemployment rate in over 40 years. However, this number can only tell us so much about the employment situation in Canada. While good jobs are being created by Canadian businesses every day, there are still hard-working people who put in a full day's work but receive barely part-time compensation.
Our government has worked hard to support Canadian labour and the right of association. Immediately after the election, our government passed Bill C-4 and Bill C-5. These bills restored fairness and balance to labour relations by repealing legislation that undermined and weakened labour rights in our country. However, there is much more to do to ensure working Canadians receive fair treatment and fair compensation.
This motion speaks to a serious and growing problem across Canada that if left unaddressed could lead to serious labour issues. That is why this motion is so important. An in-depth study on precarious employment in Canada can provide the government with a blueprint to tackle this issue head-on.
As was pointed out earlier by the member for Sault Ste. Marie when speaking to this motion, precarious employment is tricky to nail down. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that a fifth of professionals are in some form of precarious work. Furthermore, the survey found that professionals in precarious employment are more likely to have a post-graduate degree than professionals who are in non-precarious work. Professional women are also more likely than their male counterparts to be in precarious situations, with women accounting for 60% of all professionals in a precarious work circumstance. Clearly, precarious work does not fit neatly into the norms of the traditional work environment and traditional work definitions.
These statistics offer far more questions than answers, questions that the HUMA committee can begin to unravel. While we do not know all that we would like to know, the root of this problem clearly lies in our rapidly changing economy. Thankfully, government has already started to address some of the stress points in this changing economy.
To provide young people the skills and networking opportunities necessary to find meaningful employment, our government invested $221 million in Mitacs, for example. This program creates 10,000 paid internships per year, providing the experience young people need to succeed. This program, coupled with the $73-million investment in the student work-integrated learning program, means nearly 60,000 Canadian students will benefit from a paid internship over the next five years.
The Government of Canada has also partnered with Ryerson University to create Canada's largest work-integrated learning, recruitment and reporting platform, known as “Magnet”. Magnet combines a network of employers, post-secondary institutions, industry associations and community partners to match skills with employment opportunities.
On February 14, the hon. Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour as well as the Minister of Finance announced plans for a new future skills centre and future skills council. To support this initiative, the Government of Canada is investing $225 million over four years and $75 million per year thereafter in future skills development.
However, it is not enough to prevent people from becoming precariously employed. We need to develop pathways for precarious workers to acquire skills that are in demand. In budget 2017, the government initiated a three-year pilot project to help adults who want to return to school, with an investment of $287 million over three years. It is clear, as the national and international economies change, that Canada and Canadians must put an emphasis on lifelong learning and skills development.
The disruption in the labour market calls for a flexible and forward-thinking policy. For this policy to be effective, we need a two-pronged approach. The first begins with Motion No. 194 to identify and narrow down the indicators of precarious employment. As the motion calls for, we need to dig into the data to come to a more complete understanding of what exactly precarious employment is both in terms of who it is affecting and in terms of its larger role in the Canadian economy.
The second part of this plan depends on a suite of flexible and proactive programs to lead young people to opportunities for quality employment. The plan must also offer those in precarious work situations a route to new opportunities or new skills and new training that will allow them to find fair, meaningful and reliable employment.
Yesterday the finance minister echoed the Prime Minister's comment that the global economy is changing faster than it ever has before, and it is moving slower now than it ever will in the future. If Canadians are to prosper and find security for themselves and their families in a changing global economy, we need to understand how these shifts will affect workers and Canadians.
As indicated in the speech by the member for Sault Ste. Marie and his motion, Canadians affected by precarious employment do not fit neatly into one or two industries or demographics.
Our government has taken steps to strengthen union rights to association and to provide access to education and skills training programs. However, precarious employment is unlike other forms of work and demands a more thorough examination by Parliament. Understanding the indicators of precarious employment will help federal, provincial and municipal governments address under-compensated workers.
When we tolerate full-time work turning into part-time pay with no benefits, we run a serious risk of losing ground that workers and Canadians will struggle with over the next generation.
As legislators, we have a responsibility to act in the best interests of Canadians, which is why I will be supporting Motion No. 194. I urge all members to also support Motion No. 194.
I would like to thank the member for Sault Ste. Marie for bringing this motion to the floor for debate.