Youth Unemployment

Published on August 09, 2018

On 9 August 2018, MPP Anand spoke about "Youth Unemployment" as part of a Private Members' Public Business statement. 

It’s nice to hear from both sides, starting with the member from Scarborough on her experience as an educator. The member from Barrie–Innisfil talked about comparing the different models. My neighbour the member from Mississauga Centre talked about her own experiences—very different and very good perspectives. Our member from Thornhill talked about her experience as a parent.

Not just that, I heard from the member from London West, who has been a school board trustee for many, many years—over a decade—and got re-elected. She talked about the underemployment, unemployment and lack of entrepreneurship.

One thing I want to say is, I believe there was great, positive feedback on the motion. I believe that we all agree that this issue is real and relevant, and it is encouraging to hear all these comments on both sides that our young people are in desperate need of assistance. I believe we should start today and provide the substantial resources that they need.

Again, Madam Speaker, it is my deepest pleasure to speak on youth unemployment and how we can combat this ongoing issue. Together, I believe and I am sure that all members of this House will commit to bring quality jobs back to the province with a focus on making sure the young people of Ontario are prepared for these jobs. All I’m asking is for us to step up and let’s start a dialogue for our youth centres, so that through these youth centres we can create better opportunities for youth to prosper and succeed.

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Good afternoon, Madam Speaker. It’s my deepest pleasure to speak on youth unemployment and how we can combat this ongoing issue together.

Our government is committed to bringing quality jobs back to this province, with a focus on making sure that the young people of Ontario are prepared for those jobs.

We want everyone in Ontario to have an opportunity to succeed and prosper. Post-secondary education, whether that means apprenticeships, college or university, is a critical part of preparing Ontario for the future. In addition, our employment and training programs are critical to help young people find their first job.

The government cannot accomplish this alone, but what we can do is create the conditions that make it easier for young people to find jobs, start businesses or even invest in Ontario. This is the stepping stone of an economy that allows more of Ontario’s youth to find a job right here at home.

Madam Speaker, right now, Ontario’s unemployment rate is about 5.5%, but if you look at youth between the ages of 15 and 24, there are 141,000 youth who are unemployed. The rate at which youth are unemployed is about 11.2%. Compared to the 5.5% total unemployment, youth unemployment is almost double. You can see that youth unemployment is not healthy for our economy or for our communities. This is a critical time to introduce new programs and incentives for these young people to get ahead in life.

Let’s talk about my riding, Madam Speaker. My riding of Mississauga–Malton is home to major employment hubs in the GTA. The average size of a riding is about 48 square kilometres in the city of Mississauga, but if you look at my riding, it is actually 96 square kilometres—almost double. Half of this riding is zoned for employment. Despite the presence of the airport and vast employment zones, the youth unemployment rate in my riding of Mississauga–Malton is actually a staggering 25%. Let’s look at the data: The youth unemployment is not just double the regular unemployment; in my riding, it is double the youth unemployment rate of 11%. This is very alarming.

In my riding of Mississauga–Malton, there have been numerous initiatives taking place to revive and strengthen the community. It started with the MyMalton project to develop a community vision and guiding principles and to identify community needs that can be translated into revised planning policies. The community vision plan will engage with local stakeholders and community residents from Malton, along with city staff and region of Peel staff, to help determine the current needs and the vision of the community. I’m hopeful that with these resources, Mississauga–Malton will inspire the world as a dynamic and beautiful riding known for its creative, vibrant, safe and connected communities.

Let’s talk about the city of Mississauga, the sixth-largest municipality in Canada. The city of Mississauga has grown year after year. Our city continues to be in demand, with more than 86,000 businesses, including over 70 Fortune 500 companies, employing 425,000 people, and no signs of slowing down.

My local community vision report suggests that Malton offers one of the most affordable places to live in Mississauga yet also identifies that housing needs are the highest among young people, recent immigrants and single-parent households.

It’s not just this; with the risk index in Malton at a staggering 6.1%, there are serious consequences for not engaging youth at an early stage. The increase of youth unemployment threatens the future of individuals, the broader economy and communities as well. Youth unemployment only sets young citizens up for a more difficult time achieving employment in the future. This is because in the early stages, youth have not developed the right skills to prepare for interviews, ask for references or even gain experience. Madam Speaker, we have a vibrant city, we have an amazing riding, but still we are fighting with high youth unemployment and we are in desperate need.

I am presenting this motion to solve this issue for my riding, and hopefully we can solve the issue in the rest of the ridings as well. This motion is intended to resolve the lack of communication between youth and employment opportunities. There’s huge potential to decrease the youth unemployment rate by simply connecting youth with current community employment resources. I’m here to ask, let’s fill that gap.

I would like to share a great example where students have taken the initiative to start projects completely on their own to benefit their communities and strengthen their youth. One such example is Lucas Gordon, the co-founder of RedReach, from Hamilton. RedReach is a job-posting platform for youth employment. By the way, Gordon hasn’t even graduated high school. Along with his team, he’s already on a mission to improve his community. I thank Gordon and youth like Gordon for being so helpful.

Through compelling research, Gordon and his team were able to find interesting facts that I’d like to share here. Of young people entering the workforce:

—76% of high school students interviewed believe that their school has not prepared them to find a job;

—90% of youth agreed with the statement that they have no easy way of finding out who is hiring and what an employer is hiring for;

—80% of youth are unaware of the employment resources offered in their community, such as local YMCAs.

The current status of this issue is troublesome. Many young people don’t know where to begin, especially in troubled neighbourhoods with a high risk index. The risk of not guiding our youth is detrimental to our society. This motion will bring us one step closer to securing the future of our youth and the safety of our communities.

Madam Speaker, we believe our caucus is committed to creating more jobs and partnerships across this province. We will provide the opportunity to gain work experience, leading to ongoing employment. This involves broad community participation, planning and agreement in the creation of a sustainable employment strategy.

There is a strong need to provide youth with a resource centre to develop, practise and display. I propose to all members of the House to start a dialogue to suggest the development of new youth centres in achieving these goals. These concerns and these centres can be used to initiate job fairs and create a bridge to alternative youth-oriented programs.

It is also critical that we ensure that our students are receiving 21st century skills in order to get 21st century jobs. Technology is progressing at an unbelievable rate and it is our responsibility to be able to adapt and educate our youth to be better prepared. We must shift our curriculum to teach kids about coding, artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, STEM—something that they will need for the coming years.

To be honest, the main fault for youth unemployment is somewhat with us. The education system for the last 15 years has not provided young people with the appropriate skills to enter the workforce. High numbers of children are not being raised with appropriate guidance today. That is why I’m a big believer in mentorship programs that help students develop self-confidence and training. Mentorship is crucial to the personal, social and educational development of young people.

We must also provide the support for young people to achieve their entrepreneurial goals. I’ve never seen a time where the students are so hungry for innovation and starting new business ventures. This motion will help young people in their endeavours, and we can achieve this through youth centres.

Our government is determined to provide the resources and the opportunities for young people to grow. Once passed, this motion will provide a path of providing incentives and hands-on training to all stakeholders, including local businesses, NGOs, colleges and universities. Also, this motion will introduce a non-partisan—I will say that one more time—a non-partisan youth council that will be organized by the youth, by the students. Students will be engaged in a discussion and offer insight on the issues that they face, while providing helpful resources to one another. Even through the use of social media, we can effectively communicate government resources to those in need.

A reminder: This motion is intended to find solutions in reducing the youth unemployment rate in Ontario, and I want to remind everyone that it is critical that we nurture the emotional, social and physical domains of youth development.

I want to talk about my campaign to become MPP. I’d like to share that my campaign was youth-led. I actually have met a wonderful youth, Husam Khalo, who helped me in my campaigning and is here today. Thank you, Husam, for your help.

Madam Speaker, we plan on providing opportunities to help young folks to take on new responsibilities, acquire new skills, build healthy relationships and discover their own identities. It was a mission during my campaign to help the youth, and I’ll continue with that mission.

I’m sure all members will agree that there must be adequate resolution to youth unemployment, so I urge everyone in this House to participate in the pursuit of giving the opportunity to those who need it. Overall, I’m confident that all members will help me to pass this motion.

I move that, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should work with communities to reduce youth unemployment by committing to creating and protecting jobs for young people and correct 15 years of neglect from the previous government.