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A letter from the Wellington Halton-Hills NDP Youth Chair

Web posted on October 15, 2012

Dear Editor,

"Youth in Recession"

Wellington-Halton Hills MP, Michael Chong, recently wrote a report on job creation. He prided his government on creating jobs and lowering the unemployment rate but, in his celebration of the success of job creation policy, Michael Chong has forgotten a large and immensely important section of Canada's population the youth.

While employment for those over 55 is rising, the latest data from Statistics Canada shows youth employment from 15-24 fell by 22,000 in August (down 72,000 from August 2011) the continuation of a trend. While Chong highlights that our national unemployment rate sits at 7.4%, our youth unemployment rate is at a staggering 15%, which doesn't even count those underemployed. Summer employment for students is down to 47.9%, lower than it was in the depth of the 2009 recession.

This rising youth unemployment makes post-secondary education less attainable and less affordable, especially for those of us who cannot rely on mom and dad. It also makes it even harder for youth to gain real work experience. The neglect of Canada's youth is leaving an entire generation that will have trouble catching up with the labour market and recent graduates are seeing their skills erode as they scrape out a living in any part-time retail job they can find.

It doesn't take an economist to realize that the long-term health of the Canadian economy relies on getting new people youth into the labour force adding their skills and ideas. When the baby boomers retire we will need a well trained and experienced work force to replace them, but that cannot happen unless we hire and train youth now. You would think a Conservative government who wants to convince us that they can handle the economy would also see this I guess not.

Michael Chong talks about recovering from the recession by lowering taxes, but frankly lower taxes are of little comfort to the youth of this riding when employment among Canadian youth it at its lowest point since 2002. Since 2008, youth participation in the workforce has declined by 180,000, indicating that many are just giving up. Lowering taxes is not enough to get our youth back to work. The Economic Action Plan has failed Canadian youth and the best way forward into a strong economy must involve an effective Youth Job Creation Strategy.

The youth in this riding carry much higher levels of student debt than past generations and must deal with housing prices that have tripled in the last 30 years. As the jobless rates continue to rise among youth, Michael Chong's pride in how Canada is recovering faster than other countries is poor consolation to youth in Fergus, Acton and Georgetown who are still waiting for the economic recovery to start.

Perhaps Michael Chong doesn't see the youth of our riding, or perhaps he is simply out of touch with our needs. Whatever the explanation may be, the youth of Wellington-Halton Hills appear to have been forgotten by our Member of Parliament. Michael Chong may be pleased with the Conservative Economic Action Plan, but when I see so many youth struggling to find work I remain unimpressed.

Michael Carlucci,
Wellington Halton-Hills NDP Youth Chair