The Conservative-dominated finance committee is calling for a new tax credit for businesses that hire Canadians aged 18 to 30 after a detailed study of youth unemployment.
The proposal is among the finance committee’s 23 recommendations in a report tabled this week. The report notes that youth unemployment varies considerably by age.
Unemployment among 15 to 19 year olds has grown from 15.7 per cent in the first half of 2008 to 20.1 per cent in the first half of 2013. However the unemployment rate among 20 to 24 year olds grew from 9.4 per cent to 11.1 per cent during the same period.
The overall tone of the report tends to play down concerns over youth unemployment. It points to Statistics Canada data showing that the youth unemployment rate on average has been 2.1 times the rate for people aged 25 and older between 1976 and 2013. In 2013, the youth unemployment rate was 2.3 times higher.
Other measures the government is urged to consider include better labour market information and measures to improve labour mobility within Canada.
The committee also noted that numerous witnesses want governments to do more to steer youth toward positions in the skilled trades. The all-party report’s recommendations are silent however on the connection between youth unemployment and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, even though MPs heard testimony that the program was making it harder for youth to find jobs.
Conference Board deputy chief economist Pedro Antunes, for instance, told MPs that the presence of 300,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada would add 1.5 per cent to the unemployment rate.
In a supplementary opinion, the NDP calls for the government to impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for lower-skilled occupations, including fast-food, service and restaurant jobs. The Liberals criticized the Conservative government for cutting youth employment programs.
Employment Minister Jason Kenny promised this week to spend $14-million a year on two new Statistics Canada labour market studies. He is expected to announce wide-ranging reforms of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program as early as next week.