Justin Trudeau says a Liberal government would create 40,000 youth jobs each year for three years as part of a $1.3-billion jobs program.
The Liberal leader made the commitment Friday during an election event at an environmental-technologies firm in Burnaby, B.C., east of Vancouver.
Key to the program, said Mr. Trudeau, would be 40,000 youth jobs, paid internships and co-op placements through an annual $300-million investment in a new Youth Employment Strategy. The party also promised to pay up to one-quarter of a co-op student's salary, up to a maximum of $5,000, for every new position an employer creates.
"When it comes to helping young people join the workforce, we can do better," Mr. Trudeau said.
"It's help that Harper and Mulcair can't and won't deliver."
The total includes 5,000 "green" jobs linked to hiring more guides, interpreters and other Parks Canada staff.
Mr. Trudeau also promised to pay up to one-quarter of a co-op student's salary, up to a maximum of $5,000, for every new position an employer creates.
The party says it would forgo employment insurance premiums in certain cases to help create jobs for young people facing a tough labour market and high unemployment. The Liberals would waive EI premiums for 12 months for any employer who gives someone between the ages of 18 and 24 a full-time job in 2016, 2017 or 2018.
The Chretien Liberals did something similar in the late 1990s "to tremendously positive effect," Trudeau said.
"We saw the number of young people's jobs spike during those years," Trudeau said with a group of young people behind him.
"That's exactly what we need right now given the extremely high unemployment rates for youth."
Mr. Trudeau claimed there are 170,000 fewer young people in the workforce now than before the 2008 recession. The youth unemployment rate sits at 13.1 per cent.
He said much of his plan revolves around summer work, which has demonstrated "tremendous effectiveness" in past.
Mr. Trudeau's youth jobs announcement came just a day after the NDP announced a similar policy, as both parties vie for young voters and, by extension, their parents and grandparents.
The NDP quickly questioned whether Mr. Trudeau could deliver on his sweeping promise.
Overshadowing Mr. Trudeau's announcement were lingering questions about the loss of one of Trudeau's candidates in B.C. Joy Davies quit her run for the party Thursday over Facebook posts about the harm caused by marijuana smoke, especially on young people.
Mr. Trudeau wouldn't mention Davies by name when questioned, but said the incident, along with others that have felled candidates this campaign, was a lesson in how politics and social media don't always mix.
"People who ... often are passionate in the issues they believe in are often sharing those views in ways that don't necessarily translate well into politics," he said.
The Conservatives have repeatedly attacked Mr. Trudeau for his stance to legalize marijuana and the harm they say that could come to young Canadians as a result.
Mr. Trudeau's announcement came on the second day of a two-day visit to the Vancouver region – an area where Liberals have high hopes of holding and picking up seats.
The Liberal leader has made stops in Vancouver, West Vancouver and Burnaby. He is making a final stop in North Vancouver before leaving the province.
After Friday's announcement, Mr. Trudeau hiked the famous Grouse Grind, colloquially known as Mother Nature's StairMaster. It was the first time hiking the trail for Mr. Trudeau, despite having lived in region in the past and visited the area repeatedly growing up.
At the top of the Grind, a sweaty Mr. Trudeau joked that it was a "nice walk," but not one he would want to do too often.
"I wouldn't want to do this every day," he said. "And I love campaigning every day."
With files from The Canadian Press