We are living in extraordinary times. Our community and our country are facing a challenge on a scale not witnessed for decades. It is a challenge that is testing all Canadians.
COVID-19 has effectively shuttered a large portion of our economy. Millions of Canadians have been thrown out of work and tens of thousands of small businesses are struggling to survive.
This happened with exceptional speed. Within days, many Canadians went from their normal “day to day” to facing the prospect of being unable to pay rent, defaulting on mortgages and going without food.
While all Canadians have been impacted, one group that has been less discussed and particularly hard hit is Canada’s youth. At the time the virus began to profoundly affect our economy, approximately 1.4M post-secondary students were completing semesters and hoping to soon begin jobs. Many high school students were looking forward to summer employment to help them save for their education and their futures. Other young people already working, lost jobs and now have few prospects.
Combatting COVID-19’s Economic Impact
Governments across the country responded to the economic impacts of the virus. The federal government has stated that, in these extraordinary times, no Canadian should have to worry about putting food on the table. As a government, we have also said that we must work to stabilize the economy – small businesses in particular – to ensure that once this crisis has passed, economic recovery can happen as quickly as possible.
With the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – which offers a 75% wage subsidy for qualifying employers – we are protecting jobs (this subsidy was passed into law by Parliament this past weekend). With the Canada Emergency Response Benefit – which provides $2,000 per month to those who have stopped working because of COVID-19 – we are helping those who’ve lost their jobs. With guaranteed loans for businesses of all sizes, we are helping access necessary credit.
We are also focusing on initiatives that will address the specific concerns of young people.
Employment for Young Canadians
Last week, our government announced a revised Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program, to provide employment opportunities to youth and assistance to essential service providers.
Changes made to the program for this year to respond to the current crisis include:
- increased wage subsidy so that private, non-profit and public sector employers will receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee;
- extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021;
- allowing employers to adapt projects and job activities to support essential services;
- allowing employers to hire on a part-time basis.
CSJ aims to create up to 70,000 jobs across Canada for youth between 15 and 30 years of age. In the current context, these jobs will need to be either virtual or be focused on providing necessary services that can be delivered in a manner that is safe for employees and clients.
Over the coming days, my staff will be actively looking for organizations that can usefully and thoughtfully provide employment opportunities for our youth. We will be reaching out to identify organizations that may wish to make use of this program.
I would encourage any business, public or non-profit organization that might consider hiring one or more young employees, to contact my constituency staff to discuss this program. Finding ways to provide opportunities for our youth at this difficult time is important for them and for our collective future.
Canada has made significant strides in addressing COVID-19 because of the willingness of most Canadians to take appropriate precautions. We still have a significant way to go – it is vital that we continue to keep our physical distance, stay at home as much as possible, protect ourselves by washing our hands often and following all public health directives.
We all must stay the course and continue to do our part to limit the spread of the virus.
For more information on Canada’s response to COVID-19, including changes to CSJ, please follow this link: canada.ca/coronavirus