Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Peace River—Westlock.
I wanted to start off by saying that when I was younger, Oshawa was a bit of a different town. Oshawa was proudly able to support many students who were working in good summer jobs at the GM assembly plant. I remember working eight years in that plant, and it was a good wage and a great experience. Many of my friends in different programs, whether engineering, management, trades or labour, gained great experience at that plant.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, I am a chiropractor. One may ask what kind of experience I received working on the floor at GM to be a chiropractor. It has allowed me to connect with my constituents and know what they are going through when they came to see me. I always joke that it even maybe helped me in politics. I have said that I have come to Ottawa to straighten out those politicians. When one gets to work in one's community, it is a wonderful experience.
Today it is a different environment in Oshawa, and there are no longer the same opportunities. We have lost our assembly plant. There are still good opportunities in the auto sector, as well as some growth in health care and education, but students still make up a great part of my constituency and this bill hits home.
Between the Ontario Tech University, Trent University Durham campus and Durham College, Oshawa is home to literally thousands of students. In 2019, Ontario Tech University has a total of 10,348 students. Durham College has more than 13,600 full post-secondary and apprenticeship students, with more than 2,000 students from over 60 countries, along with thousands of students in part-time, professional and online studies. Trent University Durham campus has over 1,600 undergraduate students, with 41 graduate students as well. Unlike years past, I am hearing from our young people that they are hurting.
Young people want the same thing that we wanted. They want a job; they do not want a handout. They want a future, experience, a better life and they want opportunities. I love hanging around young people because they really inspire me. They know Canada is the best country in the world with the best potential and that it is the best place to live.
This bill is about students and their futures. I am hearing from the students in my riding that they are in immediate need, as are their families. I am very happy to be here today to support this bill. Conservatives have been working very hard to help the government to better these bills and make better programs available for students and Canadians who need them.
Conservatives have negotiated several changes to this proposed legislation, which includes requiring the government to connect all applicants to the Canada job bank and providing them with job availability information before applying, requiring parliamentary review of the legislation and benefit and instituting a legislated sunset clause so the benefit could not be extended through regulation and there would be accountability.
We recognize unemployment in some parts of the country is extremely high because of this pandemic and that some of these jobs just are not available, so Canadians and students need real help right now. In normal times, this would be a time when students would be starting their new summer jobs so they could save up for the next school year and pay for their rent and groceries.
While the $1250 that students will be receiving through the Canada emergency student benefit is a step that will help them pay their rent and buy their groceries, it will not place them in a position to pay for their books and tuition come September. They need more. Students need to be able to work in a safe, sanitary environment that will not only pay their bills but also give them experience in their chosen field or even in a field that gives them valuable experience.
What energizes me when I talk to students is that students believe in the future of Canada. Many students come here from all over the world, and a kid in Oshawa can make new friends and learn from friends who come from all parts of the world. They all understand the importance of experience and the potential that Canada offers these students.
Students also believe in the Canadian dream. That is why I love listening to their ideas. The government sometimes has a difficult time defining what the middle class is, but the students I have talked to know what that means. They know what they are aiming for. They want to join the middle class and contribute in a significant way to the Canadian economy. Students want to do their part. They want to contribute to Canada's future. They want to settle down, pursue their careers, raise their families, reach for their dreams and help continue to make Canada the best country in the world.
Right now students are hurting. There is uncertainty. There is fear. It is not just about the COVID virus; they are worried about their future and their families. I have been hearing from mature students with dependants. They have concerns with this ongoing crisis. This is real. They are very concerned about paying their bills while also taking care of their kids. They want to be able to graduate and get a good job in their field, and, if they want, get married, pay for their kids' hockey or volleyball, buy a house, buy a car or go on vacation once a year to get away from our famously frigid Canadian winters. Students know what they want. They understand the definition of middle class and what a Canadian dream is. Students know this.
As Conservatives, we want to help improve these government programs in these trying times. We have some really good ideas, which we have heard in the House today. We want to put them forward to help students in the long term and in an effective way. We offer these ideas for the government's consideration, and we want to help it develop and improve its programs.
Therefore, along with this bill, there should be a priority to expand the Canada summers job program and create a central database to ensure that these critical jobs are filled and students not only receive valuable experience, but limit their student debt by making more money during the summer. This program should focus on jobs in the agricultural sector, because we are hearing more and more concerns about our critical supply chains and the difficulty people in our agricultural sector are having in getting the labour they need. At the same time, we want to put our students to work in a helpful and meaningful way that gives them practical life experience, which can also be valuable for their future careers.
When people think of Oshawa, they think about cars. I am really proud of that history, but many people do not realize that the Durham region adds $300 million every single year to Ontario's farm production. In 2017, there were 3,400 jobs in the forestry, fishing and hunting sectors. There are over 200 farms in the Durham region. These farms produce high-quality food for Canadians. Whether it is beef, lamb, honey, cider, fruit, vegetables or wine, we are very proud of the products we produce in the Durham region.
We have been hit with hard times before, but sometimes the hard times have a silver lining: They bring people together. I think our Conservative idea will really help benefit employers who are looking to give those students the experience they need but maybe cannot afford it right now. It will give students more money so that when they get back to school in the fall of 2020, they will have fewer loans and more money in their pockets.
In the end, although the Canada emergency student benefit provides assistance to students in the short term, it is important that our young people and mature students are able to get the supports they need so they can be prepared for the opening of the fall 2020 semester, whether it is online or in a slightly modified environment. This can be done by expanding the Canada summer jobs program so employers can get the help they need and supply chains can be secure, all while putting more money in the pockets of students and giving them experience that will last a lifetime.
What the Conservatives want to do is offer Canadians a win-win-win. The program we are offering gives students a win, businesses a win and Canadians a win. When Canadians, students and businesses win, it ensures we all have a future we can be proud of.
I anticipate some great questions from my colleagues on this.