Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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Bronwen Evans
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Bronwen Evans
2015-03-26 8:53
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you for inviting me to present today.
I'm going to focus my remarks primarily around veterans who have been ill and injured, opportunities for employment programs that exist currently within government, and then some programs that we fund external to government.
I'll start off by giving a bit of a background on True Patriot Love. Some of you may know who we are as an organization, but I'll give a quick background on that. Then I will move on to talk about some work that we did in leadership at the Veterans Transition Advisory Council, which was a council that Minister Blaney, when he was the minister of veterans affairs, asked us to assemble. Through that I will talk about some survey work that we did of employers around their attitudes toward hiring veterans and then speak specifically to what we perceive to be some of the challenges regarding employment and where we think things should go.
True Patriot Love is an organization that started in 2009. There was a small group of us. Originally it was going to be a fundraising dinner that we did to raise money for the Military Families Fund. We raised about $2 million in one night and recognized that not only was there a need, but there was a huge opportunity and a willingness to give from corporate Canada.
We've been around for about six years and we've raised about $20 million, which we disburse to community-based charities across Canada that support military families. We don't run programs per se, but we raise money which we disburse, similar to how the United Way functions.
Our main areas of support are mental health and rehabilitation. We fund many counselling programs not just for injured soldiers, but also for their families. When a soldier suffers an operational stress injury, the whole family suffers. We also fund counselling programs in addition to that, where we look at children and young adults who are struggling at school or in new communities. Because they move frequently, they are often in need of support.
We also fund physical health and rehabilitation; so think adaptive ski programs and some very adaptive sport programs. We fund home and vehicle modifications for injured soldiers. The government does do some of that, but to give you an example of the kind of things we do, if a soldier lost a limb in Afghanistan and they come back, the government will pay to retrofit the soldier's existing vehicle. If that vehicle is too small to put a wheelchair and a ramp in it, we will pay for a new vehicle for the individual and the government will then retrofit it.
The other area that we fund is general family support. We do quite a bit in the area of supporting children in the military with special needs. This need has grown to about $750,000 a year. What happens is when children have special needs, like autism, and they move from one base to another, they go to the bottom of the public waiting list because it's all overseen by the provinces. Oftentimes they won't make it to the top of the waiting list before they need to move again. We were finding that families were taking out second mortgages on their home to pay for important therapy. That's a huge area of funding that we focus on. We also pay to send children to camp. Where there's been a recent injury, death, or deployment, we give military children the opportunity to go and spend time with other military children who may be going through some of the same things.
That's a general background on True Patriot Love.
A couple of years ago, Minister Blaney, when he was the minister for veterans affairs, asked True Patriot Love to put together what was called the Veterans Transition Advisory Council. I did send this document in advance and I want to make sure everybody has a copy of it. The purpose of the Veterans Transition Advisory Council was to look at systemic barriers that were preventing veterans from making a transition to meaningful employment. The reason I say meaningful is that we discovered quite early on that the issue isn't unemployment; it's more underemployment.
We assembled, with the support of Veterans Affairs and eventually with support from the Department of National Defence, a number of companies to help us look at the barriers. We also included other representation from charities across Canada that were in this space. Veterans Affairs and the Department of National Defence also have seats on this advisory council.
What I thought might be of particular interest to this group was a survey that we did of human resource departments across the country. It's the first-ever survey that has been done in Canada of this sort where we were looking at the attitudes of people doing the hiring in companies towards hiring veterans. There's been a lot of work done on this in other countries, like the U.S., but nothing had been done in Canada.
We did a quantitative survey of 850 corporate HR departments in Canada. What we found was interesting. We found that 45% of Canadian employers think that promoting the hiring of veterans reflects well on their company. We'd like it to be higher than 45%, but there's at least still 45% who believe that. However, 73% of Canadian employers admit that their organization does not have a specific veteran hiring initiative. When we prodded even further, we found only 4% of those who didn't have one have any intention of ever putting one in place.
We also found that only 13% of HR departments have been trained on how to read a military resumé. One thing we found especially interesting was that 46% believe having a university degree is more important than years of military experience. When you prodded that question and asked, what could a veteran do in order to help himself or herself get a job in the civilian world, education ranked the highest. The feeling with that was if you looked at their years of service, it wouldn't qualify essentially as the kind of training or internship that they were hoping to see and that they would need in order to bring veterans into their companies.
We have that going on and we're in a situation where employers, while their intentions might be good, don't really know how to go about hiring veterans.
We get calls as an organization quite frequently where somebody or a company will say to us, “We want to hire veterans. Where are they? How do we go about finding them?”
There is a program named MET, the military employment transition program, which is run by Canada Company in partnership with the Department of National Defence. That's very hands-on in terms of matching up employers with veterans. However, it's only able to handle so much volume, and on top of that, they don't deal with the ill and injured population at all.
The report that you have is our interim report, which ended up being presented to Minister Fantino. When we presented it to the minister and asked for further direction, he asked us to look specifically at the ill and injured veteran population to see what could be done in that area, because that was an area where when it came to employment the feeling was there was the most concern and the least amount of supports available to them.
We, the Veterans Transition Advisory Council, spent some time looking at that issue in particular. We did a survey of the programs that are already out there through government, through both Veterans Affairs and the Department of National Defence. We certainly found that pretty much every employer indicator showed that medically released veterans are worse off than veterans who aren't medically released.
Clients who have been medically released experience 15.1% unemployment compared to 7.6% unemployment for the total veteran population. Also, their income and their skill relevance tend to be lower. In one sample size that Veterans Affairs looked at, they saw a 29% decline in income and a 63% decline in earnings in a three-year post-release period for ill and injured veterans. Data show that only 8% of the medically released are unable to work, which means that the remaining 92% present a significant opportunity for employers, because these 92% have served and obviously have a tremendous skill set.
One of the issues that you are probably aware of as a committee—although I find that when I am speaking to our donors, corporate employers, they find it surprising—is that only veterans who are clients of Veterans Affairs are eligible for VAC services, which isn't the majority of veterans. You are able to access the support in VAC, whether it's support for employment or other types of support related to illness, only if you are a client. Only 30% of medically released veterans are clients of VAC, so 70% of medically released members of the armed forces aren't clients of VAC and are out there on their own.
There is a program called CanVet, which is the official service provider for Veterans Affairs to provide vocational rehabilitation for veterans. While this is a good program in terms of helping veterans prepare resumés and think about where they are going with their career, the one thing that we think is lacking is that the people who work at vocational rehab and who are providing the advice to veterans aren't going out and connecting with the employer population. It's one of those things where you go into a classroom setting, work on your resumé, and get advice on how to do job interviews, but CanVet isn't making any outreach to employers to prepare them for the fact that there may be some veterans coming their way who are interested in jobs.
Really, the only alternative within Veterans—
Charlotte Bastien
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Charlotte Bastien
2014-10-27 15:35
That's no problem.
As I was saying, the majority leaving the reserves would already have civilian employment. The unemployment rate for veterans is equal to the general Canadian rate—8%. The unemployment rate for veterans released due to injuries is about 15%.
Employment issues generally cluster around certain groups of veterans: younger veterans, those with fewer years of service, those in the lower ranks, and those who are medically released or involuntarily released.
The life after service study shows that 89% of regular force veterans released between 1998 and 2007 worked after release. The breakdown in numbers of veterans after release was as follows: 52.9% worked at a job or business; 20% worked at some point but were not currently working; 7.7% were looking for work; 10.3% were retired or not looking for work; 3.7% went from the regular forces to full-time work in the reserve force. The others included those who were not able to work, for example, because they were on disability, were caring for a family member, or were attending school.
Most veterans leaving the military reported adjusting well and beginning a normal life in the civilian world.
There are three key elements to VAC support in terms of employment: ensuring qualified veterans who wish to work at VAC have the opportunity to do so; providing benefits and services in a wide range of programs; and working with other government departments and not-for-profit and private sector groups to help people understand who our veterans are and what their needs are and to help develop opportunities to support veterans' employment needs.
Two key VAC programs to support releasing Canadian Armed Forces members are the career transition services and the vocational rehabilitation programs. In 2013 Minister Fantino announced changes that give more than 1,300 veterans taking part in our vocational rehabilitation program greater flexibility to access the tools they need for their training, which will cut down on wait times related to vocational assessments.
As a result of these changes, an expanded list of training expenses, such as those for required computer software, electronic books, campus parking, and training equipment are now considered in individual vocational rehabilitation training plans. Veterans are now also able to claim individual vocational rehabilitation expenses through an overall program funding envelope to a maximum total value of $75,800 per person. In the last five years, 3,381 participants have accessed vocational rehabilitation and vocational assistance through our national contract. As of June 30, 2014 there were 1,355 active participants.
Career transition services help veterans and their survivors find civilian employment, and provide funding for related training and career services consultation. They are available for up to two years after a veteran's date of release from the Canadian Armed Forces. To date, 1,787 veterans have accessed the program. As part of Veterans Affairs Canada's initiative to cut red tape, the government has streamlined the service delivery model for the program by giving eligible veterans or survivors their choice of career transition services that best meet their needs. As well, VAC will reimburse up to $1,000.
VAC has also taken several steps to ensure that eligible veterans are able to apply for a position at Veterans Affairs Canada if they choose to. They have expanded the area of selection for job competitions to allow the largest number of Canadian Armed Forces personnel to apply; reviewed all the work descriptions in Veterans Affairs to assess which positions could benefit from Canadian Armed Forces experience; and added the relevant Canadian Armed Forces experience as an asset qualification to these positions.
We are working with the Public Service Commission and others to implement new legislation to support veterans seeking positions in the federal government. This initiative is called “Priority Hiring”.
The bill proposes to allow honourably released Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans to be given increased access to job opportunities in the public service.
The introduction of this legislation means that veterans whose medical release is deemed to be attributable to military service will be eligible for statutory priority hiring status in the federal public service.
Veterans who have been medically released from the Canadian Armed Forces will now be eligible for up to five years of priority hiring status in the federal public service. Veterans who have been honourably released and who have had at least three years of military service will now receive preference in external advertised federal public service employment processes. Canadian Armed Forces serving personnel and veterans who have been honourably released with at least three years of military service will now be able to view and participate in internal advertised public service employment processes.
As for the next steps, Veterans Affairs Canada is working with the Department of National Defence and the Public Service Commission to ensure that Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans will benefit from those changes when Bill C-27 comes into force. The changes will take effect once the bill has received royal assent—probably in 2015.
I will now go on to the hire a veteran program.
I will explain what this program is about.
Through the hire a veteran initiative launched in December 2012, Veterans Affairs Canada partners with corporate Canada to help veterans and releasing Canadian Armed Forces personnel find civilian jobs. The hire a veteran employer partners send their employment opportunities and/or links to career pages to us, and we share the posting with a network consisting of front-line staff, our national vocational rehabilitation service contractor, and the Canadian Armed Forces. These postings are then shared with job-seeking Canadian Armed Forces personnel and veterans.
The hire a veteran website includes information for both job seekers and employers. To assist releasing military personnel and veterans in finding employment, the website provides links to Employment and Social Development Canada tools, public service priority hiring information, and other relevant sites.
The hire a veteran website also provides information for employers regarding the value veterans bring to the civilian workforce and information on the Canadian Armed Forces, such as military ranks, occupation, training, and skills developed in the military. This information helps employers better understand the military culture from which our veterans are transitioning. Therefore, employers are better positioned to help these veterans integrate into the civilian workplace.
Through the hire a veteran initiative, over 160 employers have committed to hiring veterans. Here are some examples of our employer partners: Bell Canada, Target, Walmart Canada, Cenovus Energy, Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, Intuit Canada, Cabela's Canada, Mount Allison University, Queen's University, and the Canadian National Railway.
Our employer partners would be able to contribute a valuable perspective to your committee in its work. In particular, we would suggest that you consider inviting Bell Canada, Target, Intuit Canada, or the Canadian National Railway to appear before the committee.
To sum up, I mentioned our partners helping with this important file. To maximize civilian employment opportunities, Veteran Affairs works with the Canadian Armed Forces in partnership with two key non-profit organizations: the True Patriot Love Foundation and Canada Company.
The department's partnership with Canada Company is primarily through the military employment transition program, which is creating direct links between Canadian Armed Forces personnel, reservists, and veterans who are seeking jobs in the civilian workforce, and employer partners who want to hire transitioning military personnel and veterans for their valued skill sets.
Through the military employment transition program, employer partners are required to report on veteran hires through an employer partner memorandum of understanding. Approximately 180 veteran-friendly employer partners have committed to working together to help veterans and releasing Canadian Armed Forces personnel find civilian jobs.
Our other key non-profit partner is the True Patriot Love Foundation, which leads the Veteran Transition Advisory Council. Established by the Minister of Veteran Affairs, the council is mandated to identify challenges and barriers faced by Canadian veterans during the transition from military to civilian employment. The council includes representatives from leading national companies, who work to raise awareness of the skill sets that veterans have to offer the private sector.
In the fall of 2013, the Council made interim recommendations regarding the transition to civilian employment, and, as a result, the council established five working groups related to these recommendations. The working groups are focusing on a one-stop-shop web portal, a marketing campaign, supported employment, a veterans membership program, and certification.
This concludes our presentation. We would be pleased to take any questions.
David McGovern
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David McGovern
2014-03-06 15:32
Thank you very much.
I'd like to thank the committee for inviting Employment and Social Development Canada to appear before you today on the topic of youth employment.
I'd also like to introduce my colleagues around the table, but we have too many of them, so I won't. They're here to help me if you have questions regarding programs that support youth participation in the labour market.
As the committee is aware, the government announced in Budget 2014 its intention to better align employment programs with the realities of the labour market, and in that context, the committee's study is timely and welcome.
Over the coming decade, approximately 6.2 million people will enter the labour market, three-quarters of whom will come from the school system. Young labour market entrants will therefore contribute the most to labour force growth, well above the contribution of new immigrants.
We also know that over the next 10 years the shift in employment towards occupations requiring higher levels of skills and education will continue, as approximately two-thirds of new jobs will require some form of post-secondary education. A large proportion of these will be in health, engineering, and technology occupations, as well as in certain skilled trades.
The recent recession highlighted the importance of skills and education for youth, as those with higher education levels fared better, while those with lower levels of education were most severely affected.
Canadian youth are investing in their education, and educational attainment is among the highest in the world and growing. At the same time, there is some evidence that qualifications are not optimally aligned with demand. In particular, employers express concerns that too few students are choosing in-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math, and many do not consider skilled trades as a first career choice.
Given growing skills requirements of jobs and pressures of an aging labour force, it is essential that youth have the right skills to make successful transitions in the labour market and to improve their ability to adjust when economic circumstances change.
Addressing skills challenges facing youth has been a long-standing objective of the Government of Canada's policies and programs. Recent efforts, however, have focused on ensuring interventions are better aligned with the needs of employers and the labour market.
More specifically, that has meant enhancing opportunities for Canadian youth to access post-secondary education and supporting careers in the skilled trades; assisting youth transition to the world of work by providing tangible work opportunities in areas of high demand; and ensuring youth have the information they need to make informed career and training choices aligned with the needs of the labour market.
Allow me to highlight some of the Employment and Social Development Canada key initiatives dedicated to supporting these objectives.
The government supports access to education through a number of programs and initiatives. These include, for example, the Canada student loans program. This provides student financial assistance to post-secondary students with demonstrated financial need, through the provision of loans and grants. The education savings program encourages families to save for their children's post-secondary education, using registered education savings plans, RESPs, which allow savings to grow tax free. The Canada education savings grant and the Canada learning bond provide additional incentives, particularly for low- and middle-income families, to save in RESPs.
The government also provides support to Pathways to Education Canada, an organization with an established record of reducing high school dropout rates and increasing post-secondary enrolment among disadvantaged youth. Budget 2013 confirmed that the government will extend support for this initiative.
Apprenticeship training is also an important part of the post-secondary education system.
To further encourage Canadians to consider a career in the skilled trades, Budget 2014 proposed the creation of the Canada apprentice loan by expanding the Canada student loans program. The objective is to provide apprentices registered in red seal trades with access to an estimated $100 million in interest-free loans each year.
This action builds on the existing government incentives for apprentices and employers to encourage apprenticeship training and stimulate employment in the skilled trades.
The apprenticeship grants are designed to encourage more Canadians to pursue and complete apprenticeship programs in the red seal trades.
To support youth transitions in the labour market, the youth employment strategy is the government's flagship program to help youth aged 15 to 30 gain skills and real work experience to transition in the labour market. This program, which invests approximately $330 million annually, is led by Employment and Social Development Canada and delivered by 11 federal departments and agencies.
It has three main streams. Skills Link provides funding for employers and organizations to help youth facing barriers to employment acquire skills and work experience. Summer Work Experience provides wage subsidies to employers to create summer employment for secondary and post-secondary students. This program includes Canada Summer Jobs, which provides funding for not-for-profit organizations as well as public sector and private sector employers to create summer job opportunities for students. All told, approximately 35,000 summer jobs were created in 2013. Finally, Career Focus provides youth with work experience in their field of study to enable more informed career decisions and to develop their skills.
Moving forward, the government is committed to enhancing its supports for the labour market transition of youth. In particular, through budget 2013, the government provided an additional $70 million over three years for the Career Focus stream of the youth employment strategy to support internships for recent graduates, so they get an opportunity to apply their newly acquired skills.
Through budget 2014, the government announced that it would take further steps to align youth employment programs with the evolving realities of the job market, more specifically to promote internships in high-demand fields such as skilled trades, and in science, technology, engineering, and math, so that youth can find work experience and the skills necessary to find and retain jobs.
The Government of Canada also provides support for unemployed and underemployed youth through income support from the employment insurance program and through significant transfers to the provinces and territories. More specifically, the government transfers $1.95 billion annually through the labour market development agreements to support the unemployed who are eligible for employment insurance. Similarly, the government provides $500 million annually through the labour market agreements for training and unemployment supports for those not eligible for EI. Youth represent about 20% and 35% of the clients receiving support under each of these transfers respectively.
Finally, the labour market agreements for persons with disabilities allow provinces to provide targeted programming to improve the employability of persons with disabilities, including youth.
The new Canada job grant to be introduced by July 1, 2014, aims to directly connect skills training with employers, helping to ensure that Canadians, including youth, are developing the skills for available jobs.
Finally, the government plays an important role in providing learning and labour market information to ensure youth have timely and reliable information to make the right choices about learning and work.
For example, through the Working in Canada website and CanLearn.ca the government provides information on available jobs, labour market outcomes, and educational and training requirements.
In Budget 2013, the government reaffirmed its commitment to improving these tools and announced a reallocation of $19 million over 2 years to provide young Canadians with more information on job prospects and to undertake outreach efforts to promote careers in high-demand fields.
Through its funding of the Red Seal program, the government supports promotional activities to inform industry and tradespeople, as well as high school students and the public at large, about apprenticeships and the benefits of working in the skilled trades. The government also provides significant support to Skills Canada to actively promote careers in the skilled trades to Canadian youth by working with local organizations, educators, and governments.
In conclusion, I would again like to thank the committee for undertaking this timely study. We look forward to seeing its recommendations.
My colleagues and I welcome the opportunity to respond to any questions you may have.
Amy Huziak
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Amy Huziak
2014-03-06 16:01
Thank you.
Good afternoon, everyone.
As introduced, I'm Amy Huziak, and I'm the national representative of young workers for the Canadian Labour Congress. With me is my colleague, Angella MacEwen, who is a senior economist with the CLC. On behalf of the 3.3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress, we thank you for the opportunity to present our views.
The CLC brings together workers from virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy, in all occupations, and in all parts of Canada. As a young worker myself, I'm one of more than 876,000 young union members in Canada today. I regularly hear from my peers, both unionized and non-unionized, about the many barriers we're facing in the current labour market. Recessions are always harder on young workers, but we are nearly five years past the end of the last recession and there's still no recovery in sight for young workers.
Comparing the unemployment rate of 15-to-24-year-old young workers to that of 25-to-54-year-old workers gives us some indication of how young workers are faring. In 2012, the unemployment rate for young workers was 2.4 times that of core age workers, its highest value since comparable data became available in 1976.
The unemployment rate for aboriginal young workers was 21.1% in 2010, which is the most recent data we could find. That is 6.5 percentage points higher than the non-aboriginal population. Racialized workers and newcomers also face greater barriers to labour force participation, but it's difficult to know exactly what is going on with this group, as data is scarce and unreliable.
Between October 2008 and January 2014, there was an increase of 100,000 unemployed young workers aged 15 to 29, so that there are now 540,000 unemployed young Canadians. Even more startling, though, is that over 350,000 young workers left the labour force over that period, for reasons such as returning to school or skills training, discouragement, or taking unpaid work to fill that gap. It has been estimated that there are between 150,000 and 300,000 unpaid interns each year in Canada, which is a labour market challenge that no previous generation of workers has had to face.
But unemployment isn't the only issue that needs to be addressed. One third of young workers are employed part time, and many are in low-wage, temporary, and otherwise insecure employment, with a large contingent located in the retail and service sector, which is notoriously insecure. Too many young workers are underemployed: either unable to secure enough hours of work or lost on the margins of the workforce. We calculate the underemployment rate for young workers aged 15 to 24 to be 27.7% for 2013. This is a significant number, meaning that more than a quarter of young workers are being affected by the situation right now, and it's a significantly higher number than just the straight unemployment rate shows.
This is a big problem for the upcoming generation of workers, as persistent or extended unemployment and underemployment leads to what we call “scarring”, which basically means that it's very difficult to recover the level of wages and labour market outcomes that we would have had otherwise. The IMF says that high levels of youth underemployment contribute to growing income inequality in developed nations such as Canada. They estimate that the wage penalty for unemployed young workers can be as high as 20% compared to peers who are lucky enough to find employment and can be felt for up to 20 years. Scarring effects also extend beyond wages into social exclusion and health outcomes.
In Canada, Professor Philip Oreopoulos from the University of Toronto has estimated that entry level wages are 10% to 15% lower for those who graduate during a recession. The longer the economic recovery, the longer it takes for these wages to catch up. TD Economics estimates this to cost at least 1.3% of the GDP for Canada.
The paid internships announced in the last federal budget will only reach a maximum of 2,500 individuals per year, less than 0.5% of unemployed young workers. This only addresses a fraction of the need and, more importantly, does not address the need for long-term permanent work for young people.
To top off the dismal labour market, our social safety net is failing young workers too. In 2013 only 18% of unemployed young men and 8% of unemployed young women were able to qualify for EI. High entrance requirements for new labour market entrants shut young workers out of employment insurance. Given that a large number of training supports are available only to EI-eligible workers, shutting young workers out of EI also cuts access to valuable training supports.
Recent cuts to LMA funding, which provides training assistance to workers not eligible for EI, further exacerbate this problem.
As we see it, the problem of youth unemployment needs to be addressed from three angles. First, we need an employment strategy that is linked with a training strategy to put young workers on a career path to good jobs, meaning that the work is decently paid, is permanent, and has such benefits as access to a pension.
Second, we need good labour market information to flow between the government, employers, and educational institutions to ensure that young people can make informed decisions about the fields in which they are educated and that institutions can properly advise students.
Finally, we need to strengthen social protections to ensure that young workers have equal access to EI and health care, as well as to a strong Canada pension plan and old age security system when they retire.
There are many phrases that we've been hearing about young workers lately: that young workers are being left behind, that this is the last generation. But the truth is that young workers have a lot to contribute in this economy, and we have to make sure they have the opportunities.
Thank you.
Angella MacEwen
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Angella MacEwen
2013-11-21 12:42
On behalf of the 3.3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress, we want to thank you for the opportunity to present our views. The CLC brings together workers from virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy in all occupations and in all parts of Canada.
Leading economists, including bank economists, say that Canada's economic growth prospects remain weak due to insufficient business investment, high household debt, and weak global growth. Leading economists also fail to see any sign of labour shortages emerging. Some even suggest we should welcome the eventual tightening of the labour markets that will come when boomers retire.
Business investments are not where they should be. The across-the-board corporate tax cuts did not deliver the promised investments in real assets, such as new factories, or in workers' training. Thus these cuts failed to boost economic growth and productivity and did not help to create more and better jobs.
The overall labour force participation rate and the employment rate have not recovered to their pre-recession levels. Employment growth has been shallower than labour force growth, and the labour force participation rate is at its lowest level in 10 years. The participation and employment rates for 20- to 35-year-olds is markedly lower than pre-recession, indicating there's a difficulty for young workers to break into the labour market. On the other hand, employment rates have increased throughout the recession and recovery for people over 55.
Programs targeted at helping young workers get experience in the job market and information that helps them choose training for in-demand careers are both critical components of addressing this pressing issue. Second chance retraining opportunities for older workers affected by structural shifts in the economy are also important.
We're concerned about the rise in precarious labour, part of a much longer-term trend. For example, two million workers are employed in temporary jobs in Canada right now, which is about 13.5% of all employees, up from about 12% just before the recession.
Underemployment is also an issue that we're looking at closely. For the year between November 2012 and October 2013, an average of 1.35 million workers were unemployed. Some 900,000 workers worked part-time but wanted full-time work. That represents 27% of all part-time workers. Some 472,000 people were not in the labour force, but indicated to Statistics Canada that they did want work. These are marginally attached workers and they're an indication of how many people may be looking to enter the labour market should labour market prospects improve. Statistics Canada tells us that there are 6.4 unemployed persons per job vacancy in Canada, but that number doubles when we consider these marginally attached and underemployed workers.
The proportion of unemployed workers who remain unemployed for long stretches is also higher than pre-recession, with 20% of unemployed workers having been unemployed for more than 27 weeks, and 7% unemployed for more than a year. This is compared to pre-recession levels of 13% and 4%. All of this is to say that the labour market is weaker than the headline unemployment rate of 6.9% would indicate.
A recent TD Economics report by Derek Burleton and his colleagues found there are no wage pressures in high-demand occupations. In Saskatchewan, wages for in-demand occupations are actually growing at a slower rate than the provincial average. This evidence supports the position that before the government intervenes in labour markets, either to provide easy access to migrant works or to subsidize employer training costs, you ensure employers have “more skin in the game”, as employment Minister Jason Kenney aptly expressed. To properly assess the presence of actual labour shortages, we need better labour market information.
The CLC urges the government to take seriously the need for timely, reliable, and detailed labour market information as part of a broader investment in improving Canada's labour market productivity.
Is the time up?
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