Thank you, Minister, and officials for coming here today.
Minister, you've pointed out that this is the largest federal department, and I wish we had an hour for every major program you have just to go through them. It's obviously a generalist situation we're facing with one hour with you.
You said at the beginning that obviously jobs are a key priority, and certainly there would be agreement on that. My colleague has pointed out $40 million of allocated funds was unspent in youth employment programs.
When you look at something like adult learning, literacy, and essential skills, that was underspent by 31%, which is quite shocking given that the OECD says that 49% of adult Canadians fall below high school equivalency. Obviously, that's a very important program in terms of job readiness.
You spoke a little about foreign credentials. That program has been underspent by $30 million over five years. You talked about the pilot project, which sounds well and good, but it seems to me there's a pattern here.
Your response was, “Well, you know, every department likes to come in under budget”, and that's good, but we're talking about millions and millions of dollars here that haven't been spent in the way they were meant to be spent to help people who really need it.
I don't feel satisfied by your answer. I think it requires some explanation as to why, for example, with youth employment, money that's meant to go to such a critical area, or adult literacy, or foreign credentials isn't being delivered.
Either the departments are deliberately overestimating what they need, or the whole thing's a bit of a farce. These estimates are meant to be there as estimates. They're meant to be there. The allocation is meant to be real. I wonder if you could give us a better explanation as to why so much allocation is unspent when there is such a high need, whether it's for youth, adult literacy, or whether it's for new Canadians.