Thank you, Madam Chair.
I know you were here earlier and you've heard these various questions. We are concerned that, the way the program has developed, it disadvantages rural areas and it compounds problems. The trends, which I'm sure you know, the unemployment and population demographic trends, are occurring in rural areas. In terms of the student population calculation, we suspect there's something wrong with it. And in terms of student EI, we do. Whatever is wrong with the way that feeds into the formula compounds problems that rural areas already have.
Barry Devolin's riding is a typical--large in numbers and, by the way, large in area--Ontario riding that has one of the highest percentages of seniors in the country, but you can imagine there's a student element to this seniors thing. You heard part of the discussion with Labrador, which is sort of the opposite. It's a small number, large area, 40% aboriginal; therefore, it has a very high percentage, I would imagine, of students.
I'd like you to bear that in mind when I ask the questions, and then perhaps you could talk about it.
Can you provide us with information on which constituencies experienced the greatest growth in student population and which the greatest decline in the period 1996-2001?
Can you tell us in which areas, constituencies if possible, the unemployment rate changed the most in the same period?
Can you comment on or give us information on the extent to which the 15- to 24-year-old population, which is the one that's being targeted here, has shifted from rural to urban between 1996 and 2001?
With respect to aboriginal, I mentioned that because of the growth rate in the aboriginal population. Do you have information for the same period on the growth of the 15- to 24-year-old group among the aboriginal people?
Last, another way entirely of dealing with this would be to come up with a completely other definition of rural. We in our constituencies get different constituency allowances depending on the size of our ridings, so if it's a very big riding you get a large one. And it's broken down in great detail into eight different sizes.
Then also, cutting into that, there is another definition that I don't understand properly yet. My riding, for example, is technically 40% rural, and there are some other measures--I don't know if my colleagues know what they are. But if you accept that there is a problem with the statistics, I wonder if another approach would be to say these are rural ridings, and just throw in a factor that deals with rural ridings of a certain type.
Any comments you have the committee would be most grateful for.