Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

February 27, 2014 06:00 ET

Young Workers Offer Solutions to Ontario's Youth Unemployment Crisis

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 27, 2014) - In response to the deepening youth jobs crisis, young workers from across Ontario are meeting in Toronto today to present recommendations for the provincial government on how to address youth unemployment and underemployment.

"Too many young people can't find work or are working in low-wage jobs that don't value their skills," said Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) Vice-President for Young Workers Denise Martins, "We're being left behind and if the government doesn't reject discredited austerity measures for good, it will only get worse."

Ontario's youth unemployment was at 16 percent in 2013, more than double the general rate and well above the national youth unemployment rate of 13.7 percent. Making matters worse, those who are employed are too often working in low-wage, precarious jobs without job security or benefits. One in four young workers in Canada are underemployed and a full one third of university and college graduates aged 25 to 29, many of whom have taken on unprecedented levels of student debt, end up with low-skilled jobs.

"Just to return to pre-recession employment levels, over 89,000 jobs still need to be created for youth in Ontario," said Irwin Nanda, OFL Executive Vice-President. "That's why we are here today demanding bold action to create good jobs and support accessible education and training for young people."

The Premier's Council on Youth Opportunities will be present at today's meeting to receive recommendations prepared by young workers from community, student and labour groups. The recommendations include proposals to link infrastructure spending to youth job creation; expand the Youth Jobs Strategy to create more jobs with decent pay and opportunities for advancement; raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour and eliminate the student minimum wage; reduce tuition by 30 percent over 3 years; eliminate exploitative unpaid internships; and implement a levy to ensure employers invest in apprenticeships and training.

"We cannot stand idly by while today's youth become the first generation to face a lower quality of life than their parents," said Sid Ryan, OFL President and Chair of the Ontario Common Front. "That is why we are supporting young workers in kick-starting a campaign to reshape public policy around job creation, equity and opportunity for youth."

Today's meeting is being hosted by the Ontario Federation of Labour, Ontario Common Front, Unifor, Workers United Canada Council, and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. A full copy of the recommendations is available at http://ofl.ca/index.php/publication/youthunemployment.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour and follow OFL President Sid Ryan at @SidRyan_OFL.

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