The United Nations has designated July 15th as World Youth Skills Day to highlight the importance of giving young people the tools they need to be productive members of their communities.
The Ontario Labour Market Report for May showed that the youth unemployment rate was 11.3 per cent, more than double the province’s overall unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent.
And yet, instead of helping our youth, the Ford government is doing everything it can to put up barriers just as their lives and careers are getting started. Doug Ford and his cronies don’t understand that one of the best ways to ensure Ontario has a thriving economy in the long-term is to invest in training and educating our young people.
The province’s massive cuts to education mean that schools are cutting programs and increasing class sizes. Funding changes to public autism services mean young people with autism may not get the treatment they need to develop the skills to thrive in the workforce.
The Ford government also put young Ontarians at a significant disadvantage by cutting programs that help the province’s youth land jobs that will lay the foundation for successful careers, such as Youth Job Link and the Employing Youth Talent Incentive.
At the same time, the Ford government cut Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) grants along with free tuition for low-income students. Students usually have summer jobs to help pay for their tuition, but obstacles to both employment and financial assistance will make university or college out of reach for many of them.
For those students who can afford to go to college or university, the Ford government cut tuition by 10 per cent. That may look nice on paper, but it means a revenue hit to post-secondary institutions, which could affect the quality of education by way of cuts to academic programs and larger class sizes.
Cutting off opportunities for young people is counterproductive and we will all eventually pay the price if we have an economy that can’t reach its full potential. World Youth Skills Day is a good reminder that a bright and stable future for Ontario requires laying a solid foundation for success by investing in our youth today.
President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
Chair, Provincial Young Workers Division Joseanne Job