Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Comité permanent des ressources humaines, du développement des compétences, du développement social et de la condition des personnes handicapées
EVIDENCE number 47,
PUBLIC PART ONLY – PARTIE PUBLIQUE SEULEMENT
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 – Le mardi 2 octobre 2012
The Chair (Mr. Ed Komarnicki (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC): We’ll move to Mr. Sullivan. Go ahead.
Mr. Mike Sullivan (York South—Weston, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question has to deal with areas of Canada where there is high unemployment, particularly high youth unemployment. You may be aware there is a skilled trades council called the Central Ontario Building Trades, in Toronto, which runs a program called “Hammer Heads”. It takes unemployed youth who are marginalized in society and who are perhaps turning to crime or other means of getting by. They’re part of the 30% unemployed young people who exist in my riding. They take those youth and give them pre-apprenticeship training. It’s done without a nickel of federal, provincial, or municipal money. It’s all unions that are doing this training, and are doing it in order to deal with a huge problem of youth unemployment. They recognize that they need to do their part, but they have extreme difficulty getting the spenders of money to agree to utilize their program.
The federal and provincial governments are spending up to $10 billion on infrastructure money for public transit in the city of Toronto, and not one nickel of that money is being earmarked for training, or for apprenticeships, or for the use of that money to create jobs in high unemployment areas.
Do you think we could do better with our spending of money?
Mr. Harold McBride: Yes, absolutely we could do better with our spending of money. I am very familiar with the “Hammer Heads” program. We participate in the “Hammer Heads” program, and it has been a very successful program for us. You are right that we fund this totally on our own with the help of other building trades.
It again comes back to spending money. It makes complete sense when you are in a low-demand occupation and you are only working six or seven months of the year, and the individual wants to change occupations. The better spending of monies that you are talking about should be to give that individual an opportunity, whether male or female, immediately to be able to access funds to put him into training. I have a document here that states that you are penalized if you haven’t been unemployed for 26 weeks. I don’t understand that. Why would somebody in a low-demand trade or work environment have to be out of work and on employment insurance for 26 weeks before he allowed second career training eligibility, especially when this individual could have a three-kid family? “No, sir or ma’am, you have to stay unemployed for 26 before you can get the money for second careers.” If we could train that individual quicker with the funds that he or she needs right away, we can put them into a high-demand trade where we are right now interviewing for foreign workers. Yes, we could spend our money much more wisely.
Mr. Mike Sullivan: I was thinking more in particular of the amount of money we are spending on infrastructure that comes with no strings attached. It’s just a gift to the municipality or province—a very tiny bit of it from the government, and most of it from the provincial government—but there is no requirement.
The Chair: They might not see it as a gift.
Mr. Mike Sullivan: It’s not a gift, but there are no strings attached in terms of training, and there are no strings attached in terms of creating apprenticeships. There are no strings attached in terms of utilizing the union training systems that already exist. They hand the money to contractors, and the contractors go about their business. We’re trying in Toronto to convince the various levels of government that they need to actually specify that the three percent or whatever figure is appropriate be set aside in pert to train the work force. They are touting that this spend will create 100,000 jobs. If the 100,000 are not in the key unemployed areas, it doesn’t do us as much service as it could.
Mr. Kenneth V. Georgetti: There is an example of what you talked about. When they reconstructed the Vancouver Island highway, they put as a condition of the contracts they let that they had to hire—it was a formula to hire apprentices. They graduated over 200 journeypersons through that construction project as a condition of the grants to build that highway. You can do it quite easily. The constructions also have a program called “Helmets to Hardhats” for veterans coming back into the workforce that they will provide apprenticeship training for our veterans to give them a start in their lives back in the civilian world.
Mr. Mike Sullivan: Was that federal money on the highway in Vancouver?
Mr. Kenneth V. Georgetti: It was some federal money and provincial money, yes.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Sullivan.