What a Liberal Government Means for Young Canadians
If you are a young Canadian looking at the current state of the economy and job market, then you may have doubts about your future. Many media outlets would have you believe that it's harder than ever to find a good job if you're young.
But is this really an accurate picture? Is Justin Trudeau's Liberal government doing enough to create real optimism and opportunities for Canada's young people?
Read on to find out, or jump to the Liberal Party's platform promises to see if they're being kept.
Young Adults Are a Growing Powerhouse
According to July 2019 estimates, Canadians aged 15 to 24 made up about 12.2 percent of Canada's overall population and over 18 percent of Canada's "working-age" population (15 to 64 years old).1 That's substantial. As a collective, young Canadians could have a powerful voice in this country. It's probably a good idea for elected leaders to start paying attention to you. After all, you and your peers are the next generation of workers, consumers, and voters.
Should Youth Unemployment Rates Matter to You?
Since you're a young Canadian facing your future, let's take a look at the economy as it relates to you, specifically in the area of unemployment. An RBC Economics report found that youth unemployment levels are largely tied to the state of the economy.2 So should you be worried about youth unemployment rates?
Well, youth unemployment in Canada peaked at a rate of 16 percent during the worst of the Great Recession. That's pretty high. But fast-forward to 2018 and the youth unemployment rate dropped down to 11 percent, so things have been getting better. And RBC Economics noted that the gap between the unemployment rate for 15- to 24-year-olds and the rate for 25- to 54-year-olds is smaller than it has been for a long time.2
Post-Secondary Education Can Lead to a Brighter Future
Now it is worth noting that some of the above youth employment trends are partially due to youth leaving the workforce to get a post-secondary education, which is generally seen as positive.2 After all, employment opportunities and earning potential increase with level of education. However, for many young Canadians, student debt load also increases with each level of education. Are you starting to feel like you should forget it and go back to your Netflix marathon? Well, don't give up hope just yet.
Post-secondary education isn't a bust. Long-term studies have shown that, overall, post-secondary graduates face better job opportunities and earning potential—as well as lower unemployment rates—than their high-school-educated counterparts.1 And a large majority of post-secondary graduates are able to find work once they have completed their schooling. One study found that 90 percent of college graduates, 92 percent of bachelor's and master's degree graduates, and 93 percent of doctoral degree graduates had found work.3
It could easily be argued that getting a post-secondary education is a good thing. And from their report, RBC Economics concluded that the overall youth employment picture is really not too bad. So, should you be concerned about post-secondary training and job opportunities for your generation? It's probably something that should still be on your radar. And this is where the current Liberal government comes into play.
What Has Justin Promised You?
In looking at the Liberal platform, the party has pledged to invest in young Canadians so that they can obtain the knowledge and skills needed to secure good jobs and establish a brighter outlook. That's good news for you.
Let's break down four of these promises and commitments and look at what they could mean for young adults in Canada. (Note that all references to promises and commitments are sourced from the 2019 Liberal Party of Canada platform.4)
1. Changing Student Loan and Grant Funding for Post-Secondary Education
The Details: Here are some of the key details regarding proposed changes to the student loan and grant system:
- Increasing the maximum amount for the Canada Student Grant for low-income students to $4,200 per year.
- Lengthening the interest-free post-graduation grace period on student loan repayments from six months to two years.
- Changing the student loan repayment requirements so that no graduates will be required to start repayment until they are earning an income of at least $35,000 per year. The federal government will pay the loan interest until students hit this income threshold.
- Allowing new parents to put student loan payments on hold, interest-free, until their youngest child becomes five years old.
What This Could Mean for You: More affordable education with less debt upon graduation and more flexible options for repayment.
When it comes to post-secondary education, a key concern for young Canadians is how to pay for it. And this is an important consideration when the reality is that people who require a Canada Student Loan in order to pay for school graduate with an average of $24,500 in debt.5
By creating greater access to post-secondary grants and increasing the amounts received, the government is making it simpler for you to pay for your education and thereby reducing your potential debt load when you graduate. If these platform promises are followed through, it could make it easier for you to commit to completing a college or university program that could benefit you for many years to come.
2. Increasing Support for Apprenticeship Training
The Details: In order to help apprentices gain the required work experience more quickly, the Liberals are promising to:
- Work with employers, unions, and provincial and territorial authorities to create a new Canadian Apprenticeship Service.
- Require federal government suppliers to participate in the new apprenticeship service.
- Provide up to $10,000 in funding over a four-year period for every new apprenticeship position that gets created.
What This Could Mean For You: Greater access to apprenticeship opportunities. By encouraging employers to take on more apprentices, the government is making it easier for you to get the on-the-job experience you need in a timely manner. This could be important to you if you're hoping to succeed in a skilled trades career.
3. Lowering the Cost of Cell Service
The Details: The Liberal government has pledged to cut the cost of cell phone service by 25 percent. It plans to do this by encouraging more competition and requiring major network providers to lease available capacity to smaller players.
What This Could Mean For You: More affordable phone bills so that you can stay connected while attending school.
Canada has some of the world's highest prices for cellular service. In 2018, the average cost of mobile Internet services was more than twice as high in Canada as it was in countries like Australia and the U.K.6 If the government can keep its promise to bring those costs down, it could mean less financial stress and more money in your pocket.
4. Creating a Federal Minimum Wage
The Details: The Liberal party has committed to establishing a minimum wage of $15 per hour (indexed to inflation) for all workers who fall under federal labour laws. In cases where the minimum wage of a province or territory is higher than the federal wage, the higher rate will apply.
What This Could Mean For You: Higher earnings and fewer financial worries.
Before, federally regulated employees were subject to the minimum wage rules in whatever province or territory they lived in. And roughly a quarter of all federal-sector workers earning minimum wage are under the age of 25. If you work at a bank, airport, or telecommunications company and the government follows through with this pledge, you may see a rise in your pay.
A Commitment to Care for Young Canadians
Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada have made substantial commitments to young Canadians like you to help them have greater access to workplace training, post-secondary education, and meaningful jobs. These initiatives could make a real difference in youth unemployment rates and could lead many young adults to a more successful future.
1 Statistics Canada, website last visited on November 20, 2019.
2 RBC Economics, What's the problem with Canada's youth labour market?, website last visited on November 20, 2019.
3 TD Economics, Young and Restless: A Look at the State of Youth Employment in Canada, website last visited on November 20, 2019.
4 Liberal Party of Canada, website last visited on December 4, 2019.
5 Canadian University Survey Consortium, 2018 CUSC Graduating Student Survey, website last visited on November 20, 2019.
6 Wall Communications, Price Comparisons of Wireline, Wireless and Internet Services in Canada and with Foreign Jurisdictions—2018 Edition, website last visited on November 20, 2019.
7 Government of Canada, "Federal minimum wage: Issue paper," website last visited on November 20, 2019.