Consultation on precarious work
My second consultation on youth issues took place in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield on the theme of precarious work. This document is a summary of the consultations that were held: young people made all of these observations and recommendations.
If you would like more information about the tour on youth issues, or to share your opinion on cultural and artistic renewal, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Anne Minh-Thu Quach
The people who attended the consultation all had the same observation about the labour market: it is restrictive and inflexible, especially for young people. The current system needs to be reviewed, starting with how people are paid for their work. To ensure that all workers have a decent standard of living, the minimum wage should be increased based on the cost of living. This would mean government support in some sectors, especially the agriculture sector. The government should also consider basic income and social benefit programs to supplement wages. In general, dialogue between employers and employees should be encouraged.
Striking a balance between work, studies and family life is important to young people. The labour market makes finding this balance difficult. One salary is not high enough to support a family, and employers often contact employees outside of their working hours. This balance should not depend on the good will of the employer; it should be spelled out in the Canada Labour Code. Consultation participants proposed shorter work weeks without monetary penalties, more paid leave, or a lighter workload to prevent burnout associated with a work-study-family balance. The government should provide services that meet parents’ needs, for example, by providing daycare services on evenings and weekends.
Changes should be made at the post-secondary level. The current system does not meet professional requirements very well. Students are often unaware of what fields have job opportunities, and they then need to pursue additional specialized training to find a job. Young people can also be penalized for having a university degree: employers are wary of candidates they see as being overqualified, thinking that the candidate will ask for a higher salary or will soon leave to find another job. In addition, some credentials are not recognized in other provinces, which restricts labour mobility for young people. To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to learn, the government should work to improve student retention and either lower tuition fees or provide more scholarships. It is important to remember that instruction is also for educating citizens, not just for training a workforce. It would be worth considering restoring civic education, social economy or sexual education courses.
Young people are discouraged by the many hiring criteria and the various forms of discrimination they may face, based on language, gender or race. A lack of experience is a major obstacle for young people entering the job market. Providing paid internships or wage subsidies for young graduates is one possibility that would address this issue without affecting a young person’s financial resources. Employers should be encouraged to focus on professional development and mentorship. One way to ensure this happens would be to establish penalties for companies who are not investing in the next generation of workers.
To address precarious employment, those present proposed a review of the Canada Labour Code to make it relevant for today’s workplace. The government should make legislation to limit the number of short-term or part-time contracts a company can give an employee. After a number of years, when the employer’s needs are established and the employee has proven themselves, there is no legitimate reason to continue hiring them for successive short-term contracts. Employers must be made aware of the issue of precarious employment. They need to be encouraged to provide full-time jobs with benefits. The government should set the bar in this area by stopping its subcontracting practices.