Youth working for free is no solution

by | Nov 7, 2014 | Editorial

Finally, somebody has come up with a foolproof solution to Canada’s crippling youth unemployment rates.

All those 15 to 24-year-olds (one of every six of them) need to do is find themselves an employer and tell them they’ll work for free. Thank you, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz. You’ve been a great help.

This past week, Poloz said when a young person out of work asks him for advice (because he meets so many of those in his Ivory Tower), he says to them, “look, having something unpaid on your CV is very worth it because that’s the one thing you can do to counteract this scarring effect. Get some real-life experience even though you’re discouraged, even if it’s for free.”

Problem solved, everyone.

Never mind that these young people are being forced to move back in with their parents at a record pace because they can’t afford to live on their own.

Never mind that living there puts a heavy drain on their parents, eating away at their nest egg or fixed retirement income.

Never mind that all those youth providing free labour will be doing work that could be done by paid employees. Employees whose incomes would be taxed. Incomes that would be used to purchase goods that would be taxed. Goods whose sale feeds money back into the system so it could then be taxed further.

Sure, the Harper Government is expecting to finally reach a balanced budget next term but at what cost and for whose benefit? Certainly not those youths’.

These young people have been unemployed at rates double or more the national average for half a decade since The Great Recession of 2008. Meanwhile, those corporations for which free work should be given have been stockpiling a massive supply of “dead money,” cash just sitting in accounts and earning interest – $626 billion in the last quarter of 2013 by Statistics Canada’s estimates.

That’s enough to pay the central bank’s estimated 200,000 unemployed young people across the nation a $30,000 salary for a decade.

Last week, the Harper Government promised to up the universal childcare benefit to $160 per month from $100.

Last year, The Globe and Mail reported the monthly cost of childcare was over $1,000.

Any other benefits available are tax-based. That’s no benefit to those who pay no tax. Let’s not forget the numerous crackdowns in the past year on the prime source of free labour in Canada – internships.

Prominent and widely distributed magazines Toronto Life and The Walrus had their internship programs shut down by the Ontario Ministry of Labour in March.

Later in the year, 56 further inspections found 13 more employers violating internship regulations.

Suffice to say, employers are doing plenty well enough employing the young, vulnerable youth desperate to become real grownups.

They don’t need the help of one Banker Stephen and they could use a lot more from Prime Minister Stephen.