The Canadian Labour Congress’ Young Workers Department has just published a major new report on young Canadians and the reality of the precarious work they face with low wages, no security and few benefits. Titled Diving Without a Parachute, the report says Canada’s youth are diverse, adaptable and underemployed.
Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, says the report paints a frightening picture for today’s youth. “It starkly reminds us that the neoliberal promises that privatization, deregulation, free trade, job outsourcing and economic globalization would be good for the many, not just the few, was a lie,” she said.
The report states, “Today, there are an estimated 6.8 million young people in Canada aged 15 to 29, who have grown up in a climate very different from that of our parents and grandparents. Young workers today have borne the brunt of the corporate drive for a more ‘flexible’ workforce and the ‘uber-ization’ of the workplace. We have been disproportionately impacted by anti-union attacks and the downward pressure on wages and working conditions. Our generation has been very vulnerable to these pressures as we struggle to get an education, find good jobs, and establish our families.”
To combat these challenges, the report calls for unions and social movements to make space for youth, and ensure young people’s voices are heard. Youth can also establish a strong presence for themselves as a voting bloc in elections, which would make politicians pay attention to what they have to say.
“A progressive, youth-led approach to education and apprenticeship, climate change and sustainable development, social protections, public services, and diversity must be the cornerstone of government priorities to build a new social contract that respects the participation of young people,” the report states.