New Mayor, Better Job Opportunities for Young People

By on May 13, 2014

Toronto Mayoral candidate Olivia Chow. Photo from Wikipedia
Toronto Mayoral candidate Olivia Chow. Photo from Wikipedia

York — Olivia Chow set out a practical, step-by-step plan to create more jobs for young people today, including community benefits agreements. It was her third specific announcement to create more jobs.

Under Rob Ford’s failed leadership, unemployment has risen. It’s about 22.5% among young people. John Tory’s solution is to make a few calls to his “network of business acquaintances.”

“When I launched my campaign, I said I’d make job creation for young people a priority and I will,” said Olivia. “Our city’s totally unacceptable level of youth unemployment is one of the biggest challenges families face. We need to act directly to address this, and team up with private sector employers to create more opportunity.”

As our new mayor, Olivia would:

• Negotiate community benefits agreements for all major infrastructure and capital projects, to include apprenticeships and jobs for young people. These successful agreements leverage city spending to ensure people benefit from our investment in ourselves. They were used, for example, in the first phases of the $485 million Regent Park redevelopment and have helped create more than 500 jobs for local residents. Over the next decade, the city’s capital plan projects about $18.6 billion in capital spending. As our new mayor, Olivia would work with contractors to ensure training and opportunities for young people are part of their work.

Community benefits agreements began in Los Angeles. The current CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Tim Leiweke, used them as L.A. was redeveloping its entertainment district, which included building the Staples Center, home to the Kings, Lakers and Clippers. In Canada, they have also been used in Vancouver on projects for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

• Build on the city’s direct youth employment programs. Already, the city is one of Canada’s largest employers of young people. The parks and recreation department alone hires more than 5,000 young people each year. As our new mayor, Olivia will work to ensure city programs are more active employers of young people. Already, in her after-school recreation program and tree-planting proposal, Olivia has proposed ways to hire about 300 more young people a year.

“These practical ideas can create significant training and employment opportunities for our young people,” said Olivia. “A reasonable target is 5,000 new apprenticeships and jobs for young people over the four years—almost doubling the number of young people helped into work by the city.”

In addition, Olivia said she would approach our city’s business community. By working with it, and asking private employers to match the city’s efforts, even more opportunities could be created.

“Our city is the capital of Canada’s financial, mining and natural resources finance capital. We’re its creative industries and life sciences capital and have more small businesses than anywhere else,” she said. “Rob Ford has done nothing to create opportunity for young people. But with a new mayor, our city can partner with our business sector to make progress on one of our most serious economic and social challenges.”

As an example of how the city could help, Olivia pointed to useful federal and provincial programs that help finance training and hiring young people. She said the city can do more to help private employers navigate these programs.