Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, will be speaking at a Toronto rally this weekend in an attempt to stop the national volunteer programme, Katimavik, from being eliminated by the Harper Conservatives.
“I am eager to speak at this rally because Katimavik has been a wonderful vehicle for introducing young people to their own country and its various communities,” said May. “It has provided a productive way for our youth to appreciate their nation’s culture and its fascinating citizens. Its closure is completely short-sighted.”
Katimavik was created in 1977 by former prime minister Trudeau. Every year since then, the programme has sent 1,100 people, ages 17 – 21, to volunteer with community organizations across Canada. Empowering more than 30,000 youth, Katimavik has been praised by the UN and imitated by other countries.
The programme’s cancellation was announced in the Harper Conservatives’ March budget. On April 2, 2012, the Conservatives cancelled their own 2013 contract extension with Katimavik, leaving 600 young people stranded.
Ironically, the $15-million programme, designed to provide youth with life skills, work experience, and a new outlook, is ending at a time of 14.8 percent youth unemployment.
Earlier this month, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a report saying that high jobless rates, combined with long-term joblessness, would have a “scarring effect” on young people – affecting their career paths and future incomes. According to Statistics Canada, roughly one in 10 unemployed young persons has been out of work for more than a year.
“Because too many young people are facing unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, our society should be doing whatever it can to help,” May argued. “Does Harper really want to see them become demoralized and discouraged, as well as losing marketable labour skills? What kind of economic management is that?”