09/27/2013 12:32 EDT | Updated 09/27/2013 12:52 EDT

Ontario Youth Unemployment Rivals Parts Of U.S. Rust Belt, Eurozone: Report


Ontario youth looking for a job may have better luck in parts of the U.S. Rust Belt or the Eurozone, according to a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Five years after the end of the Great Recession, the province's youth have been largely shut out of the recovery, the report found, "and the province’s current youth employment strategy isn’t fast enough nor robust enough to turn things around."

Hovering around 16.9 per cent in 2012, Ontario's youth jobless rate “rivaled that of Michigan’s and was higher than Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,” the CCPA said.

Supposedly economically weaker Quebec had a far lower youth jobless rate in 2012 — 13.7 per cent, the report found.

Some Ontario cities — Windsor, Oshawa, Brantford and London — have youth jobless rates above 20 per cent, “putting them on par with high youth unemployment levels in the European Union,” the report states.

The difference in unemployment rates between youth and adults in the province is the largest it’s ever been, the report found.

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Photo gallery Youth Unemployment Rates In Ontario See Gallery

Perhaps surprisingly, Toronto comes off particularly badly in the report. The percentage of youth with a job in Canada’s largest city is 43.5, the lowest of any region in the province. Toronto also has the largest gap between youth and adult employment rates, at 21.8 per cent, the report found.

“Toronto’s low employment rate comes from the withdrawal of 15–24 year olds from the labour force,” the report concludes.

The CCPA offers two possible reasons for why Ontario now has the worst youth job climate of any province outside the Maritimes: The “national economic shift away from manufacturing towards resource extraction,” and post-recession government austerity measures.

“Ontario has Canada’s largest manufacturing sector, so the hollowing out of Canadian manufacturing most severely impacts both youth and adult employment,” the report said.

That appears to be reflected in the fact that Ontario’s manufacturing centres, such as Windsor and Oshawa, also have the province's highest youth unemployment rates.

The report also pointed a finger at a "decade of aggressive service cuts ushered in by the Harris government starting in 1995" as contributing to the problem.

The report landed the same week as Ontario launched a $195-million Youth Employment Fund meant to help young job-seekers build skills and spur the creation of new businesses.

Another $100 million will go to three other funds meant to help youth research and commercialize their business ideas, as well as to open

The Employment Fund subsidizes the cost of hiring a youth by up to $7,800, and requires employers to provide training to anyone they hire through it.

Youth interested in the program can apply through their local employment services office.