09/11/2015 11:58 EDT | Updated 09/11/2016 05:12 EDT

Liberals' Youth Jobs Spending Will Be 3 Times Bigger Than NDP's: Trudeau

Trudeau thinks he can create 40,000 jobs annually for three years.

BURNABY, B.C. — The federal Liberals want to reach into their past and pull out an old policy on employment insurance that Leader Justin Trudeau argued would help youth find jobs.

The Liberals are promising to forgo EI premiums in certain cases to help create jobs for young people facing a tough labour market and high unemployment.

The pledge is part of a youth jobs strategy that the Liberals unveiled Friday, one day after the NDP announced a similar policy as both parties vie for young voters and, by extension, their parents and grandparents.

The Liberals are vowing to spend some $1.5 billion over four years that they believe can help at least 125,000 young people find a job.

As part of that plan, the Liberals would waive EI premiums for 12 months for any employer who gives someone between the ages of 18 and 24 a full-time job in 2016, 2017 or 2018.

The Chretien Liberals did something similar in the late 1990s "to tremendously positive effect," Trudeau said.

"We saw the number of young people's jobs spike during those years," Trudeau said with a group of young people behind him.

"That's exactly what we need right now given the extremely high unemployment rates for youth."

The youth unemployment rate sits at 13.1 per cent, almost double the national average, as about 170,000 fewer young people are in the workforce than before the recession of 2009.

The Liberal commitment is more than the $400 million over four years that the NDP proposed Thursday to create more than 40,000 youth jobs, paid internships and co-op placements.

The NDP quickly questioned whether Trudeau could deliver on his sweeping promise.

The Liberal plan includes spending some $300 million annually for three years on a youth employment strategy, a move the party believes would create 40,000 jobs each year.

The party also promised to pay up to one-quarter of a co-op student's salary, up to a maximum of $5,000, for every new position an employer creates.

The Grits also want to hire 5,000 young people to work as guides and interpreters at Parks Canada, and increase to 35,000 the number of federally-funded jobs under the Canada Summer Jobs program.

But overshadowing the announcement were lingering questions about the loss of one of Trudeau's candidates in B.C. Joy Davies quit her run for the party Thursday over Facebook posts about the harm caused by marijuana smoke, especially on young people.

Trudeau wouldn't mention Davies by name when questioned, but said the incident, along with others that have felled candidates this campaign, was a lesson in how politics and social media don't always mix.

"People who ... often are passionate in the issues they believe in are often sharing those views in ways that don't necessarily translate well into politics," he said.

The Conservatives have repeatedly attacked Trudeau for his stance to legalize marijuana and the harm they say that could come to young Canadians as a result.

Trudeau said Friday that protecting young Canadians was at the heart of the Liberal policy.

After the announcement, Trudeau hiked the famous Grouse Grind, colloquially known as Mother Nature's StairMaster. It was the first time hiking the trail for Trudeau despite having lived in region in the past and visited the area repeatedly growing up.

At the top of the Grind, a sweaty Trudeau joked that it was a "nice walk," but not one he would want to do too often.

"I wouldn't want to do this every day," he said. "And I love campaigning every day."

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