Statement made on 20 October 2009 by Senator Jerahmiel Grafstein (retired)
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein:
Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate relating to the question of joblessness, the lack of jobs and employment in Canada.
On Monday of this week, a distinguished Canadian who moved to the United States and is now chief of the U.S. News & World Report, Mr. Mort Zuckerman, formerly of Montreal, wrote an article for the Financial Times on page 9 referring to the American situation.
Let me give honourable senators some pertinent quotes from the article:
We knew the skies had darkened but now we learn the unemployment figures are worse than previously thought. This is the only recession since the Great Depression to wipe out all job growth from the previous business cycle. The broader measure of unemployment, the "household index" encompassing people who are unemployed and underemployed, has reached a record 17 per cent. The household survey revealed staggering job losses of 785,000 for September. It includes about 571,000 people who dropped out of the workforce last month, presumably because they despaired of finding work.
He goes on to say that the job loss in the United States for the first three months alone was three million and that the job loss for 21 months in a row is the longest losing streak since the publication started in 1939.
Also in this article is something even more frightening, and that is with respect to younger workers. He points out that younger workers have not escaped; a quarter of teenagers — 1.6 million youths — are without work. The unemployment rate for young Americans has exploded to 52 per cent, a post-war high.
I would ask the honourable senator to carefully look at this article and hopefully report to the Senate, quickly, on the current status of joblessness in Canada.
With regard to anecdotal evidence from Toronto — which the minister contested the last time we had an exchange — it is my sense, based on an analysis of the numbers that are not complete, that joblessness in Toronto is somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent, the highest in my lifetime.
I take this as a serious issue, not just for Toronto, which I represent so proudly, but for every region across the country. We know last summer that youth could not get a job in Toronto. Hopefully, the leader will, at the earliest opportunity, look at this article and give us up-to-date statistics, region by region, so we might have a thoughtful debate about what to do now.
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