Wednesday March 10, 2021 | OTTAWA & VANCOUVER ISLAND
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
“The pandemic has been difficult on young people,” says NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. He looks at the impacts on getting that first job after graduation from high school or post-secondary and establishing the social side of their adult lives.
Young adults who are well established in their careers and families are probably doing alright in this pandemic. They can possibly work from home and have resources for child care. “The impact of COVID-19 is less felt,” said Singh.
“But for a young person starting their career, looking for a partner, looking to start their life, looking to buy their first home. For someone just starting out in life and for young people just graduating or going to univeristy or college, they have been the hardest hit in many ways,” said Singh.
He gave an example that how people looking for entry level jobs — the jobs they would normally have started off at — simply aren’t there.
Young people are also possibly thwarted in their momentum to find a partner, start a life, and get a home. These are the biggest impacts that the NDP leader sees for young adults during the ongoing COVID pandemic.
“They’re not able to go into work to learn from interaction with coworkers and colleagues who can help mentor them at the early stages of their career,” said Singh. This age group is “the hardest hit,” he said today in a Zoom-call press conference that he held from Ottawa at 10 am Pacific Time.
“We are really committed that the recovery really focusses on how we can get young people to work and how we can support them in this time.
“How we can get young people to work and how we can support them (overall) in this time,” are Jagmeet Singh’s thoughts on youth as Canadian society comes out of this pandemic.
Earlier this week, BC Health advised that post-secondary campuses can look to returning to in-class instruction for this September, and that K-12 schools can also return to things being more normal.
Youth within the immunization strategy:
In that context (in response to a question from Island Social Trends), the NDP leader is generally in agreement with the administration of COVID vaccines first to older people and elders, which in most provinces across Canada is being done in a systematic way in descending order by age.
In BC, the immunization plan presently sees people about 18 to 24 getting their vaccines in September (at the tail end of Phase 4). However, in recent weeks the stretching out of the interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses and the promise of more vaccine dose supply via federal channels has things looking like everyone vaccinated by mid-summer in BC.
Women’s economic recovery:
As for the impact on women during the COVID-19 pandemic, of course many women are workers on the frontlines (health care and various service sectors), which Singh notes.
He also says the NDP is looking for better access to child care for women so they can return to work knowing their children are cared for.
“But in terms of helping women, one of the most important things we’ve heard from everyone is the need for access to child care,” said Singh. “If we want to be serious about women being able to get back to work, the single most important program — that experts have said — is access to affordable, universal child care.
“That is something we are committed to. We want to see dollars invested at the federal level to support provinces. We also want to make sure that investments in the recovery aren’t just in very important infrastructure, we need to create jobs that help us fight the climate crisis,” said Singh, specifically mentioning the retrofitting of homes and buildings, and public transit.
“If we want women to return to work, we also have to invest in the care economy, where women lost jobs significantly in the service sector.” Jagmeet said.
Look at needs of people & business before election:
“I do not want an election right now,” said Singh. “I think it’s the wrong thing to do for Mr Trudeau to be planning an election”.
Singh says the prime minister and Liberal government should be making sure people are getting vaccinated and “getting help out to small businesses that are worried about shutting down forever”. Communities are worried about losing those gems in their communities, their neighbourhoods and their towns, said Singh, on the topic of supporting small business that he’s been addressing for the past week or so in other media sessions.
“That’s where our focus should be, on people, on helping people,” said Singh in response to Island Social Trends‘ question today about the impact of the pandemic on women in the economy in particular.
“Investments in the recovery have to match those who’ve been hard hit — particularly women, young people, racialized people.” Singh said the NDP’s direction is to “make investments not just in traditional sectors which are very vital — we will make those investments. We also need to make investments in the care economy to make sure women are able to return to work.”
“So I don’t believe the election is the right thing to do,” was his definitive conclusion on that matter.
The present House of Commons sitting calendar shows sessions in place to June 23 and then ramping up again at September 20 after a summer break.