Bloc Québécois wants $16 million more for local summer jobs
After putting heavy pressure on the Harper government to revisit the budget for summer employment initiatives in terms of the minimum wage and the cost of living, the Bloc Québécois has greeted with disappointment a decision by the Conservatives to set aside $107.5 million for the 2011 summer employment program.
No boost - Demers
“In fact, this is no more than a false boost in the program, since the summer employment budget was for the same amount for the past two years,” said Nicole Demers, the Bloc MP for the riding of Laval. “There is actually no new funding in the program.”
Sought budget boost
Last December, the Bloc Québécois had tabled a motion in the human resources and development committee which called for the full reinstatement of the budget for the program in view of the minimum wage going up and the cost of living also rising. The minimum wage in Quebec went up for the first time since 2006. While it had previously been $7.75, it rose to $9.50 in 2010 and will reach $9.65 this May.
$16 million shortfall
In order to reflect the rise of the minimum wage and the cost of living, the Bloc believes the 2011 summer employment budget should be about $123.5 million. The budget of $107.5 million announced by the conservatives was estimated to be short some $16 million, or nearly $4 million for Quebec, to return to the 2006 level and to allow an equal number of youths to benefit, said Demers.
“The decision by the Harper government not to peg the program’s budget to inflation in the minimum wage and the cost of living imperils the vitality of student employment and recovery,” added Demers. “The Bloc Québécois has every intention to watch carefully that our youth are able to get significant work experience in view of their future careers, all the while contributing to the social and economic development of the municipalities in the region.”