ONTARIO — Today, the Ontario government announced the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity, a new advisory group that will provide advice on how young people can overcome social and economic barriers and achieve success. The council will also advise the government on long-term actions that can be taken to support youth during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, and Jamil Jivani, Ontario’s Advocate for Community Opportunities.
“At a time when the world is facing some of its most difficult challenges, we have to do everything we can to help our next generation of leaders overcome the social and economic barriers before them,” said Premier Ford. “Our young people are the future of this province and I truly believe this council will be a strong advocate that will set them down the path to even greater success.”
The council will have up to 20 members, including a chair and a vice-chair. Membership will be intergenerational and cross-sector, and will include youth between the ages of 18 to 29 and adults with expertise from community organizations, not-for-profit businesses, education, and government services.
The council will focus on the challenges facing young people today, such as completing an education, skills training, and employment. As an immediate priority, the council will identify strategies to support vulnerable and marginalized youth to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Jamil Jivani, Ontario’s Advocate for Community Opportunities, will serve as chair of the council for the first year. He will work to engage directly with young people and communities across the province to identify strategies to remove barriers for youth at risk to help ensure they are not left behind.
“For decades, youth from disadvantaged communities have faced barriers to succeeding in our economy. COVID-19 has made these issues worse. As the first chair of the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity, I will work with a diverse group of leaders to help the government give young workers, especially disadvantaged youth, a fair chance to succeed in Ontario’s workforce,” said Jamil Jivani.
The Ontario government is further supporting Black communities to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 by allocating $1.5 million in funding to organizations that support Black families and youth. This funding will be used to provide urgent COVID-19 supports and address the immediate needs of children, youth and families.
“The Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity will allow our government to hear directly from those who have faced economic challenges in our province,” said Minister Smith. “The council’s knowledge, combined with the insight gained from engaging with communities and youth across Ontario, will help our government as we work to remove the key barriers that prevent young people from achieving their economic goals.”
Those interested in joining the council are invited to apply to the Public Appointments Secretariat by Thursday, June 18. Eligible candidates should have expertise in areas such as community service, business, education, and government services such as youth justice and child welfare.
- Young people are overrepresented in precarious and low-wage work. Forty percent of Canada’s millennials are employed through temporary, short-term or freelance jobs.
- In March 2020, Statistics Canada reported that the national unemployment rate for youth aged 15-24 was 16.8 per cent as a result of COVID-19, the highest rate for this group since June 1997.
- Approximately one in ten Ontario youth between the ages of 15 and 24 can be classified as not being in education, employment or training (NEET).