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Chow plans to create 5,000 new jobs for young people

Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow unveiled on Tuesday her youth unemployment strategy, saying she plans to create 5,000 new jobs and apprenticeships for the city’s young people.

“Good morning. It’s actually not a good morning for some young people in the city,” Chow said at the announcement. “It’s demoralizing … they don’t get their first jobs, they can’t get the experience and then they can’t land new jobs. It’s a vicious cycle.”

She said one in five young people can’t find a job and the unemployment rate for that age group is more than 22 per cent.

She added that while Mayor Rob Ford “doesn’t think that there’s an unemployment situation at all … John Tory believes he can magically call up some people and the problem will go away.”

The jobs would be created over a four-year span through the Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) program. According to the website communitybenefits.ca, a CBA is a “commitment to provide jobs and other benefits for local residents.” The program began in Los Angeles, and has been used in Canada for projects during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. It was also used in the $485-million revitalization of Regent Park, which created 500 jobs for young people.

“It creates hope for young people, a better neighbourhood, a better economy and it would also be able to renew our infrastructure, which is desperately needed,” the mayoral candidate said.

Chow said the City of Toronto has a capital budget of $18.6 billion, and that she will be asking companies that bid on city contracts worth more than $50 million to “create jobs for young people and to have apprenticeship programs.”

“We are asking companies that bid on the $18.6 billion projects that they hire young people and that’s one of the criteria for them to win the city contracts,” she said.

She said the city is already investing billions of dollars and “we can use this money to leverage jobs for young people.”

Chow also called on community and private sectors that partner with the city to assist in job creation.

“It’s a win-win situation for the private sector. It helps them to rejuvenate their workforce,” she said.

The City of Toronto’s Parks and Recreation department has employed more than 5,000 young people every year.

Previously, Chow also proposed to hire 300 young people a year through after-school recreation programs and tree-planting.