Small Business and Tourism — Youth Programming

Hon. Jim Munson: Minister, thank you for being here. I know this may not be part of your portfolio, but you seem to be a very influential minister already in what you’re talking about. You also have incredible enthusiasm for your job, and that’s extremely important.

Minister, since we’re talking about youth, youth are ambassadors across this country and around the world. I don’t know whether this fits into the terms of tourism for our youth and having programs for them, but I’m thinking particularly as well — and perhaps you could use your influence in your portfolio — of something we used to have in this country, namely, millennium scholarships. In my working in the Senate, we saw so much good being done with these scholarships, for example, with families who came from other countries to this country and didn’t have an opportunity to get a scholarship to continue their education.

We also had a great program called Katimavik. The Prime Minister is the Minister of Youth. Since you are youthful; and since the young are young, and they have their own voices, is there some way, somehow, within your portfolio and with others, to use that influence to get the energy of this country back again — perhaps not back to the days of Bobby Gimby in 1967 singing Canada, though, which I remember very well. I’m sorry you missed Expo 67; it was a lot of fun. These are ideas that were good ideas at one time but seem to have disappeared off the political map, and I think they merit a review for Canada’s 150 celebrations.

Hon. Bardish Chagger, P.C., M.P., Minister of Small Business and Tourism: Thank you for the question, honourable senator, and for the work you do. I did miss Expo 67, but I have socks to make it seem like I was there. The paraphernalia was great. Those are the times we need to reinvent and recreate, because people who were there in 1967 understand what Canada was all about. We have only become better.

We need to ensure that we are engaging our youth. Youth are our leaders of tomorrow, but they are also our leaders of today, and we need to ensure we are empowering them. Programs like the one you referred to have allowed for that success to take place.

Budget 2016 proposes the new post-secondary institution strategic investment fund to help support entrepreneurs and start-ups. We need to ensure that our youth are provided the resources and training that they need to succeed. Times have really changed. That’s why this innovation agenda will be so important. We are getting ourselves online with our support for broadband in rural and remote areas as well so that we do not pick and choose where our youth can succeed. When it comes to programs and services, we are doing it slightly differently, but we are engaging closely with that population.

Millennials, I will tell them time and again, are the force that will take us forward. They remind me of our baby boomers, and I have never met a force like that. They have the capability of at least being able to compete. My generation was not able to. I think the millennials will be the next ones to come through. There are strategic investments being made.

When it comes to the Millennium Scholarships Program, it’s not that time anymore, but we’ve made some changes when it comes to the summer jobs program. On the scholarships, the repayment for student loans is what we have reshaped. That commitment in the platform came from the youth. The Prime Minister launched the platform within my riding of Waterloo. I am blessed to have two universities and a college that work closely together.

In the riding and the region of Waterloo, we don’t pit university against college. We talk about post-secondary institutions. We talk about the trades. We talk about education being lifelong because we know that not only are our youth important, but the education and skills they have to succeed are also essential.