The federal government is highlighting its funding for student summer jobs at the same time it has come under fire from the opposition for ad spending.
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley visited the Ottawa headquarters of the Canadian Red Cross Thursday to talk about the 36,000 summer jobs she said will be created this year through the Canada Summer Jobs Initiative.
Finley’s office said via email the government created 36,000 summer student jobs through the same program in 2012 as well.
The 2013 federal budget includes another plan to invest $70 million over three years into the Youth Employment Strategy, money the government said would support 5,000 additional paid internships for students over that timeframe.
Playoff ads under scrutiny
Multiple Liberal MPs have been taking aim at the Conservatives’ spending on budget ads during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, saying it’s taking money away from summer jobs for students.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said during Wednesday’s question period that paying for the ads during the playoffs costs the equivalent of 32 summer jobs for young people, rising to the equivalent of 45 jobs if a Canadian team makes the final round.
"The cost of the Conservative action plan TV ad during the first round of the NHL playoffs [is] $95,000. A Conservative action plan ad during the NHL finals, $140,000," said Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner during Wednesday’s question period, then referencing 40,000 student summer jobs lost "every year" under the Conservative government.
Cuzner’s office said Thursday the 40,000 figure is actually how many fewer student summer jobs are being funded since the Conservatives came into power in 2006.
There was funding for around 76,000 summer student jobs in the last Liberal government’s budget, according to his office, which is now down to 36,000.
Cuzner’s office also said there are 63,000 fewer Youth Employment Strategy jobs now than existed seven years ago, down to around 50,000 from 113,000.
Finley said in response she "completely rejects" Cuzner’s question period statement, adding the Conservative government has also introduced student grant programs to help pay for post-secondary education.
Try Google alerts instead: Murray
The Liberals stuck with the same line of attack during Thursday's question period, using many of its questions to hammer away at the same issue.
"Young Canadians especially are falling behind. There are 212,000 fewer of them who are working today than before the recession," Liberal deputy leader Ralph Goodale said.
"404,000 are looking for jobs, and this paranoid isolated government wastes $23 million, $32,000 every day, to spy on the media and its own backbench. For that spy money, the government could have triggered 7,600 summer jobs."
Finley responded that in addition to the 36,000 jobs she had highlighted in her morning announcement, "this year alone we are helping 60,000 young people get jobs."
"Since 2006, our government has helped over two million young people get jobs and get the skills and training for those jobs so they can contribute, participate and benefit from the workplace," the minister said.
"Each single day of [media monitoring for its caucus] would fund a student job for the entire summer," B.C. Liberal MP Joyce Murray added later."Will big brother please stop wasting taxpayers' money on monitoring its own members and hire a summer student to help figure out how to do free Google alerts?"