The federal government is shutting down its seasonal student job centres, saving $6.5 million annually, and instead is bolstering online job resources for youth.
Canadians accustomed to visiting a Service Canada Centre for Youth to hunt for a summer job no longer have that option. The offices were located across the country, and were generally open from May to August.
A spokeswoman for Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said the number of students using the centres has declined significantly over the last few years, "making them less effective and relevant for today's youth," said Alyson Queen.
She said youth have told the government they want to be able to access more government services online instead of in person, and as result, Finley's department is bolstering www.youth.gc.ca.
"By enhancing the online features on www.youth.gc.ca, there is no longer the need for these seasonal, temporary locations to be established," Queen said.
The website is being redesigned to offer tips on job searching and resumé writing, and Queen said youth can still go to regular Service Canada offices for in-person help year round.
The youth unemployment rate sat at 14.5 per cent in January, nearly twice the rate for non-students.
The move to more online job searching for youth comes as the government continues to grapple with the suspension of its heavily used Job Bank website. It has been offline for weeks because of an unspecified security breach.
Security breach fix in the works
Employers and job seekers who rely on the website are growing more frustrated by the day.
More than 135,000 employers are registered with the website, which allows them to put up job postings. Five of them were affected by the security breach, which the department says it is "working around the clock" to fix.
The federal privacy commissioner was notified of the breach.
The NDP's human resources critic, Jean Crowder, criticized the government over the temporary loss of the Job Bank on Tuesday in the House of Commons.
"Unemployed Canadians are trying to get back on their feet, but they are not getting the help that they need to get a job. The government is not serious about getting people back to work. There is no job-creation strategy and now, no Job Bank," said Crowder.
Finley responded that the government's top priority is job creation, and that her department is working hard to get the website up and running again.