News / Toronto

Morneau chided for 'arrogant' remarks on precarious labour

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says Canadians need to get used to short-term contracts and high turnover.

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau participates in a Q&A session at the Public Policy Forum's Growth Summit on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 in Ottawa.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau participates in a Q&A session at the Public Policy Forum's Growth Summit on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 in Ottawa.

Opposition MPs, along with youth and labour advocates are hitting back at federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau for suggesting millennials should get used to working precarious jobs.

Speaking to Liberal Party insiders in Niagara Falls Saturday, Morneau said high turnover and short-term contracts for youth are here to stay and the government should prepare for it.

“How do we train and retrain people as they move from job to job to job? Because it’s going to happen. We have to accept that,” Morneau said during a question-and-answer session.

Conservative MP Matt Jeneroux said Morneau’s comments show the minister is “out of touch with a lot of the younger generation.”

NDP MP Niki Ashton, who’s been consulting with young people across Canada about employment, said Morneau’s remarks were disappointing.          

“These comments are arrogant, they’re insensitive and they clearly speak to a disconnect between Mr. Morneau and his government and what millennials in Canada are facing,” she said.

Morneau’s office did not respond to a request by Metro for comment by deadline.

Aliya Bhatia, director of community engagement with the Toronto Youth Cabinet, said acknowledging precarious employment is not enough.

Instead, she said the government must provide better protections for precarious workers.

Insecure work affects more than just millennials, Bhatia said, noting that thousands of workers without benefits or job security will have a negative impact on the nation’s finances.

“If the entire economy is depending on people like me to buy a house in a decade, that’s not going to happen,” she said.

Andrew Cash, a former NDP MP who co-founded the Urban Workers Project, said there’s “a ton of work that needs to be done on the government’s side to build a stronger floor for all workers to stand on.”

“I just think, no worker should get used to the way work is going,” Cash said.

With files from Canadian Press

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