This post is going to link the lip service that politicians have given to youth unemployment in the Ontario's provincial election to the larger developments occurring with the #occupywallst movement. Having watched the recent leaders debate it's apparent that none of Ontario's political parties are prepared to engage in a honest discussion about the rising specter of youth unemployment in the province and the structural factors behind its rise. Given the uncertainty with the economy it would have been refreshing to hear our political leaders leaders acknowledge the reality that young people are facing with the difficult choices that are emerging in relation to demographics, the labour market and the erosion of the ability of societal institutions to effect meaningful social change. It's clear that youth in Ontario are becoming a precariat, which is a segment of the population simply trying to survive amid an increasingly precarious existence, having been buffeted by the unprecedented impacts arising from technological change, financialization, globalization and neoliberalism.
Absent from the the platforms of the political parties are any form of a comprehensive youth jobs strategy, rather a piecemeal approach to policy has been adopted that doesn't holistically address the situation currently facing young people in the province. The precarious existence that youth face has been characterized by Federal Ministers mocking unemployed youth, dimming job prospects, an exponential rise in tuition, an evaporation of government programs assisting in the transition from school to work and a labour market that's been deregulated with the standard employment relationship of yesteryear disappearing fast. Youth are up against structural economic issues that are rooted in neoliberal policies that stretch back to the 1970s; neither a thirty percent cut to tuitions fees nor will an expansion of apprenticeship programs remedy the underlying trends that have mortgaged the wealth of future generations for the benefit of an infinitesimal fraction of society.
This is a generation in limbo and one that is beginning to utilize the social media tools arising from technological change to ferment dissent against the elites from the political and corporate spheres who have remained unresponsive to calls for meaningful social change. The protests now reaching the shores of North America may bring about an emergence of a new political movement that might be able to confront the deep malaise that has infected the West. It's difficult to assess what the nascent #occupywallst (or #occupytoronto) movement will mean for politics in Ontario; however, it appears that the millennial generation is starting to flex its political muscles. This development is welcome considering the shrill attitude that has characterized politics as of late on both sides of the border and given the millennial generation's increasing abandonment of traditional political parties in favour of a more direct form of democracy. Whatever the outcome of these protests are I'm sure that I'll have more to say on these topics sooner rather than later.