A Youth Climate Corps must be created to provide good, sustainable jobs for young Canadians eager to fight climate change, says a federal NDP motion announced Tuesday.

“Young people want to get involved. They want to fight the climate crisis first-hand, and they deserve training and good jobs in the process, which is what New Democrats want to see happen,” said Laurel Collins, environment critic for the NDP, at a news conference on Parliament Hill announcing support for the youth corps concept.

Collins outlined her party's plan to establish a Youth Climate Corps (YCC) that would provide training and employment opportunities for thousands of young adults aged 17 to 35 in Canada. The plan would strengthen community and environmental resilience to climate change, build infrastructure that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and create a Crown corporation to lead these efforts, she said.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in the consequences of the climate crisis over the last year — extreme droughts, wildfires and record-breaking temperature increases. And it’s young people … taking on the brunt of the climate crisis,” said Collins.

The announcement follows new polling, which indicated that approximately 1.3 million young people across Canada would consider enrolling in a youth climate corps if the government were to allocate funds for this program.

“We know that across Canada, Canadians have been feeling the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, seeing record-breaking heat waves, devastating flooding, hurricanes and this past summer, we had the worst wildfire season on record. Young people and their future are the most impacted by the climate crisis,” Collins added.

Joining her at the news conference was Bushra Asghar, a youth corps campaign organizer for the Climate Emergency Unit.

“As young people, we are demanding this, especially as our lives are at the precipice of compounding crises — skyrocketing rents, dealing with an affordability crisis, facing thousands of dollars in student debt, and experiencing wage stagnation and youth isolation,” said Asghar. “A youth climate corps would be a counter-offer to all of these challenges.”

Asghar noted a climate corps funded by the federal government could be a visionary, two-year job training program for young people to work on low-carbon climate adaptation and mitigation in their communities and across the country.

The announcement follows new polling, which indicated that approximately 1.3 million young people across Canada would consider enrolling in a youth climate corps if the government were to allocate funds for this program. #YouthClimateCorps

Participants would manage forests, reduce wildfire risks, and respond to climate disasters, but also create new climate infrastructure, such as a high-speed rail system or building retrofits, she added.

“We've had the federal government declare climate as an emergency, but all we've seen are incremental measures being implemented. If the federal government allocates the billion dollars needed to kick-start the youth climate corps, it would demonstrate that this is what it takes to win, and we are in an emergency,” said Asghar.

Last week, members of the Climate Emergency Unit delivered over 600 mock climate corps job applications, gathered online and in-person, to the Toronto office of Marci Ien, federal minister for women and gender equality and youth.

Inspiration for the proposed corps stems, in part, from a recent announcement by United States President Joe Biden about the creation of an American Climate Corps. The U.S. initiative received an overwhelming response, with over 40,000 applications for an initial 20,000 positions.

Canada’s National Observer reached out to both the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ministry for Women and Gender Equality and Youth for further comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Federally, Canada has a Climate Change Youth Council. According to the government's website, since climate change represents one of the most defining environmental challenges at this time, young people are at the forefront, leading the charge toward a cleaner future. The country needs young Canadians’ perspectives to ensure the country's transition to a prosperous and low-carbon future is sustainable and inclusive, the website notes.

This story was produced in partnership with Journalists for Human Rights for the Afghan Journalists-in-Residence program funded by the Meta Journalism Project.

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do it, and libs will win back youth vote substantially.

Address housing on reserves with gold star level prefab housing in the thousands, and win f n vote as well as cutting t b and social problems.
use f n youth climate core activists in training on reserves and build futures for them and community as well as whole country!!!

but will libs not shoot selves in foot? head? who knows????

Infrastructure! But jobs where an untrained enthusiast could make a contribution after 3-6 months of training and then enter the job market 'trained' in two years. Quite an ask. Clearly 'high speed trains' on a new rail bed would be a challenge. Solar comes quickly to mind but retrofit and new net-zero housing rings the biggest bells - and this would also address the labour shortage in the construction industry. Combine these with publicly owned, affordable housing programs and decentralized 'intelligent' electrical grids and we could soon all be heating and cooking with high-speed electricity (Not the 'high-speed gas' of the 1960's)
re: Reserves: Yes, these desperately need a re-build and upgrade at Federal expense, but not by a non-indigenous youth program set on creating a better world. That would be an offensive continuation of colonial thinking. But clearly the feds (i.e. we colonials!) should pay for both the boots and the boot straps and non-indigenous youth should be welcome helpers.