Finance Minister Bill Morneau says Canada’s job market is “at risk” as the country’s jobless rate remains stubbornly high.
In a speech to the National Press Club in Ottawa, Morneau outlined a set of measures the government is considering to address the problem.
The government has already started cutting spending to support the job market, but Morneau has indicated that he is also looking to increase the amount of time that unemployed Canadians are able to apply for work.
“In terms of job seekers in the labour market, we have seen a sharp decline in unemployment,” Morneau said Tuesday, saying he hopes the government can increase the number of people who are considered for the work-search program, called Job Seekers Allowance, by as much as 10 per cent.
The unemployment rate remains at nearly 20 per cent, a number that has been stuck in the double digits since the beginning of the year.
Canada has seen a large increase in the number and number of unemployed people, especially among younger people, in recent years.
The number of Canadians with jobless rates over 16 years, according to Statistics Canada, has increased by more than 40 per cent over the past five years.
Morneau’s comments came a day after the country reported its first-ever increase in its unemployment rate since early 2015.
The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show the unemployment rate has dropped for the fourth straight month.
In the last year, the unemployment rates for men fell by nearly three percentage points, while for women, it fell by more like four percentage points.
The Conservatives, who won the 2015 election, were criticized for not taking action to help the economy in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
The Liberal government has also been criticized for being too slow in responding to the financial downturn.
In addition to its jobless aid, the Conservatives have also proposed cutting funding for the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.