Report of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council

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A message from the Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Youth

Throughout my life and career, I have emphasized how vital it is to actively involve young people in the policy conversation. Their innovative ideas on how to solve complex challenges are informed by the profound and critical stage of life they are experiencing in this present moment. They possess a distinctive ability to frame issues differently, and to call attention to matters of importance that may otherwise be overlooked or underestimated.

Young people have always contributed to building a better Canada in many different ways, through volunteering, through student government, through starting businesses, through civic action and (we should remind ourselves) through running for public office. But they can also feel alienated and excluded from the more traditional avenues for providing input to government policy.

That is why in July 2016 I launched the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, as a platform for young people to engage directly with me, my Cabinet, Parliamentarians, and with senior government officials to ensure that we do a better job of understanding and addressing the needs and perspectives of Canada’s youth, at the highest levels of government.

Considering the 20,000 applications I have received to date, it is clear that young people are ready to take their seat at the table.

Since the Youth Council’s first meeting with me in September 2016, I continue to be inspired by their hard work, their tenacity, their insightfulness and their commitment to integrating the voices of as many other youth as possible into their work. The Youth Council has weighed in on important issues ranging from mental health and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, to clean growth and youth service, and to building Canada’s first-ever Youth Policy.

Through this report, I want to show to Canadians how the Youth Council has impacted and shaped the government’s work on priority issues, and how this new advisory body is changing the way we seek and incorporate youth perspectives into policy. Together, we are building a better Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
Prime Minister of Canada and
Minister of Youth

The Prime Minister’s Youth Council (PMYC) - How does it work?

PMYC members meet both online and in person several times a year to discuss issues that matter to them as well as to their peers, their community, and their country.

At in-person meetings, PMYC members provide advice to the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and government officials. Discussions are captured in a meeting summary, which is then used by government officials to follow up with relevant Ministers and departments for further action.

PMYC members also provide written or video input on particular topics, based on:

  • their school, work and life experience
  • input from other youth in their community
  • their research and volunteer experience
PMYC member speaks

This often results in the Prime Minister tasking Ministers and federal departments and agencies to undertake further analysis of the issue in order to address the PMYC’s input.

As a diverse group of youth from regions across Canada, the Prime Minister does not expect PMYC members to agree unanimously. PMYC members work together to convey differing perspectives.

The PMYC is a platform for youth to use their voice, in their own voice. With this core value in mind, PMYC members develop and deliver input in their own words in the medium they choose, be it a video, a post on social media, a formal presentation, a written letter, or by using tools like e-petitions to Parliament.

The PMYC is a sought-after advisor on priority issues

When choosing what to discuss at meetings, or what projects to undertake, the Prime Minister and Cabinet as well as PMYC members put forward topics for consideration.

This approach supports a two-way dialogue. Government can obtain input from youth on specific programs and initiatives, and PMYC members can advance issues that are important to them – both of which contribute to policy development that better resonates with young people and with Canadians.

Government to PMYC:

  • Atlantic Growth Strategy
  • Canada Service Corps
  • Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan
  • Canada’s response to the opioid crisis
  • Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence
  • Diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces
  • International Experiences Canada
  • National Housing Strategy
  • Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples
  • Youth employment and the future of work

PMYC to government:

  • Accessibility
  • Blood donation ineligibility period for men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • Canada’s implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
  • Canada’s place in the world
  • Criminal record suspension reform
  • Electoral reform
  • Protecting the environment
  • Racism experienced by immigrant and refugee communities
  • Street harassment
  • Youth representation in decision-making bodies
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth)

“I have witnessed and benefitted first-hand from the perseverance and dedication of PMYC members. Through the PMYC, young Canadians have a distinctive platform to convey their unique perspectives, and those of their communities, to the highest levels of government. Their input has immense value to policy-makers, who regularly seek their honest, fearless advice.”

Peter Schiefke, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth)

Highlights of Youth Council meetings

The Council’s inaugural meeting in Ottawa
September 2016

The PMYC discussed

  • Youth service
  • Climate action
  • Gender-based violence
  • Diversity and immigration
  • Mental health

The PMYC met with

  • Prime Minister of Canada
  • Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  • Minister of Status of Women
  • Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
  • Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Delegates of the One Young World Summit
The Prime Minister with the 15 inaugural members of the PMYC
The Prime Minister introduces the first members of the PMYC to over 1,000 ambassadors and delegates at the One Young World Summit
Minister McKenna with the PMYC
PMYC members discuss climate action with Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Ottawa meeting - Key results and follow-ups

Discussions on climate action fed into the National Youth Summit on Climate Change on November 23, 2016, with over 100 youth from the Ottawa-Gatineau region participating, and more joining the conversation online. The summit reached well over 500,000 Canadians on social media through #YouthClimateAction.

The Prime Minister heard loud and clear from the PMYC members that mental health is a priority for youth.

To continue the conversation, the Prime Minister held a teleconference to explore the topic further, and requested officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada to arrange a virtual meeting with the Youth Council to go over Canada’s efforts to improve mental health.

Their voice, and the chorus of other voices across the country helped lead to the targeted funding for mental health and addiction services in federal, provincial and territorial health agreements, as outlined in the August 2017 Common Statement of Principles on Shared Health Priorities.

PMYC member writing on a flip chart
PMYC members’ ideas and contributions from a mind-mapping session on youth service help lay the foundation for the launch of the Canada Service Corps in January 2018

In Calgary, the PMYC welcomed second cohort of members
January 2017

The PMYC discussed

  • Canada’s Innovation Agenda
  • Diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces
  • Climate and energy
  • Youth employment

The PMYC met with

  • Prime Minister of Canada
  • Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
  • Minister of National Defence
  • Minister of Natural Resources
  • Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  • Expert Panel on Youth Employment

Calgary meeting — impact

The PMYC shared frank and challenging perspectives about discrimination that young women and minority groups can experience in interactions with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The 2017 release of Canada’s Defence Policy included new initiatives to make sure the CAF reflects the diversity of the country that it defends, and to eliminate harmful behaviours and ensure a work environment free from harassment and discrimination.

The Expert Panel on Youth Employment reflected Youth Council input in its report, 13 Ways to Modernize Youth Employment in Canada. The report includes a suite of recommendations on strategies to better equip young people to join the workforce, how to support more youth entrepreneurship and ways to create safe and equitable workspace.

Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan reflected several key messages from PMYC members, including supporting work-integrated learning and investing in coding and other digital skills learning to get young Canadians interested in science, technology, engineering and math early in their lives for them to have the skills needed to succeed in the future.

PMYC members talking with Minister Bains
PMYC members share their views with Minister Bains on innovation and ways to encourage youth and women to enter STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) fields
PMYC members discuss issues with the Prime Minister and Cabinet
At a networking session with the Prime Minister and Cabinet, PMYC members discuss the state of official languages in Canada

PMYC in Montreal: A dialogue on reconciliation
May 2017

The PMYC discussed

  • The history of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples
  • The calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
  • Canada’s commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories on reserve
  • Indigenous languages legislation

The PMYC met with

  • Prime Minister of Canada
  • Leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis community
  • Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs
  • Minister of Justice & the Attorney General of Canada
  • Minister of Health
  • Minister of Canadian Heritage
  • Canadian Roots Exchange
  • Youth of the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory
PMYC members participating in the Kairos Blanket Exercise
The PMYC participates in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise
Minister Bennett discussing with PMYC members
PMYC members discuss the different facets of reconciliation with Minister Bennett

Montreal meeting - outcomes and follow-ups

After the meeting, PMYC members submitted a letter to the Prime Minister to express support for Canada’s implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

On May 30, 2018, Bill C-262 (An Act to ensure the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) passed the Third Reading in the House of Commons with unanimous support from the government.

The Prime Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to Indigenous youth in his announcement on February 14, 2018 to develop the Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework.

“Indigenous youth should not grow up surrounded by the things that place them at elevated risk for suicide – things like poverty, abuse, and limited access to a good education and good health care. Better opportunities for Indigenous Peoples, and certainly for Indigenous youth, are precisely what we hope to achieve through this Framework.”

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Youth
PMYC, the Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

As part of the meeting in Montreal, PMYC members participate in a Facebook Live discussion on reconciliation, together with the Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage. The session has over 230,000 views and over 3,000 comments.

In St John’s, the PMYC met to discuss issues facing Atlantic Canada
September 2017

The PMYC discussed

  • Youth Policy for Canada
  • Tourism and youth entrepreneurship
  • Immigration in rural and remote areas
  • Atlantic Growth Strategy

The PMYC met with

  • Prime Minister of Canada
  • Minister of Small Business and Tourism
  • Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship
  • Ministers responsible for the Atlantic Growth Strategy
  • Atlantic Growth Strategy Advisory Group
  • Premier’s Youth Council of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Choices for Youth
PMYC and members of the Premier’s Youth Council of NL
PMYC members discuss issues with Ministers at a networking session as part of the Cabinet Retreat

St. John’s - A milestone in developing a youth policy for Canada

The PMYC’s discussions in St John’s, including with other local youth, helped to inform preliminary areas of focus in the development of a youth policy for Canada, including:

PMYC members presented these themes to the Prime Minister, which became the launching point for government consultations and roundtable discussions across Canada. In their presentation, PMYC members also spoke to three overarching themes for the Policy:

Prime Minister and the PMYC members

PMYC members present to the Prime Minister their preliminary findings on priority areas of focus for a youth policy for Canada.

PMYC meeting in Winnipeg: Diversity and inclusion
January 2018

The PMYC discussed

  • Youth policy for Canada
  • Diversity in corporations
  • Indigenous languages legislation
  • Feminist government
  • Gender-based violence
  • International Experiences Canada

The PMYC met with

  • Prime Minister of Canada
  • Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
  • Status of Women Canada
  • Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française
  • Rainbow Resource Centre
  • Sacred 7 Youth Council
PMYC members and local youth leaders at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata
PMYC members meet with local youth leaders at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre
PMYC members at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
PMYC members tour the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Winnipeg meeting — Continuing the conversation

PMYC members continued to share their perspectives on diversity and inclusion, particularly related to gender equality, supporting immigrants and refugees, and combating racism.

Through their work, PMYC members have highlighted issues such as street harassment and the living conditions of neighbourhoods with high newcomer populations. These inputs shape Canada’s efforts to build a more inclusive society, where all Canadians have equal access to services and opportunities.

PMYC members have also emphasized to the Prime Minister that the PMYC should be just the beginning when it comes to creating formal mechanisms for youth perspectives to be heard at the highest levels. This was a central theme in the PMYC’s discussion on Bill C-25 (An Act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act and the Competition Act), which received Royal Assent on May 1, 2018. Because of input from PMYC members, government departments are also working to educate chairs of federal boards on the value of the perspective of a young person in these positions.

PMYC member presenting to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
PMYC members provide additional input on Canada’s gender-based violence strategy, on sexual violence on campuses and on the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces

With a third cohort of members, the PMYC met again in Ottawa
June 2018

The PMYC discussed

The PMYC met with

PMYC members sitting and smiling during the meeting
New members of the PMYC have their first meeting

PMYC Cohorts 2 and 3 in Ottawa: A new chapter

With a third cohort of PMYC members, fresh perspectives were shared on the PMYC’s ongoing priority issues, including:

PMYC members with Steve and Nathalie Cody
PMYC members listening to Dr. Theresa Tam

In a special session on Canada’s response to the opioid crisis, PMYC members met with Dr. Theresa Tam (Chief Public Health Officer of Canada) and parents with lived experience to talk about raising awareness, reducing stigma and finding solutions.

PMYC members continued to advance work on a youth policy for Canada, where they analyzed data from cross-Canada consultations launched in February 2018.

PMYC member concentrating during a PMYC meeting

In Toronto, PMYC members advised the PM on housing and employment
October 2018

The PMYC discussed

The PMYC met with

PMYC members standing and smiling

Toronto meeting — Conveying perspectives on intersecting issues

During the meeting, PMYC members engaged in a panel discussion with leaders from the public sector and the private sector on enhancing economic opportunities for youth. PMYC members shared ideas on innovating how Canada’s post-secondary institutions approach work-integrated learning.

In discussions with the Prime Minister, PMYC members attested to the distinct challenges young people face when trying to find a home and live independently, and the connection between housing and accessing viable employment opportunities. Be it trying to purchase their first home or simply finding an affordable place to rent in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver, young people are confronting new and different obstacles that are redefining expectations of conventional paths to home ownership and wealth generation that previous generations have experienced.

PMYC member speaks into a microphone while others listen
In a session with the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other officials from Public Safety Canada, PMYC members speak to links that can exist between the radicalization of youth to violence and racism and discrimination, as well as poverty and communities that lack affordable housing

The PMYC brings the voices of youth to the table

PMYC member Donovan Taplin

“The PMYC believes that you don’t need to give young people a voice. Young people already have a voice, they just need a platform to have that voice heard.”

Donovan Taplin
PMYC member Ashley Whiteman

“Initially I was nervous to apply. I kept asking myself, am I worthy of this? Do I even have a chance to get selected? But it kept popping into my head as something to try, and finally I decided to just go for it because what did I have to lose? And through this experience I’ve realized that everyone is worthy of it. Everyone has a story that deserves to be heard. You just have to go for it!”

Ashley Whiteman
PMYC member Aaron Taylor

“It was incredible, that first moment we were all in the same room together, to hear everyone’s perspective. In many ways the PMYC has made me a better listener. It is so important to be exposed to the different perspectives and experiences that come from every corner of our country. I will be forever grateful for that.”

Aaron Taylor
PMYC member Gabe Senecal

“Being on the Council has been amazing. I’ve been able to meet people from all across the country, and they all have such diverse experiences. That’s one of the main strengths of the PMYC, no two Council members are alike. We all have our own views, our own takes on issues. Being able to hear from each other and convey what we are hearing directly to the Prime Minister, is invaluable to having conversations about what we think Canada’s future should look like.”

Gabe Senecal
PMYC member Élyse Tremblay-Longchamps

“Being a young leader in my community means not being apathetic towards problems that exist. It means staying active and aware and not being intimidated by the challenges before us. Every member of the community, every person can take action.”

Élyse Tremblay-Longchamps
PMYC member Rachel Smale

“Being the first Inuk on the PMYC has given me a lot of encouragement. I have been able to stand in front of youth back home, and tell them that they can go for what they want, and that it can happen. I am a living example of that in my own community.”

Rachel Smale

The PMYC is a force for amplifying the youth voice

PMYC member speaking at a podium on stage

The Walrus Talks

Yellowknife, NWT

Sylvia Pascua-Matte (pictured) along with PMYC members across the country spoke at the 2017 national speaking tour: The Walrus Talks Conversations about Canada: We Desire a Better Country, a signature initiative of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation.

PMYC and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth)

Arctic rendez-vous

Pond Inlet, NU

On the invitation of Rachel Smale, in January 2017 Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister – Youth) met with youth in her community of Pond Inlet to talk about climate change, sea ice, mental health and youth empowerment.

Two PMYC members the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Summit of the Americas

Lima, Peru

As part of the Canadian delegation at the Summit of the Americas in April 2018, Simone Cavanaugh and Dana Kenny shared their perspectives with the Prime Minister.

PMYC members speaking with the Prime Minister

Youth as Peacebuilders Forum

Vancouver, BC

Held on the margins of the United Nations Defence Peacekeeping Ministerial, Lauren Kennedy and François-Olivier Picard joined 130 delegates in November 2017 at the Youth as Peacebuilders Forum, organized by the United Nations Association in Canada, where they met with the Prime Minister as well as Hon. LGen (ret.) Roméo Dallaire, Minister Sajjan and Minister Bibeau.

PMYC member speaking at the One Young World Summit

One Young World Summit

Ottawa, ON

At the One Young World Summit in 2016, Hani AL Moulia told his story of being a Syrian refugee, now living in Canada.

PMYC member speaking on stage at WE Day Atlantic

WE Day Atlantic

Halifax, NS

Sara Abdessamie is an active member of the WE Movement, helping to empower and amplify the voice of youth across the country.

Developing a youth policy for Canada

As Minister of Youth, the Prime Minister is committed to creating a first-ever Youth Policy for Canada. In May 2017, the Prime Minister asked his Youth Council to play a primary role in supporting its development and to help bring as many young people as possible into the conversation.

“For a youth policy to succeed, for a youth policy to be relevant and impactful to young people as well as to all Canadians, youth themselves must be at the centre of its realization. They need to hold the pen, they need to tell us what is important to them, and we need to be ready to listen.”

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Youth

During summer and fall 2017, PMYC members worked on identifying topics and potential themes for a youth policy. These themes where presented to the Prime Minister at the in-person meeting held in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. They also became the launching point for the development of online consultations and roundtable discussion guides.

In February 2018, the Government of Canada launched cross-Canada consultations to provide young Canadians with an opportunity to discuss and provide comments on the identified priority themes, as well as highlight supports and solutions to improve the lives of youth across Canada.

Discussions about a youth policy across the country

As part of consultations, PMYC members led, co-hosted and participated in over 25 youth dialogue roundtables with their peers. The perspectives of young Canadians were also shared as part of dozens more roundtables as well as thousands of ideas received through online consultations. Find out more about this dialogue – which elicited more than 10,000 individual responses – by reviewing the section Building a Youth Policy for Canada on

The outcomes of these discussions contributed to the development of the Youth Policy. In August 2018, PMYC members also participated in an intensive session in Ottawa, working with government officials to shape the language of these key elements.

An ongoing and iterative process

During its in-person meetings, PMYC members have spent time discussing and updating the Prime Minister on their contributions to the Policy. As an ongoing effort to ensure the relevance of the Policy and its associated initiatives, PMYC members, and youth across Canada will continue to play an important role in its review and renewal.

The core objective of the Youth Policy is to ensure that youth voices are heard and can influence government actions and decisions on issues that matter to them, in a tangible and effective manner.

PMYC by the numbers

PMYC by the numbers summary
Text version
  • 36 members have served on the PMYC to date
  • 7 in-person meetings to date
  • In-depth discussions with 21 ministers and 8 parliamentary secretaries
  • 23+ virtual meetings and teleconferences

How are PMYC members selected?

Council members are selected through a robust and youth-oriented application and selection process, which starts with an online application form. Applicants must be 16 to 24 years of age to be eligible to be considered.

From the pool of applications, the Privy Council Office uses a methodology designed to ensure that every applicant has a chance to be considered! Using a combination of community engagement scoring, blind demographic analysis and random selection, a pool of candidates is invited to submit a video interview. The candidate pool is compiled in such a way to be representative of the applicant pool as well as the overall diversity of Canada.

Officials then assess interviews and applications according to a defined rubric in order to develop a short list of candidates for the Prime Minister’s consideration.

A message from the PMYC’s inaugural members

As we wrap up our term as members of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, we are proud to reflect back on our contributions. We have provided bold, unbiased advice to the best of our abilities. But we have also received much in return. Through the PMYC we have been able to connect with youth across the country and share in each other’s experiences. We are inspired by the leadership young people are showing from coast to coast to coast. We have a voice, and we are using it.

We want to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to the Prime Minister. While at times we may have pushed and challenged you, we know that you were always open to listening and we thank you for creating this important avenue through which youth can have their voice heard.

And finally, thank you to all the young Canadians who have been a part of the PMYC’s work, at our meetings, at discussions in our communities and on campuses, and participating in discussions online. Young Canadians have a wide range of perspectives, and we represent just a few of them. By working together, by engaging in dialogue, and listening to each other, we amplify our collective voice. We look forward to continuing to work with the PMYC and its future members as alumni. We will keep working to make sure youth have a voice and we hope you will as well!


Cohorts of the PMYC

Cohort 1 members
(Sept 2016 to March 2018)

Group photo of the 1st PMYC Cohort members with Prime Minister

Sara Abdessamie, Mustafa Ahmed, Hani AL Moulia, Alex Bouchard, Joe Darcel, Greg Francis, Sylvia Pascua-Matte, Rachel Smale, Donovan Taplin, Aaron Taylor, Mac Tebbutt, Élyse Tremblay-Longchamps, Nmesoma Umenwofor-Nweze, Ashley Whiteman, Chris Zhou

Cohort 2 members
(January 2017 to January 2019)

Group photo of the 2nd PMYC Cohort

Rayene Bouzitoun, Simone Cavanaugh, Molly French, Lauren Kennedy, Dana Kenny, François-Olivier Picard, Neha Rahman, Gabe Senecal, Sara Wheale, Justin Charles Wong, Riley Yesno

Cohort 3 members
(June 2018 to June 2020)

Group photo of the 3rd PMYC Cohort

Zander Affleck, Habon Ali, Jack Campbell, Ashley Cummings, Elijah Dietrich, Tagalik Eccles, Sagar Grewal, Pier-Maude Lanteigne, François Lépine-Cossette, Kathryn McIntosh

List of organizations that have participated at PMYC meetings

(September 2016 to December 2018)

The PMYC represents just one way the government is changing how it engages with youth

The Canada Service Corps, launched in January 2018, is innovating how youth can access short- and long-term service and volunteer opportunities.

Through subscriptions on, the Government of Canada has sent more than 450,000 invitations to youth engagement opportunities.

Federal departments are working together to streamline processes for youth delegates to participate at national and international summits and meetings.

For public consultations, the Government of Canada is applying new strategies to target youth and to seek their input.

Two PMYC members discussing

For more information about the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, and the Government of Canada’s work to engage youth more broadly, visit

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

©Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada (2019)
All rights reserved

All requests for permission to reproduce this document or any part
thereof shall be addressed to the Privy Council Office (Youth Secretariat).

Cette publication est également disponible en français :
Rapport du Conseil jeunesse du premier ministre.

978-0-660-28774-4 SP

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