Canadian values deteriorating

Interesting how values change when money enters the picture.

Interesting how values change when money enters the picture.

A healthy economy used to include low unemployment and available jobs across the country.

Now that has changed. CEOs across Canada are encouraged to abandon Canadian workers and youth in preference of outsourced labour from foreign countries, and to increase the temporary foreign workers (TFW).

A multimillion-dollar bonus cheque awaits the CEO as he hands out pink slips to Canadian workers.

In some cases, Canadian workers are asked to train these foreign workers to take their jobs, as in RBC’s recent case, just before they are laid off.

Canadian values used to include a sense of what is local, loyalty and what is Canadian; without that workers are pressured by competitive forces and downsizing, and employment is precarious.

This is further undermined by the deterioration of full-time work to part time, which allows the decrease in workers benefits, such as health care, and of the general abandon of the defined pension plans by employers, with the exception of the public employees benefits, pensions and age of retirement, which remains unchanged.

The whole concept of TFW is questionable. The program is inherently exploitative of the workers, who signed a contract with one employer.

That leaves doors open for abuse of workers rights; they cannot complain out of fear to be sent back. Furthermore, instead of sending the work to foreign cheap labour countries, the TFW program brings the cheap labour here.

The program has tripled since 2000 and by December 2012, we had over 338,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada.

The whole scheme is looking somewhat less ‘temporary.’

This is detrimental for all Canadian workers and their families, but the effect on our Canadian youth is devastating, with 14 per cent unemployed officially, but the real number thought to be much higher as many are not registered or have given up finding work after years of searching.

We keep being told Canadian kids are not willing to do this kind of work. That goes against the nature of the fact that young people are eager to start their independent life after graduation. They, as generations before them, start long-term relationships and are looking forward of owning their own living quarters, a dream that will not become reality for many of them who are plagued with large student loan debts and unable to find work.

The focus of the employers seems to be always: highest short-term profit. What they are missing is that unemployed or underemployed Canadian youth are unable to become active consumers to keep the economy going in the future.

What if we paid Canadian kids and trained them to take those jobs?

What if large employers would take Canadian kids as apprentices again, instead of preferring a foreign trained worker, because they’re not willing to put the apprentice through the four-year training period, or put up with the two months they have to attend school?

Are changes needed in the apprentice program, such as adopting different models from Europe where apprentices go to school one day per week?

In any case, losing values in the name of more and more profit has brought down many nations in history. Are we finally ready to learn from that?

Ilse Quick


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