Thursday, May 03, 2012

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- The Cons' move to suppress Canadian wages by encouraging the use of disposable, temporary foreign labour is receiving plenty of due outcry. Here's Armine Yalnizyan:

Disturbingly, the federal announcement also set out new wage rules that permit employers to pay temporary foreign workers up to 15 per cent below the average paid for that type of work locally, sanctioning the creation of a two-tiered “us and them” labour market.

Even if such a rule were rigorously applied and monitored – and budget cuts may eliminate the staff to do this job – it guarantees a downward trend in wages for everyone. Fifteen per cent below the average is a recipe for continuous decline when labour shortages are filled, as a matter of policy, by those who get paid less and are not allowed to stay long enough to ask for more.


Even the Chinese railway workers of the 1800s came with “landed immigrant” status. Emphasizing the benefits of a disposable class of workers is a very recent, and unsavoury, development in our history.

This nation was built by immigrants who had a stake in its future. Together we created an economy which today is the tenth largest in the world. While the economy will continue to grow, the distribution of the gains from that growth threatens to become rapidly even more lopsided.

And the Star-Phoenix:

However, it's doing no one any favours in the long run - and could well be creating conditions for an ugly anti-immigrant backlash - with its decision to allow employers to pay those high-skill foreign workers as much as 15 per cent below the average regional wage for their occupation.

The differential wage scheme, which already is getting a hostile reception from organized labour groups, certainly runs counter to the free market philosophy espoused by business leaders as well (as) Conservative politicians across Canada. Unless it's a deliberate strategy to drive down wage rates nationally over the long term, as the unions and critics allege, this policy certainly makes little economic or social sense at a time when the booming regions of Canada are short of the skilled workers, not the cash to pay them.


The ability to offer lower wages to skilled foreign workers would benefit those employers who run non-unionized shops that aren't covered by negotiated rates. The long-term effect could well be the de-skilling of Canada's workforce, with employers increasingly relying on cheaper foreign workers and not investing as much in training, something that will be hugely detrimental to the aspirations of young Canadians, particularly aboriginals.

And with Ms. Finley's ministry noting the accelerated hiring process could be expanded to other occupations, what started out as a stop-gap measure to fill the need for skilled trades could soon be putting downward pressure on wages in other sectors.

- Meanwhile, the Wall government is introducing a new set of attacks on workers in Saskatchewan. But I have to wonder whether the obvious overreach involved in questioning the very existence of labour standards may only highlight the desperate need for strong organized labour to counterbalance employer excess.

After all, it's one thing for workers to fail to appreciate the importance of a movement which rightly takes credit for innovations which get taken for granted. But it's another story entirely when the Wall government is actually hinting about taking back the weekend.

- If we needed any proof that the Cons' public-sector slashing has nothing to do with actually reducing Deficit Jim Flaherty's most substantial achievement and everything to do with wanting to sell off as many public goods as possible before they get turfed from office, this nicely sums up their plans:
Three of Parks Canada’s most iconic attractions could soon be in the hands of a private operator.

The federal agency — which has been hard hit in the latest round of federal public service cuts announced this week — plans to invite private-sector proposals to take over operation of the Canadian Rockies Hot Springs, which includes the hot pools in Banff, Jasper and Radium, B.C.


(F)ollowing the selection process and lease negotiations, a handover of hot springs operations is expected to be completed as early as May 2013.


Thiessen said together, the three hot springs generate only $5 million in revenue annually — a break-even situation for Parks Canada.
So the question isn't one of "cost-cutting" - as there's no net cost at all to the current hot springs operations. But the Cons' interest in eliminating the "public" part of public services is a far higher priority than actually dealing with a deficit built on reckless tax slashing. And if the result is to destroy in a year what's been built up over a century, that's fine with Harper and company.

- Finally, Simon Enoch wonders whatever happened to the transparency once promised by the Cons. Andrew Coyne suggests that if Stephen Harper's goal was incoherent government, he's succeeded beyond what anybody could have imagined. And Frances Russell laments the Cons' efforts to turn Canada into a banana republic.

No comments:

Post a Comment