Living Wage

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The unemployment rate in Canada has traditionally been higher than in Europe or the US for a number of reasons.

  • A higher proportion of seasonal industries.
  • We have had a higher proportion of our population in smaller, more isolated communities making jobs harder to match up with potential workers.
  • Manufacturing has always been a smaller proportion of our economy than more developed nations.

In addition, our policy of mass immigration has caused a labour glut for most of the past 40 years. And increasingly, it is becoming more difficult to describe exactly what “unemployment” actually is.

Several statistical methods of calculation are available in the US which put the current rates at 6%, the most commonly chosen method, up to as high as 20% using perhaps a more comprehensive measure. Statistics Canada puts our effective unemployment rate at 11% when labour force dropouts are included.

In Canada, we count anyone holding a part-time minimum wage job as employed.


  • Are laid off engineers really “‘Unemployed” when making $20,000 a year part-time?
  • Are the self-employed really employed when they were previously making $90,000?
  • Should jobs paying below the poverty line be counted as real jobs

Despite the worst economic downturn since the depression and the continued loss of high-quality jobs offshore, the government continues to keep immigration at record levels to “allow the economy to spring back when the recovery occurs”. Although the linear growth forecasts have disappeared in early 2016, the government has still kept the throttle on mass immigration wide open.

The Issue of the Incredible Temporary Foreign Worker Program

These neglectful policies only lead to higher levels of structural unemployment and under-employment. Immigration policy should be tailored to current realities and realistic prospects rather than anchored to the fantasy of growth forever which dominated our country 100 years ago.

High rates of un- and under-employment and misemployment create long-term social and economic problems and contribute heavily to structural deficits. A low growth, high-quality employment strategy would make the best use of our most valuable resource (people) and lower the rate of unemployment while increasing the level of productivity, salaries and wages.

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Unemployment is a simple term for a complex issue. Types of unemployment can include underemployment, misemployment, self-employment, seasonal, retraining and unpaid mandatory vacations.

Contributors to the unemployment level range from a simple drop in demand to outsourcing, foreign replacement workers and international competition.

Despite the critical nature of the unemployment issue to Canadian individuals, the health of the social safety net and all levels of government, our strategies for dealing with it rest solely on the premise of simple growth. It is assumed more growth will cure everything. Yet it hasn’t. Not recently and not for 40 years.

The unemployment issue should be dealt with in the context of creating high paying, productive and low turnover jobs so Canadians can live well, in a high equality society with a strong social safety net and balanced government finances.

Instead, government policy is built around expanding the economy at any cost to society while supplying unlimited and highly subsidized cheap labour to some employers and making market for business models which will collapse if growth stalls. The very definition of a Ponzi scheme.

Using mass immigration to supply endless cheap labour to cheap labour employers like McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s is absolutely bizarre. Let these companies get more efficient, raise their prices or go out of business.

Between 25% and 40% of Tim Horton’s costs are labour. Raising the wage rate to $15/hr. from $11 increases a cup of coffee by around 11%. Unless they can get more efficient. Canadian productivity has been at the bottom of the OECD rankings for 40 years. Mass immigration is the reason.

If the business model does not fit both the needs of the market and the willingness of Canadians to work there, and it can’t adjust, why should Canadian taxpayers subsidize them? And taxpayers do indeed subsidize cheap labour to the tune of about $4 per hour for every minimum wage job through social safety net costs which low wage rates can’t support in tax revenue.

There is no shortage of workers when a decent wage is involved. The shortage occurs when the company or the business model has to have cheap labour to allow it to function. We don’t need more immigrants, we need more investment in Canadians.

Unemployment is a social cancer and it should be treated with a broad strategy of investment in our one natural resource which is under-developed; the Canadian people.

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