I am frustrated. I am frustrated with the media, the Harper Government, and the economy. As everyone is downsizing, and executing austerity, and a Government that is saying that there is a labour shortage, I ask myself, are we that stupid?
I was shocked when the news wire lit up, around the beginning of April, 2013, stating that the Harper Government proclaimed that the Canada has a labour shortage. I was glued to the webpage and Twitter, waiting for the commentary to follow, as I wanted to know what was going on. “Labour shortage,” I thought to myself, “no way—impossible,” as I read “Does Canada really have a skilled labour shortage?” CBC News, April 13, 2013). But as the news started to aggregate towards the close of the week, it was clear that the government was plugging this notion that Canada was going through a labour “crisis” as a CBC reporter put it.
The key words that triggered my attention were, “CNC Machining, Alberta and (up to) 80, 000 jobs not being filled.” This shocked me as I see so many Canadians unemployed, or working at such a reduced capacity that they might as well be unemployed. I started combing the Internet looking for answers as to why these events were happening in Canada during this recession/economic downturn.
It was not long until I read some more information about what the Harper Government was up to that I really started to question the authenticity of their message. The skill shortages that were listed on the news at this time all seem to be concentrated in one area, Alberta. And Alberta seemed to be going through this transition of shrinking its workforce as the “oil patch” was diversifying itself, and workers appeared to be migrating either into, or away from this industry according to CBC news, The Globe and Mail, and Huffington Post. But there was another message hidden (hidden within) by the MPs that were commenting on the news circuits, and that is wages (Huffington Post, April 4th, 2013). None of them would answer the question about what employers were willing to pay for these skills, as compared to other areas of Canada, and if this was a contributing factor, or not?
I have a friend who owns and operates a little CNC Machining company in Surrey, BC, and I asked him, “Is there a labour short for CNC Machinists in Canada”?
He laughed. “Certainly not. I receive several resumes per week from guys all over the country, and the U.S., and I have no work for them. But, I hear the same thing over and over again, especially guys from Saskatchewan and Alberta. My guys mostly came from Alberta, where they used to work in the oil patch, and they all left because they could not afford to live there. It is mostly the cost of living in Alberta that has driven skilled labour out of that part of Canada. Also to, I pay my guys good. I have six guys that came from Alberta that are now working for me, and they have all told me their old wages were as much as five dollars less than compare to what I am paying them here now. But if you want good guys, and I mean really, really good guys, then you to pay them for what they are worth. So, I would say it has more to do with employer’s cutting costs on labour than anything else. I believe that this is a great excuse to bring in off-shore workers to fill Alberta’s (and other corporation’s) need for cheep labour. If you bring in off-shore labour, then really what kind of skilled labour do you have? My guys not only run these machine, but they program them, maintain the equipment, and they can perform any facet of the machining that there is.”
So back to the media. Not long after I had spoken with my friend, news broke out about I.T. workers being replaced by off-shore workers in one Charted Bank here in Canada. CBC news said, “RBC replaces Canadian staff with foreign workers” (April 6th, 2013: CBC News). Was this the connection that my friend was making with his workers, and the migration of skilled labour (and replacement by foreign workers) in his industry?
The Harper Government’s tone seems to have changed as the media drifted from skilled labour shortages, to taking action on dealing with corporations who were now “miss using” the immigration labour provisions for getting low-wage jobs filled (Globe and Mail, April 23, 2013). I too am a little puzzle, and my tone has changed about how much of what this government is saying is based on fact, or fiction (Financial Post, April 13, 2013). With so much political spin on these issues, I find myself bewildered to listen to what these Concentrative MPs are saying when they light up the news. I am frustrated with all of this. I am posting this blogpost mainly because I am hearing this same thing from other people that I know, and that I know other people are just as frustrated as I am about this whole “brouhaha,” both from Government, and the Private Sector.
“Does Canada really have a skilled labour shortage? Two very different sides to the issue” CBCews, April 13, 2013.
“Labour shortage ‘desperate,’ Chamber says” CBCnews, Feb 8, 2012.
“Why Canada should welcome labour shortages” Glob and Mail, April 23, 2013.
“Canada’s Skilled Labour Shortage: Some Say Evidence Is Slim” Huffington Post, April 4th, 2013.
“What labour shortage? Number of Canadian job seekers grows, says StatsCan” Financial Post, April 13, 2013