The working class in Canada sure have taken a hit since the days when one could count on job security and good pay for their labour. After reading the report written by the CIBC ( Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) (CBCnews March 5, 2015) regarding the “job quality” in Canada declining to new lows over the last 25 years, I can honestly say that I have been preaching this message for at least the last five years of my time in the work force. I see Canada as a changing country, and not for the better I should point out, as our socio-economic populations divide farther apart between the haves and have-nots. The comparison was made between market trends today, to those of the 1920s, when very little wealth was distributed overall in Canada. It is the next generation that I fear for the most, not those who are ready to retire in their golden years.
The message I hear from both my Federal and Provincial Governments are not the same as what I am experiencing and seeing in real life. My first fact is, I am paying more than ever in taxes. My income tax ratio between my net and gross income has shifted over the 10 percent mark now as an income earner under the 25 thousand level per year, while sales (6 percent) and consumption taxes ( 7 percent) creep upwards driving my cost of living to nearly having zero disposable income left over. Remember that my income is shrinking annually, not increasing.
“Job creation is but a myth,” according to one my friends from Kwantlen Polytechnic University because almost all jobs that are being added into the labour market today are ones that have replaced former positions as a result from down-sizing, supporting the CIBC report on the explosion of part-time jobs. I could not agree more with the report on the lack of stability and security when part-time employment dominates the labour market. Less benefits, and the freedom for the employer to move workers into less attractive positions, and cutting hours during slow seasons, will create a poorer economy, according to the CIBC report. How will people will support their families, have good homes, fulfil their dreams, prepare for their retirement in these conditions?
Another shift that I am seeing in the work force is diminishing working conditions (according to the CBCnews Radio from the round table discussion) but not in the sense of unsafe working condition, but having the threat of losing my job if I “rock-the-boat,” complain about the work, about other employees, or report violations of human rights. I use the term “meritocracy” as a prime directive in terms of “it is who you know-not what you know” environments in the workplace. Honestly, I am seeing more and more that it is your relationship in the work place that determines your value, not your competency and skill-sets. As one speaker in the audio file in the CBCnews article who works for a temp agency said, she sees this “networking” effect playing out as workers who are incompetent having more security than those who are highly trained, educated and willing to preform beyond set standard for that job position.
Another shock that I heard from the audio portion of the CBCnews article was, as one speaker said, Canada is moving towards a “1920s mentality” of not sharing wealth. Now that I had some time to do research on what Canada was like back in the 1920s, I am now more scared than ever. What preceded the 1920s was the biggest market crash in our history (if you exclude the 2006-7 economic melt-down). When looking at the 1920s, wealth was so unevenly distributed that the level of income for the commoners was hugely disproportionate from the wealthy. Landownership was the prime catalyst between the rich and poor–the basic have-not versus the haves–however owning land did not necessarily mean you are rich, but you did have a “more rights,” as per those who did not own land. Worker’s rights basically amounted to something just above slave labour–you were tied to your employer in an unfair advantage: easily exploitable, no benefits, prone to abuse, and very disposable.
As we head towards federal election time here in Canada, I often wonder how effective Government will be in putting Canada back on the right tracks for the average worker? I often wonder if our current government is quite content on having this 1920s model of economics play out while we reel from the aftermath of the last economic meltdown, or if real change in the economy, the job market and personal incomes of every Canadian will happen in the positive?
I fear for the youth of today as they will be paying for our debt that we past down to them, and prosperity wanes away to less than a trickle in a hugely distorted reality of Laissez-faire Economics. But I do know this: when I make less in my income, so too does my Government, as they have less to take from. Perhaps, in a more sinister frame of mind for the next generation, the liquid economy will dominate as more money becomes tax-free as the working poor continue to struggle and accept this as the new normal? Who knows, the 1920s were very different from the times that I grew up in.
Source: CBCnews, March 5, 2015: “Job quality in Canada at 25-year low, says CIBC”