Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/4/2012 (3569 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BRANDON -- According to a Canadian Press report "recent research by Statistics Canada shows unemployed people outnumber the amount of job vacancies by a ratio of three to one. While there are some industries that have pockets of labour shortages, generally, there is a surplus of workers and not enough jobs to go around."
The same report indicated that federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley recently chastised Nova Scotia's NDP government for seeking to import workers to build ships instead of drawing from the pool of 42,000 unemployed Nova Scotians.
"Those workers can be found in Nova Scotia and our first priority is linking the 42,000 Nova Scotians looking for work with the shipbuilding jobs that are available," Finley told a Halifax audience. "If they do not have the skills needed for the shipbuilding jobs, we should help them get the skills they need."
An under-reported aspect of the federal budget is the Harper government's plan to modify unemployment programs in order to better match workers with employers struggling with labour shortages.
The strategy will increase retraining for unemployed Canadians, while making it more difficult for employers to hire workers from aboard when unemployed Canadians are available.
Those facts are important because they add context to the Harper government's decision to terminate the settlement service agreements that it has with Manitoba and British Columbia.
They support the conclusion that a national strategy aimed at finding jobs for unemployed Canadians must be centrally managed, and that all provinces must be governed by the same rules.
Such a program cannot succeed when the two provinces that collectively recruit almost one-half of the foreign workers admitted into Canada each year are pursuing their own agendas.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger's angry reaction to the federal government's decision illustrates the precise problem the feds are trying to address by reclaiming control over worker immigration.
Selinger told the Free Press that, under Manitoba's provincial nominee program, "When we need truck drivers, we go get truck drivers. When we need engineers, we go get engineers."
With hundreds of thousands of unemployed and under-employed Canadians, why is Manitoba recruiting truck drivers from overseas? Wouldn't it make more sense to train unemployed Manitobans to fill those jobs?
The Selinger government claims the changes will impact the ability of immigrant workers to integrate into society, but fails to mention most of that work is done by non-government organizations whose work will continue under the new scheme.
They warn the changes could harm the viability of Brandon's Maple Leaf's Pork operation, and cripple Brandon's economy, despite the fact Maple Leaf has expressed no concern its worker recruitment efforts will be affected.
They worry the new approach will reduce the number of workers brought to Manitoba while remaining willfully blind to the unreasonableness of a province with less than four per cent of the nation's population annually receiving almost 40 per cent of the national quota, pursuant to a program 97 per cent funded by the federal government.
If any other province received such favourable treatment under any national program, Selinger would be screaming.
Manitoba's provincial nominee program has brought more than 100,000 workers and their families to Manitoba since 1998, but it has done nothing to solve the problem of chronic unemployment among young Manitobans and, in particular, those of First Nations ancestry.
To the contrary, it annually floods the market with workers willing to toil at or near minimum wage in exchange for Canadian citizenship down the road.
In a province that struggles with widespread poverty among its citizens and a lack of affordable housing, an employment strategy that keeps wages artificially low cannot be regarded as a positive.
It is entirely human to empathize with the economic plight of persons living elsewhere in the world, and to hope their circumstances improve, but charity begins at home.
It is the duty of the government of Canada to put the economic needs of its citizens and its economy first. A national strategy aimed at putting Manitobans and their fellow Canadians back to work is consistent with that duty, and a step in the right direction.
Deveryn Ross is a political
commentator in Brandon.