Economy

Encourage Companies to Hire Canadian

By Ben Bull
Published October 15, 2009

What a great idea. As I was perusing the letters pages of The Star today I came across this bright little light bulb:

With a half million more unemployed in Canada since the beginning of 2009, it's time government took an interest in creating legislation that encourages, supports and rewards companies for employing Canadians in full-time positions and penalizes those that don't, no matter where they are headquartered.

For example, company's off-shoring jobs or seeking out only foreign suppliers should not be eligible to bid on municipal, provincial or federal contracts. Likewise, tax breaks, grants, forgivable loans and other forms of business support should be contingent on hiring Canadians working in Canada - full time.

When I looked to see what erudite individual could have made this far-too-sensible suggestion, I was unsurprised to find it was Richard Wright, who has appeared on the pages of RTH.

My Wright goes on to ably explain the strife behind the suggestion:

Employers today would rather hire three part-timers than one full-time employee to avoid paying benefits or create any obligation to the employee. The result is that part-time workers cannot secure a living wage without multiple jobs and all the traveling and family disruption this entails.

They also generally have few or no benefits, little security and virtually no access to credit. The toll this takes on families trying to raise children has been well documented by government and NGO organizations, but with little action from government to rectify it.

We have a world of problems. It's nice when someone takes the time to put forward a solution. Now - who's going to implement it?!

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

18 Comments

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By volterwd (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 18:29:53

Sounds great... until you realize that the treaties and pacts that we have signed essentially forbid this.

We need to get out of those treaties so that we can do things like this, although it brings up the problem of what exactly is a 'Canadian' company.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted October 15, 2009 at 19:14:26

I'm glad you raise the issue of precarious labour, Ben.

However, you might as well forget about asking the government to introduce "sensible" legislation. The government is controlled by the class who gains from precarity. Workers need to organize to fight around this problem. And that means organize internationally, to tame footloose capital.

I look forward to the community union / worker centre concept taking off.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 21:16:22

Yes LL is right, workers must organize and that includes internationally, this way labour standards are set and then there can be no exploitation.

Yes a worker center will be a great asset in this city, it will give workers the chance to join together, to learn, to be a direct voice and direct action. Workers must stand together.

I attended a function at the art gallery, where the presenters talked about the structural changes to Human rights and the presenters stated that the commission is getting many calls regarding employment issues, yet they do not qualify under the act. Workers are getting desparate as there is no place for them to go.

Workers are getting left behind , gee, even if you file a complaint with the Min of lab, it is now taking a year or more for them to look at it.

I watched a film on Monday at Sky dragon, You, Me and SPP by Paul Manly. Everyone should watch this film, as it delves into the policies that are now be formed and also looks at NAFTA, chpater 11 and the consequences we are now facing in regards to this, as a society across three nations. The people have lost, even though the public relation spin was that workers and people would win.

Take heed, soon we will lose more.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 15, 2009 at 23:17:20

Unfortunate that we have come full circle from the early 20th century. So much progress was made and then lost again.

Fortunately there are companies left that do take human rights seriously because they are run by down to earth people with a soul :)

The bigger the company the less likely though - perhaps the influences such as the SPP get worse the bigger and more international you get. Hope to see a change for the better again.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 16, 2009 at 00:02:22

Here is an article for everyone to read

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?c...

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 16, 2009 at 00:32:36

I forgot to add ... it is largely for this reason that supporting high quality small businesses has become increasingly important to me as I get older and more aware. I am but one modest earner but at least make the effort to vote with my dollars and avoid institutions that damage us, such as Walmart being the one of the most commonly known examples.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 16, 2009 at 01:25:29

Yes, but what has our council been doing?

This article posted in the spec, http://www.thespec.com/article/649572, in which we find this quote

"To put it in perspective, if all of the different Walmarts proposed for Hamilton are built, there's a good chance Walmart will be the third largest private-sector employer here."

The article brought this discussion in the public domain, http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2009/10/ha...

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 16, 2009 at 01:29:31

And I will avoid every single one :)

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 16, 2009 at 14:17:29

Why the hell aren't people demanding higher tax rates on the rich and corporations? During the post war years, Canada taxed high earners at much higher rates than today and it taxed average people much lower (no GST).

The result of high tax rates on the rich and low tax rates on the poor... a booming economy and the birth of the middle class. If the voters of Canada/Ontario start demanding that we go back to those tax rates, we could reverse the huge wealth gap we have today.

www.thenation.com/special/images/extreme_inequalitychart.jpg

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By randomguy (anonymous) | Posted October 16, 2009 at 15:59:04

What a terrible idea. I currently export 100% of my services to Germany while being based in Hamilton. What happens if Germany or other countries implement a buy only their country policy as well? As a country that has traditionally been export dependent I think this is particularly half-witted.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 16, 2009 at 16:09:52

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 16, 2009 at 16:59:28

'A Smith' wrote:

The result of high tax rates on the rich and low tax rates on the poor... a booming economy and the birth of the middle class. If the voters of Canada/Ontario start demanding that we go back to those tax rates, we could reverse the huge wealth gap we have today.

Who are you and what have you done to A Smith?

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 16, 2009 at 17:22:42

I don't think some level of protectionism is so bad. We already incorporate that into our immigration policies. The aspect of the idea I like the most is that it creates an incentive for employers to hire f/t staff instead of taking advantage of lax legislation which is creating a class of working poor in Canada.

The alternative, I suppose, would be to change the employment legislation and ramp up the welfare state so that we would eradicate the working poor but, of course, we know that will never happen :)

We have to do SOMETHING to close the gap between rich and poor. Seems to me this is as good a solution as any.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 16, 2009 at 18:02:36

highwater >> Who are you and what have you done to A Smith?

Before you think I'm changing my stripes, keep in mind that when tax rates on rich people used to be higher, they actually paid less taxes relative to average and poor people. Therefore, by advocating higher tax rates on the rich, I'm actually giving the rich a tax break. Take that poor people.

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By reuben (registered) - website | Posted October 16, 2009 at 19:31:46

ah. so it is still you.

just more crazy.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted October 16, 2009 at 19:49:18

If that's really you A Smith, okay.

I agree that more progressive taxation would be better.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted October 17, 2009 at 14:40:15

Ben,

Thanks, as always, for writing.

What you're suggesting, however, sounds quite a bit like the economic nationalism informing the infamous "buy American" clause to the south, and which many American businesses object to as well, owing to how closely intertwined our economies are.

In a recession, greater emphasis should, I think, be on the freedom of labor and capital movement - both within and across national boundaries. A good example of how this might work would be the proposed funding for high speed rail put suggested by the Obama administration. While unquestionably an economic stimulus for Americans, this is something that would undoubtedly benefit Canadians as well. Tying stimulus hiring to nationality may also prove problematic when one considers how many Canadians hold dual citizenship. Will stimulus dollars be spent in Hamilton, where this person works, or Buffalo, where he/she lives, or where his/her family lives?

When one considers how complex these nationality limitations might actually prove to be in practice, it's easy to see why it hasn't yet been championed by anybody with the power to implement them.



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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 17, 2009 at 16:40:32

By geoff's two cents: In watching the film You, Me and SPP, the question you are bringing forward about the movement of labour and capital was addresssed.

The problem is that we need to re-examine policy that has been written that has greatly affected the working people across three nations. With NAFTA, the spin was that workers would gain but the reality is that many have lost, except for those in the top echelons of power.

We have to examine these policies, where the drive down to the lowest common demoniator, has affected many working families and individuals. If labour standards were globalized, then we would not have the exploitation we are seeing.

Another issue to look at, is the development of Social Corporate Charters.

While trade is important, we must as a society look at what we are doing in terms of exploitation, that fact that the multinationals have the where for all, to effect not only the conditions working people in other countries must endure but also from an environmental aspect as well.

There are no easy answers but we must discuss these issues and do what we can to affect change.

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