Statistics Canada reports over two million temporary jobs were created last year. This labour represents 13.6% of available jobs, up from 11.3% in 1997. Since the recession, the number of new temporary jobs has grown at a rate three times faster than permanent jobs. From 2009 to 2012, temporary work has boomed at a pace of 14.3% whereas permanent jobs only grew at a pace of 3.8%.
These temporary jobs the Conservatives tout as success for their Economic Action Plan is not only destined to eventually disappear, it has left workers living on a paycheque to paycheque budget with a constant sense of uncertainty. With recent reforms to Employment Insurance, many Canadians are finding it harder to reach the security net they've been paying for all these years. With one of the requirements of EI being to accept a salary of only 70% of the previous one, people stuck in a vicious cycle of pop-up temporary jobs are seeing a consistent pay cut and strains on their personal budgets. With a temporary foreign workers program designed to have loopholes to allow companies to order workers for cheaper labour, the market is now forcing Canadians to compete with foreigners for lower wages for their own jobs.
This dynamic is a ticking time-bomb at best. Jobs created due to stimulus are running their course and new jobs are rising in the service sector known for its low wages and friendliness to foreign workers. The time-bomb ticks as Canadians struggle to make ends meet and the time-bomb ticks as Canadians spend less and less and loan more and more just to make ends meet. A deteriorating workforce caused by inadequate Conservative measures and stressed families who face dire budgetary circumstances is bound to catch up with the Canadian economy, already growing at the slowest rate of 20 countries outside of Europe.
The Conservatives tout their economic record and the creation of new jobs but can't explain the downward direction of wages and the upward direction of foreign labour as Canadian unemployment rates, especially among the youth, remain at all time highs. The Conservatives claim their opposition is unfit to govern due to "reckless spending" proposals but $3.1 billion in security spending has gone off the radar in 2009, up to $29,050 will be spent on flyers attacking Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and millions are devoted to Action Plan ads, intended to stick around until 2016.
If there is any economic record worth disputing, it is that of the Conservative party. From the billion spent on a G20 summit and gazebos to the quarter of a million dollars to design a new fleet of warships, the Conservatives have been spending like money grows on trees and despite unequivocally ruling out a deficit in 2008, to much surprise the Conservatives broke Mulroney's record with a $53 billion deficit. A steady hand and "spending within our means" doesn't lead to a $53 billion deficit and anyone with basic math skills knows that.
It is ironic how the government has the billions to spend elsewhere but lacks the millions it takes to ensure Canadians can get back on their feet and contribute to rebuilding the Canadian economy. There is no stress more brutal than one based on monetary survival and this is something the Conservative government doesn't understand as it has build a house of cards on a raft in the middle of the ocean where every economic twitch poses the ability to knock the fragile house down. But the Conservative government doesn't need to listen to the Canadians opposed to changes to EI measures and they certainly don't need to listen to the Canadians who are outraged over the gross mismanagement of public funds and the audacity to create a program designed to hurt the working conditions of every Canadian in this country.
Take Meghan Empey, 25, for example, a Toronto citizen who has held 12 positions in recent years.
“I’ve been literally living paycheque to paycheque," she said. "There is nothing more immediately stressful than not having money to put a roof over your head, put food in your fridge or have your phone so you can talk to employers.”
The Greater Toronto area isn't the only place experiencing this kind of crisis, in Niagra Falls, the job market has shifted from year-round jobs to seasonals as much of industrial plants have shut down to contribute to a 9.2% unemployment rate.
“Jobs here are very scarce over the winter,” Ethel Churchill, executive director of the Niagara Employment Help Centre said. “There’s not a lot of permanency.”
Don't be surprised over Harper's cuts to EI, this is what he had to say about the unemployed in 1997:
"In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance."
Harper fails to realize the people who are in this boat are there right now because of his failed economic policies and his action plan focused more on creating ads than creating jobs. One must wonder, after his cuts to EI and his restrictions on EI, if Harper feels the same way about the unemployed today.
"The only way to defy the laws of economic gravity is to flood the labour market with a supply of workers who are unlikely to demand higher wages, better standards, pensions, or benefits.
"When employers get easy access to vulnerable groups of lower-paid temporary workers, wages and benefits don't have to keep pace with economic growth. It puts downward pressure on wages when they should be going up."
The report finds the number of people making less than $13 per hour has remained steady since 2008 meaning the temporary foreign workers program is working as companies no longer need to think about Canadians' needs.
"The number of workers in Alberta aged 20 to 24 remains effectively unchanged (200,500 workers in 2009; 200,600 in 2011). But the number of young people earning less than $13/hour has actually increased. In 2009, 54,200 young Albertans earned $13/hour or less, in 2011, it was 54,800. Low wages and high unemployment are a growing phenomenon for young people in Alberta.""The evidence is stark: Alberta employers are bringing in more TFWs than are needed to fill the new jobs the economy is creating... labour market conditions are not dictating TFW policy," states the report.
"Outside booming oil sands regions, the situation can be far more stark. Consider Medicine Hat, where the economy has shed more than 10,000 jobs since 2008 but hundreds more Temporary Foreign Workers arrive."
The stats remain alarming as in 2010, 210% more people from TFW arrived in Alberta than available jobs while there were already 527% more people from TFW than available jobs.