Why fix it if it ain’t broke

The Conservative government recently announced changes to the employment insurance system that may impact the opportunities for temporary foreign workers.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley recently stated

“Bringing in temporary foreign workers is not acceptable, especially when we have Canadians willing to work.”

I don’t know if she thinks the public is dim-witted by that statement, or she just misspoke.

First of all, most of the jobs temporary foreigner workers are hired to do are not jobs Canadians are willing to do. Look at the farm worker situation. All over the western world there are foreigners in the fields picking vegetables, fruit and doing general grunt work. Does the minister seriously think Canada, of all places, will now be forcing our unemployed, including professionals, to lather on the bug spray and hit the fields? I think not. (There are, however, several loopholes in the program that allow most of the unemployed to be exempt from “forced labour”, so the effect of her proposed changes could be minor).

I wonder if the statement she made is just a way to determine how “conservative” Canadians really are.

Her intention in linking the EI system with the temporary foreign worker program is designed to ensure Canadians are aware of the need employers have for workers. Once again, this trend in stating the obvious is perplexing. I mean, what unemployed Canadian doesn’t know of the need for farm workers, care aides, and minimum-wage telemarketers?

It may sound arrogant for Canadians to feel the aforementioned jobs are “beneath” them, but we’re not alone. The entire western world is of the same ilk. Instead of stopping the foreign worker from making a living in this country for their families back home, she should be encouraging more to come.

Another policy towards the chronic unemployed, which she says she is targeting, is having their insurance payments reduced, perhaps, instead of eliminated altogether (which is proposed if they don’t take a job that could replace a temporary foreign worker). With some extra funding for retraining of Canadians, the unemployed can be redirected into other industries instead of being forced to toil in the fields.

The Canadian public isn’t generally an ignorant populace. They can see that being chronically unemployed is a road to depression and misery. That’s why they prepare to move into new industries or self-employment as a result of their unfortunate circumstance.

Look at the high unemployment rates in some European countries and many other nations around the world*. Why does the government even attempt to change a system that isn’t broke? Our relatively low rate of unemployment is envied around the world. We are also fortunate in this country to have a very generous social-welfare system that is looked upon longingly by many nations.

We’re not going broke, there isn’t riots in the streets over our economy, and also millions of foreigners would still love to become citizens of our fair nation. So we ask the minister: What’s the problem? I mean really.

William Howie
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

* List of countries by unemployment rate

Based on an article… New EI rules takes aim at frequent users, force workers to accept lower pay

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