Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s recent statement about there not being “a bad job” and “the only bad job is not having a job” is a clear signal that the Harper government’s EI reform is focused on depressing wages and blaming the unemployed for people being out of work.
As far as Flaherty is concerned, the unemployed should be prepared to take pretty well any job available.
Does that mean someone who may be unemployed in one part of the country will be forced to move to another part of the country to accept a job at a lower pay rate than they previously received? If they have a family, will Jim Flaherty pay for their relocation costs? If you are a teacher or nurse or other public service worker facing layoff, will your next job be at McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s?
A study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that “forcing workers to take the first available job rather than engage in a longer job search is not good for productivity.” By allowing unemployed workers the time and resources to find a new job that better matches their skills and experience increases overall economic efficiency and is associated with longer-lasting, better paid jobs for workers when they find a new job.
The changes to EI are part of Bill C-38, the budget implementation bill, which will allow employers of temporary foreign workers to pay 15% below the going rate. This bill is all about austerity and cuts, it does nothing to address job creation. Rather than continuing to attack the unemployed or underemployed, Harper and Flaherty should be focusing their attention on a job creation program that will create and provide decent jobs so people can earn a decent living instead of falling into the country’s rapidly growing ranks of working poor.