Last year the Metcalf Foundation released a report on working poverty in Toronto. It found that 113,000 people were living in working poverty in the Toronto region in 2005, a 42% increase from 2000. The report's findings indicate that people living in working poverty most commonly work in sales and service occupations; work comparable hours and weeks as the rest of the working population; are over-represented by immigrants; and are only slightly less-educated than the rest of the working age population.
Legislated employment standards are a cornerstone of a strong, healthy society, as well as a robust, thriving economy. They ensure that everyone who works earns a minimum wage for their labour, and that nobody is subjected to inhumane working conditions or unduly harsh treatment at the hands of their employer. It is because of employment standards that workers in Canada have the right to rest periods during and between shifts, to maximum work hours each day and week, to extra pay for working on public holidays, and to a couple of weeks of paid vacation every year. In short, employment standards are there to shield workers – especially non-union workers – against the natural tendency of the labour market to gravitate towards overwork and underpay.
Employer groups such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business insist that their members need continued access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program since Canada is experiencing an acute labour shortage, including a shortage of low-skilled workers.
That claim is highly dubious, and should be rejected by the federal government, which is now reviewing the program.
The Broadbent Institute is pleased to present the second in a series of blog posts by a range of Canadian academics and thought leaders critiquing the record of the Conservative government. Read the first post here.
Ideologues don’t like evidence. They know what the problem is and what to do about it.
Perhaps the most egregious example of this under Stephen Harper concerns the evidence about declining crime rates and the government’s insistence on the necessity of introducing harsher sentencing criteria as part of the much-derided Bill C-10 omnibus crime bill.