While Ottawa likes to boast about how well our economy is doing, compared with others, the reality is that we are not doing all that well. Indeed, complacency about the challenges we face is a real danger.
Here are two reasons why we should be concerned:
First, we are not creating the jobs we need to enable Canadians to achieve a middle-class lifestyle. While job numbers have increased, we also have to look at where those jobs are coming from, and their quality.
If we compare the employment picture in August, the most recent month available, with August 2006, the year before the Great Recession began, we find the number of jobs between the two Augusts increased by 727,500.
But 75 per cent of these new jobs were in the public sector, jobs that depend on tax revenues. Moreover, 64 per cent of all new jobs were part-time. In this period, manufacturing lost 348,000 jobs.
Second, young people today are having a truly tough time, even if they go to college or university. Too many young Canadians are having to settle for temporary or contract jobs while others cannot find jobs that match their education.
Many Canadians in the 15 to 24 age group are still students, but those who are no longer members of the student population — and this includes many high-school, college and university graduates — had 168,000 fewer full-time jobs and 77,000 more part-time jobs.
These employment problems suggest we are not building an economy that can deliver the rising expectations we enjoyed in the past.
These expectations were based on the belief that if we studied and worked hard we could expect a good job with a rising standard of living.
Instead, we face the prospect of an insecure future and a declining standard of living. Over the coming decade, there’s a good chance there will be little income growth as we struggle with a slow recovery from the Great Recession and eliminate deficits from the stimulus spending necessary to avert a depression.
Toronto Star columinist Carol Goar has this to offer:
The once-robust housing market has sagged. The trade surplus has vanished. And economists across the spectrum have slashed their growth forecasts. In the last eight days alone, the danger signals have come thick and fast.
• On Sept. 9, Statistics Canada reported that the country had chalked up a record trade deficit of $2.7 billion in July.
• The following day, StatsCan issued a dismal labour force report. The unemployment rate climbed to 8.1 per cent in August. The private sector shed jobs.
• This past Monday brought a double dose of bad news. The Canadian Payroll Association reported that six out of every 10 Canadians would be in financial difficulty if their paycheque were delayed for even a week. That was followed by a StatsCan report showing household debt had risen by 6 per cent during the recovery to a record $1.48 trillion.
• That was followed Wednesday by another monthly drop in manufacturing sales, with motor vehicles leading the way.
Despite these claims Ottawa intends to introduce more that 250,000 immigrants into this economic environment this year and the years to come as well as an almost equal number of temporary foreign workers. The rational is silly at best: they are needed to "prepare Canada for the recovery". When this recovery will happen is anyone's guess.
The David Crane article is an op-ed piece against this Toronto Star editorial titled "Immigration: New citizens serve us well". It doesn't state how "new citizens serve us well" but I'm sure many Canadians will differ (just read the comments to the editorial for starters).
Citing what I believe is this Nanos poll the editorial claims "roughly 80 per cent of us see a steady influx of newcomers as 'a key positive' of life here" thus implying a whopping majority of us "support" immigration. The editorial is jumping to conclusions and playing fast and loose with the findings.
For starters that 80% is a combination of those who agree (65.3%) or somewhat agree (16.1%) with the statement that immigration is beneficial. Also, the question itself is non-specific and that's a problem. Immigration is a good thing and I'm not surprised to see sizable majority support it but when you get into specifics a different picture may emerge. For instance the same poll reveals that 38.9% want the numbers sustained, not increased, and 32.4% want immigration numbers reduced which means 72% of respondents do not want immigration numbers increased despite saying immigration is beneficial. You see, the problem is too much immigration. The other problem is that we are accepting too much immigration from too few source countries resulting in a kind of immigration that is colonizing in character. It is not nation building; it is population replacement.
Even if there is 100% support for immigration it is irrelevant if the economic environment is not there to support a considerable influx. We are in that kind of economic environment and it is harmful to stay the course. The last government to reduce Canada's immigration intake was the Trudeau Liberals in the early 1980s in response to an economic downturn and it was a non-issue; understood as a rational course of action. Today that is almost impossible without ignorantly being branded a bigot, xenophobe, or racist first even though a dramatic reduction in intake targets is what is best for the country and recently arrived immigrants. This just shows how debased and co-opted the discussion has become.