Monday, July 28, 2014

The magic of outsourcing; why Temp Foreign Workers are displacing Canadians in Calgary's Parks Department

On the face of it, you'd think Rob Ford and Naheed Nenshi would have little in common, other than having been elected mayor of their respective cities.

Nenshi is the cerebral and soft-spoken mayor of Calgary, who has done more than any individual in recent history to roll back that city's reputation as the redneck capital of Canada.

Rob Ford you already know about.

But they do have one other thing in common; they both went down the road of outsourcing public services to private contractors.

In Ford's case that was outsourcing garbage collection in Toronto. In Calgary, it was summer maintenance of the city's parks, which led to this story at CBC today.

To save the good burghers of Calgary a few bucks on their property taxes, which are already among the lowest in Canada, park maintenance was outsourced to a private contractor.

The private contractor needs to make a profit, so they offer the outsourced jobs at 25% less than what the city workers used to make for the same work. Surprisingly, they suddenly run into a worker shortage!

Not a problem; fire off a Labour Market Opinion request to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, and before you can say "nay ho" you've got happy Chinese foreign workers trimming the lawns in Calgary's parks.

That's the way the system works, and it's the way it was intended to work. The hard-right Thatcherite fundamentalists in the Harper regime are firm believers in the free trade of everything, including labour.

The only reason Jason Kenney has been putting on a show of "reforms" recently is because there is an election on the horizon.

The 300,000 plus "guest workers" we are hosting are doing 300,000 jobs Canadians should be doing. If the cheap-ass employers would let the free hand of Canada's labour market work its magic, they'd soon find their employees. But they'd have to pay the wages that the laws of supply and demand dictate.

That's why they favour government intervention in the labour market; crank up the supply of labour to drive down workers' wages. And the strategy was working beautifully, until a few of the horror stories began to trickle into mainstream media.

Suddenly the TFW program is in the spotlight, people, i.e. potential voters, are getting pissed off, and just as suddenly the Harper gang is keen for reforms, or (if the polling numbers need a goosing) cancelling it altogether!

Canadian workers can vote.

Temporary Foreign Workers cannot.

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