In what is more or less a paean to the marvels of unbridled immigration, David Parkinson has a multi-page feature in the Globe and Mail today about the economic boom in PEI. The caption to one of the pictures tells us that "...Royal Star Foods has increasingly been forced to rely on temporary foreign workers..."
We know that scenario intimately. Employers are "forced" to hire foreign workers because they offer shit jobs for shit wages, end of story. Pay a decent wage and your labour shortage will disappear, you greedy bastards.
Just to confirm my suspicions, I took a quick trip to Tignish on the Canada Job Bank. Sure enough, Royal Star Foods has a job listing still posted from last October looking for 50 workers for their lobster processing plant. The pay? $12.50 an hour.
That's a full $1.25 an hour above the PEI minimum wage. So maybe they're not the greediest greedbags in the biz, but still... what kind of a life can you live on $12.50 an hour?
Fired up the googlator to do some investigating. The single most debilitating expense for low income workers anywhere in Canada is the cost of housing. The average cost of a single family home nationwide hovers around the half-million mark. How does Seacow Pond stack up?
If you're used to Toronto prices you're in for a shock. Check out this two-bedroom charmer in downtown Tignish with a $34,700 asking price. That's the full price of the house and lot - not the amount of the deposit cheque or the down payment.
In case you don't have the headroom on your Mastercard to buy the place outright, I ran the numbers through the TD mortgage calculator. TD tells me that a $30,000 mortgage at their three year fixed rate of 3.34% is going to run me $152.36.
The lobster gig runs roughly April to December. That's more than enough to accumulate the 910 hours of work to qualify for EI for the other three or four months. A typical fisheries worker can easily make $30k/yr. The big banks don't want you spending more than 30% of your annual gross on mortgage and taxes. Looks to me like virtually anybody working, including at minimum wage, can afford to buy their own place in this corner of PEI.
Go east, young man!