Week 16 | Canada’s Two-Tier Wage System

One of my closest friends from Toronto came to visit me last week.  I took a day off from work so that we could catch up on 4 months of developments  – what’s happened in our lives since January, relationship statuses, family updates, cross country moves… but one thing I was extremely curious about was  – what’s happened to our country?  I honestly admit that with keeping up with the Fellowship and Free2Work projects, I’ve back-benched my love for following Canadian politics.  The extent of my involvement is a quick skim over CBC in the morning, and this is proving to be less than sufficient.  I was shocked to find out what had happened in Canada this week; this is what I found out.

We Canadians have dealt with our fair share of governmental deceptions over the past term and a half.  Under the current government – we’ve endured 1.7 billion dollars worth of childcare cuts, frozen foreign aid to some of the most economically improvised countries, and cut funding for women advocacy groups by 43%.  With all these fallbacks, we still somehow managed to invest 29 million dollars in new fighter jets. But all that aside, the one item on the agenda that surfaced this past week – that really made my heart sink – was the Conservative Government’s introduction to the two-tier wage system.

Under this new rule, employers will now be able to pay foreign temporary workers 15 percent less than the average wage.  This new system was created to “respond to local labor market demands and support Canada through economic recovery.”  The targets for this new rule were employees working in already marginalized industrial sectors – mining, agriculture and fishing – areas where labor abuses have been documented.

Employers don’t have to prove there is a shortage in many occupational categories or even post a domestic ad. Employers can undercut the prevailing wage of jobs, which in turn reduces the demand by domestic experienced workers, thereby creating a market and “need” for foreign workers.  Migrant workers already lack the rights that domestic workers have.  This new rule will inevitably open new doors for poorer regulations, weaker worker rights, and exploitation of people that already have limited legal representation in Canada.

This new system will, not only impacts foreign workers, but it will inevitably impact domestic hires as well.  While this system will allow employers to cheaply exploit foreign workers, this system will bring down prevailing wages and benefits for all Canadians, keeping skilled Canadians unemployed.  Systems like this increase attitudes of bias, discrimination and xenophobia as Canadians lose their jobs and see temporary, foreigner workers move in.

Who gains from a system like this?

Please stand up for those that lack a voice in our country.  Being a multicultural, diverse country is one of the characteristics that makes Canada so incredibly special, don’t let this new rule take that away from us. Stand in solidarity with those that are fighting for worker’s rights and keep yourself up to date on what’s happening with labor abuses and worker rights in Canada.

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