Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It's About Quality, Not Just Numbers

As each month comes to an end, we wait with baited breath to discover how many  new jobs were created in the last thirty days. But Yogendra Shakya and Axelle Janczur write that the kind of jobs we create is just as -- if not more -- important than the number of jobs we create:

In the name of “free market” policies, Canada has seen a downward push on wages and a rise in unstable, temporary and unsafe jobs. These types of jobs are broadly referred to as “precarious work” or “non-standard employment” since they are marked by limited or no stability, benefits and protection.

Several studies have documented that precarious, non-standard jobs are rapidly growing in Canada, and that this trend negatively affects a substantial proportion of Canadians.

The Harper government is focused on establishing a neo-feudal relationship between employer and worker. And, to a very large extent, it is succeeding:

A recently released report by United Way Toronto and McMaster University, It’s More Than Poverty, found that 40 per cent of workers in the Greater Toronto Area-Hamilton region are in precarious types of employment. The Law Commission of Ontario’s recent report, Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work, has documented how lax employment standards and occupational health and safety regulations are making an increasing number of workers more vulnerable to bad working conditions and exploitation. Research also shows that immigrants, racialized people (“visible minorities”) and women tend to be overrepresented in these types of jobs.

The research has also shown that precarious work is unhealthy work:

Research findings about health impacts from precarious jobs are particularly concerning. Health impacts included immediate ailments such as debilitating workplace injuries as well as chronic concerns like ulcers, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Most did not have extended health and dental coverage or sick leave benefits. Study participants also mentioned that they often delay or forgo seeking health care because of having to juggle multiple jobs just to make ends meet. 

And, as the government encourages unhealthy work, it cuts back on health care spending. What should be done?

The solutions and policy tools are at hand. In some cases, it is about more effective implementation or broadening existing policies (better enforcement of the Employment Standards Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, specifically in sectors that rely heavily on “temp” jobs; expanding pay equity legislation; strengthening federal employment equity and adopting this at provincial levels; integrating robust anti-discrimination legislation in workplaces).  

But the present government is adamantly opposed to using such policy tools. The only way to change policy is to change the government.


Anonymous said...

I often wonder why the Harperites develop policies that subject their fellow citizens to increasing misery. I mean, what drives them? Is it simple personal greed? Is it some kind of draconian religious ideology? Is it just stupidity? Or a combination of all of the above? I just don't get it.

Owen Gray said...

I've written before, Anon, that Stephen Harper came to Ottawa to get even.

I know he has a list of enemies. I suspect that I'd be surprised by some of the names on the list.

The other thing of which I'm certain is that, when your prime motive is vengeance, you can do a lot of damage.

Lorne said...

Unfortunately, Owen, while the mainstream press does sometimes point out the precarious nature of much of today's work, it also largely aids and abets those conditions by often being mere mouthpieces for the kind of neo-liberal ideology behind them, leaving readers with the impression that there are no viable solutions.

Alternative news sources, of which they are many of very good repute on the Internet, can help to correct that imbalance and misperception, but only when people are willing to seek them out.

Owen Gray said...

True, Lorne. When people seek out information from "the usual suspects" they'll hear the same song.

And "precarious workers" will be too scared to raise a fuss.

CK said...

Anonymous, Owen and Lorne, what drives them? I've said this many times on this very board. The answer is really and truly simple...Stephen Harper is just plain evil and yes, there is such thing as good and evil.

Truth is that Steve and his friends are soooo miserable since probably their youth because they weren't in the High school's top clique or didn't make the football team or student council or because their mommys dared to make them share the sandbox and toys with other children and they never got over that. So, they inflict their misery on others. In fact, they feed off it, much in the same way vampires need blood.

Read Warren Kinsella's "Fight The Right", it'll provide a lot of insight as to what motivates Conservatives to get out of bed in the morning. How they think. And yes, a study on children done by a married couple-Berkeley professors. And so much more. In fact, I think this should be required reading for anyone who considers themselves progressives.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the Kinsella recommendation, CK. There is definitely a pathology to these folks.

They don't go into politics. They go to war.