Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's About Quantity And Quality

Tuesday is budget day. The deficit, Justin Trudeau tells us, is about job creation. Carol Goar reminds her readers that job creation is about quality as well as quantity:

This truth never penetrated Stephen Harper’s government.
Year after year, the federal finance minister would proudly announce on budget day that Canada had created tens of thousands of jobs — without mentioning that a growing number were part-time, temporary, casual or short-term. To federal statisticians, finance department officials and cabinet ministers, any job was an employment gain. To laid-off workers and hard-hit communities, these new jobs were a shabby replacement for the full-time positions lost in the manufacturing sector, outsourced to other countries or cut by employers seeking to improve their bottom lines. Many workers needed two — even three — to pay their bills. 

When it comes to job creation, a recent report from Craig Alexander of the C.D. Howe Institute sets out four litmus tests which should be in the upcoming budget:

  • It should make “upskilling” a priority. Creating middle- and low-skill positions won’t spur economic growth or generate the prosperity the Liberals are promising. To raise workers’ incomes, boost productivity and withstand swings in commodity prices, Canada needs a better-trained workforce.

  • It should put employment insurance reform at the top of the federal agenda. The current system is inequitable, outdated and covers fewer than half of the unemployed.

  • It should undertake to provide Canadians with timely, relevant information about the labour market. Graduates need to know which skills are needed in which regions; students need to know which occupations offer the best employment prospects; laid-off workers need to know where there are job vacancies. Neither Statistics Canada nor the federal department of labour publishes this kind of information (although they have the raw data to produce it).

  • It should signal Ottawa’s intention to bring all working-age Canadians into the labour force. As the nation ages, it will become increasingly important to utilize the pools of labour — youth, immigrants, aboriginals, people with disabilities — that are largely untapped. That means systematically dismantling barriers such as unrecognized credentials, lack of marketable skills and prejudice. 

  • Mr. Trudeau claims that his government is different -- in terms  not just of quantity  but of quality. Tuesday is where the rubber hits the road.


    The Mound of Sound said...

    Yes, it will be another test for a government that has already had its disappointing moments. For all of that the polls seem to indicate that Trudeau's popularity hasn't taken much of a hit, not so far at least. I suppose we're still living with the joyous feeling of relief post Harper which has given Trudeau an extended honeymoon.

    Owen Gray said...

    As long as Trudeau can maintain the notion that he's the anti-Harper, Mound, he'll run the table.

    zoombats in Hong Kong said...

    That's not a very huge task Owen. Just talking and smiling seems to be more than enough to prove he is not Harper!

    Owen Gray said...

    He's got the image right, zoombats. The budget will tell us if he's got the substance right, too.