COLUMN: Lilley – Entitlement culture

- April 27th, 2012

Padding the safety net

by Brian Lilley

I have to wonder what happens to people when they become politicians — do their brains fall out?

Last week Immigration Minister Jason Kenney made the very sensible proposal that the government will try to get unemployed Canadians to fill jobs that are currently going begging rather than importing temporary workers. Kenney pointed out that in places like Nova Scotia, where unemployment sits at 8.3%,thousands are collecting unemployment benefits while Christmas tree farmers need to import labour from Mexico. In P.E.I., where unemployment is about 11%, fish processing plants are importing Russian workers to fill positions.

“What we will be doing is making people aware there’s hiring going on and reminding them that they have an obligation to apply for available work and to take it if they’re going to qualify for EI,” Kenney said.

Of course, saying that those collecting unemployment benefits should be looking for work and taking available jobs was just too much for the opposition.

P.E.I. Liberal MP Wayne Easter complained to his local CBC about the possibility of “work camps.”

“I think we’re seeing a very much the undermining of the social safety net that we have in Canada by the Harper government and this is one of their ways of going about it,” Easter said. “You know, are we going to look at work camps in this country? Is that where we really want to go?”

Meanwhile in Newfoundland fellow Liberal Gerry Byrne complained to one his local papers that unemployed teachers shouldn’t have to work as cashiers and that welders shouldn’t have to serve coffee. Take away the ability of people to live off the dole without taking a job, said Byrne, and it will ruin Newfoundland.

“None of our communities will survive,” he said. “Quite frankly, many of our cities will be hurt as a result.”

You could just dismiss Easter and Byrne as two politicians just trying to muckrake when one of their opponents makes an announcement, but I think it goes deeper than that. This is about the growing culture of entitlement.

Who says a welder shouldn’t have to serve coffee or a teacher work at such a “lowly” job as cashier? When did it become the government’s duty to make sure you got a job in your chosen field in the town you want to live in?

I’ve been on pogey and it isn’t fun. I’ve had to take jobs that were not my first choice in order to feed my family and like millions of Canadians, I’ve moved to find work.

I heard about the insane reactions of these two Liberals while chatting with a pair of friends. All of us had moved for work, none of us were doing exactly the job that we went to school for but all of us are happy in having a job and finding satisfaction in a job well done.

Wayne Easter says he’s worried about the social safety net, but his comments make it sound like he wants a social bean bag chair, nice and comfy, paid for by taxpayers, to make sure everyone is comfy just where they are.

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8 comments

  1. Bill Elder says:

    I applaud minister Kenny for making a Canadian citizenship mean something again – giving it value.

  2. Alain says:

    I absolutely agree with Bill Elder. As for “work camps”, I was unaware that this was necessarily a bad thing. The best way to destroy a person’s self respect is to pay them to do nothing.

  3. Zeke Valgar says:

    RE: P.E.I. Wayne Easter.The whole Provence with 4 M.P. for a measly176.000 people.Goes to show you why the rest of the people figure its no nee d to work they have a good well payed M.P.to take care of them.

  4. Nforesir says:

    EI is temp assistance when u are not working, if a job becomes available and u have to move then u move, EI is not a life style or job like some people have come to believe and there are no guarantees that u’ll secure employment in your chosen field….

  5. Your Grannie says:

    The “social safety net is not a HAMMOCK, for crying out loud. And what the heck is wrong with an unemployed teacher working at Tim’s to make ends meet? Welcome to The Real World of Ordinary People. GROW UP, entitled sucky babies!

  6. Cooper says:

    As a substitute teacher during the school year, I will not be getting a pay cheque this summer. Full-time jobs in teaching are difficult to find and if there are no positions, you’re stuck doing substitution for teachers on sick leave. You can get unemployment insurance only of you’ve worked a certain number of hours within the school year and even then, it works out to little more than $350. a week. I intend to apply for daycare positions, filling in for daycare workers on vacation since the pay is somewhat better ($14 per hour) than a cashier at a supermarket!

  7. Emily says:

    It seems a poor use of our resources when a teacher or wielder are working at a grocery store. But certainly not a crime. Just disappointing.

    I support immigration, but not as a means to fulfill low skill positions. If employers aren’t able to find people willing to take these positions at these pay rates, they need to raise the pay rate or benefits or another way to entice employees. The market is demanding better compensation for these positions. Pay better and immigrants wouldn’t be required. The only way people have to express disastisfaction with a pay rate for a position, is by refusing to take the job.

  8. Brian Lilley says:

    Cooper, I applaud you for taking a job while awaiting something better. I’ve always found it easier to get a job while employed at something, anything, than when I have been unemployed. It may not be your dream job but it is something.
    Emily, we all have dreams and I would have loved to play midfield for Celtic FC but there is no way they would sign me so I had to take a lower paying job, not wait for the local restaurant to offer me star wages. EI is meant to bridge the gap not be a regular source of income. That is the point of Kenney’s idea.
    Nforesir is right, it is temp assistance.
    If we don’t think Canadians should have to move to take a job why do we think it is okay to have Russians move here to take those jobs or Mexicans or whoever?

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