When it comes time for CEO bonuses, large payouts, and retirement packages for top management then there is no shortage of money. According to The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, CEO bonuses have increased by 73% between 1998 and 2012 while the average Canadian full-time worker’s annual salary has only improved by 6%. Yet, the mention of an increase in wages terrifies most industry leaders because their only interest is their bottom line – more money in their pockets. It doesn’t matter that their employees struggle to put food on the table, pay the rent or mortgage, pay bills, and are given few benefits.
Many companies claim they have difficulty finding Canadians willing to work and that they are forced to spend large sums of money recruiting and hiring overseas workers. Another argument used is that there is a “skills” shortage – not enough skilled workers to fill available jobs. This is a ridiculous claim because the vast majority of unemployed workers are capable of flipping burgers, cleaning work areas, serving customers, operating cash registers and so on. What they fail to realize that if they provide a livable wage, decent benefits and opportunities for training and advancement Canadians would gladly work in the retail and fast food industry.
It is clear that industry is unwilling to share their massive cash reserves by increasing wages, offering incentives for workers, or training for Canadians. Why is the Canadian government, under the leadership of Stephen Harper, reducing corporate taxes and allowing companies to amass enormous cash stashes while the growing numbers of working poor in this country are left to battle with cheap foreign labor for low-wage jobs? The current situation requires urgent and strong leadership on the part of political leaders at all levels of government as well as more pressure from ordinary citizens to force the federal government to put an end to Harper’s economic development plan which is based on keeping wages low.
The time has come to address low wages, high unemployment, youth and aboriginal employment, reduction in social programs and the general inequality that is spreading rampantly from coast to coast. This is not the scenario of fairness and equal opportunity that our ancestors worked hard to achieve but one that the present government has allowed to spiral out of control by working for business and not for the people.