--> Getting It Right: Common Sense - Please Prevail

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Common Sense - Please Prevail

Week after week, we all read the headlines proclaiming the high employment and high rates of growth right here in our province.

Because much of it has centred around building, the entire construction industry is in a panic to find workers. Contractors and developers are desperate to keep the sky rocketing costs of their projects under control – and that means finding workers now, before delays push the prices of materials even further into the stratosphere.

However, with the squeeze on the supply side has come a call from some construction projects that the federal government allow them to bring in foreign workers to help fill the needs.

In some countries, foreign workers are a huge and accepted part of the working mix. In countries like United Arab Emirates, they make up 90% of the workforce.

Some have very skilled positions, like engineer or scientist, but most spend hard hours providing the heavy labour for both day-to-day activities and huge construction projects.

Having up to 90% of a country’s workforce from abroad makes for an uneasy social framework, especially in a nation not renowned for its progressive labour policy. It’s not a model that one would want to emulate.

But back here at home, we can’t forget that some of the construction industry is in a bind.

A good example of this is the $1 Billion Golden Ears Bridge project spanning the North Fraser between Langley and Maple Ridge. It is the largest bridge built in the congested Lower Mainland since the Alex Fraser.

Replacing the archaic Albion Ferry which has operated since 1957, the bridge is scheduled to open in 2009 – if the builders can come up with the 6500 person years needed for construction.

The Federal Government in Canada has strict rules around hiring foreign workers. First of all, employers need to apply and demonstrate a real labour shortage. The job needs to be comparable in terms of benefits, wages and working conditions to those that a Canadian would receive. And, of course, provincial Employment Standards apply.

The labour movement in BC hates the idea that companies, scrambling to complete work under budget with taxpayers money are able to look outside the province for workers. The reality is in boom times we still need to get the job done. If there aren’t workers here who can do the work, it’s not a crime to bring some into the country to cover the gap.

Of course, we need to ensure they are looked after properly – just as we need to ensure they aren’t undercutting our home grown talent.

When economists are predicting that labour shortages could soon start hindering growth, we need to start thinking creatively about ensuring our necessary capital projects don’t lose out in the construction boom.

As seen today in 24 Hours


At 10:45 a.m., Blogger Kirk West said...

Hmm, interesting point of view. but I wonder, why wouldn't the industry seek workers from outside the province, instead of outside the country? Is this labour shortage systemic throughout the country? Perhaps. I recently saw a report about labour shortages in New Brunswick, or Newfoundland, can't remember which, but there seems to be a glut of workers in Ontario. Perhaps a relocation program to move labour around the country without sacrificing our standards?

At 1:20 p.m., Blogger Bernie said...

No More Government Roads
by David M. Woods

What if I could propose a solution that would clean up our air, reduce our dependency on foreign oil, save energy, reduce urban sprawl, lower taxes, and alleviate traffic congestion, all in one fell swoop?

No, this isn't a fantasy. It's actually quite simple: get the government out of the business of building roads and highways.

More roads is NOT the solution

And so, a vicious cycle has been set in motion. Every year, traffic congestion gets worse and worse; the air we breathe becomes more saturated with noxious fumes from burning fossil fuels;

The government says we need more roads so as to reduce traffic congestion. But it is a myth to think that laying down more concrete will make traffic congestion will go away. What the road-building advocates forget is the time-honored adage: If you build it, they will come. When you build more roads, all you do is encourage more people to drive more and drive further.

At 4:26 p.m., Blogger SouthernTory said...

Well Erin, I'll be there next year
to visit my brother in West Bank/Kelowna. Maybe I can help. Good luck 'til then.

At 8:31 a.m., Anonymous Derrick Curtis said...

I don't agree that foreign workers are the answer. My views are similiar to Kirk West. Except I believe that those on e.i. or welfare should be given the first slots at labourer jobs. We also have 80+% unemployment on Indian reserves. Good source of supposed skilled trades (based on how much the taxpayer has dumped into training).
Use up the entire unempoyed population of Canada before any immigration is permitted.

At 11:15 a.m., Blogger Bernie said...

Collected Demands of Men:

11. The basic human rights of children include their right of access to both of their parents. All divorce decrees must consider the child's rights as a primary concern. The child's interest can not be heard in "family" court or any other court when the child is not represented by adequate legal counsel. A court decision for custody by either parent violates the child's inalienable human right to the other parent.

12. Recognize and enforce a child's fundamental human right to his or her father. The father is the most beneficial parent in a child's life after age 7. Depriving any child of his father is hurtful to the child. Deliberately depriving a child of his father needs to be legally recognized and prosecuted as criminal child abuse.

Protecting the rights of FATHERS

13. Support and recognize marriage as the age-old union of a man with one (or more in some cultures) women for the creation of children and family. The society has a legitimate purpose in supporting the production and education of the next generation, and marriage of a woman to a man is the way that society encourages and supports children families.

14. Recognize the husband and father's traditional role as head of the household. End all forms of government interference, criticism, review, and police or judicial oversight of a husband's decisions regarding his wife, children and household.

15. End prosecution of fathers for kidnapping of minor children. Fathers have a fundamental human right to their child. It is not possible to kidnap one's own child. Pardon and release all men previously convicted of this faux crime.

16. End government interference with fathers who live other countries and stop government support of the international smuggling of children to take them away from their fathers. Fathers have a fundamental right to live in their own country and to raise their children according to the customs and religion of their homeland.

17. Recognize that a man's responsibility to his child is to support a child by providing food at his dinner table, a place to sleep in his home, clothing, education, and generally for the child's needs. Fathers take responsibility for the child. No man ought to be required by divorce or custody law to do more than to support his child.

18. End the social slavery of men masquerading as the failed feminist social experiment called "absentee child support." It is a form of slavery of men not related to supporting children. Sending money to pay a woman for breaking up a family is not supporting a child.

19. End debtor's prisons and other punitive measures against men for not supporting women.

20. Recognize women's full co-equal right and responsibility for the support of themselves and their children. If a child is not being supported the mother is fully as responsible as the man.

At 2:08 a.m., Anonymous Larry said...

People in BC want jobs and to get ahead thats find. Job training finders classes inform their unemployed many,many methods for finding and getting a job. But they leave out try to do good work. Image doctors only interested in higher pay but not good work morals and ethics,would people like to have these doctors operating on them?. I mention this to a high school student because he had said he "only" wanted to make lots of money. After explaining to him the doctors and morals work, he than stated that's a good point never considered that before. Schools too need to inform students work ethics and morals are important too not only always just getting.

At 6:11 a.m., Anonymous Larry said...

Berine, interesting post on fathers. Read William D Gairdners book-The War Against The Family.Perhaps the most powerful Canadian book thus far written. Some library's have it, if not can buy it from his blog/website at www.williamgairdner.com

At 10:54 a.m., Blogger Bernie said...

Thanks Laraby,

I also heard this book was good:

"The Predatory Female"
by Lawrence Shannon

At 11:30 p.m., Blogger YVRpilot said...

"able to look outside the province for workers"

"it’s not a crime to bring some into the country"

I think that either way, whether we look outside the province or bring workers into the country, the bottom line is that certain jobs must get done in a timely fashion. Progress shouldn't be held back. I think a good comparison could be the shortage of farm labourers. Isn't Canada looking at doing the same thing that the U.S. has been doing for quite some time now? Bringing in Mexican workers to work the fields?

Just take a drive down to Bellisfair Mall and you'll see the proof, and in my case **hear** the proof as I speak Spanish.

To believe that Canada can provide all the "un-skilled" labour that is required for some mega projects, is to live a fantasy (in my opinion).

Lets face it, un-skilled labour = very low wages (unless you're a longshoreman, in which case you have the potential to earn more than most G.P.'s).

Today, it's a worker's market. People looking for jobs are being extremely choosy about the jobs they pick.

So under these circumstances, how is the construction industry supposed to meet its targets?

The bottom line is that the construction industry needs cheap and reliable un-skilled labourers which unfortunately will have to be brought in from elsewhere.

I don't like it, I'm sure you don't like, but what choice do we have???

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