Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Precariously Employed

The other day I made reference in a post to a study showing that half of the workers in the GTA are precariously employed, meaning they have unstable and unreliable employment with no benefits, a reality sharply at odds with the triumphalism of the right over the putative unalloyed good achieved by free trade.

This morning's Star editorial calls for changes in social assistance programs to ease the plight of these workers. Among the ideas being bandied about are more flexible child care, reforms to pensions, and new insurance models “that could create more economic certainty for people in precarious employment.”

While these ideas undoubtedly have merit, I think it would be a profound mistake to exclude corporations from the solution; despite the fact that it has become conventional wisdom that governments cannot consider increasing taxes, direct and indirect, on large businesses, that is one of the many reforms that needs to be included. Otherwise, of course, the rest of us will be alone in picking up the tab.

Canada in general, and Ontario in particular, offers a host of advantages to business ranging from a well-developed infrastructure to an enviable health-care system and a very educated workforce. Being able to shrink its permanent work force while exploiting these advantages has added tremendously to the corporate bottom line. It is time they started paying a larger portion of their lavish profits for those privileges.


  1. Unfortunately, Lorne, this federal government continues to believe that the wealthy create jobs -- that's why they argue that business needs special treatment.

    They fail to recognize that customers create jobs -- and the precariously employed do not make good customers.

  2. Such an attitude attests to the perennial short-shortsightedness of the neo-conservative agenda, doesn't it, Owen?

  3. I'd love to see rules that require part time employees and contract workers to be paid higher hourly wages to compensate for the risk they are taking and lack of security.

  4. It would seem only fair, wouldn't it, christyk? Unfortunately, however, the corporate imperative seems not to recognize the concept. so government needs to impose requirements to do so.