Federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty opened his mouth this week and a gusher of stupidity came out. If we could burn stupid like oil, we could run every car in Canada for a month on his latest remarks.
Flaherty is apparently laying the groundwork for revamping Employment Insurance (EI), to force workers to take, essentially, the first job that comes along.
“I was brought up in a certain way,” Flaherty said. “There is no bad job. The only bad job is not having a job. So I drove a taxi. You know, I refereed hockey. You do what you have to do to make a living.”
There’s so much idiocy here, we’re going to have to take it point by point.
• “There is no bad job.”
Do you want to tell that to the families of the dead and brain-damaged workers who held jobs at Langley’s A-1 Mushroom farm and composting operation? There are a lot of horrible jobs in this country purely because the bosses ignore health and safety rules. People are killed every year in farming, forestry and mining, in warehouses, by truck crashes and by equipment malfunctions.
Yet people take these jobs because they have few alternatives. Then fear of being fired usually keeps them from ratting out their bosses to the authorities.
Forget danger, we all know there are jobs that are degrading and humiliating, where the boss is a jerk, where you are forced to work unpaid overtime, where your paycheque arrives late, where your tips are confiscated by management. This goes on every day in Canada.
• “The only bad job is not having a job.”
So the day Flaherty leaves his Ottawa office, we can expect to see him sitting by the Home Depot offering to perform day labour, or picking crops for $10 an hour, 12 hours a day?
No? You think he’ll put on his suit and get himself a job in an office? Even though that might take a bit longer and be a better use of his talents as a self-important blowhard?
It does not make sense for a medical secretary, or a trained welder, or a dentist, or a shipping clerk, to take a menial job right away just because it’s on offer. Those jobs tend to tire people out and leave them with little energy to search for a better position.
Our skills shortages are not going to be cured by more doctors taking jobs as cab drivers or skilled technicians working as janitors.
• “So I drove a taxi. You know, I refereed hockey. You do what you have to do to make a living.”
If Flaherty thinks those are bad jobs, he needs to take his well-padded backside out of his office and drive out to the country. Find a farmer. Tell him you’ll work for minimum wage picking rocks out of his fields. Find every rock bigger than a hen’s egg. Fill a wheelbarrow with rocks. Repeat.
My father always claimed this was the worst work he had ever done. The easiest, he said, was driving a bus. Kind of like a cab…
Jim Flaherty only imagines he knows what it’s like to work for a living. He displays contempt for anyone not willing to take “real work,” while his labour consists of pushing paper and telling other people what to do.
If Flaherty wants to get people working, how about strengthening health and safety inspections, or funding improved transit to expand the prospects of workers with no cars, or helping those with foreign training get Canadian credentials faster?
If Flaherty doesn’t support Canadians who want to work, who want meaningful, safe work that pays the bills, he should be fired himself.