Backing Ottawa on labour plans

Re: "Premiers must stand up to Ottawa's cheap-labour strategy; Harper Tories have launched stealth attack on middle class," by Gil McGowan and Lana Payne, Opinion, Aug. 3.

This opinion piece criticizing federal reforms misses the mark on several issues.

Pension reform is about fairness and sustaining future pensions for all Canadians. Decisions taken this year will ensure we have a viable Canada Pension Plan into the future. Consider what's happening in Europe.

Employment insurance should be run as an insurance program, not a social welfare program. Its aim is to provide a financial bridge to help able-bodied unemployed Canadians find jobs where their skills are needed.

If the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is all about exploitation, how can you say construction workers making $30 to $40 an hour are being exploited? The assertion that employers will automatically pay temporary foreign workers 15 per cent less than their Canadian workers is also wrong. While federal guidelines permit flexible wage scales, they stipulate that all rates must be comparable to what workers in the company are paid.

It is also wrong to say Bill C-377 will restrict unions from spending. Rather, the proposed legislation calls for unions to account for and disclose how mandatory union dues are spent, in the same way charities and native bands do. Recent surveys suggest unionized workers in Canada support this type of legislation.

While union leaders across Canada are banding together to oppose reforms that are relevant in the 21st century, there are others who believe the Harper government should be applauded.

Edmonton Journal, Tues Aug 7 2012
Letter by: Stephen Kushner, president, Merit Contractors Association, Edmonton

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