There has been much bristling over the Royal Bank of Canada's recent move to replace 50 Canadian employees with temporary foreign workers. Yes Canada’s largest bank, with profits in excess of $7 billion, was caught sending Canadian jobs overseas in order to save a few bucks.
But I for one will say that critics have rushed to judgment far too quickly. Their mistake? Forgetting that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program reaches back to the very roots of Canada -- to our national DNA if you will.
A proud part of our history
Why, it was the father of Confederation himself, Sir John A. McDonald, who put it best. When faced with the costs of paying citizens a reasonable wage to expand our great nation, he noted, "It is simply a question of alternatives: either you must have this labour or you can't have the railway."
(On the trail of economic progress. Photo: jparise / flickr)
And therein lies the simple, oft- forgotten core of our democratic system -- eventually, the rights and protections granted to you by citizenship are, like, super expensive and totally annoying.
Throughout history, Canada's government has always worked tirelessly to ensure that we don't burden Canadians themselves with the substandard working conditions required to maximize profits. Thus, to ensure Canada's economic health, the government brings in temporary, disposable foreign workers who aren't accustomed to, or encumbered by, all of the trappings and safeguards of responsible civil society.
Specialized "life skills"
Let's not forget, this program is intended to bring in temporary, international employees to work in highly-skilled positions that Canadians aren’t able to fill. Do you think you can just get anyone to walk into a deep, foreboding cavern to set a nitroglycerin charge that has a reasonable likelihood of killing him in the process? No, it takes lifelong exposure to conditions of constant war, starvation, and insurmountable indentured slavery for someone to qualify for such a position. (And that's why, with all the success of the railway, we're once again bringing temporary Chinese labourers to work in Canadian mining operations!)
(These workers aren't accustomed to, or encumbered by, the safeguards of civil society. Photo: Harald Groven / flickr)
Don't kid yourself, the ability to work a Tim Horton's drive-through for 18hrs/day, seven days a week in Fort McMurray for 15 per cent below minimum wage, most likely paying off a massive debt to a recruiter back home in order to get the job in the first place, and all this without a path to citizenship takes highly specialized life skills.
What critics of the Temporary Foreign Workers program don't grasp is that the diversity of life skills found overseas is truly spectacular. Tired of paying your Canadian sex workers a living wage? Can't find an attractive, young woman that will tolerate your patriarchal misogynistic views? The Temporary Foreign Workers program has you covered! It's been a great aid to the Canadian sex and human trafficking trade for years now…even though the government claims they are actively trying to tie up those pesky little frilly, lacey, fish-netty, loopholes that make this possible.
(Your foreign worker nanny will be just like Mary Poppins, except she'll conveniently have no rights. Photo: d4rr3ll / flickr)
Too busy to raise your child properly in a barely sustainable two-career household? Well, you too can bring your MBA practices to the homefront by having your own temporary foreign worker at home! Yes, get yourself a Filipino maid for just pennies on the dollar compared to what you would have to spend for a Canadian. Just remember to trade her in after two years on the job, or else she might be eligible for citizenship -- meaning her price would skyrocket!
Remember, we aren't America. We don't want you to give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning for freedom. We just want to borrow them for a little while at a discount, before sending them home with a warm, positive, welcoming impression of Canada.
Wojtek Arciszewski: Is it a tree hugging, socialist hippie? Is it an axe wielding, government hating libertarian? Is it house broken? Who knows, it's just Wojtek.
This article was originally published on riotwire, Canada's new hub for political satire and humour, and is reprinted here with permission.
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