Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vision Green

Today, I am starting a series looking through the policies contained in Vision Green, which is a periodically updated document similar to an election platform.
The structure of my writing is that I will go through the latest Vision Green document in sequential order. I will show the Greens’ policy or factual claim in green, and my response will follow, written in black/gray. I make a strong effort to provide easily-accessible citations for my criticisms. I recommend that the reader click on them and read through the links I provide as you go. I am not an expert in anything. I can't rely on my incredible authority to give weight to my arguments. It will largely come down to my citations.
Even in these difficult economic times, Canadians enjoy one of the highest qualities of life of any people in the world, now or in all of human history. We are blessed with abundant resources, a skilled and educated workforce and a highly innovative corporate culture.

As the recession has worsened, unemployment has grown, while access to Employment Insurance has remained unacceptably restrictive. Statscan here has a good chart halfway down the page showing the unemployment rate in the last few years nationwide. Before the recession hit, it hovered around 6.2%. After the recession started, it jumped to 8.5%. I believe the bit about EI being restrictive. Whether it is "unacceptable" probably comes down to a values judgement.
Too many small businesses go bankrupt, while major industrial sectors such as manufacturing and forestry struggle to stay afloat. Meanwhile the auto sector has received giant bailouts from provincial and federal governments without committing to protecting Canadian jobs or making the transition to green technology.
The ranks of the unemployed are expanding, but access to the insurance system designed for times such as these has been shrinking. In a broad historical perspective, it does seem that access to EI has become more restrictive in recent decades.
Meanwhile, employed Canadians are among the most overworked citizens in the industrialized world.
This statement is simply wrong. According to the OECD Canada is middle of the road when it comes to working hours among industrialized nations. Greece is the hardest working as of 2009, working 2100 hours per worker last year. Netherlands is the lowest, at 1378 hours a year. Canada is at 1699 per year, roughly in the middle of the two extremes, while the average for the OECD is 1739. This basic position has held in previous years too. Canada is slightly below average, and is certainly not in the top tier of overworked citizens. The Greens have made their first error here. Many more will follow in the coming weeks.

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