WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING AND WHY
PART 1. Russell Mills' recommendations, made in his speech to the O.C.R.I. Awards Dinner in Ottawa on March 29th 2000, could probably summarised as follows :-
■ ITEM 1. We should demand nothing but the best policies from our governments.
■ ITEM 2. In order to respond to the public concern about health care, we have to bring forward a set of policies aimed at wealth creation, and explain the need for these to support a public health-care system.
■ ITEM 3. We must have leaders who will tell the unpleasant truth.
■ ITEM 4. We must do everything possible to stop the "brain drain" from Canada.
■ ITEM 5. Our objective should be nothing less than to make Canada the most desirable place in the world to work and invest. (This is necessary in order to stop the "brain drain"- but additionally in order to ensure that Canada wins the world-wide competition (through immigration) for scarce brains, and in order to win the world-wide competition for investment capital.)
■ ITEM 6. Canadians will have to educated about what kind of policies are actually needed and why, because Canadian governments poll constantly and the results drive politics and policies. At the same time, the general Canadian public do not really seem to understand what is needed and why - because they have not been given a satisfactory, complete and concise definition of the challenge to be met. (Opinion polls may also not pose the right questions - and even when they do, the results may be mis-leading).
■ ITEM 7. As an example, in the case of health care, poll results show that this is the most important issue to Canadians. So naturally they campaign for more government money to pay for it - but at the same time, do not consider the mechanics of how the money is to be raised. Therefore, they do not connect it with the question of how to make Canada a wealthier society - as the basis for generating the necessary tax dollars. These types of mis-understandings will have to be prevented from happening.
■ ITEM 8. In our system, a prime minister controls the parliamentary careers of all members of his party, including cabinet ministers. With a majority government, a Canadian prime minister has almost dictatorial powers for his term of office. This (not only from what Robert Chisholm and Russell Mills have seen going on) is an unsatisfactory state of affairs, because it contains potential for M.P.'s to not be allowed to deal with a problem as they see fit based on representations from individual constituents, corporations and the media. Robert Chisholm has continually observed situations where there was obvious need for action, but the M.P. was not allowed to do anything because of existing legislation - plus other rules, un-written or otherwise, which even prevented questions from being raised in Parliament or the media.
Therefore, federal M.P.'s must be given powers to act as they see fit in order to solve a problem - instead of being forced to brush it off or pretend that it is a "dead issue", or some such notion.
■ ITEM 9. Without a strong opposition, a dangerous concentration of power develops that is almost certain to degenerate into bad government. The recent controversy over Human Resources Department grants is a case in point. Ministers stonewall in the House of Commons and bureaucrats continue their careers unaffected. This is an indication that we have a serious crisis of accountability at the federal level. (If we are to have grant programs of this type, for corporations, then they must be properly run and - apart from social concerns - there must be clear positive results in terms of the investments yielding satisfactory returns to the tax base, as the basis for proof of economic viability.)
■ ITEM 10. Governments have an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves, but in a global economy, they must find new and more creative ways to do it. (This is necessary to ensuring that anyone who wants to work - and hence be a tax payer - is not prevented from doing so, indirectly by neglect or otherwise, by bureaucratic red tape, "lack of Canadian experience", etc.)
■ ITEM 11. We need immigration policies that are driven not by politics but by Canada's labour force needs in the global economy. We need taxation policies that will encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses here, that will encourage established companies to keep and expand head offices and research facilities here, and that will encourage talented young people to build their lives and careers in Canada. (All of this is necessary to maintaining and strengthening the tax base to pay for health care and other things).
■ ITEM 12. The federal government surplus should be given back to Canadians to spend and invest as they choose.
PART 2 - WHAT I WOULD ADD TO THIS
■ ITEM 2. Such policies must focus on the "economic generators" in Canada - which means exporters, the high-tech industry and others identifiable as playing a leading role in creating new jobs, across the whole range of professions and trades which make up the complete economy.
■ ITEM 3. Mis-leading reports in the media, originating from H.R.D.C. and Statistics Canada and implying that the so-called "officially unemployed" constitute the only people who are unemployed in Canada, must cease. If reports referring to the "officially unemployed" must be released, then it must be made clear that these are only for comparison with other countries and not for the purpose of policy planning within Canada. The unemployment rate in real terms must always be quoted, so as to keep the Canadian business community, the Canadian public and the Canadian policy-makers focussed on what must be done to solve the problem in real terms, with the objective of maximising the revenues to the tax base due to employment.
■ ITEM 9. Ministers and bureaucrats who have been found to be mis-applying the law or applying it in such a way as to produce a nonsensical result, must be fired. In particular, bureaucrats in H.R.D.C. found to be attempting to apply the law so as to prevent someone out of work from becoming tax payer, must be fired.
Further, with respect to H.R.D.C. in particular:-
(a) The Employment Insurance Act must be amended to specifically recognise the question of permitting somebody to become a tax payer, if dis-qualification from an H.R.D.C. – funded program means that this would be made difficult or impossible.
(b) The Employment Insurance Act must be amended to waive the minimum "insurable weeks of employment" criterion, to "qualify" for E.I., in the case of persons who are forced to quit a job on account of non-payment of wages or salaries by the employer and impending or actual bankruptcy. Further, it must include new provisions concerning the recording of "exceptional" situations faced by applicants, and provide for the use of discretion in such cases.
(c) The "insurable weeks of employment" criterion for deciding whether someone should be admitted to a training or job-placement program must be abolished. It must be replaced by criteria based on proof of wanting to work, based on a combination of provable approaches to employers, actual work for an employer or client even if this is not "insurable" employment, skills maintenance and / or enhancement on the applicant's own initiative and voluntary work on the applicant's own initiative. For the same reason, the "Reach-Back" program must be amended because of its connection to previous "insurable" employment, which many people have been insufficiently fortunate to have - on account of having found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, or having found themselves dealing with the wrong sort of people, or both.
(d) The Employment Insurance Act must be amended to specifically recognize the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provisions concerning right to life and security of the person, because these are directly dependent on gainful employment. The definition of "right to life" and "security of the person" is NOT to be restricted to meaning only freedom of speech and freedom from physical assault or murder. Failure to address this automatically equates to failure to optimize revenues for the tax base
(e) No further resources are to be expended on applying certain regulations which serve to prevent individuals from becoming tax payers.
■ ITEM 11. Such immigration policies must include provisions compelling Canadian employers who recruit workers from outside Canada, and Landed Immigrants (with pre-arranged jobs) in particular, to give conditional Contracts of Employment. These must include a guarantee of supervised employment ("internship") lasting for at least the time required by the professional licensing bodies to meet their Canadian experience requirements for full membership, and to permit the individual to prepare for and write any examinations that the licensing bodies may require. (Example: the A.P.E.O. - Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario - requires one year of Canadian work experience, the passing of some professional examinations and a successful interview with an appointed panel, before it will admit someone to membership and allow them to use the P.Eng. title. The purpose is to protect public safety, by ensuring that its members are technically competent. There are also fees involved which the individual has to pay - not large fees for someone who has a job as an engineer, but difficult or impossible for someone who is prevented from working because of silly rules, discrimination etc.). In this connection it must be remembered that someone who is being stopped from working, for whatever reason, is being stopped from being a tax payer.
■ Immigration policies must also include incentives to Canadian employers to offer internships, of the type just described, to all new immigrants and not just those who have pre-arranged jobs prior to arrival in Canada. In this connection, it is obvious that anybody preparing for exams set by the licensing bodies requires satisfactory conditions in which to do it i.e. freedom from circumstantial harassment due to unemployment and consequential lack of income to live on.
■ A new law, making it a criminal offence for an employer to dismiss a new immigrant before he / she has sufficient insurable weeks of employment to qualify for Employment Insurance income support, must be introduced. This happened to Mr. Chisholm, in Montreal, shortly after arriving from the U.K. back in 1982.
■ GENERAL. Canadians will have to be told to stop criticising immigrants on such "grounds" as being un-wanted competition for jobs, or suggesting that are not wanted in Canada's major cities. The real problem is that the economy is creating far too few jobs relative to the numbers needing them - immigrants as well as Canadians who are unemployed in real terms - and this is what really has to be dealt with, with all that it necessitates in terms of proper attention to basic wealth creation, properly-designed immigration policies, attention to the true size of the unemployment problem, and properly-designed human resources development policies. Canadians must also be reminded that they themselves were immigrants at one time, or are descendants of immigrants, except for members of the "First Nations".
We don't want public opinion and policies based on ill-informed and pejorative crap, involving criticism of immigrants on such "grounds" as being un-wanted competition for jobs, or suggesting that are not wanted. This is not in anybody's interest.