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article imageOp-Ed: Canadians Warned About Substantial Job Losses

By Bob Ewing     Jan 10, 2009 in Politics
Canada's Prime Minister and Minister of Finance have issued a warning to Canadians to be prepared for a worsening economy and substantial job losses. The leaders of Canada haven't given citizens hope for any rebound.
Canada's Prime Minister and Finance Minister have warned Canadians to brace for a worsening economy and substantial job losses this year.
“We're in for a very difficult year,” said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. “We regrettably are going to have to expect continuing job losses in Canada.”
Canada's job losses for December were higher than economists had forecast.
“Obviously the [Canadian] figures today are troubling,” Mr. Harper said after consulting with Montreal business leaders on the coming federal budget
. “What I think is more troubling are the figures out of the United States, which really do indicate the period of difficulty we are entering in terms of the global economy.”
The PM will not predict just how high Canadian unemployment might go, pointing out instead that Canada created 100,000 jobs over all in 2008, despite late-year losses.
But “we are going to be affected by developments in the United States and elsewhere, and the numbers in the United States are very bad and are going to get worse,” he said.
Soaring unemployment in the United States promises to dampen the Canadian economy and lead to more job losses in 2009.
“We are going to have substantial job losses,” Mr. Flaherty said.
The tougher employment picture in the United States does “not minimize what is happening and what is going to happen in Canada this year,” Mr. Flaherty said.
As yet, few Canadian economists are ready to predict Canada's unemployment rate will push above 10 per cent as it did in the early 1980s and again in the early 1990s.
The massive stimulus packages on the drawing board in Canada, the United States and other countries have encouraged some economists to state that the stimulus packages will get the economy turned around and things will not be as bad as the recessions of the 80s and 90s.
“It certainly depends on what the policy response is from governments, but just to put a number out there, it seems to me that the unemployment rate could quite easily go as high as 8 per cent,” said Erin Weir, economist for the Canadian wing of the United Steel Workers union.
“We are ready to consider all propositions. We are in an unprecedented period,” Harper said
. “We will make our decisions after the meeting with the premiers.”
“We need to respond to the needs of people who will lose their jobs this year,” Flaherty said.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff wants changes to the employment insurance program to stress retraining.
The comparison with the United States is getting tiring, of course what happens there impacts Canada, but I do not feel better because unemployment is higher in the States or more jobs are lost.
When I hear our political leaders compare the countries what I really hear is that they have no idea what to do.
The talk of retraining gives me the same feeling. It is what they always say when people lose their jobs. What will they retrain the workers and how.
It was Harper's government who cut funding for literacy programs and the ability to read and write are an essential part of education and retraining.
What I see happening, for example, is forestry workers learning how to use Word and prepare resumes, maybe get a lesson on Excel or how to surf job boards. At the end of the day they are still unemployed and heading for welfare.
What we need is leadership and at the political level that is sadly lacking.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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