The “Common Sense Revolution” in Ontario and similar clones elsewhere have degraded and downsized every surviving shred of the tattered social safety net Canadians paid into and supported. Everything from hospitals to libraries have been hit. More and more resources have fallen into the hands of private enterprise to ‘manage’ on our behalf, as we’re colonized by private industry. We all deplore government excess and welcome welfare downsizing as a sign of positive action – at last. However, be advised: any hint that the immigrant and refugee system or services should be revised is denounced as “hatred”.

Somehow, it is native-born Canadians who seem to be making a ‘home’ on the streets. New guidelines have made it preposterously difficult to qualify for UIC – and only for truncated benefit periods. Ever wonder why? If you’re one of the few Canadians looking to hire someone, you will notice that all government assistance/work reentry programs target UI recipients, not the long-term unemployed collecting welfare. Ever wonder why? Why are we importing ‘workers’? Official unemployment figures are savagely manipulated to appear deceptively low. The official ‘story’ is 9.5% (that’s still 1.4 million Canadians). Of course, that figure does not reflect those surviving on welfare, surviving on their savings, surviving on their wits, or surviving on the streets. Canada’s own economists predict no real improvement for the foreseeable future. In fact, the anticipated $12.8-billion surplus in 1997 UI funds is viewed as a hedge against the next (apparently) inevitable downturn.

Why do we continue to import ‘workers’? There’s no knowing what the legitimate unemployment figures might actually be in Canada, but why are provincial governments imposing workfare when we so obviously have a huge pool of the chronically unemployed? Why are we importing ‘workers’ who are taking jobs from Canadians? And if the argument is that Canadians can’t or won’t DO these jobs, a responsible government would emphasize retraining and self-sufficiency — OUR immigrant tradition. When the Immigration Minister announced Canada’s (increased) intake level for 1998, she admitted the government would like to further increase levels but the goal is one “that cannot be achieved while so many people already in Canada cannot find jobs.

She also said increased pressure by immigrants on social services in urban centres is a concern.” (Globe & Mail, October 24, 1997) “The National Academy’s study and Harvard’s pre-eminent immigration economist, Prof. Borjas’ work argue that countries must choose. They can either offer generous welfare benefits or open their borders to immigrants. But if they attempt to do both, in a world in which most people are poor and most countries are an easy plane ride away, they will bankrupt themselves.” (David Frum, Toronto Sun, August 30, 1997)

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