Recent graduates need decent jobs, not 'experience'
Re Poloz's prescription for unemployed youth: Work for free (Nov. 5): I was very disturbed by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz's suggestion that young people who are out of work "volunteer" to gain experience. I was a graduate in the early 1980s when the Bank of Canada's then-governor John Crow threw my entire generation out of work. The response of the prime minister, John Turner, during his re-election bid, was a program to have young people work for a dollar a day to gain experience. We had some choice words for both of them.
Young people do not need more experience, they need jobs with income. In good times, employers hire young people with potential on the strength of their education and summer or co-op jobs. In bad, young people suffer disproportionately because employers stop hiring. Unpaid internships and low-paid experience programs are simply a subsidy to employers and distort the labour market. What Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz and Finance Minister Joe Oliver can do is keep well-paid employment front of mind when setting policy. As the economy improves, employers will hire and young people will find jobs. In the meantime, working for nothing is not "volunteering," it is slavery.
Carolyn Brown, Ottawa
Poloz's suggestions for the post-graduate basement dwellers is concerning.
Recommendations for the unemployed to gain field-related experience to stave off the "scarring effect" of unemployment is not only an offensive recommendation, but in many cases it is unattainable. If, under a growing debt load, I feel the need after graduating from the University of Guelph to move back in with my parents, their rural 300-population town is so far away from any of these internships and volunteer opportunities that my economic situation wouldn't allow me to drive there.
Mr. Poloz's recommendation of free labour to stave off the imminent discouragement of post-grad life is a misguided attempt at addressing youth unemployment.
Brooke Kelly, Guelph, Ont.
Nearly two million Canadians have jobs that do not pay enough to pull themselves or their families out of poverty. They're the working poor. Many have full-time employment in the service or retail sectors; many others work several part-time jobs but simply do not earn enough at minimum wage to meet their basic needs.
Provincial minimum wage rates are arbitrary, politically driven benchmarks that fail to lift a full-time, year-round worker out of poverty. The living wage movement aims for a higher standard.
The living wage calculation is evidence-based – it varies from city to city as costs of living change. It's by no means extravagant: Living wage calculations do not include the costs of home ownership, debt repayment or savings, for instance. It does include provisions for the actual cost of basic needs such as rental housing, food, clothing, child care, transportation and medical expenses.
Where the living wage is implemented, studies show productivity improves and there's a significant reduction in training costs and worker absenteeism. A McMaster University DeGroote School of Business survey indicates that employers believe that the impact of the living wage will result in a more stable employee base and build consumer commitment.
Living wage policy is a win for everyone.
Food for thought as we recognize national living wage week in Canada.
Tom Cooper, Living Wage Hamilton; Donna Jean Forster-Gill, Living Wage Canada; Catherine Ludgate, Living Wage for Families; Greg deGroot-Maggetti, Living Wage Waterloo Region
Re Canada needs transparent corporate bond markets (Oct. 30) Frederico Knaudt argues for more transparency in corporate bond markets because "retail investors … lack information to measure whether their order was executed at a fair or market price." The discount brokers I deal with offer me over 200 corporate bonds using the way children "cut and choose" to divide things fairly: One person cuts and the other chooses. Before knowing my intentions, the brokers "cut" by offering me both a buying and a selling price at the same time. I then choose which offer, if any, to take up.
The spread between the two prices sets a limit to the broker's margin and varies from just over 0.2 per cent for short-term bonds to as much as 3.6 per cent for longer ones and shrinks with the size of my order. Moreover, these spreads measure the broker's combined margin from buying and selling, and not the margin faced by a buyer or a seller. What more information do retail investors need to determine whether their orders are executed at a fair price?
John Chant, North Vancouver
Re In defence of Economics 101 (Oct. 21) I took an economics course at university in the late 1960s just to learn a little about the subject. Despite getting an A in the course, it didn't help at all. Professor Ragan's article strikes me as exactly what academics thought was the way to teach economics in the '60s. Fifty years later let me say what I thought of my experience in the 60s, and still do. First, I should have been offered an introductory course – in ordinary language - on how the market in fact works at the retail, wholesale, GDP and international levels. Maybe even some history to see how we got to where we are today. Then I should have been offered a second course to show why it is of any practical interest to me to use mathematics as a tool to display market activity. I think it is akin to why math is useful, for example, in physics. Once I grasped the daily operation of the four market levels in qualitative language and saw the added value of portraying some of it mathematically then, and only then, would I have been ready for Economics 101. I would have been ready because I had an intellectual frame of reference within which I could understand the subject.
Joseph Argier, Toronto
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