While we’re sitting around arguing about exactly how fast we should descend into permanent decline, our hated neighbors to the north are busy doing all the things that we should be doing.
Growing inequality. A shrinking middle class. Declining labor power, tenuous employment, and an uncertain social safety net. All these things plague most developed Western nations, to one degree or another. In America, the response we have chosen is “Distract everyone by demonizing immigrants while the very rich work to lock in their vast fortunes.” In Ontario, on the other hand, they are trying something even wackier: a good package of labor law reforms.
Very soon, Ontario will announce a set of workplace reforms that have the ever-frightened “business community” a bit skittish, but which could, in fact, be a road map for how governments should respond to an economy that has changed while old, insufficient laws have stayed the same. A review process that has taken place over two years will soon wrap up with a set of recommendations to Ontario’s labo“u”r minister. Among the proposals that could be selected, via the CBC:
- Mandatory paid sick days, and three weeks of paid vacation.
- “Abolishing the lower minimum wage for students under 18 and people who serve alcohol”—similar to proposals to abolish the artificially low minimum wage that US workers who get tips have.
- Equal (pro-rated) pay for part time and full time workers doing the same job.
- Requiring that schedules be posted in advance, and compensating workers when their schedules are changed with little notice.
- Making it easier for workers to unionize and improving collective bargaining rights.
If we did these things here in America, it would go a long way towards making our modern system of piecemeal low-wage work more humane, and it would help to create a workplace environment stable enough for our nation to start rebuilding its fabled middle class. Instead we will encourage ignorant people to harass their Middle Eastern neighbors while Canada of all places eats our f’in lunch.