Decline in job quality is affecting all of us

The importance of quality jobs is something that the Cowichan Valley is certainly familiar with.

The importance of quality jobs is something that the Cowichan Valley is certainly familiar with.

It’s also familiar with the steady decline in job quality over the last 20 years found in a recent report by CIBC Capital Markets.

The report notes that the share of jobs that are low-paying in Canada has been on the rise over the last two decades.

Nearly 61 per cent of Canadians make less than the average wage ($25 per hour).

CIBC Capital Markets used data from Statistics Canada to come to its findings.

This comes as no surprise to many in the Cowichan Valley.

Anyone who’s been forced out of the forest industry, whether a job in the forests or in a mill, is all too familiar with the reality behind the stats.

Many were pointed to growing retail or tourism sectors, where they were told they could find work.

That work, of course, didn’t pay anything like what their old jobs did.

By and large, this wasn’t the kind of employment that could pay for a house, car, motor home, vacations, and an eventual comfortable retirement.

And the loss of such jobs doesn’t just affect the one sector.

Those folks who used to have lots of money to spend in the community suddenly not having it anymore has a widespread impact on everyone.

Some small communities have seen schools, banks and other amenities close up shop — a huge shock to everyone’s way of life.

Those who are also familiar with the changing job landscape are young people looking to break into a career.

And it’s been no bed of roses for those who should have seen their prospects rise over the years.

For Canadians in their prime working years (age 25 to 54 years), 53 per cent make less than the average wage today.

CIBC Capital Markets’ report is concerned with how that leaves millions vulnerable to economic downturns and recessions like happened in 2008.

In practical terms that can mean people being left unable to make their house payments, car payments and taking on debt.

That is bad news, but it’s not just some future economic crash that we need to be concerned about.

This is about the quality of people’s lives, in our community, right here and right now.

In so  many sectors there’s a race to the bottom. That needs to stop.

An economic system should work for people, not people for an economic system.