Saturday, April 11, 2009

Part Time Work
not attributable
to failing economy

**My letter, following, appeared as the "lead" letter to the editor in the Star on April 15, 2009. The same letter was submitted to all newspapers across the country

Toronto Star,
Letter To The Editor**

The Headline of Friday, April 10’s Toronto Star blares “Failing economy creates a nation of part-timers.” This headline and feature story is both misleading and ill-informed.

In point of fact, those full time jobs redefined as part-time will never come back even with an economic turnaround without government action.

The nature of work in Canada is changing. The incidence of part-time work has been a growing trend even in boom times and has been adapted by even the largest employers like Microsoft, IBM, and General Motors, not to mention employers like McDonalds, grocery chains, and retailers and is endemic in professions like nursing and university teaching. Recent Stats-Can figures, compiled before the present downslide, identifies 23% of the Nation’s (and Ontario’s) workers as part-time, contract, or casual non-permanent employees.

This short-sighted employer greed to enhance their bottom lines on the backs of workers, and lack of social consciousness, has produced two classes of workers--permanent employees with their benefits packages and those classified as part-time, contract, or casual employees who may be working side by side with their full time peers doing exactly the same work but with different compensation packages. This, in itself, is discriminatory and the different treatments would not at all be allowed if the differences were defined as racial, religious, or gender. In fact, this “classification” discrimination has led to giant compensatory settlements in America.

An equally serious national problem, though, is the heightened insecurity of part time, contract, and casual work which effectively blocks 23% of the workforce from the purchase of "big ticket" items thus reducing this 23% of the workforce from consumption beyond their basic needs, thereby hurting the national economy.

In the past, when governments found serious and unfair inequities in the workplace, they introduced "equal opportunity" and "pay equity" legislation to correct the inequities. It is time for governments to act once again to correct this problem to stem the changing nature of work in Canada before all employment becomes part time, casual, or contract employment with its resulting devastating impact on the Canadian economy.

Bill Longworth,