Perdida del empleo en Canadá
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enero 10, 2009 a las 7:48 am #231783
Pam Kemperle suffered a double blow just two days before Christmas. Not only was she laid off from her job at a Whitby auto-parts plant, so was her husband.
“It’s so unpredictable,” said Kemperle, a 36-year-old mother of two teenaged children. “I was there for 12 years and I really didn’t think I would lose my job. Here today, gone tomorrow.”
Kemperle still holds out hope that Lear Corp. might recall her husband, Brian, who has 23 years with the company. “We’re doing a lot of praying right now,” she said.
In the meantime, money is tight. “You’ve got to cut corners everywhere,” said Kemperle, who plans to retrain as a medical assistant.
Kemperle is one of the faces behind the latest unemployment figures, released yesterday, which showed Canada’s economy shed 34,400 total jobs in December, with the loss of 71,000 full-time jobs offset by a gain in part-time work. Those losses pushed the national unemployment rate up 0.3 of a percentage point to 6.6 per cent, a sharp rise from the 5.8 per cent posted last January and February.
The federal government is warning that this year will bring harsh economic conditions.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Canada’s higher unemployment numbers “troubling” yesterday but said the country has strengths that will enable it to emerge stronger than ever from the current economic crisis.
At a news conference in Montreal, he was asked whether he thinks the rate could hit double digits.
“I am not going to speculate on future figures,” Harper said. “Obviously, the figures today are troubling. Every time a Canadian loses his job, this is something that really does preoccupy us.”
“We’re in for a difficult year,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said at a press conference in Thornhill yesterday. “We regrettably are going to have to expect continuing job losses in Canada. We are going to have substantial job losses (this year).”
Though the increase in the rate may appear small, economists say it is an unmistakable sign of dark clouds on the horizon. The latest report shows that job losses are spreading across sectors and provinces in an economic chain reaction.
The housing market started its slowdown last spring, followed by tumbling energy prices and cancelled oil-patch projects hurting the western Canadian economy. Then last month auto sales nosedived as consumers kept their wallets shut. Christmas retail sales were cool. Yesterday’s report showed the economy shed 44,000 construction jobs in December, with 16,000 jobs lost in Alberta.
Closer to home, Oshawa is at the centre of this gathering economic storm. Its fortunes are tied to the health of the struggling manufacturing sector – particularly the North American auto industry.
As General Motors cuts production and workers at its Oshawa operations, the painful effects are rippling out into the community – to parts plants that supply GM, to retailers and restaurants that bank on their customers earning robust auto-sector wages, and to social service agencies that are struggling to keep up with demand as pink slips proliferate.
Belal Kazi, owner of the Curry Club Restaurant in downtown Oshawa, said his restaurant is already feeling the effects. Fewer customers are coming through the door, and they’re ordering less food.
“Two of them will share a dinner for one,” Kazi said. “I’m very worried about things getting worse.”
Studies show that about 7 1/2 other jobs in the community depend on every position in a major auto plant, said Jim Stanford, an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers union. The spinoff goes in two directions, he added – “upstream” to parts suppliers, and “downstream” to consumer goods and services, such as doughnut shops, dry cleaners, home builders and retailers.
“I think for at least the next year or two, we are going to see a cascading series of layoffs, plant closures and bankruptcies in a whole range of industries, not just in auto,” he said.
Since 2002, 380,000 manufacturing jobs have evaporated across the country, according to Statistics Canada. Ontario alone lost 190,400 manufacturing jobs from January 2005 to October 2008.
The Conference Board of Canada estimates that automakers in Canada will eliminate another 4,300 jobs in 2009.
As the job losses add up, local social service agencies see more of a demand for their services, particularly from people who’ve never needed their help before.
“The problems are stretching to a wider group of people,” said Bill Fry, executive director John Howard Society of Durham Region.
“Now we’re seeing people who have worked steadily all their lives. They’re coming in and they don’t know where they’re going to pay their mortgage. Some of them haven’t had to hunt for a job for years and don’t know how to do it.”
Clients who initially inquire about employment assistance are also asking for help with anger management or substance abuse, Fry added. “They’re having trouble parenting. It’s going through the entire household.”
A recent Statistics Canada report found that unemployment insurance claims in Oshawa almost doubled year over year. Last September, 4,340 people were receiving unemployment benefits, up from 2,210 in September 2007.
Oshawa’s declining payrolls are taking a direct toll on the local United Way’s fundraising efforts. Weekly paycheque deductions account for as much as 70 per cent of the agency’s annual campaign. That means less money is being raised at a time when it’s most needed.
“We know there’s going to be an increase in demand for after-school programs and food banks and job training,” said Robert Howard, campaign communication director for the United Way of Oshawa. “There’s no question that as you get economic anxiety and those pressures begin, you also get substance abuse issues and then there’s a correlation with family violence issues.”
Chris Buckley, president of CAW Local 222 in Oshawa, says the whole community is feeling “very high levels of uncertainty, especially when there are no good-paying jobs to be found.”
The Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce has been urging the federal and provincial governments to work together on budgets and economic stimulus programs, such as tax cuts and the extension of Highway 407 across the top of Durham Region.
“We believe firmly there has to be some stimulus,” said Bob Malcolmson, chief executive officer and general manager for the business group. “The feeling is that things are a little slow, but overall the impact hasn’t hit yet. The next three to six months will be telling.”
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