The economic boom in developing nations has decreased the authenticity of Canadian goods.
Look at any brand name clothing or product and the chances are very slim that they were made in Canada. North American corporations shift their production overseas due to cheap labour there and better investment opportunities.
Jobs are created in China, India or other developing countries when investors are offered tax-free holidays or a 99-year land lease, even if it’s to create just a handful of jobs. However, these are not available in Canada. We have enough land but do not create an attractive investment climate.
Buying Canadian-made goods helps the economy, creates jobs, sustains the social environment, brings in tax revenue and gives job satisfaction to workers. But many companies avoid buying Canadian-made products because of the high cost of labour. In other countries, the rapid increase in population and a business-friendly labour market allows workers to start production quicker and cheaper.
There are many Canadian business success stories, but still, jobs have been steadily moving overseas. How can we reverse this trend?
It’s tough but we can get them back. Why can’t the government give subsidiary wages to keep jobs locally? If there is some incentive, I am sure jobs will stay in Canada. If not, we end up on social assistance programs.
Globalization has its own ups and downs. The major benefactors are developing nations, due to low labour cost and tax breaks for foreign investors. They do have their own protectionist policies. China encourages only 50-50 partnership, thereby keeping the technology and investments local.
India does not allow foreign banks, supermarket chains or others to operate unless Indians have majority ownership. In contrast, Canada opens its doors wide to foreign companies to exploit our resources. Local immigrants have the knowledge of the competitive world. They can be an asset to fight back and win back our jobs.
Caterpillar Inc. closed its locomotive plant in London, Ont. The Electro-Motive Diesel plant ceased operations in February. Locally, Maple Leaf Foods is closing its Schneider’s meat plant in Kitchener. In contrast, the Sri Lankan government gives incentives for large foreign corporations but is very strict about accountability. If corporations do not perform well, it takes over the company and sells it to another. On the other hand, our taxpayers are always at the receiving end of a plant closure.
U.S. President Barack Obama is promoting American-made items, but we call him protectionist. Is he doing something different or are Canadians not willing to change course? Our governments should encourage businesses in Canada to keep their production at home. We have natural resources such as oil and gas. Rather than shipping it to the United States and China, we should refine it and create jobs.
In Waterloo Region, municipal governments should purchase and promote local products to set an example. Our community deserves a return from city officials for their tax money. Our cities have to create a plan to promote local jobs and local products. Even creating one or two jobs in the community would make a difference.
Lakshmi Sivakumar is a student at Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute in Kitchener.