Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Pity The Poor Immigrant

COVID has certainly shown how dependent we are on all the recent immigrants and would-be immigrants in this country but whether or not we wish to show our gratitude towards them is a completely different story. Usually employed in the low-paying jobs that most Canadians shy away from, little thought is ever given to how we would manage without them until suddenly they aren't there any longer. And instead of trying to make things a little easier for these folks doing all these thankless tasks, we come up with rules and procedures that make their lives even harder. 

Take for example the medical workers. All those nurses aides struggling to earn a living and having to juggle part-time work at a variety of nursing homes and hospitals because they couldn't get a permanent position which would also have provided them with benefits we all take for granted. We're happy to let these people wipe our bums, bathe and feed us and otherwise put our lives in their hands but we don't want to pay them one penny over minimum wage. And this doesn't even begin to address the issue of qualified doctors and nurses who have emigrated here only to find out we won't recognize their qualifications or the restrictions we put on nannies and aides who aren't allowed to bring in their husbands and children. 

Then there are the poor temporary farm workers. Housed in disgusting, overcrowded bunkhouses with substandard communal washroom conditions and separated from their families for months at a time while they work long hours planting, tilling, and harvesting the food essential to our existence. Once again this is a group doing it for minimum wage or less while still having to feed and clothe their families back home. We don't offer these hard working folks an opportunity to emigrate here even though it's clear they aren't taking away jobs from anyone. There isn't a Canadian prepared to do this work even for the $2,000.00 monthly Emergency Response Benefit and yet we let the unemployed just sit at home.

And then we have the grocery store folks, especially the ones at the checkout. Here they are putting themselves in the most dangerous position of all by potentially breathing in everyone's germs as we cough, sneeze, and chatter away without wearing any face masks ourselves. Immigrants again, working for minimum wage to ensure we get all the food and toiletries we need. 

Of course the reason we are paying these essential workers such a low wage is because we don't want to pay anything other than the lowest possible price for our health care and groceries even though there is really nothing more important.  By turning a blind eye to the mistreatment of these people we have been able to live in splendid ignorance but, thanks to COVID, we now have to acknowledge it's time to make some changes. As another Canada Day rolls around better wages, working & living conditions, and a clear path to becoming a Canadian citizen are the minimum we can do. Rather than pity them we need to welcome the poor immigrant with a more generous spirit that recognizes how important they are to this country.

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