Da Legal Stuff...

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Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Signs of the Times

I saw a news item today that really has my blood boiling. I usually write columns in an effort to make people aware of the issues facing our Province. To discuss the utter neglect shown by Ottawa and to provide some insight into what this outpost in the Atlantic is all about. I enjoy doing that. Today is not an enjoyable day.

Today I find myself in the unenviable position of having to discuss something that I had hoped was a dying issue in Newfoundland and Labrador. A situation that embarrasses me like no other, but cannot be ignored. A situation that should sicken anyone with a grain of decency and even an ounce of pride left in their body.

The reason for my current foul mood and the catalyst for making a very large vein in my forehead to begin pulsating in time with my heart, is a news item carried on the CBC website. It told the story of a Springdale business man who has begun recruiting expatriate Newfoundlanders, from places like Alberta, to work with him in his operation. This man isn’t where my problem lies. In fact I don’t have a problem with what he’s doing at all. I actually applaud him for taking the initiative to find his workforce among those who wish to come home and I’m glad to see that some of our people have been given that opportunity. What galls me to no end is the reason why his company has had to resort to this hiring practice in the first place.

According to the article “…there are plenty of people who could do the jobs here, but he (the business owner) said many don't want to work until their employment insurance runs out.
(He)… said he is up against a bad attitude that has been nurtured by a long history of government assistance.

Hang on a second. I need to take a deep breath and compose myself before taking on this issue.

OK, I’ve counted to ten, then to twenty. I think my blood pressure is under control now so I’ll say what needs to be said here.

First, let me say that I won’t comment directly about the company referenced in the CBC article. I don’t have enough details to even attempt doing that. I don’t know for example what the working conditions or salaries are like. I don’t know if perhaps the employer is, well let’s just say “not nice” to his employees. I have no way of knowing any of that so I’ll speak in general terms instead.

Here goes the rant:

In my humble opinion, if anyone in this Province, or anywhere else for that matter, is too G%& Damn lazy to get off their ass and take a job that’s been offered to them, they should be kicked out into the streets and ridiculed by the masses. If anyone would rather sit at home and collect employment insurance instead of earning an honest living they should be cut off from their benefits. If anyone, especially anyone in this Province, can look around them at the potential this place has if we only worked together, but still wants to play the system for all it’s worth, they should be put on a raft and let drift out to sea.

I don’t know if I can say it any clearer than that.

I also want to say that I don’t have a problem with those who legitimately need the sort of safety net EI provides. I’m not referring to those unfortunate folks. What I am talking about are the type of lazy, “you owe me” louts who make it their life’s ambition to get just enough stamps for their next unemployment claim before moving onto their big comfy couches and vegetating their lives away at everyone else’s expense.

If the article I read today was the only story of its kind I’d heard I might simply write it off as an aberration, but it isn’t. I’ve heard the same sort of story before, quite recently in fact. I also recall witnessing a similar situation myself in a former career. At the time, I was interviewing someone for a job. After the introductions were out of the way I began informing the potential candidate of the job’s particulars. When I had gone on for a few minutes the young man in question looked me square in the eye and asked point blank, “Will I get my stamps out of this?” My response was simply that it was a full time job and that we would let him know if he qualified. What I really wanted to say was, “No you lazy A-hole you won’t get your stamps out of it because you aren’t getting the job.”

I guess I’ve been living in a dream world the past ten years or so but I had almost convinced myself that the sort of dependency displayed in these situations was becoming a thing of the past in our Province. It looks now like my feelings were nothing more than wishful thinking.

I could sit here and blame both levels of government for fostering this sort of mentality in our people over the years, but I won’t. I could blame the fact that the only thing many people in rural communities have known for decades is the type of seasonal work that leads to this mentality. I won’t do that either. The reason I won’t is because it’s BULL. What I will do is put the blame exactly where it belongs. On the lazy S.O.B.’s who deserve it.

A job is a job is a job and any able bodied Newfoundlander or Labradorean who would turn up their nose at a job in favor of EI or Social Assistance payments is no better than a common criminal. It’s time they stood up, or sat down if they can’t find the energy to move, and admitted that they are the problem, nobody else.

I originally came from a small town where work was scarce to say the least. At a young age I moved away from my home Province where I found employment wherever I could. Over a period of ten years or so I worked at anything I could find. I washed dishes, made deliveries, worked in construction, at a dockyard, on an assembly line and on and on. By the time I was a little older I had acquired the skills and education necessary to enter my current career, back where my heart was, and I moved home. Even now I haven’t made it all the way back to the small town where I was born. Instead I live in the St. John’s area, where my WORK is located, but I still dream that one day I’ll make it all the way back to where I belong.

You may be wondering why I shared that slice of my life with you all. The reason is simple. Yes, in my early years I also needed the support structures of EI, or UI as it was called at the time. But I certainly didn’t take advantage of the system. I used it as it was intended, to help me transition from one employment situation to another as required and make sure I had enough to eat while I was doing it. I left my home town like so many of our people, at least those who truly want to work, are doing today. I know how difficult finding gainful employment can be and what it takes to uproot your life to find it.

I understand as well why some people living in small towns find themselves in situations where they must rely on assistance of some form to survive between seasonal or temporary jobs. I can also understand how, for one reason or another, it may be too much for them to simply uproot their families, homes and lives to move away. Finally, I understand why others in similar situations give it all up and move away to improve their situation. What I fail to understand and won’t even try to understand in fact, are those who willingly choose the road of system addiction over a locally available job.

When I recall what it took for me to do what I did years ago or when I see the hardships others have endured to make a decent living and contribute to our society, it makes me physically ill to know that there are still able bodied people out there who would rather live off the system we all pay for.

I’ve been living back in my native Province for about 15 years now and in that short time I’ve seen some amazing changes. I’ve seen the economy begin to turn in an upward direction. I’ve seen a change in attitude regarding our place in this Country. I’ve seen our people from coast to coast begin to stand up and be heard. Those things have all begun to make me believe that the potential of this place is just now beginning to be seen. Yes, our outports and rural areas are in serious trouble but I have the hope that in time these areas will also begin to see improvements.

Something else I’ve seen in the past few years that I cannot recall ever seeing in my younger days. Signs, that’s right, signs. Small, rectangular hand written signs hanging in shop windows proclaiming for all to see, “Help Wanted, Apply Within.” I’ve seen them in the urban centers and I’ve even begun seeing them in smaller towns across the Province.

Seeing those signs begin to appear over the past few years made me proud to think that there was finally some work where very little had existed before. It gave me hope for our future. Today I see those signs without the rosy tint I had on my glasses just yesterday. Today I don’t see these signs as a benchmark of our progress at all. Instead I see the signs as a display of the apathy that has settled into so many of our people.

I wonder now if I was wrong all along. Maybe we haven’t begun to grow in the direction I thought we were heading. Perhaps those help wanted signs aren’t being hung in shop windows because we are doing so well but because so many of our people are simply too damn lazy to walk in and take them down. I pray I’m wrong.


BNB said...

ahh crap you've done it now :)

Before our hateful lurkers take that and run with it I'd like to say that Newfoundland and Labrador like any other place has people who play the system, and like any other place we have hard working honest workers who wouldn't take a charity dime if they were starving. Perhaps we have more people on each of these extremes than the rest of Canada.

In NL we have a lot of seasonal employment. I think that leans itself to generations following the same mindset that they only have to work long enough to get stamps.

...but I'm not going to defend the lazy and defeatest attitude because I agree with you entirely. My own situation saw me avail of the EI system on a couple of occasions for short periods when I was between jobs and also because of a disabling injury on the job. I recognize that support in those times and I appreciate it.

WJM said...

Item: Shortage of SKilled Tourism Workers
April 12, 2006

We've heard about shortages of skilled workers in other industries; now the tourism sector sees a looming shortage in the field. A Market analysis reveals significant growth in tourism employment in Newfoundland and Labrador over the past ten years, but also concludes that it is getting more and more difficult to find skilled workers. Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador president Nick McGrath says there's no magic fix to the tourism labour market needs in the province.

Item: Business can't find enough workers to fill jobs: study

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses released a study yesterday stating there were 11,500 jobs sitting vacant across the province for at least four months in 2005.

Nationally there were 233,000 vacancies, according to the report.

Nova Scotia had 12,000 vacancies and Newfoundland had 3,500.

Patriot said...

I agree with both previous posts. There are problems across the country. I also know what some people will try to do with this article but it had to be said.

I also want to say that I don't personally know anyone who fits the character type that would turn down a job when one is avaialable but they do exist out there.

It just makes me sick and I felt it needed to be said. The vast majority of people who are capable of finding work in this Province are working their butt off to make this a better place for all of us and knowing that some segments of our population are pulling this kind of stunt is disgusting.

Patriot said...

By the way, has anyone else been reading the pathetic comments on some of the other threads by an anon claiming to be from Alberta.

They really are pathetic and I assume he'll show up on this thread sometime soon.

His comments really are so funny and childlike.

I think I smell an ARA (Academically Retarded Albertan)

(By the way, no slander is intended to the more common and standard Albertan is intended by this post.)

Anonymous said...

At least I know that's it's wrong to beat a baby seal to death to make some money.

I learned that in Alberta.

BNB said...

On this one you are right Anon, Albertans NEVER beat their seals to death to make money. Now Sasketchewan, their Seal Skin Bindings were made famous by Super Dave Osbourne and still in high demand amoung stunt drivers and dare devils.

What part of Alberta are you from Edmonton Cove or closer to the Calgary Bay area?

BNB said...

Sorry I strayed off topic...

Patriot said...

Yeah, Albertans just slaughter millions of cows every year. Some of them hung up and skinned alive. Occasionally female ones have their young drop out of them while hanging.

But you are right, seals are something different right?

Sorry BNB, I strayed as well. I just hope when this guy gets back to Alberta he spends some time in Fort McMurray telling all the resident's there how bad NLers are. I can't wait to see what his medical bills will look like.

no longer proud said...

Yes, NL'ians are savages for killing seals to make a few bucks but Albertans need only to obtain a 'Form 7 permit' and they can kill coyotes indiscriminately for no other reason than they've been labelled a 'nuisance' by the provincial government. (And of course the cows, as patriot just mentioned...)

Yes, let's not kill any of our poor little seals. Let's leave them be so that they might be fruitful and multiply... To the point where they begin to die of starvation and disease.

MrChills said...

I am as proud a Newfoundland as anyone could possibly be and I wear it on my sleeve wherever I travel across the Globe. But, I will be the first to say that there is an abundance of lazy pieces of shit in our Province. We did not create the breed, nor are we unique, as I have encountered people who live off ‘the system’ everywhere I have gone in the world, but we do have a lot of them.

I know dozens of people from my old hometown who are in their 30’s now and like clockwork they migrate to the mainland every summer. Then like clockwork again they migrate home in the fall and collect EI, while making a little cash time to time under the table. It sickens me to no end!!! If you are lucky enough to get a job than HOLD ON TO IT!!!

Of course then there is the other side of the coin, I also know tons of people who are working in every corner of the world, making an honest living and contributing to society.

The problem with most things in live is that the good is overlooked and people dwell on the bad. I think we have many more hardworking people than the lazy, just seems they stand out a little more.

Gordon said...

I used to be part of the 10 weeks of work, 42 weeks of UIC crowd, until I found a job in Europe where I could work all year long.... and I have not looked back.

I must say, one of the events that got me thinking about a "new life" was a story back in the early 1990's in western Newfoundland, when a woodcutter (or whatever they are called) said she was "not interested in money". Instead, she "wanted stamps". That made me realisze how dependent we had had become on this artificial economy.... to the point of really believing all the government had to do was print out bank notes to make people prosperous.

I do not know what life is like back home now, but I am getting the feeling that we need to learn a lot more.

no longer proud said...

Gordon, if you don't mind me asking... What part of Europe are you in? What do you do? And how did you get the job? I ask because I've been interested for quite some time in getting off the Rock to seek work, but the thought of heading west literally makes me queasy. I've developed quite an aversion complex towards Canada and if I'm to find meaningful employment, I'd much prefer to move east.

I'd be much obliged for any info,

Anonymous said...

This is what has disgusted me about Newfoundlanders for years. How often do you hear when a fish plant/mine/forestry op... is closing:

"If I don't get me 8 weeks i'm goin' to have to go on welfare!"

Na kiddin' what did you think that EI check was?? Social assistance!!

God knows you didn't pay into it g enough for it to be insurance!

Newfoundlanders want us (other Newfoundlanders and Canadians) to pay them to live in their pretty little communities surronded by friends and family.

It disgusts me to fill out a tax form and know that i'm paying for "John MacDoe" to live in his town while I leave my friends and family to sweat it out in some god forsaken country.

My argument is: If you can't find a job in you small town MOVE!! The rest of us have to...and don't pretend your too good for "welfare" its paying your morgage.

Lady_Celes said...

NO! I will not be moving away from my small town ever again! I have a right to stay here and will continue to demand realistic solutions for the economic and social problems faced by rural communities.

There are certain things that would help a great deal such as improvements in transportation systems to the cities, more focus on adult literacy, coordinating worker rotations to get people employed in other parts of Canada -yes, seasonally!

And yes, home with stamps because we value the family above all else and want to persue a traditional lifestyle. We have the right to remain on our ancestors lands and to earn our living from the land and sea that has sustained us for generations in the past. We have the right to fight against those who try to cut us down, insult and ridicule us for choosing a traditional lifestyle.

Life is not about the money. Having a lot of money is not necessary to life. We only need enough to pay the basic bills. We shouldn't be forced to leave home in order to do that, instead, governments and business should be forced to move some operations to the country.

FedUpBC said...

Life is about responsibility, Little Girl.

Those who want a "traditional lifestyle" damn well better be able to pay for it without sucking off the teet of the hard-working taxpayer.

Cause taking care of you and yours, that's YOUR responsibility.

Not mine.

Patriot said...

I can see this topic is getting hot. I can also see it has gone in a direction that was not the point of the original article.

You folks are talking about people moving to find work vs. people staying put where there is no work. The topic was neither. The topic was people who are offered a job in their own area but are too lazy to take it. Big difference.

I'm not saying the topic being discussed is not important or interesting, just that it isn't the point of the thread.

Ok. Now I'll go back to my corner. Just pretend I wasn't even here.

allen said...

I just found yr site so I'll go back in a minute & do some more reading. But, a favor or as you say, favour, to ask. I have a 2nd cousin who lives in Goose Bay (w/ family) in Happy Valley. I've lost the rest of his address. Is there any way you can furnish me with a zip code? The Postal Svc here gets very uppity if I don't put one.

Glenn in GP said...

I remember when being on welfare was considered shameful, now it is an accepted way of life for far too many when it was intended to be a second chance. The same goes for EI. I too was on the program off and on over a 5 year period and realized that I was never going to get ahead so I packed up the wife and kids and moved west. Nothing rubs me more than when I hear people, particularly fisherman, saying the government owes them or has to intervene to improve their lot. What I hear is people wanting me to subsidize their way of life.

Why do fisherman get to write off expenses like businesses and then get to collect EI? There are pleas right now from Earl McCurdy for the feds to buy out fisherman in their 50's because they are too long in the tooth to retrain or relocate. The fishery closed in 92 and these fisherman were than in their 30's and the tags program offered re-training. Why didn't these fisherman retrain? Why did they stay in the fishery and why do they now expect me, the taxpayer, to bail them out again? Where does it end? Fourteen years and 2 spawning cycles later we are still having the same discussion.

Sorry, little off topic but the point I am trying to make is there has to be a paradigm shift in the attitudes of NL's. For things to change we have to change, and that means changing our philosophies. I suspect over time and with the advances in education and literacy this will occur.

Myles, below the leave your comment window it says "Choose an identity." Very fitting don't you think?

crazy american said...


I’ve actually been more lurking lately than participating, I guess it was because I didn’t see anything that made me flip(per) out in a unsealme manner... but it seems to me that there is a commonality to your original writing and some of the directions that the responses seem to be heading.

For a lot of people (myself included) a sense of identity comes not only from the inidividual's memories and accumulated experiences, but also from one’s place in a community and the things (goods, house, belongings, prestige, friendship, enmity and others) which helps to maintain that place in the community. But at least for most of the people I know, the WHO that people think they are is generally described in terms of WHAT they do. It’s not a big stretch to say that in some ways we think of ourselves in terms of our occupation first, and all the non occupational things come later such as married, kids, dogs, hobbies or whatever.

So what happens when the culture and society itself, in a noble attempt to reach out and assist people who need help, sets up a regularized systematized handout?

When people first face the practical dilemma of accepting the dole, they have to confront the very real problem of what they do not being who they are anymore. For myself, this led to some very real decisions. First, whether I would accept the dole, and secondly whether I would not let it drag me down if I did. While I will readily admit that I like to think I’m too stinkin proud to start accepting unemployment insurance payments (as it is called here in the US), at least a part of me didn’t want to even start down that road. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.

But for those who do, the best thing in the world is for them to get off it. SOON!!

Why? because it can become ingrained in their own thinking of themselves. What you now are speaking about can and does become a way of life for a segment of society. This is not unique to Newfoundland either. It exists in a lot more places than anyone likes to admit. Where I grew up, the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of town was more a description of people on welfare and unemployment than a set of streets and tenements.

The most basic of all the problems is what the original article was “boiling” over about, which is the attitude and belief structure of this way of life. Attitudes and beliefs are by far the most difficult things to change in my opinion. That sense of self in terms of a person who lives first by the stamps and then by the work and is comfortable with being that person is both a belief and an attitude.

The most that can be done is to change the behavior – through law and/or through common actions fostering changes in behavior and then wait for attitudes to change over time.

In short (although for some reason my posts never end up being short), until the rules and regulations are changed regarding people receiving the dole, then this attitude will continue to be an outgrowth.

The only real value suggestion is to “sort of” agree with what I think lady_celes was trying to say, and that appears to coincide with what you have often written about. Government and industry have to work together to bring jobs back.

For those who only work to get the insurance?. If the larger portion of the communities were not only self sufficient, but also staying local, then the local welfare based community would no longer be even as marginally acceptable as it seems to be now.
That would begin the process of changing attitudes.

There may be other ways to get there. But frankly I don’t know of any that are not draconian in their implementation

Lady_Celes said...

If there is a job in the community then yes the person should get off their butt and take the job. Does anyone think $295 a month on welfare for an able person is not incentive to get a job if one is available? I did pack up and move to Ontario and lived there 18 years but am much happier to be back home again. I thought it was important to get ahead, get a better job etc. but now I know it was more important to support my own community. The people who I left behind were suffering. They were getting less money, less education and less services, more and more jobs were taken away without being replaced. They have become hopeless and full of apathy thinking things will never change. You can only ask for real help so many times and have the door slammed in your face that you stop asking. What's the use of complaining? Nobody ever listens! Nothing ever changes!
Well, I say to heck with that attitude! Fight back, demand change, demand services, demand equality!

Anonymous said...

When I work 60 hours a week 52 weeks a year while there are other Newfoundlanders who work 8 weeks yet are supported for 52 on my tax dollar--- Where is the equality?? Where is the community support, if all my tax dollars were not going to support people _choice_ to live in a community with no industry, perhaps if our tax dollars were not going into such a disgusting handout for so many people we could be investing our tax dollars where it matters, health care, education blah blah blah.

Celes, do you work 45 weeks are year or more?

Anonymous said...

EI is somewhere between 45-55% of your income during those 8-12 weeks and is MUCH more then $295 a month...I believe that is the reason why people don't want to get out of bed in the morning. Lady_Celes your right, make EI for repeat offenders $295 and perhaps they will stop abusing tax payers!

Anonymous said...

Top EI is about $460 a week for 32 weeks (entire year now for fishers). Most people who actually fish on a boat and not work in a plant get top EI, and that includes the fisherperson's significant other, sons and daughters, cousins, nephews, etc., even though many of them have never seen the boat they supposedly work on!

I know I'm pushing the big buttons here now, but it helps serve my point.

The point is that some fisherpersons have it so good that they don't even have to baord a boat. They just have a boats catch labeled in their name so they can qualify for EI (2 claims, summer and winter now which extend them the rest of the year). So why would they want to take a legit job when they don't have to work at all - never - to get $460 a week.

Then there's the issue of what these people do with the 52 weeks a year they have on the hand. They work under the table for cash and cut legit workers out of jobs because they can work for cheaper. I suppose they can when they have $460 a week coming in before they even get out of bed in the morning.

The system need fixing. More people to monitor it, more accountability from it's claimants, and stiffer penalities for those who break the laws.

Were you ready, able and willing to work during the period of this report? (YES/NO)

Answer truthfully now!!

Anonymous said...

Why is it so taboo for people to stand up and say that this culture of abuse is wrong?

Anonymous said...

Lady_Celes said..."We shouldn't be forced to leave home in order to do that, instead, governments and business should be forced to move some operations to the country."

Who has ever 'forced' you to leave home? You can live where you want. But why should I be forced to pay for you to live where you want? That is the horrible attitude that so many in Newfoundland have. They think the government will pay their way. Listen...the government doesn't have money. That money they give to people like you to live there comes from the rest of us. Why should WE (the taxpayers) be FORCED to pay for your traditional lifestyle??? And no business should be forced to operate in any area. We are not a communist country...although I'm sure you wish we were.

no longer proud said... "but the thought of heading west literally makes me queasy" Why is that? Because of all the work? I am from Newfoundland and proud of it, but I am also now very proud to be working and making a great living in Alberta. I will always miss Newfoundland but I am also very happy in this great province. I am never sad to hear about people anywhere in country out of work...when there is no shortage here. The only shortage here is people to fill the jobs.

no longer proud said...

Anonymous said...
no longer proud said... "but the thought of heading west literally makes me queasy" Why is that? Because of all the work? I am from Newfoundland and proud of it, but I am also now very proud to be working and making a great living in Alberta...

Well bully for you, anonymous... However, you obviously didn't get my point. I said in my earlier post "I've developed quite an aversion complex towards Canada and if I'm to find meaningful employment, I'd much prefer to move east." 'East' in this case meaning EUROPE (which unfortunately, Gordon did not get back to me about). Now please tell me what that has to do with the work situation in Alberta???

'No Longer Proud' refers to my complete loss of respect for this country (and this province to a slightly lesser degree). The farce that is Canadian politics has had a huge impact on how I view this place, and if I am to leave NL then I would prefer to leave the country altogether. I've been to Alberta in the past, and outside of money, it has nothing to offer me (Yes, I'm one of those who thinks there's more to life than money...). And since I'm single with no kids to support, I can afford to be ideological. So why then, should I try to integrate myself into a society I'd rather not be a part of??? (No offence intended towards Albertans, as I feel the same towards Canada as a whole...)

Does this explanation help my original comment make more sense now??? Because it obviously didn't make sense to you the first time...

Anonymous said...