McJobs Won’t Pay For Canada’s Social Safety Net


Tim Murray

When the Concerned Citizens for Immigration Reform monitored 152 McDonalds franchises in Connecticut they discovered that Hispanics were over-represented as staff 6 to 9 times in relation to their proportion of the general population of the state. Missing in action for the most part were African Americans, Euro-Americans, seniors and high school students who formerly depended on those jobs to scrape by or supplement the family income. Researchers found that Hispanics accounted for 87% of McDonalds employees in Fairfield County and 64% in New Haven—quite an achievement for a demographic that comprised just 10% of the population at the time of the survey.

McDonalds of course would not over-represent Hispanics because they love Mexican culture or have any plans to switch to a Mexican menu. They simply love the bottom line: cheap wages and low benefits. This is a business motive that is as old as the hills. But, in this era, that motive is dressed up as a quest for cultural diversity and liberal tolerance. And any opposition to it is depicted as nasty, nativist and bigoted. One wonders how diverse MexAmerica will be in 2040 with 450 million people living without the diversity of wildlife, farmland or water and the absence of a First Amendment to do anything about it because free speech has long been sacrificed on the altar of ethnic harmony.

Too many Canadians, especially those who engineer public opinion, elect governments and frame immigration policy, think in the same way. They believe that Canada needs a McJob fix to prevent a labour shortage or supply the demographic base for an aging work-force that will need pension and medical support. They seem willfully ignorant of studies that have examined unskilled workers, who comprise the vast portion of immigrants (legal or illegal) on both sides of the border. These studies conclude consistently that these workers are unable to pay enough income tax to even reimburse government coffers for the services they consume, never mind subsidize the needs of others.

According to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, each family of illegal immigrants, almost universally unskilled, cost American taxpayers some $22,000 annually in services provided minus taxes paid. In total, $338 billion in expenditures were paid out in that same year (2007) for an illegal immigrant population that was conservatively estimated to be 12 million in number. Other studies, mostly done by Edwin Rubenstein of ESR Research Economic Consultants, only confirmed this portrait of a crushing unskilled immigrant burden.

Herbert Grubel, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Simon Fraser University, painted the Canadian problem in similar colours. In 2002 alone, the group of immigrants who had arrived between 1990-2002 cost taxpayers $18.3 billion. The figure for each of the years since then is probably much higher. If these people are such a drain, why is Canada taking them? The answer is that a politically driven immigration selection process has favoured the recruitment of unskilled workers, who comprise an incredible 80% of Canada’s total intake. Many are brought in under the Family Class or the extended family wing of the Economic Class. Most of the remainder, the refugees, lack meaningful skills. Incredibly, most of these immigrants apparently lack the most important vocational skill of all—fluency in at least one of the two official languages. Of 600,000 admitted in 1998-2000, only 43% spoke English or French.

American commentary suggests that it takes on average the salaries of 2 to 3 workers to pay for the social security cheque of one retiree. However, if those workers are employed at Walmart, it takes 5 of them to achieve the same result. If these workers are employed at McDonald’s, it takes 9 of them. . If supporting an aged population is going to be the rationale given for mass immigration, a claim demolished by logic and analysis in at least two countries, then importing people qualified to work only at McJobs is not the answer. We are merely building a social safety net on a foundation of imported low-wage quick sand—and killing the environment in the process.

And if a skills shortage does indeed exist, uncorroborated as it is by any thorough and objective inventory, it is chronic in a growth economy that ultimately must be abandoned in favour of a steady-state model. In the meantime, immediate needs could be satisfied with an immigration quota 20% or less of its present level and targeted to those who could assist us, rather than the reverse. Such a policy would deliver more bang for the ecological buck we are paying by allowing any increment to our hyper-consumer society.

Significantly, the $18.3 Billion transferred to immigrants in the year 2000/2001 was 16% of all federal spending. In that same year, the $18.3 Billion was also more than what the federal government spent on health care. As Canadians can see, these amounts were very substantial then and are probably even more so now. If the money saved from abandoning mass immigration and population growth could be deployed in training Canadians to fill Canadian jobs, it would make a great difference to the lives of many Canadians. Any surplus money could be spent on increased foreign aid to help potential immigrants where they should be helped—in their own countries. And that surplus money should be given on the condition that family planning programmes are put into place in those countries.

Let McDonalds hire locals at decent wages and train them to cook real food at realistic prices. If they cant afford that, they shouldnt be in business.

B.C. Writer Tim Murray is the author of this bulletin.