Taiwan Immigrant : Immigration Displacing Canadians, Robbing Government
I am a Taiwanese immigrant. I work as a Builder Consultant in Metro Vancouver.
The housing market has boomed in recent years. One can see new buildings going up every day and everywhere. But is it really such great news? Is our “real” economy booming along with the massive construction of new buildings? Who benefits from this false housing boom?
The government has thought that a housing boom would enable workers to find work, make more income, live a better life, and pay more taxes. But this hasn’t happened.
As a builder consultant, I have handled a lot of new residential housing developments, and it’s actually a very sad situation. Yes, the housing boom has created a lot of jobs for construction workers, but which ones actually get work? The answer is the cheap-labour type.
Let’s look at the cost of framing a house. The average price charged by local Canadian contractors is about $8 per square foot, but there are many East Indian framers who charge $3-$4 per square foot. So, if a house is 3000 square foot, it would cost $24,000 to hire local Canadian contractors, but only $12,000 or less to hire East Indian ones. So who’s really reaping the benefits from the housing boom? I know the government is the loser because, in construction, there are lots of cash deals going on, and lots of taxes are evaded every day. I’ve often seen owner-investors show up with $10,000 to pay workers in cash !!!.
Our local Canadian workers are also losers. They can’t compete with the cheap labour offered by ethnic groups and they have been displaced. The winners are the immigrants, both legal and illegal ones. I have not heard from any labour union regarding this issue. I don’t know why they are not protesting about their own members being displaced !!!
Unions and government should realize that in the Asian culture, it’s a common practice to undercut in pricing. If you visit any construction site in Greater Vancouver, I’d bet you would see that 95% of the workers are East Indians, because their labour is extremely cheap. You can pay for three workers but six will show up to work for you. Three of them are legal but cheap labour, and the other three are cheap and illegal because they are not authorized to work in Canada. Most of these illegals are visitors who come to Canada to visit their relatives, and while in Canada, they go to construction sites and make some extra cash.
So, in fact, this housing boom is actually putting many Canadian contractors and construction workers out of work. I have seen East Indian workers charging $6 an hour to clean up construction sites. It’s way lower than the minimum wage.
To illustrate the problem even more, I tried to attend a special trades school a while ago. I wanted to learn some actual hands-on skills. I was interviewed by a Caucasian lady. She asked me which trade I was interested in, and before I could open my mouth, she said, “Don’t go into roofing or framing. Those trades have been taken over by the East Indians”. That warning occurred probably 6 years ago. The situation is much worse now. The demolition, roofing, plumbing, drywall installation, and framing are totally dominated by East Indians, most of whom work for a very low price for cash !!! This has discouraged many people, our young included, from training.
The story doesn’t end at building sites and schools. I used to work in an architect firm. I designed houses on the computer. My ex-boss architect charged $10 per square foot to design a house. But there are non-White architects charging $1 per square foot. It’s one tenth of the price!!! What can I say? The Chinese and East Indians are really good at undercutting each other.
The quality of the work is awful, yet it does meet the minimum standard set in the by-laws, and the owner-investors are happy with that. These are investors who build houses to sell, so they don’t really care about the quality, as long as the houses are “presentable”. In my professional opinion, these houses are not even presentable. In fact, I’d say no wonder the new houses in Richmond are so ugly.
My ex-boss designs only for home owners who actually have a sense of what a beautiful house should look like. Most of his clients are Caucasian. Those $1-architects design for boorish owner-investors who come mostly from China.
Finally, let’s look at the interest rate. The interest rate has been kept at an historical low for a couple of years now. If our economy were really booming, the interest rate would have been raised in order to cool down the economy. But the interest rate has not been raised. Instead, our government is worried about the bursting of the housing market bubble. This indicates that our economy has not improved even though the housing market is booming.
I would recommend the following :
(1) Identify those who are scamming Canada. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and provinces should work together to do this.
(2) Make buying harder for foreigners, including Permanent Residents, by charging them a sum that is hefty enough to discourage them. Don’t use an increase in interest rates to stop these buyers because that will hurt average Canadians. I have a couple of clients who are constantly building new houses, and let me tell you, these people buy houses with cash. In fact, I know someone whose Mainland Chinese parents buy ten to twenty houses every time they go house hunting in Vancouver !!! They do not need to borrow money from the bank. So, making it harder to borrow does not stop these people from buying.
(3) Thoroughly check the backgrounds of these foreign buyers. These foreign investors have broken the balance of the game. It is extremely important for Canada to realize that the legality of the source of their money is always in doubt. When we eliminate these super rich buyers from the market, regular Canadian buyers can compete in a fair environment. Such an environment does not exist now.