On Good Authority

I was quoted in the House of Commons question period yesterday by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

“Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I know the NDP bandies about numbers with respect to jobs, so I thought I would seek some authority about their numbers. I went to one of the large unions and I checked what they said. The Canadian Labour of Congress’ chief economist, Andrew Jackson, said:

‘The Conservatives have the job numbers about right. Since the worst part of the recession we have created 600,000 jobs. We even have more jobs in Canada than we had at the beginning of the recession.’

There is a good authority you should respect.”

I am flattered, but I would have preferred it if the Minister had quoted me in full.

The source was an interview I did with Global News. The following is an extract:

“Roughly that’s true, since the worst part of the recession we’ve created 600,000 jobs. We even have more jobs in Canada than we had at the beginning of the recession.”

But that is not all I said.

The Global story continues:

But job numbers shouldn’t be the only way Canadians assess the government’s success in job creation, said Jackson. ”

The labour force is growing faster than the number of jobs, meaning the proportion of Canadians with jobs has fallen, according to numbers crunched by the Canadian Labour Congress.

“Before the recession about 64 per cent of working-age Canadians had some kind of job and now it is down to 62 per cent,” he said, adding that the number of people working part-time or on contract has also risen.

“By more realistic ways of looking at the state of the job market before the recession, we are not back to where we were,” he said.


  • Well what are you going to do with a minister who thinks that the CLC is a union? But then again his boss thinks “L’état c’est moi”.

  • The reply was about NUMBERS of jobs. The NDP claimed a loss in number of jobs and the quote was in reply to that. If the question had been about percentage of working-age Canadians actually working then your comment would be more apt. As you know questions and answers in QP are time limited.

  • I seen that one coming yesterday. Amazing how closely the Tories follow you Andrew! I guess that they do really respect you- but sadly not enough to speak the truth. Maybe you should send Flaherty a xmas card with the message – get stuffed!

    I think I would have also qualifed that many of those jobs are of much lower quality. (which you did mention some growth in jobs are in the form of part-time.) Ben Tal’s quality survey really hit that one. Sadly I have never been able to launch my own job quality study- no funding, no time and therefore can’t get it done.

    However I did come up with a listing of diemnsions that one could look into job quality from a macro perspective so I thought I would list them here to make a point, these are rough guidleines that I need to refine but I do think they get at precarious dynamics of work and how it needs to be examined:

    My index would include some weighing based on the following

    1) part-time work as a % of fulltime work
    2) wanting fulltime but working part-time
    3) estimated number of fixed term workers
    4) temp agency workers
    5) self employed contract workers different from own account owner operators and other self employed
    6)discouraged workers as measured in the r8 unemployment estimates
    7)unemployed as measured by the r5
    9) participation rate of prime aged population in full time work
    10) underemployed- (tough one to measure) one can use the first 4 digits of the Occupational code to determine educational requirements of a job versus the actual education of the worker
    11) unionzed status of a worker
    12) seasonality measure of jobs
    13) Wage companents i.e. growth in various quintiles of the employment (or other proportion of income groupings)
    14) distance between the 1 and 3rd quartile of prime aged workers
    15) Industrial dimension of job growth, i.e. measure the down stream job creation aspects of industrial growth
    16) higher skilled job growth, ie.e use Occational code.

    My list is still not complete. But work now stinks quite badly of precariousness.

    So as we can see from my listing. A job as Mr. Flaherty purposely pulled up short on his quote from Andrew is not just a job anymore. We no longer live in the new deal post war era, where jobs were of a higher quality and therefore saying 600,000 jobs is not just saying 600,000 jobs, it is much less.

    Oh well Andrew, maybe you can pick a fight with him and make more of this misquote than if he would have actually quoted you properly. Now we have controversy and that is good! I try to be an optimist once in awhile.


  • Andrew, that comment was not aimed at you, it was targeting the arrogance of Flaherty. I know you could write several volumes of books on the topic of precarious work.

    I am still just cannot believe those phrackin tories woukd use the house of commons to tear the house of labour apart like that. Pisses me off quite a bit for such a lack of respect.

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