Looking for Work in Toronto, Canada: Difficult

It is with great dismay that I have been reading news reports that the recession in Canada has been over for many months, yet I still cannot find work. I consider myself to be an intelligent fellow, very well educated with work experience to match, but somehow I’ve lost my golden touch. Really, that is putting it mildly. Logically speaking if I had not been fortuitous enough to live a frugal and stable life in the past, today I should be in bankruptcy, living off food banks and be a beggar in the street. Smart strategies and a whole lot of luck in the past have saved me this fate. Or was it typical Chinese values. One will never know.

I read economic reports and can get around their doublespeak. The fact is that Canada is very dependent on the US, and “When the US sneezes, Canada catches a cold”. Trade has not changed all that much. I am also aware enough that if the consumer market does not pep up, the economy is doomed. I believe both these factors are at work here in Toronto, Canada. How the present Government if Canada can say that the near future will be better, I have no clue. I believe that they are also clueless.

An article in today’s Globe and Mail, Recession over? Not in Toronto Area by Tavia Grant, is more accurate of what I see in Toronto. Toronto is in deep trouble. The unemployment rate is by far higher than what any politicians dare to admit, and there’s very little being done about correcting the problem.

Some of the article quotes hit me pretty hard.

Bankruptcies in Toronto are nearly triple the national average. Higher-paying manufacturing jobs are disappearing while lower-paying service-sector jobs are being created. More people are waiting for social housing. Welfare rates are the highest in more than a decade.

The unemployment rate for the census metropolitan area has risen to 9.2 per cent, well above the national average, and an analysis to be released on Friday predicts it will remain elevated for two more years

Cripes. The last two years were economically strangling, I cannot imagine how people can survive for another two years.

Many of the country’s 1.5 million unemployed are seeing sluggish hiring. Rony Sehayek, a former IT specialist at Nortel Networks Corp., is one of them. The 50-year-old father of two has been out of work for more than a year. He has had to cash in RRSPs and can no longer afford his son’s karate lessons, or maintenance on his car…

The Concordia University commerce graduate spent much of the past year doing all the right things – taking night courses, networking, polishing his resumé, upgrading his skills, applying for jobs. No luck. “It’s very difficult,” he said. “Companies are looking for more specific requirements. And there are a lot more candidates applying.”

Good luck with that. My situation is near the same. Maybe I should just change my name to Rony Sehayek. Not only in the article, but many comments that were submitted to the G&M echoed Rony’s lack of employment.

The fastest-growing population at food banks are single males from 45 to 60 years old who were typically employed in manufacturing, lost their jobs, exhausted unemployment benefits and have liquidated their assets, said executive director Gail Nyberg… “As citizens of this city and province and country, we need to figure out what to do. Many will never work again.”

These are atypical times, but I cannot help wondering if those decimated, including myself, will be able to pull ourselves out of the muck, and more importantly, how will our kids fare in such a harsh economic environment.

Comments from the G&M are very telling. I will try to summarize some of the sentiments:

  • Stop new immigrants from settling in Toronto: This is not even close to racist, but a reflection of reality. Toronto has insufficient jobs to support those that are already here, much less adding new people to the problem.
  • Government in Federal, Ontario and Toronto waste money and enact policies that economically hurt the common worker: Radical change is required. People are mad and will vote to change the status quo and kick out those that continue the problem.
  • The recession is still here, and getting worse: We don’t believe the rosy views of politicians, who after a couple more months then change their views to more pessimistic. Come on, show some professionalism. We pay you to lead the country, to forecast properly and accurately.
  • Social services and food banks are tapped out. Many people are struggling and are on the thin edge of living

For sure there has been a marked change in spending philosophy of the average Joe. Rampant and runaway consumerism has been beaten down. I believe this is a good thing. Many families are cutting back to only the basics, doing things like entertainment that does not cost a lot of money. We shall see if the Christmas season will bode well for Canadian retailers, but I fear not.

One area the G&M article did not touch on is the psychological collateral damage of unemployment for those that have education, skills and work experience, who have previously had no problems getting gainful employment. There is telling the kids we have no extra cash, so they cannot do this or that club. There is the self doubt where none existed previously. There is the stress of wondering how will the family survive and possibly thrive. This impact weighs heavily on many of these people, myself included. We are the backbone of our families, and when we crumble so do our families. The psychological stress weighs heavily on many, and will result in long term mental illness. Maybe this will matter little when we are out on the street begging.

I have included some of the more relevant comments from the G&M article. They cut through the rhetoric of our politicians. They are the voice of a frustrated electorate. I do hope someone is listening.

Another example from Ottawa. Good position & salary with big company, lots of skills, international, successful mid-career, laid-off, no stable job for 13 month. High competition for a few positions. Got part time for 5 month, 50% previous salary, then back in the street. Spouse keeps housing afloat, reduced spending budget to min. Former colleagues in Montreal, USA, Europe in similar situation. (Olivier1)

This news is disappointing but not unexpected. Over the past 20 years we have outsourced a number of good paying jobs in the name of “wealth generation”. Don’t be naive, they weren’t just manufacturing jobs. They were IT development, payroll administration, accounting and others. Our business and political leadership have so far ignored the issue but the fact is societies’ desire for good numbers – whether in investment grow or cheaper products – has driven our future off-shore and undercut our ability to control our own economy. We can’t generate jobs and produce material anymore. We just sell and sell-out our natural resources.
The only solution is to demand domestically produced products. Force businesses and their leadership to stop thinking about quarterly earning and shareholder value and return to the idea of actually producing something with a sustainable approach that benefits the markets they serve. We have a local food craze, now its time for a buy local products craze. Set a personal priority to buy Canadian products first, then North American and finally off-shore (if you must). Control of our future needs to be returned and the consumer is best place to start. (Dig Deeper)

When you have a job, live on only what you need and not what you want. Save your money for a rainy day. You don’t need beer, take-out food, trips to Vegas, I-pods and video games for your kids. We spend money needlessly on recreation and then cry when the jobs disappear and the money stops flowing. I see it amongst the people I know as well as my own kids. Learn to enjoy walks in the park, playing an instrument, throwing frisbee or playing catch with your kids. Keep it simple and save your cash. (Manologic)

The economy has officially left the recession and the stats show all the jobs lost have now been recovered.
I think this writer is dreaming if he says the recession is over for clearly he has taken up the mantra of the current finance minister and his crystal ball predictions. One only has to look south of the border to see what the future beholds for Canadians, for the second shoe has yet to drop on the Canadian economy. As a major trading partner the American consumer has reduced his purchasing habits and is withdrawing from the malls and shopping centres because of their failing economy which is having a direct effect on Canadian exports. Further with forty million Americans on government assistance added to that double digit unemployment among American workers hard times will continue for some time to come for many Canadians who are dependent on trade related jobs. (Masdar)

A couple years ago I was out of work after being laid off by a bank. I have 13 years experience and was unemployed for over a year. When the package and EI ran out I had to go on welfare for a month. I’m now making six figures….crazy world. (wordguy2009)

Short of a revolution nothing is going to change. Canadians need to rethink their daily lives, act more cooperatively and be able to be less dependent on corporate derived income. Locally we have reduced our costs substantially by getting as far from big business and as close to local producers as possible. We save bundles by buying responsibly produced raw materials from the people who produce it. (I have been tracking our expenses for five years and our costs are way down, not up as reports would have it.) Buying a few flakes of corn or wheat remnants in pretty packaging covered with hype about health is expensive nonsense. We cook – real food. Like any hobby it takes a little time, is very rewarding and sharing amongst neighbors is far better than television. Our neighbor helps fix my car, I help fix his computer. It is very simple and the benefits are tax free. If you are 100% beholden to the corporate oligarchy for your health, food, entertainment and family, times may become very bleak unless you are on the board of directors. (Jim Brennan)

Statisticians can say the recession is over because they have jobs and some money to spend. On the other had, I am one of the 45-60 year old males who was laid off, exhausted all savings and now am on welfare.

Until all people like me have jobs, the recession can not be declared to be over. (Ernie Richards)

Increase prices on everything, because those suffering need company. I am 50+, and this has been the toughest two years in terms of keeping up with regular bills. I say increase all taxes, monopoly services, monopoly energy, and what everelse the goverments feel will have them say “this turkey is done, stick in the fork and carve him up” (JoseManZune)

60 Minutes Scott Pelley, in 99 Weeks: When Unemployment Benefits Run Out

60 Minutes Scott Pelley, in 99 Weeks: When Unemployment Benefits Run Out

Addendum: I just recently watched a 60 Minutes segment this Sunday titled “99 Weeks: When Unemployment Benefits Run Out” that interviewed many IT professionals in Silicon Valley, many who have been out of work for near two years, have exhausted their savings and are about to lose their houses. Many rely on the food bank to make ends meet. A recurrent theme is that most are university educated, between 45 and 60, had good jobs, never expected to be unemployed for so long, and have run out of savings and options.

4 thoughts on “Looking for Work in Toronto, Canada: Difficult

  1. Pingback: Don Tai (Canada) Blog » Blog Archive » Looking for Work in Toronto … | World Money Newsletter

  2. John

    Age Discrimination why is this allowed in Canada, England has already passed a law to eliminate this behavior.

    I am university educated certified CHRP (Certified Human Resources Professional) with 20 years experience as a generalist and manager for a large telco. I am 53 years of age and unable to access work in my field.

    I have applied for jobs at minimum wage, I am over qualified, I have a son who is only 15. He too cannot find part-time employment as he is too young. Please could someone please give us a chance. Or is life over at 50.

  3. dontai Post author

    John, my heart goes out to you, but I cannot offer much advice. Keep your chin up, continue to look for work, reduce spending, keep raising your son and take care of your family. This recession is brutal but will make us stronger. I refuse to believe that anyone over 50 is “washed up”.

    How to get us out of this hole I am not sure. With Canada’s productivity increases the worst in the developed world, I hope someone wakes up and takes advantage of all the experienced people eager to work. We all need someone to give us a chance.

  4. Pingback: Don Tai (Canada) Blog » Blog Archive » Long-term Joblessness in Canada

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