Saturday, August 05, 2006

Need a Job?

Ok, I wasn't planning to start with this; but the story came up this week, and I decided to go with it and jump in the deep end.

Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Monte Solburg [ NB. Ministers change frequently here, so check the link for the current minister
(Bio of Minister) ], was interviewed about his department's plans to help relieve the labor shortage in Alberta. There were a few specific things mentioned, but the biggest emphasis was on how this government is willing to act quickly and in a practical manner to help workers come to Canada. (How to Apply) .

So you may be asking what the emergency is and who can take advantage of it. Here is where it gets interesting, and also challenges your views on ethical income. First off, it is "earnings season" on the stock markets. This is a time when companies post their profits and losses. And a lot of companies are embarrassingly full of cash. This puts pressure on the companies. They have to find way to hide that cash before the shareholders start getting ideas about extra dividends, etc. This is why you may be hearing about companies buying back their stock, or investing in plant infrastructure.

The Oil Companies are chock full of cash and are looking for ways to get it into play. Canada has huge oil and gas deposits, and Alberta has some of the biggest on earth. The trouble is that it is in the form of "oil sands" which require labor intensive processing. The Big Oil Companies are ready to pour money into these projects. They have bought, or leased the land. They have the cash. They have a government who is pro-industry. The only thing missing is the labor!

There is a huge labor shortage in Alberta. Time and time again I have heard oil companies announce that projects are on hold because they just cannot get the people. "How can this be", you ask? Well, you may not know this, but the entire population of Canada is roughly the same as the State of California! Canadians are sitting on a country which is one of the largest in the world, with only a few cities worth of people. So when huge developments are undertaken we are hard pressed to fill the need. And Alberta is one of the more sparsely populated of our provinces and territories. Also, the Oil Sands are in northern Alberta, which means that it is fairly remote and a bit chilly at times. The area is also going through the typical boom town troubles. But for the worker who is there to work hard and pack away the cash, there are plenty of opportunities.

Remember, there is a trickle down effect in the job shortage. It is not just the Oil Companies who are hiring, but every conceivable business that supports them and the steady flow of people. Restaurants are giving loyalty bonuses to workers who stay for certain periods of time. Builders are recruiting in Mexico and other countries for skilled labor. If you want to work, there is a job there for you.

Now for the Ethical snag. Is it Ethical to work for a company in the Fossil Fuel industry? Is is ethical to work for companies who are supporting that industry? With all the talk about global warming, and the severe weather conditions we have been experiencing, and the sheer ugliness of the excavations; is this something you can do and feel proud? I believe you can, but you have to make up your own mind.

Here are some of my reasons:
  • Our modern society runs on fossil fuels. We focus on gas for our cars because that is the most obvious thing, but if you look closer you will be hard pressed to find ANYTHING in your life that is not attached to fossil fuels. Take a close look around you. Is there one item which does not have some component made up of an oil byproduct eg. plastic, or any item which did not get to you through a transportation system running on fossil fuels? Right now, we need oil, and we need a steady reliable supply. Helping to sustain a Canadian supply is the right thing to do.
  • People who work hard are some of the best people I have ever met! I have had the priviledge to work with some of the strongest, hardest working men and women you will ever meet. I've also had the opportunity to work with quite a few slackers and intellectuals. I think you know who the happiest, most satisfied people were. Pride in the job and an insistence on perfection were drilled into me by these people. I learned a lot from them. These were people you could trust. And I think that is the gold standard for Ethics.
Well there you go. I rambled on as usual. I'll try to convert this to audio in a bit, so you don't have to suffer through reading it all.

'til next time

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