Account Ability

A screen capture from the CBC Calgary news about dog treats made in China poisoning pets. Image and story belong to the CBC and associated companies
A screen capture from the CBC Calgary news about dog treats made in China poisoning pets. Image and story belong to the CBC and associated companies

If you watched my YouTube video series, “David Needs A Job”, you know I often bring up the opinion of keeping jobs in Canada instead of farming them out overseas. Some viewers disagreed with my opinion, claiming I’m a protectionist who is against a global economy. That’s untrue: I have no problem with importing goods from overseas and having companies compete across a level playing field globally. The problem I have is exporting jobs out of Canada, leaving Canadians either unemployed or facing the unpleasant prospect of travelling overseas to find work. I’m no fan of seeing families broken up just so someone can earn a buck. That’s just the beginning, however.

The impact of outsourcing goes further than just unemployment. Unlike the Canadian counterparts that they replace, foreign workers overseas do not pay Canadian income tax. These means government revenue needed to maintain services like roads, hospitals, sanitation, the electrical grid, and schools and universities is reduced and the quality of service declines, impacting those who depend on them.

Taking this argument further, it’s important to remember that the unemployed make really lousy consumers. Take myself for example. I’m using free Wi-Fi at the main library in Kitchener right now, and my laptop is plugged into a wall. I’m free-riding both Internet and hydro because I cannot afford either, while the library absorbs the costs. I am also not going on vacations, buying tablet computers, or going to concerts or fancy restaurants. Keeping that in mind, multiply that one person (myself) by a factor of hundreds of thousands and you now have that many people not buying consumer goods. If companies can’t sell their products, they don’t make money. If companies do not make money, they either close down and employees become the unemployed, or downsize, which also lays off workers but not as many. Also take into consideration that if companies downsize, the services they require that other companies supply are also impacted and they too must make difficult decisions that impact workers. The domino effect continues from that point like a financial tsunami across our economy. This is why economists always look to the consumer confidence index when predicting whether the economy is headed toward either a recession or a strong period of growth.

Up to now I’ve argued from a dollars and cents point of view, but there’s also the concern of accountability that needs to be raised. To use myself again as an example, I worked in the Information Technology field for 20 years at three companies. I was not fired from any of those places. I did not work for such a long time in that field because I played golf with the boss, or dated the HR manager. I was responsible for the administration of hundreds of thousands of dollars of hardware and software, and had I behaved irresponsibly during that time, my employment would be terminated quite easily. Had I worked for an outsourcing company in say, India or Singapore, and if I behaved irresponsibly in those same duties, I would not have been as easily removed. I know this for a fact because I have worked with such outsourcing agencies in my career, and found it very difficult to get those contract workers to take ownership and responsibility for mistakes made.

Let’s take that accountability to one involving public safety. How comfortable would you be if essential services were placed under the control of a foreign company or agency? Imagine if, for example with the Walkerton tainted water scandal here in Ontario, quality control of the water was under administration of a private company outside of Canada. Do you think those responsible would be held accountable? What about those products imported from China that contain high levels of lead? If those same products were manufactured in Canada, there would be improved quality control and a greater degree of accountability for the companies and the employees responsible for ensuring those products are safe for consumers. We would not be hearing stories about deadly dog treats and toys that make our children sick.

No doubt there will still be some of you who won’t change your minds about outsourcing even after reading what I wrote here. I hope at least I’ve offered a convincing argument that outsourcing is a decision where careful consideration is strongly recommended.

Thanks for reading!



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