In the Liberal circles in the US, the Canadian system of welfare is often an object of envy. “Why can’t we provide the same social safety net that Canadians do?” people keep asking. I can’t tell you whether the welfare system of Canada can be transplanted to the US. However, as a proud citizen of that great country whose family and closest friends live there right now, I have to tell you that the Canadian system, as I see it, is deeply flawed. Over the years, I have come to believe that the Canadian version of “capitalism with a kind face” is a road to nowhere. Now, please don’t start getting angry already and just let me tell you why I think that.
My experience is mostly limited to the provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia, so if things are dramatically different in other parts of the country, feel free to tell me that.
The system of welfare in Quebec seems to rely on the basic conviction that if a person doesn’t feel like working for whatever reason, then she or he should be allowed to do so and be provided with basic necessities by society. (In Nova Scotia, this idea is less strong but it’s still there, at least do a degree.) If you want to spend your entire life in Canada and not work for a single day, you can absolutely do that. Abusing the system is very easy. I keep seeing people who declare themselves indigent and permanently unemployed (or unemployed most of the year) and who have much more comfortable lifestyles that those poor losers who work day and night, pay ruinous taxes, and can’t scrounge up enough money for a vacation.
“Ha ha ha,” the welfare-recipients sometimes say to the working bees. “You’ve got to be silly or something. You work and work, and what have you got? I, in the meanwhile, am going on a cruise in the Caribbean on my welfare money.”
If somebody is experiencing the need right now to tell me that I’m making this up, don’t. You’ll just make a fool out of yourself. I have played the working bee part in such conversations and have witnessed my family members doing so very very recently. And yes, I’m angry about that.
Of course, as a result, people start getting discouraged from working. My sister has her own job recruitment agency in Montreal. She tells me that often, when she offers entry-level positions to young people, she hears, “Nah, the salary isn’t all that much more than what I’m getting on the unemployment, so why bother?”
An entire generation of the over-entitled, nah-why-bother people grows up.
(To be continued. . .)