Open letter to Prime Minister Steven Harper and Larry Bagnell, MP for the Yukon:
We are spending four months in Mexico this winter. One of the things that hits a person here is the poverty. The poor come by the door to wash the car so that they can earn a bit of money to feed their families.
They are not lazy and therefore poor; rather there are other factors that play into the poverty here.
Autoworkers (the big three are here) pay their workers for one week the amount that an autoworker in Canada can make in two hours. These same companies have headquarters in Canada and come to us for handouts, so that the Canadian workers’ take-home pay remained the same; but in Mexico there is no help for the workers. Their pay was cut from $4.50 an hour to $1.50.
Another factor that works against Mexico is their national debt. Eighty per cent of Mexico’s income goes to service that debt. This makes it impossible to implement good social programs. Moreover, the lenders have a huge say in what the country can or cannot do, in terms of education, health care, who they have to open their markets to, etc.
Many of these implementations help only a small segment of people in Mexico, but work against many of the poor people.
It is time for Canada to step up to the plate and lead the charge for debt forgiveness, first by us and then by lenders like IMF and others.
This is an issue that needs to be addressed at the 2010 G8 Summit in Toronto, Ontario, by our leaders. There need to be some stipulations with debt forgiveness to make sure the money that would have gone to repay loans is used to help people on the bottom end of the scale with such things as job creation, education, health care, and housing.
We have a moral obligation to do these kinds of things, because we have benefited from the cheap labour that has made many of the cars and trucks we drive (I have had three made in Mexico). Over the years, money has already flowed north from interest that has been paid on loans. Many of the fruits and veggies we eat are grown in Mexico, and they are picked by people making $10 or less a day in the hot sun, working long hours.
It is also time to pressure Canadian companies who have manufacturing plants here to raise the wage standard in Mexico.
If we import workers into Canada from other places, we have to pay them the same salary as we pay local workers. This is fair and right. But why, when our companies cross a border, can they get away with paying such low wages?
I am not arguing that they should be the same as in Canada, but neither should we be allowed to take advantage of those who can least afford it.
I am looking forward to hearing of your action on this issue.