Happy Labour Day

Happy Labour Day! In Quebec, when we celebrate Labour Day, you don't celebrate work. The media pushes microphones under the noses of trade union leaders so that they can boast the merits of trade unionism or demand an increase in the minimum wage.

Well, let me celebrate paid work! Work has obvious economic benefits. Of course, it's the best way to get out of poverty. In addition, work contributes to self-esteem. It gives the worker a sense of dignity and a goal in life, it offers a structure, encourages personal responsibility and sovereignty and gives a source of social status and identity as a means of participating in a collective objective. It offers satisfaction of earned success.

What does this mean for a government? Work should be encouraged by reducing barriers to entry, especially for underrepresented groups such as indigenous people and persons with disabilities. Labour laws must be repealed that prevent employers from hiring. We must reduce the tax burden of those who want to work more. We must facilitate shared work and encourage entrepreneurship, including by reducing the tax burden of entrepreneurs. Laws that set minimum wage at an unrealistic level prevent young people and immigrants from climbing the first bar of the labour ladder, as well as a too heavy regulatory burden that prevents entrepreneurs from growing and hiring. And finally, social assistance needs to be reformed so as to allow as many Quebecers as possible to occupy a job.

As democratic President Clinton has done in the United States by reforming social assistance in that country in 1996, it is necessary to limit the period during which a person who is able-bodied and without severe constraints on employment can receive welfare benefits. Labour Day reminds us that paid work is an important institution with both economic and non-economic benefits. Politicians should therefore adopt platforms focusing on measures that encourage it.