Cross-border shopping will drag Canada down

We applaud Charlie Smith for his insightful piece [“ Cross-border shopping promotes inequality”, November 28–December 5]. While there may be some savings on big-ticket items if one doesn’t mind paying for gas, one or more overnight stays, customs fees, and long lines at the border, we are amazed that Canadians don’t seem to realize where those savings come from.

Those cheaper prices are paid for on the backs of underpaid workers, who often are forced to live in substandard housing, have no access to health care (the Affordable Care Act notwithstanding, especially given that employers can opt out), and can only dream about the kind of life and benefits Canadians have.

All of the benefits that we Canadians enjoy come at a price, including universal and affordable health care, a decent minimum wage, good transit, and infrastructure. Anyone who thinks Vancouver’s infrastructure needs help should review the horrific state of U.S. roads, bridges, and train systems to appreciate what we have.

While there is no denying that some things could be improved, Canada is most certainly better than our neighbours to the south.

As Smith pointed out, the gap between the wealthy few and the vast majority of Americans has steadily grown, with one of the most recent onslaughts being the elimination of pension benefits in companies large and small and in many municipalities. In addition to the huge problems faced by younger workers, the sudden elimination of pension benefits has left many older individuals, both those about to retire and those already retired, without the pensions they contributed to all their lives and thought they could rely on. And for what? So that exorbitantly paid corporate and municipal executives can reap even higher salaries by showing higher profit margins.

As dual citizens who came to Canada from the U.S. because we appreciate the Canadian values of civility, fairness, and respect, we encourage those who are tempted to cross the border to save a few bucks to think twice about who is really benefiting, who is really being hurt, and what the consequences for Canadians will likely be when employers here begin to follow the same practices in order to keep shoppers at home.

> Mary and Wayne Jansen / Vancouver

Comments (10) Add New Comment
A. Brown
Well said...Finally someone sees my point of view! I completely agree with the above. I don't see why Canadians support the American doesn't make sense.
Rating: +2
I disagree with your flawed Opinion.

1. The very same major Retailers operate in Canada,

2. They send ALL their profits Offshore out of Canada,

3. They Price Gouge Canadians for shopping at their stores in Canada, with prices in the 20-40%++ range above US prices,

4. Canadian Retailers pay low minimum wages here in Canada,using a lot of Part Timers with Zero benefits,

5. Canadian minimum wages are low poverty level wages at $10-$11 how can you survive (barely) in any major Canadian City with that?

6. Canadian Retailers are Allowed to hire Temporary Foreign Workers at lower rates than Canadians (Timmy's are infamous for this) Corporate Welfare,

7. All the same ills about wage / wealth gap exist in Canada,

8. Excessive Duties despite NAFTA (only benefits Corporations not Canadians) bump up the prices on a lot of goods in Canada,

9. Cross Border Shopping does not change much for Canadians other than lowering the Costs of Living, Groceries & staple items like Clothing,

10. Why are you a Dual Citizen if you immigrate to Canada.

- that makes you SOLELY a ECONOMIC IMMIGRANT, please leave Canada with your US Passport,

- go BACK to the USA or commit to Canada with SINGLE Citizenship & really mean the Oath of Citizenship here in Canada,

- or go back and 'protect the Constitution of the USA'.
Rating: -2
I think with my wallet, not morals. Why would I shop here, when, I am looking at the same thing that costs 60 dollars more here than in the USA?
Rating: -1
@ The Jansens: Good sentiments, but you are possibly naive. Perhaps this is because corporations in Canada successfully hide behind national values that scarcely exist today, and are being eroded every day.

The minimum wage might be higher in most Canadian provinces, but it remains woefully inadequate. It's the difference between "bad" and "worse".

Many Canadian employers, particularly retailers, manipulate working hours to ensure that all employees are "part-time, casual" and therefore not eligible for any benefits. Yes, those employees can still "buy" medical coverage on their own - but minimum wage workers can be faced with the choice of groceries or insurance. We all know how that goes.

Transit might be decent in the urban core of Vancouver, but minimum wage workers don't live in the urban core. Commuting by transit is feasible for many, but it is hardly affordable and hardly comfortable ... and good roads mean nothing to those who can't afford a car, insurance and fuel.

It would be nice to believe that shopping at home would be more "ethical" than shopping down south, but it just ain't so.

PS - Both Ottawa and Victoria have targeted China and India as gold-star trading partners. China and India are decrepit, corrupt regimes that are beneath contempt for those who understand values. But apparently, we should "buy" from them because, hey, they might "buy" from us. Oh goody.
Rating: +5
Mark Bowen
"I think with my wallet, not morals."

The decline of western civilization, summed up rather neatly.
Rating: +1
Why is a Canadian made car $8,000.00 less in the U.S.? I'll buy it where it's the best price and STILL SUPPORT CANADIAN BUSINESS.
Rating: +1
randall davie
i live where i live,i eat where i live,my clients eat,work and live where they live,we do live in a global economy,and life can cost more,in relation to where you live,be very aware of where you live,and why it costs a little teeny tiny more,you live what and where you pay for,be very very gratefull you can even complain!I love Canada,and will put my,and I mean MY country first,thankyou for reading my opinion,it counts.
Rating: -4
Lee L
Yea well.. I will buy my CHINESE MADE Tv or AMERICAN MADE tires at the cheapest vendor within reason.

Tires - my truck's AMERICAN MADE tires are $321 per tire in Vancouver plus install plus GST plus PST. The same tires DELIVERED FREE to Blaine, WA is $149 ordered online, the border will charge no sales tax on $800 bucks worth so if I go with my wife, it is zero $0.00 in tax.

Now the truck needs 7 tires so you go figure the difference. I am fairly sure if you do you will see the Canadian supplier charges $1200 more for me to just BUY THE TIRES, ignoring any sales tax. Add those in and you will be saving another $260. So I save $1460 to spend on other more competitive Canadian businesses by buying my tires online in the USA where the tires come from anyway.

OH and just to put it in perspective, those are AFTER INCOME TAX numbers. There is NO RRSP investment that can begin to match those kind of returns. Come to think of it, if I put the $1460 savings INTO an RRSP I can also save the income tax I paid on the $1460. You can do the math and this is just for a set of tires. Jeez, no wonder people cross border shop.

Rating: +2
alex bungher
lets all look into the root of the problem - the cost of goods here in Canada, specifically in Vancouver, is high due to trmendous expenses vendors have to pay, compairing to those in USA. Just compair business rent and taxes on both sides.
Go ask our government who drove rents and real estate this high and why everything we buy here is made somewhere else from our resources.
If we were paid accordinly to our expences here in BC, we could afford not to go shopping south. Also, the big job needs to be done to control our consumerism, since we owe debt 1.7 : 1 of our wages. Our benefits are being slashed as much, contracts are ignored. RRSPs will worth little by the time we retire.
We need a good reason not to be looking to save!!!
Rating: -1
Mixed feeling here, while i agree with u....
I do not mind paying a higher tax rate here; however, the price difference is NOT because of taxes. Without taking taxes in to account, merchants here (like save on foods) charge more than double for the same items. It's absurd. If i were to do my weekly groceries at saveons i would end up bankroupt.

And i recognize and thank the canadian goverment for helping those in need, but to be honest is that goverment protection that has killed the ambition of people to study and succedd. New generations are spoiled. My brother in law pretty much lives out of ie being helty as a horse. Look at the universities, engineering and commerce is full of new comers.

Personally i am well educated and my job does not depend on the bc economy so i do no care for canadian merchants but i do care for our goverment.

Rating: 0
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