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