submission info
Discrimination is Okay if you're the Government

by Jeremy Baillie

iwill bet most Canadians did not know that if you are the Government of Canada that it is okay to discriminate. I consider myself to be a good, honest, hard-working post-secondary student. Like most post-secondary students, finding a way to pay for my education is always foremost in my mind. Strangely, I'm proud to say that I've never been a financial burden on my parents when it came to paying for my education. Instead, I've relied upon the money I have made during the summers and through student loans. I would rather be a burden on myself in later years when I have to pay off my student loans than be a burden on my parents right now.

After looking for work for a great period, I recently found a summer job. The job is kindly funded by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC). Human Resource Development Canada grants help small businesses and non-profit organizations hire summer student employees. The HRDC enters into partnerships with these small businesses and non-profit organizations. Usually, the HRDC will fund anywhere from half to three-fourths of the summer student's salary. Without grants from the HRDC, many of the amenities we all enjoy would perhaps not be possible. Some of the things summer students do through funding by HRDC Summer Student Employment grants include: running summer camps for kids, working in many of Canada's provincial parks as interpreters & groundskeepers, building web pages for smaller communities, and running museum exhibits.

My employer recently informed that, although they had hired me under one HRDC grant, that they would have to switch me to another. Thankfully, I still found myself with summer employment, but the grant they had to switch me to is one week less in its employment term. The net loss for me in potential income is approximately $300.00.

The reason why my employer had to switch me to another grant was due to my age. I recently turned 26 and the original HRDC grant was for post-secondary students between the ages 18 and 24. I do not blame my employer and am thankful for the employment opportunity.

I do find fault with our Federal government however, for a policy that is clearly age discriminatory. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states under Section 15.1:

15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, AGE (emphasis added), or mental or physical disability.
I guess if you're the Government of Canada Section 15.1 of the Charter does not apply to you.

Not all that long ago, I could find summer employment that would see me employed for all 16 weeks of the summer. A few years ago that suddenly changed and I was lucky if I found 14 weeks of work. Last summer I had 12 weeks of work. Finally, this summer I will have 8 weeks of work. This decrease from 16 weeks of employment down to eight has happened in a period of less than four years.

Ironically, I finish my teaching degree next year and hope (job willing) to find myself teaching in a classroom somewhere. I am not sure though what I will tell my students when they tell me they plan to go on to college or university. Will I be honest and tell them things like:

  1. Be prepared to carry a massive debt load into your working years, and
  2. Make sure you get all the education you can before you turn 25 because after that the Government of Canada will say your not worth us helping you anymore.
We need to tell the Liberals that if they are serious about creating a well educated Canadian Society ready for the 21st Century, if they want to stop the brain-drain of talented young people going to the United States to make money to pay off debts here in Canada, then the way to go about it is not by making what are obvious cuts to the Human Resources Development Canada Student Employment Programs.

Lest any politician, by chance, reading this think, that at age 26 I must be a career student and that the loss of one week of employment is not all that big of a deal. Well, first I have my Bachelor of Arts with a major in English, and second, that loss of one week's worth of employment cost me $300.00. I hope they enjoy the free meals on Parliament Hill that my tax dollars pay for. Myself, I'll be eating a can of Puritan Stew because that is what I can afford.

Jeremy Baillie is an Elementary Education major and a regular contributor to canadian content.
comments about this article? give us feedback