Monday, March 5, 2007

Work camps in Calgary

I was interviewed by the CBC on Friday about the proposal for creating temporary work camps in Calgary (or the surrounding area).

Unfortunately, the resulting article used only one small statement and left out my damning indictment of the use of work camps and the failure to actually address the problem of long-term housing needs.

The only way I would consider looking at work camps as anything other than exploitation of workers’ desperation for companies’ short-term interests would be if at the same time, those companies were doing concrete work to build permanent housing for those workers.

Without permanent housing, we’ll just end up with a bunch more homeless people when the companies close down their work camps (such as when the next crash hits). We need to build up our permanent housing infrastructure now to ensure that everyone has a place to live. Now is the time because now we have the wealth and resources (although neither the political nor the public wills) to do it.

If we don’t take care of this critical infrastructure need now, then the next crash will be even more catstrophic. We need the politicians and the people of this province to take the long-term view to see that providing housing for all will give us a much more viable society and economy and bring us closer to sustainability so that our community can thrive well into the future.

Without working toward long-term housing solutions, work camps are just a mortgaging of the workers’ (and the community’s) futures.

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