Saturday, 6 May 2006

Women's Work and the Alberta Labour Shortage

Last Friday, CBC Calgary Eye Opener columnist, Deborah Yedlin, laid a guilt-trip on Alberta women for staying at home with their families instead of helping Alberta with its labour shortage. She bemoaned the fact that Alberta has slipped to the bottom of the heap in the number of mothers working outside the home allowing Quebec to take the lead. Part of the reason for Quebec’s lead, she suggests, is the government subsidized child-care system in that province. How can Alberta mothers ignore the example set by their sisters in Quebec and in Europe where mothers have been in the workforce for a couple of generations whether they had to work or not?

Yedlin’s piece disturbed me for a couple of reasons.

First, mothers have a tough enough job doing what they do. If they go to work, they are criticized for neglecting their families. If they stay home, they are accused of allowing themselves to vegetate. In the midst of all that, they struggle with sleep-deprivation when their children are young, trying to maintain a good relationship with their husbands and a million other things. People like Yedlin giving them the gears is not helpful. I believe mothers should be free to do what gives them life. For some, that means staying home. For others, keeping a career on the go. Let them be.

Yedlin (and the Liberal party, now I come to think of it) also imply that a government run child-care system is an ideal to which we should aspire. I forget where I read or heard this: someone observed that in our present culture, community has been been replaced by the state and morality has been been replaced by politics. That reminds me of attempts by communist countries to replace normal nuclear family values and loyalty with a wider state “family” set of values and loyalties. Children were encouraged to turn their parents in if they strayed from the party line. The more government is allowed to be involved in parenting our children the more government values (is that an oxymoron?) will define what families are. Not good.

As far as morality being replaced by politics; we have already gone some distance down that slippery slope. Lord, help us!

I am unhappy with the idea of sacrificing our mothers and families on the altar of Alberta's need for more workers so we can keep up with the Quebec Joneses and have more money to buy more things that we don't need.