Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Ethnic Inequality: Well-Paid Employees of the Ontario Public Bureaucracy

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Ethnic Inequality: Well-Paid Employees of the Ontario Public Bureaucracy

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT/RESUME

In the Vertical Mosaic (1965) Porter pointed to a hierarchy of stratified social positions, such that each ethnic group has differential access to opportunities, resources and rewards. Thereafter continued much debate as to whether or not this was and still is an accurate image of Canada. This paper evaluates ethnic origins of 3,941 members of the Ontario public sector who earned more than one hundred thousand dollars in 1995. The evidence shows that those of British ethnic ancestry are over-represented in relation to their population base in all eleven of the institutions in the Ontario public bureaucracy, while those of the 'other' ethnic origins are under-represented in these institutions (with the notable exception of hospitals). The French origin group fares better than 'other' ethnic groups and often stands at par with the British ethnic origin group. Finally, an attempt is made to link these findings to the structural forces that have produced and are presently reproducing these ethnic-class relations.

Dans Vertical Mosaic (1965) Porter a fait ressortir une hierarchie de positions sociales stratifiees, selon laquelle chaque groupe ethnique a un acces relatif aux chances, ressources et recompenses. Une discussion s'est ensuite poursuivie sur la question de savoir si oui ou non il s'agissait ou s'agit encore d'une image exacte du Canada. Cette communication evalue les origines ethniques de 3 941 membres du secteur public de l'Ontario ayant gagne plus de cent milles dollars en 1995. La preuve indique que ceux dont l'origine ancestrale est britannique sont surrepresentes par rapport a la base de leur population dans les onze institutions de la bureaucratie publique ontarienne, tandis que ceux ayant <> origines ethniques sont sousrepresentes dans ces institutions (avec une exception prononcee pour les hopitaux). Le groupe d'origine francaise obtient de meilleurs resultats que les <> groupes ethniques et est souvent sur le meme pied que le groupe d'origine britannique. Pour finir, un essai est f ait en vue de lier ces constatations aux forces structurales qui ont produit et reproduisent presentement ces relations de classes ethniques.

The dominant ideological framework legitimizing inequality in Canada is liberalism. The liberal principle of fair play is enshrined in the most sacred institution of the country. The Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee every individual equality and freedom from discrimination. Emerging out of liberalism, in relation to labour market allocation, is the meritocratic principle. According to this principle, in industrial and post-industrial societies there is a growing need for skilled and talented individuals to perform effectively in the complicated and technologically advanced bureaucracies and industries. In these societies formal education is a means of training and selecting talented individuals for placement in higher positions with a consequent greater contribution to the productive process and congruently higher financial rewards. The appeal of this view lies largely in the notion of equality of opportunity. Within the capitalist democracies this notion provides the fou ndation for the legitimacy of power, based on an assumption of fluidity in social mobility (see Parsons, 1951:76-98; 1960:chs. 3 and 4; 1967:ch. 4; for further elaboration of this view see Trieman, 1970; Erickson and Goldthrope, 1992; Collins, 1985:125; Murphy and Denis, 1979:44; Boyd et al., 1985:3-6).

This view seems to question our traditional imagery of the most prominent members of Canadian society who are shown to be selected from among those of British ancestry. This imagery of "blocked ethnic mobility" was produced by John Porter in the most influential book ever published in Canadian sociology -- The Vertical Mosaic (Porter, 1965) -- and was reproduced by scholars such as Clement (1975a, 1975b) and Olsen (1980). …

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