ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Brooks, Alberta, Canada -- A typical rural community?

Updated on September 14, 2011

A Wal-Mart Store In Brooks, AB.

Is This Happening In Your Community?

 

JOBS!  JOBS!  JOBS!  This is the main contention on people’s minds these days.  Of course, in order to have a job, someone needs to provide the jobs, whether it is corporations, the government or small businesses.  In our small, rural communities, jobs can be provided by many small retailing businesses or a few medium-size agricultural or manufacturing firms.  This helps the local communities to survive.  Mind you, people would like to have above poverty line wages and have the consumer pay as a little as possible for products.

 

Is the public getting what they want?  Can our small communities thrive today without the large corporations coming in and running the “show”?  Let us look at an example of a community --  Brooks, Alberta,  a community that was struggling -- given a boost to by a large American conglomerate --  Iowa Beef Processors --  when it  took over Lakeside Packers, a locally owned feed supplier and beef feedlot.  IBP promised more jobs, more business and a better standard of living for everyone.   The locals were struggling due to severe drought conditions resulting in very poor income for local farmers.

 

Why did IBP purchase Lakeside Packers?  The company wanted to expand to the Canadian market, and was looking for an existing plant in a small community.  Brooks was an ideal candidate.  It was facing an economic crisis and the land was cheap and the town could provide cheap labour.  Almost immediately, IBP expanded the Lakeside operations providing lots more employment but mostly for unskilled labour.  The plant would be highly mechanized. 

 

Here are the facts about Lakeside Packers.  It was once dominated by middle-aged white men with a strong union.  IBP has a fierce anti-union policy to help keep costs down.  With no union, Lakeside Packers hired unskilled labour earning low wages --  $8.00 to $11.00/hour.  These kind of wages didn’t attract the local citizens of Brooks but certainly attracted workers from outside Alberta.  IBP advertised across Canada looking for workers.  The ones that applied came from the Atlantic Provinces to a large extent.

 

IBP purchased Lakeside Packers in 1994 and within four years,  28,000 cattle were killed every week. (up two and half times as many as before)  It supplies 30% of the Canadian market.  The feedlot was expanded as well --  the largest in Canada --  with 75,000 head of cattle, up from 40,000.  By 2000, the company was losing workers at a rapid rate – 40 to 50 workers every week.  Why?  Because wages were too low, the working conditions were horrendous, the work was hazardous, and the cost of living in Brooks had gone up.  So,  IBP advertise abroad – Asia, Central America, Africa and South America.  Workers were glad to come to Brooks, where wages were higher than back home.

 

By April 2000, Brook’s population increased to 11,600 an increase of 30% in six years.  Many foreigner came to Brooks for work.  Presently, 9% of the population come from outside Canada.  Over seventy languages are spoken at the plant.

 

 

So, what does this mean to the community?  How has Brooks benefited from the rapidly expansion by a large American Corporation?  Let’s look at the changes that Brooks is experiencing.

 

Along with an expanding large firm came other large outlets, like box-office stores (Wal-Mart), and fast-food chains. (McDonald’s)    Fantastic!  The economy must be booming!  It is but not in the way you might think.  Economic growth in Brooks was rapid, many people found work at the new retailing and shopping complexes. But, unfortunately, all of these wages were even lower than working at the plant – all part-time and no benefits as well. With minorities flocking to the town, pressure was placed for more housing, water and sewage pipelines, roads and entertainment establishment.  This increase in demand also resulted in an increase in the cost of living.  Everything became more expensive in Brooks – gas, food, housing.

 

Obviously, people who owned property, especially housing and urban developments were happy and encouraged by these new prospects.  Money in their pocket.  But for others?  More and more people were relying on the food banks and home shelters..  Vacancy rates in Brooks are less than one per cent.  New residents couldn’t find inexpensive places to live, and if they could, they would need to work two or three part-time jobs to pay for them.  About 70% of the employees at the plant are from abroad, most local residents work in low paying jobs at the major retailing or fast-food outlets.

 

And they call this “progress”?  “Bigger is Better?”  Does this sound a little familiar?  This is happening in many small, rural communities all across Alberta.  Ask this question:  does economic growth really provide what the locals want in their community?  Support your local business and work together as a community.  Don’t let the “big guys” take away a decent way of life.

 

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)