When you combine two good things into a single package, great things happen: 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, DVD/VHS players, Reese’s chocolate and peanut butter. The Canadian job market has combination packages too: Crown corporations.
Crown corporations are considered the love child of the public and private sectors, owned by the government, but operated like a corporation. They can have the best of both worlds — robust benefits and good job stability for its employees, while also boasting exciting capitalist enterprises.
Crown corporations can range from being an arm of parliament to a simple grocery store. Some organizations set policy for the entire country, like the Bank of Canada and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Others provide services like alcohol sales (think Ontario’s LCBO) or transportation, like the VIA train you took to Montreal for the weekend.
All Crown corporations do have some things in common though: many of them regulate and provide essential goods and services, often for “sensitive” industries. For example, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority does all the security screenings for every airport in the country, while Atomic Energy of Canada develops the systems and technologies used by our nuclear power plants.
Many of them also serve as spring-boards or “nurturer” companies for broader economic development. For instance, Telefilm provides funding for Canadian movies that otherwise wouldn’t be made. On the more earthy side of things, Farm Credit Canada provides financing to small and medium-sized farming operations.
While the kind of work you’d do at each Crown corporation would be different from the others, they all attract a similar personality — are you someone who sees the big picture, likes playing for the team, and who’d rather contribute to a common goal rather than try to beat out competitors? Maybe a Crown corporation is right for you. Are you also someone who’s worried that your four-year ramen-only diet is taking a toll on your health? Then a crown corporation is definitely for you.
“Once you're in, our wages are higher than retail and our benefits are second to none. Unionized employees pay nothing for health insurance, dental, life, everything’s 100% paid,” boasts Mairi Arthur, manager of HR services at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. Not a bad deal for counter jockeys, and all you business minded job hunters may be interested to know that unlike most retail jobs, you can actually expect to work your way to the top. Mairi continues, “The VP of operations started as a casual worker. So did two regional managers, and our director of wholesale operations. It’s entirely possible to work your way up.”
That kind of mobility is a result of union influence and public sector practices. Crown corps like to hire from within, meaning employees don’t have to just hope they’ll get a promotion — they can expect one if they work hard for it.
However, the public sector, Crown corporations included, has suffered a blow recently as the federal government announced deep budget cuts. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, considered by many to be a fundamental anchor of the Canadian identity, is cutting at least 256 jobs to cope. And students are taking notice: “The government is cutting back on hiring, trimming their existing workforce, and cutting back on benefits, pension plans and the like,” says Catherine Stace, a career advisor at McGill, “The cuts will spill over to crown corps and private companies with government contracts. The student who looked for stability, good benefits, and pensions traditionally went the government route, but the government is looking less attractive.”
So, if even Crown corps can’t guarantee job stability, what do they have to offer that the private industry doesn’t?
For Ozan Pamir, economics major at McGill University, it’s not the money, but the job itself. “For a student majoring in economics, working for the Bank of Canada, I would say, is a dream job. I believe that it’s more about working at the place where policies are made. Also, it’s the dream of being the one in charge of the whole economy and making those policies that is the main drive.”
Do YOU want to be the one making policies or contributing to our national identity? Get your head measured and see if a Crown corporation fits you!