• Commentary,  COVID,  Labour Standards,  Public Sector Work

    Trust has Hard, Economic Value

    The COVID-19 pandemic has proven, again, that society is not actually built around individuals all out to maximize their self-interest (as in the neoclassical fable). It works best with cooperation, reciprocity and trust. Valuing and investing in social trust is not a “feel-good” sentiment. It’s a proven, real source of economic and social advantage. Jim Stanford explores the economic value of trust, in this commentary which was originally published by the Toronto Star. The Economic Importance of Social Trust It was like a scene from a zombie movie: crowds of screaming protestors charged the doors of state legislatures in several U.S. states, opposing physical distancing restrictions. Many of them believe…

  • Commentary,  Future of Work,  Gig Economy

    Future of Work: Some Things Change, Some Things Don’t

    There’s been a lot of public concern and discussion in recent years about changes in the nature of work. To be sure, new technologies are changing many jobs, and new business models (like digital on-demand platforms) are deploying labour in new, ever-less-secure ways. But productive human labour, broadly defined, is still the driving force of all production. And inequality in fundamental economic status – between those who work, and those they work for – still shapes the way society operates. In this commentary, Jim Stanford identifies 7 aspects of work that have not really changed, despite the hype about the supposedly tectonic changes in the labour market. A version of…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Labour Standards,  Wages

    Pandemic Forces Us to Rethink What Jobs are Worth

    This commentary originally appeared in the Toronto Star. After COVID-19, We Need to Appreciate and Value Essential Work In any public emergency, like the COVID-19 pandemic, society naturally turns to tried-and-true public service professionals for advice, protection, and care. First and foremost, we depend on health care workers risking their own well-being to care for the ill – even in chaotic and over-crowded conditions. Other first responders provide emergency assistance. Utility workers keep the lights on, the water flowing, the mail delivered, and the garbage collected. These jobs are critically important. These workers can’t take leave. They can’t work from home. Not coincidentally, most of these jobs are in the…

  • Commentary,  Macroeconomics,  Public Sector Work

    A New ‘Marshall Plan’ to Rebuild After the Pandemic

    Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford was recently interviewed on CBC News Network to discuss his proposal for a massive, government-led rebuilding plan to support the economy’s re-opening once the immediate health emergency of COVID-19 has passed. He stressed that private sector businesses will not be able to lead a normal ‘cyclical’ recovery, given the unprecedented speed and severity of the current downturn. Government will need to play a leading role in sponsoring new investment, permanently expanding public services, and expanding direct public job creation to help repair the shattered labour market. His conversation with CBC’s Natasha Fatah is posted here.

  • Commentary,  Employment & Unemployment,  Industry & Sector

    Help Business – But do it Right

    Facing an unprecedented downturn in work, incomes, and spending, the federal government has rolled out major new support programs to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. This support is essential. But government should learn from past experience, and design those support programs carefully for maximum effect and fairness. In this commentary, originally published in the Toronto Star, Jim Stanford identifies several best practices in supporting businesses and industries in an economic crisis. To Help Workers through the COVID-19 Crisis, We Must Help Our Businesses. Here’s How. In the face of unprecedented lay-offs from the COVID-19 lockdowns, the federal government is quickly shoring up Canada’s income support network. The new Canada…

  • Commentary,  Indigenous Labour,  Time & Working Hours

    Extending Unpaid Leave Provisions for Indigenous Democracy

    The Toronto Star’s Andrea Macdonald has uncovered a fascinating and inspiring story about Janna Pratt, an indigenous woman from Saskatchewan who has fought successfully to win the right to unpaid leave from work for workers to participate in indigenous elections and government. This victory extends provisions the right for workers to access unpaid leave for electoral campaigns, and (if successful) to serve as elected representatives in federal, provincial, and municipal government. It is obvious that indigenous government should be included on the list of applicable political processes covered by that provision. But Jenna’s successful campaign (waged with the support of her union, Unifor), has highlighted the surprising absence of basic…

  • Commentary,  Skills & Training

    Lack of Foresight, not Lack of Skills, is the Problem

    Training and skills are often held up as a ‘silver bullet’ for supporting transition and adjustment as the labour market changes. But is it true that workers lack the skills needed in the future economy? And will more training ensure they get jobs that actually use their skills? In this commentary originally published in the Toronto Star, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford tackles some of the myths about training and jobs, and challenges employers to be more pro-active in developing skilled workforces. Employers Complain about a ‘Skills Gap’ in Canada. But Employers are Part of the Problem. With advances in technology remaking many jobs and industries, it’s not…

  • Research,  Technology

    Thinking Twice About Technology and the Future of Work

    It is often assumed that changes in the future of work are determined by the inexorable process of technological progress. In this report, originally published by the Public Policy Forum, our Director Jim Stanford challenges that assumption. Technology is not neutral or exogenous: the direction of innovation reflects the interests of those funding it. And how technology is implemented in workplaces has many important implications for the quality, stability, and compensation of work. In short, important choices can be made at each step of the process of technological change, that will reflect the relative emphasis that society places on valuing work and workers. Please read the full report, Thinking Twice…

  • Gig Economy,  Research,  Technology

    Five Contrarian Insights on the Future of Work

    In this comprehensive but readable commentary, our Director Jim Stanford challenges five stereotypical claims that are often advanced in debates over the future of work:   Work is not disappearing; it can’t. Technology is not accelerating. “Gigs” aren’t even new. Technology is often more about relationships than productivity. Skills are not a magic bullet. The commentary was prepared for the My Labour, Our Future conference held in Montreal, Canada to mark the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the International Labour Organization. We thank the organizers and the Atkinson Foundation for permission to repost the paper. Five Contrarian Insights on the Future of Work

  • Macroeconomics,  Research

    Quantitative Easing: What It Is and What It Could Mean

    The Bank of Canada has finally joined other central banks around the world in undertaking an ambitious “quantitative easing” (QE) program to support credit flows and reduce interest rates during the current health emergency and economic crisis. Our Director Jim Stanford has prepared an accessible introduction to QE and how it works. He also makes 4 specific proposals for extending and strengthening the practice. This research was originally published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Making the Most of Quantitative Easing With the COVID-19 recession getting deeper by the day, the Bank of Canada has joined other central banks in quickly reducing its target interest rate to near zero,…