• Employment & Unemployment,  Future of Work,  Research,  Technology

    Canadian Workers Need More Technology, Not Less

    There is little evidence that robots and other advanced technologies are displacing workers and causing technological unemployment in Canada. To the contrary, Canada’s adoption of new technology has surprisingly slowed down in recent years. That is the conclusion of a major new report on innovation and automation in Canada’s economy, from the Centre for Future Work. The report, titled Where are the Robots?, reviews nine empirical indicators of Canadian innovation, technology adoption, and robotization. They paint a worrisome picture that Canadian businesses have dramatically reduced their innovation effort since the turn of the century, and are lagging well behind other industrial countries in putting new technology to work in the…

  • Commentary,  Labour Standards,  Trade Unions

    Facilitating Workers’ Choice to Get Together

    It’s no surprise that more workers seek the bargaining power and protection that comes with a union: to try to make sure their wages keep up with inflation, they are safe from COVID at work, and more. But often it takes an epic battle, like something out of a Hollywood movie, to achieve that goal. That’s because of multiple barriers erected in the path of unionization, by employers who want to preserve their unilateral control in the workplace. In this commentary, originally published in the Toronto Star, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford discusses why unionization is so difficult, and what policies would facilitate fairer and more democratic certification…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Macroeconomics,  Wages

    Inflation: Causes, Consequences, and Cures

    The surge in inflation in recent months has generated great concern and debate in Canada. This inflation is clearly the result of unique and often external factors related to the COVID pandemic and subsequent recovery: including disruptions in global supply chains (such as the chaos in superconductor markets), energy shocks (made worse by the war in Ukraine), and shifts in consumer demand away from services and towards goods products (due to restrictions on many service activities during the pandemic). Despite the unique nature of this inflation, anti-inflation hawks are now dusting off their old policy recipes to restrain domestic demand and employment, and wrestle inflation back to the ground. The…

  • Commentary,  Macroeconomics,  Wages

    Wages Gain Steam, But Not Enough to Keep Up With Inflation

    The latest employment data from Statistics Canada confirm that Canada’s post-COVID recovery remains strong. The unemployment rate in March fell to 5.3%, the lowest since Statistics Canada began its monthly labour force survey in 1976.  Another positive sign was an uptick in the growth of average wages. Hourly wages grew by 3.4% in the year ending in March, and weekly wages grew by 3.9% in the same period (weekly wages grew faster than hourly wages thanks to increases in full-time work and average hours of work). That represents a modest acceleration in wage growth from recent months. However, the pace of wage growth has really just returned to normal pre-pandemic…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Trade Unions

    What’s a Union Good For, Anyway?

    Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford recently joined Colin Ellis from TVO for a podcast conversation on unions: What are they? Why are they useful? And why, in the wake of the COVID pandemic, are we seeing an upsurge in union organizing efforts in Canada and other countries? Their conversation is a great primer on why most workers have little bargaining power if engage with their employer one-on-one. There’s an inherent asymmetry in the employment relationship: most workers need their job, more than their employer needs them on an individual basis. But employers do need their workforce in aggregate, to operate their business – and that’s why collective representation…

  • Commentary,  Employment & Unemployment,  Wages

    Getting Real About Recruitment and Retention in a “Labour Shortage”

    Employers complain they can’t find and keep the right people to run their businesses, in this era of supposed labour “shortage”. Have they tried treating them better … starting with paying more? Not always. Sometimes the simplest answers are the last ones considered. While employers wax eloquent about trying to build a better “culture” in their workplaces, and tap into workers’ desire to “do good” in the world, they shouldn’t forget the imperative that workers have to pay their bills, put a roof over their heads, and (hopefully) prepare for retirement. Improving pay and benefits are the first things employers should do, if they are genuine about addressing their recruitment…