Jim Stanford is Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work. He divides his time between Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada. Jim is one of Canada’s best-known economic commentators. He served for over 20 years as Economist and Director of Policy with Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector trade union.

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Future of Work,  Labour Standards

    There are Opportunities as Well as Threats for Workers in the COVID-19 Recession

    The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis poses many obvious threats to workers in all industries: job loss, reduced hours, employer demands for concessions in wages and benefits… and of course the risk of contracting the virus at work. However, the pandemic is also highlighting long-standing weaknesses in Canada’s labour market structures and policies – and opening promising opportunities to win improvements in those structures and policies. Journalist Chelsea Nash, labour beat reporter with the Canadian digital news site rabble.ca, has published an inspiring article discussing those opportunities, and analyzing what unions and equality advocates will need to do to make the most of them. Her article features extensive quotes…

  • Commentary,  Labour Standards,  Wages

    There’s no Shortage of Labour: Employers Have to Improve their Offer

    As the COVID-19 recession continues to destroy jobs and incomes across Canada, some employer lobbyists are complaining that federal government income security programs (like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB) are undermining the “incentive to work” and making it difficult to attract workers to their businesses. In this column, originally published in the Toronto Star, Jim Stanford refutes these complaints – and suggests that the CERB is placing desired pressure on employers to improve the wages and hours they are offering to prospective workers.   Employer Complaints About CERB Expose Their Exploitive Staffing Model As health restrictions ease and stores, restaurants, and other services start to reopen, some employers…

  • Commentary,  Employment & Unemployment,  Future of Work

    Newspaper and Video Coverage of New COVID-19 Report

    The Centre for Future Work has released its first major Canadian report, titled 10 Ways the COVID-19 Pandemic Must Change Work for Good. The report, by Economist and Director Jim Stanford, shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed long-standing fractures in Canada’s labour market – and argues those fractures must be repaired if the economy is to successfully and sustainably recover from the current unprecedented downturn. The report (co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) was featured in extensive front page coverage in the Toronto Star, written by business reporter Jacques Gallant. See his full story here. We have also prepared a short video that summarizes the report, and…

  • COVID,  Employment & Unemployment,  Future of Work,  Income Security,  Labour Standards,  Research

    Ten Ways to Improve Work After COVID-19 Pandemic

    Governments, employers, and unions must all work urgently to address several critical weaknesses in Canada’s employment laws and policies to ensure the post-COVID re-opening of the economy can be safe and sustained. That’s the core message of a new research report from the Centre for Future Work. The report is the first publication from the Centre’s new PowerShare research program, undertaken in partnership with the Atkinson Foundation and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The study, by the Centre’s Director Jim Stanford, lists 10 specific ways jobs need to be protected and strengthened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down large sections of the national economy.…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Employment & Unemployment,  Macroeconomics,  Public Sector Work

    Reconstruction After COVID-19 Will Require Sustained Government Leadership

    The Centre’s Director Jim Stanford had a feature interview yesterday with Michael Enright on CBC Radio’s public affairs show, Sunday Edition, on how Canada’s economy will rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. A full recording and an abridged transcript is available on the CBC site here. Stanford argued that government investment, income security payments, expanded public services, and direct public sector employment will all be crucial to lift Canada’s economic activity back to its potential, once it is safe to go back to work. “This has actually been a real-time experiment that a national government — particularly one that has its own currency, as we do in Canada — has…

  • Globalization,  Research

    WTO’s Overreach Explains its Growing Irrelevance

    Contrary to the optimistic predictions of free trade theorists (and their seemingly scientific economic models), free trade agreements haven’t been beneficial for all participants in international commerce. Rather, for many reasons (including the emergence of large trade imbalances, deindustrialization, and lasting unemployment), business-friendly trade agreements have produced ‘losers’ as well as ‘winners.’ Moreover, losses have been concentrated in particular industries, regions, and social groups – fostering a backlash that has disrupted trade flows, and thrown into question the future viability of the WTO itself. Ironically, part of the failure of neoliberal trade policy rests with the overreach of those trade agreements (including the WTO), which have gone far beyond simply…

  • Commentary,  Future of Work,  Labour Standards,  Time & Working Hours

    Working From Home Helps, but is No Panacea

    A version of this commentary originally appeared in the Toronto Star. Millions of Canadians have been doggedly working from home through the pandemic. It’s inspired endless memes and laments on social media: Zoom meetings in pyjamas, kids running amok with office papers, super-sized data and electricity bills. To be sure, there are many economic benefits of home work. It maintains at least partial production, while respecting physical distancing and flattening the curve. On one hand, those who can work from home are lucky. They keep earning, but without the risks of infection facing those who must go out to work. But there are also many challenges and risks associated with…

  • Commentary,  Employment & Unemployment,  Macroeconomics

    ‘Official’ Unemployment Just the Tip of the Iceberg

    This commentary was originally published in the Toronto Star. Statistics Canada has just released its monthly labour force report for April. It’s the first monthly release that captures the full extent of the COVID shutdowns; the previous report (which covered one week in mid-March) reflected only the initial stages of pandemic-related closures. By the time Statistics Canada did its April survey (during the week of April 12-18), millions of workers had stopped working. Not surprisingly, the numbers are grim. 2.4 million Canadians were counted as officially unemployed in April. That’s 13.0% of the labour force – bad by any definition. However, that statistic is only the tip of the iceberg.…

  • 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…