• Commentary,  Future of Work,  Technology

    Busting Myths about Technology and the Future of Work

    We are constantly told that ‘technology’ is driving profound changes in work, workplaces and society. We might be concerned about the impacts of some of those changes, but since they are the result of ‘technology,’ and everyone since the Luddites knows you can’t stop technology, there is no point trying to resist or ameliorate those changes. But what is ‘technology’, anyway? We don’t live in the world of Terminator, where machines control society (not yet, anyway!). Technology is just a shorthand way of referring to the composite of human knowledge about how we work, what we produce, and the tools we use to produce it. Human beings, not some irresistible exogenous…

  • Commentary,  Employment & Unemployment,  Wages

    Learning from Minimum Wage History

    This week Ontario increased its provincial minimum wage by a whole dime: from $14.25 per hour to $14.35. Don’t spend it all in one place, oh ye minimum wage workers. That 0.7% wage increase, saved up for a whole week for a full-time employee, will get you a small latte at Starbucks. Or, for those with humbler tastes, two whole double-doubles at Timmie’s. Many commentators argued that such a stingy wage increase was offensive to the ‘essential’ workers whose humble but determined (and often dangerous) work is getting us through the pandemic: grocery store cashiers, building cleaners, fast food chefs, and delivery drivers. We learned that what they do is…

  • Commentary,  Environment & Work

    Submission to Federal ‘Just Transition’ Consultation

    The Centre for Future Work has made a submission to a public consultation hosted by Natural Resources Canada regarding the federal government’s future strategies for supporting the transition of fossil fuel jobs into alternative activities. The government asked for public input regarding the scope of the transition challenge, best practices for facilitating a gradual and supported transition, and potential future initiatives (like a proposed Advisory Body to advise federal transition policy). The submission was prepared by Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work. It drew on extensive research published by the Centre earlier this year: Employment Transitions and the Phase-Out of Fossil Fuels.  Major themes stressed in the…

  • Commentary,  Employment & Unemployment,  Wages

    Employer Complaints of ‘Labour Shortage’ Lead to Attacks on Income Security

    Employer organizations are stepping up complaints about a purported ‘labour shortage’ that they say is holding back Canada’s employment recovery. These complaints are typically accompanied by demands that government push more workers into the labour market – by cutting back income support programs (like Employment Insurance and the CRB), and increasing inflow of temporary foreign workers (hired in insecure roles with limited protections and low wages). In this commentary (originally published in the Toronto Star), Centre for Future Work Director disputes whether a labour shortage truly exists (given persistent high unemployment), and argues that improving wages and working conditions are better strategies for recruiting and retaining workers. Hard Data Does…

  • Commentary,  Employment & Unemployment,  Labour Standards,  Young Workers

    Is There Really a Shortage of Labour?

    With restaurants and stores opening up again after the pandemic, loud complaints are emerging from employers in the hospitality and retail sectors that they can’t find enough workers. Many point the finger at government income supports which supported people through the pandemic (including the former CERB, cancelled last September, and subsequent improvements in EI benefits). Many also want the federal government to open the taps on Temporary Foreign Workers, to bring in more low-cost labour from other countries. However, the hard economic evidence does not support this complaint about a supposed ‘labour shortage.’ Yes, it is certainly an operational challenge for restaurants and stores to reconnect with former employees after…

  • Commentary,  Future of Work,  PowerShare,  Trade Unions

    Our Times Feature Article on PowerShare Voice Report

    The Spring 2021 edition of the Canadian labour magazine Our Times features a cover article on workers’ voice: how Canadian workers can express their concerns, and win meaningful change, in their workplaces. The article is based on the recent Centre for Future Work report, Speaking Out, Being Heard, Making Change: The Theory and Practice of Workers’ Voice in Canada, by Jim Stanford and Daniel Poon. That report was published earlier this year as part of our PowerShare project. With the kind permission of Our Times, we are reposting the feature article here. Please see the 5-page article, which is a useful resource for union educationals, train-the-trainer sessions, and other uses:…

  • Commentary,  PowerShare,  Skills & Training,  Technology,  Trade Unions

    Media and Video Coverage of New PowerShare Report: “Bargaining Tech”

    The Centre for Future Work recently released the third major paper in its PowerShare project, titled “Bargaining Tech: Strategies for Shaping Technological Change to Benefit Workers,” by Jim Stanford and Kathy Bennett.  The report was launched with a special webinar, held in conjunction with the recent (online) convention of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The webinar featured presentations by the authors, who were joined by two Canadian union leaders who have confronted the challenges of new technology with innovative collective bargaining strategies: Jan Simpson, National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and Bob Dhaliwal, Secretary-Treasurer of ILWU-Canada (representing longshore workers and other transportation and logistics industries). The webinar…

  • Commentary,  Environment & Work,  Finance,  Macroeconomics

    Cryptocurrencies: The Most Useless Speculative Bubble Ever

    The financial pages of newspapers continue to be obsessed with the violent ups and downs of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. And Canadian financial regulators have recently started to crack down on some of that industry’s ‘Wild West’ marketing tactics. In this commentary, originally published in the Toronto Star, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford questions whether these digital products have any useful value whatsoever – and urges policy-makers to actively discourage crypto-speculation in favour of policies promoting actual jobs and production. Good Riddance to the Cryptotraders by Jim Stanford Binance runs one of the largest cryptocurrency trading operations in the world – helping customers speculate on the wild price…

  • Commentary,  Skills & Training,  Technology

    Video: Myth & Reality About Technology, Skills & Jobs

    We are constantly told that the world of work is being turned upside down by ‘technology’: some faceless, anonymous, uncontrollable force that is somehow beyond human control. There’s no point resisting this exogenous, omnipresent force. The best thing to do is get with the program… and learn how to program! Acquiring the right skills (usually assumed to be STEM or computer skills) is the best way to protect yourself in this brave new high-tech future. But what if technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? And what if you invest in learning the current hot coding language, only to see it replaced by something totally different as soon as…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Young Workers

    The ‘Class of COVID’ Needs Support After the Pandemic

    Young people have been among the hardest-hit by the economic fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession. More than one in four workers under age 30 lost their jobs when the pandemic hit. And young workers now account for two-thirds of remaining job losses. Earnings for workers entering the job market at this time will be suppressed for many years to come, perhaps for their entire working careers. In this commentary, originally published in the Toronto Star, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford describes the disproportionate losses experienced by young workers – and urges powerful measures to support their recovery after the pandemic. By Jim Stanford We have…