• COVID,  Future of Work,  Research,  Trade Unions

    The Future of Working from Home

    The historic expansion of remote and home work during the first stages of the COVID pandemic was both extraordinary and vitally important in helping families, and the economy, through the challenges of that crisis. Some two-thirds of employed Canadians worked totally or mostly from home at some point during the pandemic. Remote work was essential to preserving incomes, maintaining economic activity, and providing essential services at a time when face-to-face encounters were potentially deadly.

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Inflation,  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,  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,  COVID,  Income Security

    Federal Government Should Pay CERB-Like Benefits to Workers Affected by Ottawa Protest

    The federal government should extend emergency income supports to workers who were prevented from working as a result of the 3-week occupation of downtown Ottawa by “freedom convoy” protestors, the Centre for Future Work’s Director Jim Stanford has urged. He called on the federal government to offer benefits similar to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to workers who lost significant hours of work and pay because of the occupation.  “CERB and its successor benefits were designed to support Canadians who could not work because of lockdowns and other public health measures intended to fight the pandemic,” Stanford reasoned. “This was definitely a lockdown, although not one implemented by the…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Industry & Sector,  Labour Standards

    Real Truckers Have Real Issues That Could be Solved With Regulation, Investment, and Unions

    Despite claims of organizers, the protests and blockades in Ottawa and at several of Canada’s border crossings are not really about issues faced by working truck drivers. Rather, they are part of an organized effort to overturn Canada’s public health rules – and, for some of the organizers, Canada’s elected government. But the references to “hard-working truckers” arising from the protests should spark a more genuine examination of the challenges truckers face in their jobs, and how their working lives could be improved. In this column, originally published in the Toronto Star, our Director Jim Stanford discusses several of the most pressing challenges facing real truckers: including low pay, misclassification,…

  • COVID,  Income Security,  Labour Standards,  Research

    Income Security and Workers’ Power: Work, Wages, and Basic Income after COVID

    The success of the CERB and complementary policies in helping Canadian households through the COVID pandemic confirmed the effectiveness and feasibility of much stronger income security. The CERB was not designed to be a “basic income”, but its broad coverage, generally adequate benefit level ($500 per week), and effectiveness in preventing mass dislocation during the pandemic has spurred arguments for a permanent form of basic income. Thanks to the CERB, poverty actually fell in Canada despite the pandemic. That confirmed we could achieve permanent reductions in poverty with similar, permanent income supports. Employers, however, complained loudly that the CERB undermined the “incentive to work” among current or prospective staff. Indeed,…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Income Security,  Labour Standards

    A Healthy Economy Requires Healthy Workers

    With the Omicron variant rampaging through Canadian communities, many industries are experiencing supply disruptions because many workers cannot go to their jobs: because they have COVID, were exposed to it, or are caring for others (like kids who can’t go to school). Perversely, this has spurred governments to weaken policies that limited the spread of COVID in workplaces. This may seem like a quick ‘fix’, but will only accelerate further contagion (and exacerbate supply chain problems) within days. In this commentary, originally published in the Toronto Star, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford highlights the contradictory messages from political and business leaders toward workers throughout the entire pandemic. At…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Future of Work

    Changing Work, for Good, After COVID

    As Canada enters the fifth wave of COVID contagion and restrictions, with new infections reaching the highest levels yet, we need to consider again how the pandemic must change our approach to valuing work, and protecting workers, on a permanent basis. In this keynote speech to the recent annual conference of the Parkland Institute in Alberta, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford discusses the labour policy lessons learned during the first waves of the pandemic – and why it’s vital to make permanent changes to crucial aspects of our labour market (including sick pay, protections for workers in precarious jobs, and genuine improvements in workplace health and safety). The…

  • COVID,  Research,  Wages

    10 Paid Sick Days Would Have Little Impact on Business Costs

    A proposed 10-day paid sick leave policy in B.C. will increase overall business costs by just one-fifth of one percent. That’s the finding of new research from the Centre for Future Work. The new report, by Centre Director Jim Stanford, calculates the impact of the proposed policy on sick leave entitlements, absences, replacement staff costs, and bottom-line business expenses. The ultimate impact of paid sick days is estimated at just 0.21% of existing business expenses, and will have no measurable impact on overall competitiveness or profitability. The findings discredit claims by some business lobbyists that 10 days of paid sick leave would cause widespread bankruptcies and job loss. Moreover, these…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Employment & Unemployment,  Income Security

    Canada’s Growing Jobs Advantage Over the U.S.

    In September, Canada’s labour market reached a milestone: the total number of people employed finally regained (and slightly surpassed) the level when COVID hit back in February 2020. While this isn’t a full recovery, it is evidence of an encouraging rebound in work, participation, and incomes. In this commentary, originally published in the Toronto Star, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford compares Canada’s employment rebound to the less impressive recovery south of the border. Far from inhibiting the rebound in employment (by ‘encouraging’ workers to stay at home instead of getting back to work), Canada’s more comprehensive income support measures have contributed to a stronger economic recovery. Canada’s job…