• Commentary,  COVID,  Fiscal Policy

    The Debt Monsters are Awakening … but Don’t be Afraid

    For the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional voices of fiscal austerity were largely silent – even as governments began to incur very large deficits in response to the pandemic. More recently, however, prominent advocates of balanced-budgets and debt reduction have renewed calls for spending restraint. In this commentary, originally published in the Toronto Star, Jim Stanford explains why current deficits are not so “spooky” – and why focusing on deficit-reduction would make the recession worse. Trick-or-treating has been banned in several cities this Hallowe’en to limit the spread of COVID-19. But a rag-tag swarm of frightening creatures has nevertheless come out to frighten Canadians: with spooky stories…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Employment & Unemployment,  Macroeconomics

    The Economy After COVID: What Comes Next?

    Some day the COVID-19 pandemic will end – hopefully soon! But we will then be left with an enormous economic challenge: building back jobs and incomes after the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. How can we do that? TVO’s flagship program The Agenda, hosted by Steve Paiken, recently convened a panel of economic experts to consider that question – including Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work. Stanford emphasized the need for sustained attention to job-creation, warning it would take years to regain normal employment levels. He also highlighted that any premature focus on reducing deficits and cutting back government spending would prolong the recession, and only…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Labour Standards,  PowerShare,  Trade Unions

    Amidst COVID, Unions More Relevant Than Ever

    One surprising consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession has been a notable increase in the proportion of employed Canadians who belong to a union. This partly reflects an increase in union organizing among workers who feel unsafe or exploited during the pandemic (in long term care homes, other health facilities, hospitality and retail workplaces, and others). It is also due to the fact that workers without a union have fewer job protections – and hence more of them lost their jobs, more immediately, as the pandemic hit. Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford recently joined the Out of Left Field podcast to discuss the opportunities for strengthening trade…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Labour Standards,  PowerShare,  Trade Unions

    In a Crisis, You Want Someone at Your Back

    As Canadians celebrated Labour Day, new data indicates that union membership has been growing in Canada (and several other industrial countries) even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around the world. In this column, originally published in the Toronto Star, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford argues there is a connection between the current crisis and renewed interest in unions and collective bargaining. Unions are particularly important during tough times, to limit employers’ normal tendencies to try to shift the costs of a downturn onto the backs of their workers. This pandemic has caused a surprising rebound for the unions There won’t be any Labour Day parades this…

  • Inequality,  Labour Standards,  PowerShare,  Research,  Trade Unions

    The Surprising Resilience of Trade Unionism in Canada

    Trade unions in Canada and globally have been on the defensive for years. Economic and political cultural changes have tended to undermine the power, visibility, and viability of trade unions and traditional forms of collective bargaining. As a result, union density (the proportion of workers with the protection of a union and a collective agreement) has declined in most countries through the neoliberal era. Canadian unions are not immune to these challenges. However, comparative data compiled by Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford provides surprising evidence that despite these challenges, Canadian unions have exerted a relatively stable influence on wages, income distribution, and labour policies. This helps to explain…

  • Fiscal Policy,  Industry & Sector,  Macroeconomics,  Research

    The Broken Promises of Corporate Tax Cuts

    The pace of business capital spending in Canada has been weak in recent years, for several reasons – including the slowdown in the petroleum industry, the erosion of Canadian manufacturing, and now the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic and recession. This has spurred a resurgence of demands from the business community for lower company tax rates, which advocates claim will accelerate business capital spending. In this analysis, published originally by the Canadian Tax Foundation, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford agrees that stimulating more capital investment (both private and public) is a vital goal. But there is no evidence from either recent Canadian history or international comparisons that…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Finance,  Macroeconomics

    The Gap between Stock Markets and Society has Never Been Greater

    It seems counter-intuitive that North American financial markets have been on a tear for several months, in some cases setting all-time record highs – even as the COVID pandemic proves deadlier and longer-lasting than we all hoped for. In this commentary, originally published in the Toronto Star, Jim Stanford considers this “cognitive dissonance” between the exuberance of stock markets and the hardship of the real world. Booming Financial Markets Belie Social Hardship Canadians have confronted an avalanche of depressing news about the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying recession: infections, deaths, job losses, bankruptcies. Amidst the doom and gloom, however, one light shines brightly. Even as fears of a second wave intensify,…

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

    Rebuilding Canada’s Economy Must Start with Rebuilding Work

    The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have shone an unforgiving spotlight on several long-standing fractures in Canada’s labour market. Repairing those structural weaknesses is an essential precondition for re-opening the economy — and keeping it open — once the immediate health emergency passes and we start heading back to work. Failing to address those challenges will amplify the consequences of this crisis for millions of Canadians, as well as our overall social and economic stability. And it will leave us more vulnerable to the next pandemic, or comparable shock of some other sort. Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford was invited to participate in a new project, Rebuild…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Future of Work,  Labour Standards

    rabble.ca Podcast with Jim Stanford on Making Work Better After COVID

    The Canadian on-line news site rabble.ca has produced a new podcast from a presentation which Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford recently gave to rabble’s Members’ Council. The presentation draws on the Centre’s recent report, Ten Ways the COVID-19 Pandemic Must Change Work for Good. To hear or download the full podcast, please visit rabble’s podcast page here: Economist Jim Stanford talks about the future of work — during COVID-19 times and beyond.

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Employment & Unemployment

    Encouraging Job Numbers, but a Long Way to Recovery

    Here is analysis from Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford on today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force report: The headline growth in jobs (almost 1 million) was very encouraging, much better than expected. By that measure, we’ve climbed almost halfway back out of the hole we fell into from February through April.  But the next steps of job recovery will be much harder to achieve. The share of remaining unemployed Canadians expecting to go back to their former jobs has fallen substantially (just one-third now). We are experiencing a wave of second-order layoffs as companies permanently downsize because their market isn’t coming back. Recent examples of that (all in the…