• Commentary,  Gig Economy,  Labour Standards

    Open Letter on Regulating Platform Work From B.C. Experts in Labour Law, Policy, and Economics

    Last year the B.C. government began the process of developing employment standards and other protections for app-based ride-hail and food-delivery workers. The Ministry of Labour conducted a public consultation on the topic in the fall of 2022, and published a What We Heard Report in April 2023. The Centre for Future Work made a submission to the public consultation.

  • Gig Economy,  Labour Standards

    Submission to BC Inquiry on Labour Standards for Gig Work

    On-demand work organized through online digital platforms is an extreme form of precarious employment. In this business model, workers perform specified tasks, directed by apps on their smart phones; resulting revenues are controlled by the firm which operates the platform. Workers 1 are responsible for providing required tools and a place of work – such as a car or a bicycle. They are compensated for each task on a piece work basis, while the platform appropriates a large share of revenues as its cut of the arrangement. This model of work first became widespread in passenger transportation (so-called “ride share”1 work through businesses like Uber and Lyft), and then spread…

  • 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,  Gig Economy,  Labour Standards

    Don’t be Fooled by Ontario’s ‘Minimum Wage’ for Gig Workers

    Just months before a provincial election, the Ontario government has announced a plan to guarantee a ‘minimum wage’ of $15/hour for gig workers. It sounds good, but there are some big devils lurking in the details. In practice, the plan will have absolutely zero impact on the incomes of gig workers. Anyone who accepts that this ‘minimum wage’ will lift gig workers’ incomes does not understand how the gig business model works. The biggest problem is that the so-called minimum wage will only apply for time gig workers spend engaged on an assignment: driving a passenger, delivering a meal, or performing some other assigned task. But gig workers regularly spend…

  • 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,  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,  Globalization,  Labour Standards,  PowerShare

    Global Manifesto to Democratize Work

    The COVID pandemic has painfully reminded us of the lack of genuine power that most workers have in their working lives. As soon as COVID began to spread, it was immediately obvious that workplaces were very vulnerable to contagion – yet employers and government regulators were very slow to address the threat with adequate and meaningful protective measures. Compelled by economic necessity, and lacking organized voice and bargaining power, workers literally risk their lives to continue performing their duties – often for poverty-level wages, in dangerous conditions. If workers had real say over how their workplaces operate, they could demand and win obvious and important changes to make their jobs…

  • 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…