May 13, 2021

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News and Events from the CIRHR

Spotlight On: MIR & MIRHR Alumni! Our May Spotlight features Catherine Burr (MIR 1991) and Deborah Sikkema (MIR 2004). Whether you are a current MIRHR, a member of our wonderful community of alumni, or simply curious about the program, we hope that, together, these spotlights will give you a taste of the many paths our graduates travel.

New Rotman Executive Program: People Analytics for HR: The online program, led by CIRHR Assistant Professor Greg Distelhorst, is designed to teach human resource professionals—including managers and directors from both the public and private sectors—how to understand, interpret, and apply data strategically. This partnership between CIRHR and Rotman’s Executive Programs is one of many opportunities for today’s HR, labour and management professionals to continue expanding their expertise with the CIRHR.
Click here for more information and to apply.

Conflict Resolution at Work: Hosted jointly by the University of Toronto's CIRHR and Lancaster House this two-day program features proven skills and strategies for managers and union representatives. Conflict resolution has long been identified as one of the key skills that union and employer representatives must possess to be successful in their roles. Drawing from extensive research and field testing, this program will provide training in the most effective skills and strategies for resolving workplace conflict. Emphasis will be on hands-on skills training and development of practical tools.
When: Monday, June 28 and Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET
Click here to register. 

Upcoming Events and Webinars

When We Stood and Fought - Quebec City 2001: The Second People’s Summit of the Americas took place from 17-21 April, 2001 in Quebec City. Activists from all over Canada - and the world (60,000 or more) went to Quebec City and voiced their opposition to the “Summit of the Americas”. Toronto was well-represented and the Toronto Workers’ History Project (TWHP) is proud to present five such activists in discussion about their roles in that historic Summit.
When: Today Thursday, 13 May, 2021 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM ET
Where: Online via Zoom

Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts: Mayworks is a month-long community-based festival which annually presents new works by a diverse and broad range of artists, who are both workers and activists. The programming presents bold, insightful responses to pressing issues at the intersection of art, social justice and labour. Events include: dialogue, film, music, visual arts, and encounters.
Week of May 9-16 Event Schedule
Week of May 17-24 Event Schedule
Week of May 25-31 Event Schedule

Lancaster House Summer Webinar Series: Lancaster House brings together the entire labour relations community and speakers represent a diversity of perspectives and include union and management lawyers, arbitrators, academics, and subject matter experts. These webinars provide an opportunity to join labour lawyers and subject matter experts discussing contentious, emerging, and perennially important issues in labour, employment, and human rights law. Topics include:

Call for Papers and Nominations

ILERA Award Nominations: If you think you know somebody that deserves one of these awards please send a letter or nomination accompanied by the nominee’s résumé/curriculum vitae or by a substantial accounts of the accomplishments of the nominee and should be sent to the ILERA Secretariat at
Please click here for more information.
Award nominations for the Luis Aparicio Prize have been extended to Monday, May 17, 2021.

CIRA Executive Committee Nominations:  
The CIRA  Executive Committee is currently seeking recommendations from the membership, for nominations to the CIRA Executive.  If you or someone you may know is interested in participating on the CIRA Executive, please send an email at: Nominees must: be members in good standing, indicate their willingness to stand, and have the support of at least two members of CIRA.
For information on the positions available click here.
Nominations, including confirmation regarding the candidates' willingness and the names of at least two supporting members, must be received by May 21, 2021.

Call for Papers: 51st Annual Conference of the International Association of Labour History Institutions (IALHI)This year’s IALHI conference is dedicated to the role of youth movements and youth activism in broader social movements in past and present. Papers may address key areas of youth mobilization and youth movements’ patterns of organization, but also consequences of youth movements’ specificities for archivists and researchers. Papers must be submitted by June 20, 2021. 
Click here for more information on submission requirements.

Upcoming Publications and Conferences

National Human Rights and Accommodation Conference: Join Lancaster House in their annual conference, including panels and workshops.
When: Tuesday, May 18 & Thursday, May 20 (Panels) and Tuesday, May 25 & Thursday, May 27 (Workshops)
Click here to register.

CIRA Annual Conference: The Annual Conference of the
Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA) will take place virtually Wednesday May 26, 2021 to Friday May, 28, 2021.
Topic: "Work and employment in times of crisis: what are the impacts, management issues, and recovery strategies?"
Click here to register. Registration for members is $75, registration for student members is FREE.

LERA 73rd Annual Meeting: The Labor and Employment Relations Association's (LERA) 73rd Annual Meeting will take place virtually Saturday June 5, 2021 to Tuesday June 8, 2021
Topic: "A Transformational Moment? Work, Worker Power and the Workplace in an Era of Division and Disruption"
Registration is now open! Click here to register.

19th ILERA World Congress: The 19th ILERA World Congress hosted by Lund University will take place virtually from Monday, June 21 to Thursday, June 24, 2021
Registration is now open! Click here to register.

Brave New Work Conference 2021: The Messy Middle of the Future of Work: The world of work has changed on all fronts, but what about the middle? That part of work between the leap from education into the labour market and the exit from the labour market after years of contribution, both economically and professionally. The Messy Middle is where workers between their second jobs and their second last jobs might find themselves if they experience labour disruption caused by digitization, globalization, evolving business models or a pandemic. Public Policy Forum’s Brave New Work Conference 2021 will explore the urgent policy conversation on what to do next.
When: Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET
Where: Online via Zoom

Click here to register.

eBook of the Week

Organizing Matters: Two Logics of Trade Union Representation, by Guy Mundlak. Cheltenham, UK : Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020. 264 p. ISBN 9781839104039 (eBook)

From the publisher: "Organizing Matters demonstrates the interplay between two distinct logics of labour’s collective action: on the one hand, workers coming together, usually at their place of work, entrusting the union to represent their interests and, on the other hand, social bargaining in which the trade union constructs labour’s interests from the top down. The book investigates the tensions and potential complementarities between the two logics through the combination of a strong theoretical framework and an extensive qualitative case study of trade union organizing and recruitment in four countries – Austria, Germany, Israel and the Netherlands. These countries still utilize social-wide bargaining but find it necessary to draw and develop strategies transposed from Anglo-American countries in response to continuously declining membership."

PWR: work&labour news&research

Labour Unions

Industrial Relations

Labour Policy & Legislation

Labour Economics


Health & Safety


The Future of Work

Labour Unions


Unifor Local 252 On Strike Against Nestlé

“Workers with Unifor Local 252 continued their strike action on the picket line on Friday in front of the Nestlé factory in Toronto’s west end. Workers have been on strike since Saturday, May 1. Local 252 represents 470 workers at the factory in Toronto. Spirits were high on the line, with music, dancing and guest speakers, including FoodShare Toronto’s Paul Taylor and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.”

“Prior to the strike, benefits offered to some workers were already falling short. ‘If someone has a family they cannot manage with those benefits. It’s really, really hard,’ said Anjum Shaheen, a worker in the P-0 Unit for over two years. P-0 is one of the units (P-0 through P-7) in the factory producing food for Nestlé, and is where new hires are placed. This unit is classified as 'part time’ by the employer, and as such the wages and benefits are much lower than the other units…According to several workers on the picket line, throughout the pandemic, Nesltlé management has often assigned tasks to P-0 workers that are originally assigned to workers in units with more seniority. Workers in senior units can refuse jobs that they find unsafe or otherwise problematic, leaving management to assign the job to P-0 members. P-0 workers are often doing the exact same job as the 'full time’ unit at half of the wage of their more senior coworkers.”

“P-0 workers want equal pay for equal work in the new contract. They also want to be moved into the next unit, P-1, changing them to 'full time’ status to reflect their real work hours. This would also raise their health insurance benefits. Further, the local is fighting to get all workers access to the general pension plan, as opposed to the lesser plan offered to P-0s…Harte confirmed to The Hoser that Local 252 President Eammon Clarke did not make the picket line on Friday because he is now with the bargaining committee preparing for tomorrow. Nestlé has agreed to go back to the bargaining table with the union on Saturday May 8.”

The Hoser, May 8, 2021: “Unifor Local 252 On Strike Against Nestlé,” by Kevin Taghabon

Unifor, May 1, 2021: “Nestlé workers on strike in Toronto”

Collective Agreement between Nestle and Unifor, May 1, 2017-April 30, 2020 (131 pages, PDF)

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Subjects of the New Corporate University: The Sabotage of Laurentian University

“Even though postsecondary education is a provincial jurisdiction, the legislation used to carry out this weaponized ‘restructuring’ is a federal law: the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). This ‘insolvency law’ is being applied to a publicly-funded university, in the city of Sudbury, a four-hour drive north of Toronto.”

“While the faculty pension plan is safely in a secured fund, pensioners’ supplemental and health benefits were cut, and faculty wages were reduced by five percent and frozen for two years of a now-five year collective agreement…This collective agreement has effectively opened the door to replace full-time faculty members with contract sessional faculty – paid a fraction of a full-time wage, effectively opening the door to greater exploitation of a precarious group of university workers. Additionally, about 43 unionized university staff and about two dozen administrators were also permanently fired. These decisions received the assent of the university’s Senate, and all collective agreements were ratified by faculty association and staff union members – albeit with a gun to their heads.”

“The assault on Laurentian University by a President who hails from Toronto is also a class issue – you don’t see this kind of attack taking place at the schools of Canada’s elite. Laurentian University is a working-class school, located in the hinterland of northern Ontario. Sudbury was established as a prototypical, single-industry, hard-rock mining town. Its catchment area is primarily the grandchildren of Italian, Finnish, and French-Canadian working-class mirs and their offspring. 60% of students who attend Laurentian are 'first generation’ university students – a euphemism for the kids of the working-class. About 65% of graduates remain in the north – and there’s the rub: an attack on Laurentian is an attack on indigenous communities, Francophones, immigrants, and the working-class alike. It’s an attack on a feisty, vibrant arts community that’s sprung from the blackened rock.”

Socialist Project, May 5, 2021: “Subjects of the New Corporate University: The Sabotage of Laurentian University,” by Reuben Roth

PWR: work&labour news&research, April 20, 2021: “Laurentian Faculty Ratify New Collective Agreement ‘Under Duress’”

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Industrial Relations


How Uber Drivers Avoided — and Contributed to — the Fate of Taxi Drivers

“We’ve studied how Uber and taxi drivers have been affected by Uber’s categorization as a technology company. As organizational and management researchers at business schools from across Canada studying stigma, marginalization and inequality as well as entrepreneurship, innovation and technology, we became very interested in Uber’s entry into the taxi industry as we watched it unfold. … But when we began studying Uber’s entry into Toronto, we noticed something concerning. There was increasing praise in the media for Uber and Uber drivers, but criticism and near-contempt for taxis and taxi drivers.”

“To make sense of this, we conducted an in-depth case study of Uber’s entry and expansion into Toronto from 2013 to 2016. We analyzed 976 media articles and conducted 55 interviews after walking the streets of Toronto and ordering Ubers to find real drivers. We also conducted observations at protests, panel discussions and city hall meetings to better understand what was happening on the ground.”

“Based on this data, we wrote and published an open-access article in the Journal of Management Studies, where we argue that new entrants to a stigmatized occupation can actually deflect stigma…These categorical distinctions and perceived differences in identities helped Uber drivers deflect the stigma of taxi driving, despite many Uber drivers even acknowledging they did the same thing as their taxi counterparts. Meanwhile, the stigma facing taxi drivers got worse. As distinctions and differences circulated in the media, they were accompanied by remarks anchored in prejudice tied to the social, moral and physical characteristics of taxi drivers.”

The Conversation, May 6, 2021: “How Uber Drivers Avoided — and Contributed to — the Fate of Taxi Drivers,” by Kam Phung, Luciana Turchick Hakak, Madeline Toubiana, Sean Buchanan, Trish Ruebottom

YouTube, May 7, 2020: “Kam Phung - Stigma deflection and occupational stratification in the sharing economy,” by SSHRC-CRSH, (3:02, Video)

Phung, K., Buchanan S., Toubiana, S., Ruebottom, T., & Turchick‐Hakak, L. (2020). When Stigma Doesn’t Transfer: Stigma Deflection and Occupational Stratification in the Sharing Economy. Journal of Management Studies, 1-33. (33 pages, PDF)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada, March 2012: Who Drives a Taxi in Canada?, by Li Xu, (15 pages, PDF)

Turchick Hakak, L. (2017). Professionals in Disguise: Identity Work in Situations of Downward Occupational Transition. Proceedings, 2014(1), 1-6. (6 pages, PDF)

Facey, M. E. (2003). The Health Effects of Taxi Driving: The Case of Visible Minority Drivers in Toronto. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 94, 254-257. (4 pages, PDF)

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Survey Shows Some Bosses are Using the Pandemic as an Excuse to Push Workers

“We all know, of course, about the pain of job losses, the challenges of home-schooling and the hardship and worry of doing essential work on the front lines. But we know less about how work itself has changed and how the pandemic is altering the relationship between workers and employers. … Nearly 500 Canadians working in Ontario shared their thoughts with us through an online survey between August and December 2020.”

“More than two-thirds of respondents reported feeling less safe at work and more than three-quarters reported experiencing more stress and anxiety while on the job. Those numbers are even higher among women. Contributing to this rising sense of unease were significant increases in work tasks and work effort. Again, women were more likely to report having to do more because of COVID-19. Nearly one in four respondents reported some sort of negative interaction with their employer during COVID-19, ranging from difficulty getting paid to not being allowed to take time off and being bullied.”

“Not all workers are having the same experiences during the pandemic. … Unions have helped preserve jobs and incomes and protected workers from abuse during the pandemic. Just under 10 per cent of unionized workers we surveyed had experienced weeks without paid employment, compared to more than 26 per cent of non-unionized workers. Non-union workers also tended to have much longer spells without paid employment. This can partly be explained by the fact that many collective agreements require employers to discuss ways to mitigate job losses before laying people off. … Nearly 40 per cent of non-union workers reported their monthly incomes fell compared to less than 20 per cent of union workers.”

“Unions have helped reduce staff turnover during COVID-19, with 89 per cent of unionized respondents continuing to work for the same employer, compared to 72 per cent of non-union workers. Non-union workers were seven times more likely to report their employment had changed because their workplace closed, twice as likely to have changed jobs due to a temporary layoff and five times as likely to have experienced a permanent layoff. An uptick in attempts at unionization in 2020, especially in private services that have been the most resistant to unions, suggests workers believe unions could help protect them from such manipulations. … Our study shows that in the short run, it’s changed workplace dynamics, mostly to the detriment of workers.”

The Conversation, May 5, 2021: “Survey shows some bosses are using the pandemic as an excuse to push workers,” by Stephanie Ross and Wayne Lewchuk.

McMaster University School of Labour Studies, March 2021: Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Ontario Workers, Workplaces and Families by Mohammad Ferdosi, Dr. Peter Graefe, Dr. Wayne Lewchuk and Dr. Stephanie Ross.

Report Highlight: COVID and Workplace Dynamics (10 pages, PDF)

Further Results from Report:

PWR: work&labour news&research, May 4, 2021: “CERB was Luxurious Compared to Provincial Social Assistance”

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Labour Policy & Legislation


How Do Courts Treat Notice Periods for Terminated Employees During the Pandemic?

“At this time last year many wondered how the unprecedented economic circumstances created by the pandemic would affect reasonable notice periods awarded to employees terminated during the pandemic. A year on, and as cases of terminated employees have made their way through the court system, it seems the answer is clear: the pandemic may be a factor to consider in determining reasonable notice, but not to the exclusion of others and only to the extent that it existed as a factor at the time of the termination.”

“In Canada, an employee is entitled to reasonable notice of termination unless otherwise stipulated in a valid employment contract. The appropriate duration of a reasonable notice depends on all the circumstances, including but not limited to the employee’s age, length of service, the nature of the position and the availability of similar employment. Prior to the pandemic, courts were already clear that ‘economic factors’ in the market or in a particular sector or industry that make it difficult for a terminated employee to find another position may justify a longer notice period. On this basis, many employees, and more specifically their counsel, have argued the pandemic has created an economic reality that justifies imposing a lengthier notice period.”

“In Iriotakis v Peninsula Employment Services Limited, … the Superior Court of Ontario noted the pandemic was likely to have a negative impact on the plaintiff’s job search and concluded that the parties ought to have reasonably expected it to have such an impact when his employment was terminated in late March 2020. However, while COVID-19 was a factor in assessing the notice period, the court did not consider it to the exclusion of all others, instead calling for a balanced approach that considered all relevant factors. … In Yee v Hudson’s Bay Company, the Ontario Superior Court considered the case of a management employee terminated in August of 2019, prior to the pandemic. The plaintiff argued the economic conditions caused by the pandemic made it more difficult to find a new job and therefore justified the imposition of a lengthier notice period. The court refused to do so, ultimately holding the appropriate notice period is to be determined based on the circumstances that existed at the time of termination. The Ontario Superior Court reached a similar decision in Nahum v Honeycomb Hospitality Inc., where the court did not give weight to the pandemic since the employee was terminated before its onset.”

“Thus, the economic downturn caused by the pandemic will only be considered in assessing reasonable notice periods where it was within the reasonable contemplation of the parties at the time of termination. Otherwise, it may only be considered for assessing mitigation efforts, as courts have concluded that the pandemic is a factor that is likely to make finding a job more difficult.”

Norton Rose Fulbright, April 16, 2021: “How do courts treat notice periods for terminated employees during the pandemic?,” by Joseph Cohen-Lyons and Conrad Flaczyk

CanLII, February 9, 2021: Iriotakis v. Peninsula Employment Services Limited, 2021 ONSC 998 (13 pages, PDF)

CanLII, January 18, 2021: Yee v Hudson’s Bay Company, 2021 ONSC 387 (9 pages, PDF)

CanLII, February 26, 2021: Nahum v. Honeycomb Hospitality Inc., 2021 ONSC 1455 (10 pages, PDF)

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The Impact of Changes in US Public-Sector Bargaining Laws on Districts’ Spending on Teacher Compensation

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) (referred to as Janus hereafter) prohibited state and local government worker unions from negotiating collective bargaining agreements with fair share fee arrangements. The court agreed with the plaintiff’s claim that the fair share fees (known also as ‘agency fees’) violate workers’ First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association. This dramatic legal change makes it harder for public-sector unions to be effective. However, its full repercussions on membership, employment conditions, and other outcomes for public-sector workers remain to be investigated.”

“Because the Janus decision is relatively recent, it is too early to assess its comprehensive impacts. However, we can anticipate the direction that Janus is taking us by examining legislation that was passed by several U.S. states in the last decade that also substantially restricted public-sector bargaining rights. Though the laws in Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin lack the scale of the Janus decision, and though they differ from one another and from the substance and the legal focus of Janus, all have—like Janus—been described as an attack on unions’ membership and strength.”

“In this report, we examine state collective bargaining restrictions on public-sector unions and how they impact spending on teacher compensation. Specifically, we develop a framework to estimate how spending on teacher compensation was affected by changes in the legal institutions (laws, court decisions, and other administrative mechanisms) governing public-sector unions in five states that experienced these changes early in the previous decade. … We find that the pre-Janus legal changes weakening teachers unions in Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin effectively reduced spending on total teacher compensation by about 6%, reduced teacher salaries by about 5%, and reduced teacher benefits by 9.7%. … [T]he evidence from our study serves as an early warning of potentially negative repercussions of Janus on similar outcomes.”

Economic Policy Institute, April 29, 2021: The impact of changes in public-sector bargaining laws on districts’ spending on teacher compensation by Emma García and Eunice Han (21 pages, PDF)

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Labour Economics


Wage Subsidies Were Meant to Preserve Jobs. In Many Cases They Padded Bottom Lines

“By any financial measure, TFI International Inc. has had a great pandemic. Revenue at the Montreal-based trucking conglomerate, excluding fuel surcharges, rose in 2020. Net income jumped by double digits, in part because TFI moved quickly to cut its work force expenses. The company made a string of 13 acquisitions during the year. And after COVID-19 first gripped Canada last March, the company paid a higher dividend in every quarter compared with the same period a year earlier. Along the way, TFI and its subsidiaries also collected nearly $75-million in payments under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, making it one of the biggest recipients in what is by far the single largest spending initiative in the federal government’s history.”

“If the intersection of a growing bottom line and a government bailout seems disconcerting, it shouldn’t. There’s no indication that TFI did not legitimately qualify for payments. The fact that a company posted solid results, paid out higher dividends, had money to spare for acquisitions and laid off workers to contain costs is no barrier at all to receiving CEWS payments – despite sporadic rhetorical feints to the contrary by the Liberal government. And if TFI’s experience seems unusual, it isn’t. TFI has lots of company, according to a Globe and Mail analysis that married Ottawa’s list of thousands of CEWS recipients to the Statistics Canada database on Canadian corporate parents and subsidiaries, and then cross-referenced that to the companies listed on either the Toronto Stock Exchange or the TSX Venture Exchange, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.”

“The result: a database showing that 388 publicly traded companies (or their wholly owned subsidiaries) received more than $3.6-billion in CEWS payments as of late January (when the Canada Revenue Agency took down the federal government’s online listing of companies). Citing privacy restrictions protecting tax filers, Ottawa has refused to release a full accounting of CEWS subsidies paid. Despite that very limited disclosure, the Globe database is the most comprehensive picture of how large companies have accessed the program. But there are many limitations and omissions. Several companies did not disclose the subsidy amounts they received. And companies such as Bombardier Inc., which reported in securities filings it had received payments, had no direct name matches for itself or any of its wholly owned subsidiaries in Ottawa’s online listing, and were excluded by our methodology.”

“Like TFI, many of the 387 other companies weathered the pandemic with relative ease, despite qualifying for assistance under CEWS. The program’s goal was to preserve the jobs of millions of Canadians, but in many cases, payments padded bottom lines to the tune of millions of dollars.”

The Globe and Mail, May 8, 2021: “Wage subsidies were meant to preserve jobs. In many cases, the $110.6-billion response padded bottom lines,” by Patrick Brethour, Tom Cardoso, David Milstead, and Vanmala Subramaniam

The Globe and Mail, May 8, 2021: “CEWS: A massive subsidy, shrouded in secrecy,” by Tom Cardoso

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, January, 2021 (Excel Sheet, Zip Download)

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Climate Action is Going to Create Too Many Jobs

“Canada’s level of climate ambition targeted this decade keeps climbing ever upwards. We went from having no clear plan to reach a 30 per cent emissions reduction target to now having a 40-45 per cent emissions reduction target—and a plan to reach almost all of it in less than two years. This is great for Canada. Targets and policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions fight climate change and create jobs in communities across the country. In fact, our aspirations are so great that we have a new problem. This level of climate action is going to create too many jobs. Two big bottlenecks stand in the way of Canada’s climate ambition: a shortage of skilled labour and a shortage of housing. If we do not immediately address these, we will fail to hit our environmental targets and miss an opportunity for sustained economic growth.”

“This may seem counter-intuitive, but the idea that ambitious climate action creates jobs is pretty straightforward. Every zero-emissions technology we will adopt has to be designed, and then each part built, assembled, installed and maintained. That process creates jobs in manufacturing, construction, logistics and resource production, as well as other industries. … The bulk of Canadian manufacturing takes place along the Highway 401-Autoroute 20 corridor that stretches from Windsor to Quebec City, and this is unlikely to change. Companies need to be in a place where they have access to key suppliers, access to labour, and the necessary infrastructure to get their products to key global markets like the northeastern U.S. However, this corridor is currently experiencing skyrocketing real-estate prices, which will limit the growth prospects of manufacturers in the region.”

“A decision to expand production in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area will need to offer compensation levels commensurate with the cost of living in the region. Data from the Canadian Real Estate Association shows that median house prices in the GTHA have increased by 128 per cent in the last ten years. The National Bank of Canada’s Affordability Index identifies that an annual household income above $170,000 is now required to afford a representative GTHA home. An EV manufacturer therefore needs to make a decision whether they could offer salaries high enough to attract skilled labour to move from other parts of Canada into the region. If not, it will have greater trouble attracting the skilled workforce it needs.”

MacLean’s, May 6, 2021: “Climate action is going to create too many jobs,” by Mike Moffatt and John McNally

Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME), 2020: Management Issues Survey, Full Report (38 pages, PDF), One-Pager (1 page, PDF)

National Bank of Canada, May 4, 2021: Housing Affordability Monitor (16 pages, PDF)

The Globe and Mail, May 4, 2021: “Can’t afford a house? It’s likely not your fault,” by Rob Carrick

Statistics Canada, updated May 11, 2021: Table: 11-10-0239-01 Income of individuals by age group, sex and income source, Canada, provinces and selected census metropolitan areas

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Canada’s Aging Labour Force Threatens COVID Recovery and Future Prosperity

“[T]he labour force of the future will be quite different from the past due to immigration and aging. Immigrants will account for all of Canada’s future population increase, and immigrants have historically chosen to settle in only a few large cities. Canada’s aging population has several implications. While many will retire, others will stay active but only on their own terms, including flexible hours and more part-time work and self-employment. This will make finding and keeping workers challenging for large employers, especially in the union-dominated public sector. The greater problem for our society is therefore more likely to be chronic labour shortages than mass unemployment caused by automation and technology.”

“However, as noted in a new study published by the Fraser Institute, a slowdown in labour force growth is not inevitable. Labour force growth accelerated between 1996 and 2006. At that time, severe labour shortages in parts of the country led employers to offer higher wages and recruit groups previously overlooked (such as the disabled and older workers), resulting in higher labour force growth and a more diverse workplace without government intervention. In western Canada at the peak of the oil boom in 2008, employers adopted a number of creative means to entice workers to join the labour force, delay retirement and work longer hours to supply the required labour. If future labour force growth does not meet requirements, employers may be just as creative in finding the labour input they need.”

“But again, labour force growth in not inevitable. And Canada can also influence other determinants of growth, namely the stock of capital and productivity. On the capital front, several policies could help raise investment, including lowering effective tax rates, easing regulatory restrictions, promoting internal trade, encouraging more competition and business formation, and allowing resource developments (including pipelines) to proceed. It’s even easier to improve productivity growth. A wide range of existing technologies have the potential to boost productivity including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, the ‘Internet of things,’ advanced wireless technologies, 3D printing and driverless vehicles. The pandemic clearly accelerated the adoption of some technologies, especially those related to communications and online banking.”

Fraser Institute News Release, May 3, 2021: “Canada’s aging labour force threatens COVID recovery and future prosperity,” by Philip Cross

Fraser Institute, April 22, 2021: The Implications of Slowing Growth in Canada’s Labour Force by Philip Cross (13 pages, PDF)

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Pandemic Pushes Back Gender Parity by a Generation

“Another generation of women will have to wait for gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt, closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years. Progress towards gender parity is stalling in several large economies and industries. This is partly due to women being more frequently employed in sectors hardest hit by lockdowns combined with the additional pressures of providing care at home. The report, now in its 15th year, benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps in four areas: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment. It also examines the drivers of gender gaps and outlines the policies and practices needed for a gender-inclusive recovery.”

“The deterioration in 2021 is partly attributed to a widening political gender gap in several large population countries. Despite over half of the 156 indexed countries registering an improvement, women still hold only 26.1% of parliamentary seats and 22.6% of ministerial positions worldwide. On its current trajectory, the political gender gap is expected to take 145.5 years to close, compared to 95 years in the 2020 edition of the report, an increase of over 50%. The economic gender gap has seen only a marginal improvement since the 2020 edition and is expected to take another 267.6 years to close. The slow progress is due to opposing trends – while the proportion of women among skilled professionals continues to increase, income disparities persist and few women are represented in managerial positions.”

“Although these findings are sobering, gender gaps in education and health are nearly closed. In education, while 37 countries have reached gender parity, it will take another 14.2 years to completely close this gap due to slowing progress. In health, over 95% of this gender gap has been closed, registering a marginal decline since last year.”

World Economic Forum News Release, March 31, 2021: “Pandemic Pushes Back Gender Parity by a Generation, Report Finds”

World Economic Forum, March 30, 2021: Global Gender Gap Report 2021 (405 pages, PDF)

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Health & Safety


Ontario Court of Appeal Expands Potential Risk to Employers

“On April 23, the Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in Ontario (Labour) v. Sudbury (City). The decision should be of concern to all owners and employers, as it could significantly expand liabilities under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) on construction projects and affect advance planning and structures for construction project safety and management. It suggests that an employer may have broad OHSA responsibilities solely on the basis that it had a worker on the project — perhaps despite engaging a constructor. It appears to set aside equitable considerations of context and the scope of an employer’s role on the project — or, at least, leave their consideration to the discretion of OH&S inspectors or Crown prosecutors.”

“The City contracted with a general contractor (the ‘GC’) who undertook the project as its 'constructor’ with overall responsibility for health and safety…. Tragically, in September 2015, a member of the public was struck and killed by a road grader operated by an employee of the GC. At the time of the accident, there was no signaller, fencing, or paid duty assistance from the police. A City inspector was not on the project.”

“The decision leaves stakeholders in the Ontario construction industry with little guidance about how the OHSA employer obligations should or will be applied. A number of implications result, including:”

  • “Expanded discretion for inspectors and prosecutors”
  • “Ongoing investigations and prosecutions”
  • “Implications for due diligence”
  • “Risks for owners sending workers into a project”

“The decision may represent a fundamental shift in the approach to owner and employer responsibilities on construction projects. Future cases may be required to decide whether the broad obligations flowing from the decision will be refined by concepts such as control or the employer’s sphere of operations on the project.”

OHS Canada, May 3, 2021: “Ontario Court of Appeal expands potential risk to employers,” by Jeremy Warning, John Illingworth, and Cheryl A. Edwards

CanLII, April 23, 2021: Ontario (Labour) v. Sudbury (City), 2021 ONCA 252 (9 pages, PDF)

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The Future of Work


Skills for the Post-Pandemic World

“[T]he pandemic has exacerbated racial and gender inequities as well as those for Indigenous communities. And it has had a disproportionately negative effect on persons with disabilities. … COVID-19 has led to new work arrangements, with some estimates claiming that 40 percent of jobs can be done remotely. But this is mostly true for higher-income workers. People in manufacturing, construction and care jobs cannot work remotely. The magnitude of the pandemic and economic crisis, and the many second-order trends associated with it, raise new implications for how we think about education, the workplace and skills training.”

“While we know that the trends associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are changing the ways in which we live and work, the precise implications for skills development are not clear. To fully understand, additional research is needed across the following eight themes:

  1. The current and future capacity of education and skills systems
  2. Rethinking essential skills development infrastructure
  3. Skills for more inclusive workplaces
  4. Skills for new work arrangements
  5. Immigration policies and practices
  6. Innovative and emergent models
  7. Developing and supporting entrepreneurship
  8. Understanding jobs polarization and the levers needed to address it post-pandemic”

“The Skills for the Post-Pandemic World project tackles key questions facing policymakers, employers, training providers and workers. It is urgent that society turn to face the fundamental changes in the labour market precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many players must rise to meet the new conditions of a post-pandemic world. The pandemic has dragged the future of work into the present: digitization, work from home, and many other long-predicted developments are here now, and likely to stay.”

Public Policy Forum, updated April 15, 2021: Skills for the Post-Pandemic World Project Series

Public Policy Forum, December 11, 2020: Skills for the Post-Pandemic World Scoping Report (53 pages, PDF)

Public Policy Forum, April 15, 2021: Job Polarization in Canada by Sean Speer and Sosina Bezu (46 pages, PDF)

Public Policy Forum, May 5, 2021: Digital Infrastructure for the Post-Pandemic World by Catherine Middleton (41 pages, PDF)

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