September 29, 2016

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We are launching the 15th year of the Perry Work Report with a new banner and logo celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Centre and the 40th anniversary of the MIRHR Program.
For years, PWR has been an affectionate nickname for the Perry Work Report, named after founding editor Elizabeth Perry, 2002 – 2006.  Vicki Skelton, CIRHR Librarian, has been the editor since January 2007, joined by two exceptional Faculty of Information students, Melissa Wawrzkiewicz (2012 – 2014) and Caitlin MacLeod (2015 – current).  In these recent years we have developed our online presence on tumblr as work&labour news&research, and on the CIRHR Library Twitter accountWe are now in the process of upgrading our tumblr and making it more accessible as a database of current IR/HR news and research. We will keep you posted.
With a new updated name that reflects our online presence the PWR: work&labour news&research will continue to keep students, alumni, academics and practitioners up-to-date with research and news in industrial relations and human resource management locally and globally.

Best from your editors: Vicki Skelton & Caitlin MacLeod



This is a friendly but important reminder that the deadline for submitting abstracts and panel proposals for LLRN3Toronto - the third bi-annual conference of the Labour Law Research Network - is October 15th. We are looking forward to receiving your submissions, and to welcoming you in Toronto next June! Preparations are already well underway for what will surely be a productive and enjoyable conference.

For more details on the conference and to review the call for papers go to    

To make a submissions go direct to

Please direct any questions you may have to


The Bora Laskin Award Reciptient

Kenneth Swan has been chosen by the Selection Committee as the 2016 recipient of the Bora Laskin Award. This award, named in honour of the late Chief Justice Bora Laskin, has been established by the University of Toronto to honour those who have made outstanding contributions to Canadian labour law.

Kenneth Swan will be presented with the Bora Laskin Award at a special dinner event at The Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto on December 8, 2016. This event will be held in conjunction with Lancaster's Labour Arbitration and Policy and Bargaining in the Broader Public Sector Conferences in Toronto.

Conference - The Evolving Nature of Retirement

The retirement landscape is ever evolving - changing employment relationships and accountabilities, advancing financial technologies, a more diverse work force, and transforming regulatory and administrative practices for all stakeholders. This one-day event will bring together industry professionals, policy makers, and thought leaders to discuss critical issues impacting the retirement compensation industry, and will feature keynote lunchtime remarks from the Ontario Minister of Finance, the Hon. Charles Sousa.
  • WHAT: Conference - The Evolving Nature of Retirement
  • DATE: November 17 2016
  • TIME: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • WHERE:
    245 Church St.
    Floor 03, Sears Atrium
    Toronto, ON
    Stephanie Woodward
    The National Institute on Ageing

PWR: work&labour news&research

Changes to Ontario’s Workplace Laws Under Consideration

“On July 27, 2016, the Ontario government released the Changing Workplace Review Interim Report (“Report”). This is a comprehensive review of Ontario’s two key pieces of employment and labour legislation: the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA). It discusses a myriad of reform options, including many that are significant and would involve drastic changes in our workplace laws. It bears close attention.”

“Written by Special Advisors C. Michael Mitchell and John C. Murray, the Report draws inspiration from academic research, experiences in other jurisdictions and the Special Advisors’ own professional experience. The issues tackled in the Interim Report are extensive and the options to address them vary widely in their scope and potential effect.”

Fasken Martineau Labour, Employment and Human Rights Bulletin, 2016: “Drastic Changes to Ontario’s Workplace Laws Under Consideration,” by Brian P. Smeenk and Christian Paquette

Fasken Martineau, 2016: “Ontario Changing Workplaces Review: Interim Report Summary,”  by Brian P. Smeenk and Christian Paquette (60 pages, PDF)

Norton Rose Fulbright, September 2016: “Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review: ESA exemptions,” by Rhonda Shirref (2 pages, PDF)

Norton Rose Fulbright, July 2016: “Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review Interim Report: last chance to provide your input,” by Rhonda Shirref (7 pages, PDF)

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Final Report and Recommendations of Ontario’s Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee

“The Ontario government has released the final report from the Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee and will immediately start work on a plan to close the gap, create equal opportunities for prosperity and strengthen the economy by eliminating barriers that prevent women’s full participation in the workforce.”

“As a first step toward closing the gender wage gap, Ontario is moving forward with recommendations by”:

  • “Increasing income transparency in the Ontario Public Service by making salary data publicly available by gender”
  • “Requiring gender-based analysis in the government policy process”
  • “Appointing an Associate Minister of Education, Responsible for Early Years and Child Care to build a system of affordable, accessible and high-quality early years and child care programs”
  • “Providing employers with resources including training materials on anti-discrimination and developing other education products for employees”

Ontario Newsroom, August 25, 2016: “Ontario Moving Forward to Close the Gender Wage Gap”

Government of Ontario, August 26, 2016: “Final report and recommendations of the Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee” (72 pages, PDF)

“[The Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee’s] No. 1 recommendation? Ontario must commit to an affordable and publicly funded geared-to-income child-care program if it hopes to make a dent in the pay gap. … It’s something Wynne should pursue anyway for several important reasons”

“First is the task force’s clear and compelling conclusion that out of all the steps necessary to close the wage gap, providing licenced child-care spaces is the one that would have the biggest impact.”

“Second, getting women out into the work force is important not just for women. The whole province benefits.”

“Third, early childhood education pays off for kids — and reduces spending on social programs down the road.”

The Toronto Star, August 29, 2016: “Close the wage gap by creating a province-wide child care program: Editorial”

The Toronto Star, August 25, 2016: “Province must fund child care to tackle gender wage gap, report says,” by Sara Mojtehedzadeh

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Canadian Women’s Workforce Participation

“The proportion of women aged 25 to 54 who participated in the labour market has risen in Canada over the last two decades, while it has fallen in the United States.”

“In 1997, female labour force participation rates in Canada and the United States were almost identical, with 76% of Canadian women aged 25 to 54 and 77% of American women in that age group participating in the labour force. By 2015, the female participation rate had increased to 81% in Canada, while it had declined to 74% in the United States. These results come from the new study, “The Canada–U.S. gap in women’s labour market participation.”

Statistics Canada The Daily, August 17, 2016: “Study: The Canada–US gap in women’s labour market participation, 1997 to 2015″

CTV News, August 17, 2016: “Why there’s a workforce gap between Canadian and American women”

The Globe and Mail, August 17, 2016: “Canadian women more active in labour force than American peers,” Rachelle Younglai

“This study reports on the trends in the labour force participation rate (LFPR) of prime-aged women (25 to 54) in both Canada and the United States. The paper examines the population groups that have been behind the rising divergence in the LFPR between the two countries over the past two decades.“

Statistics Canada, August 17, 2016: “Insights on Canadian Society – The Canada–U.S. gap in women’s labour market participation,” by Marie Drolet, Sharanjit Uppal and Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté (15 pages, PDF)

A Different Story for Canadian Mothers?

“Fewer Canadian mothers — especially those with young children — participate in the job market compared to moms in many wealthy countries, says a newly released internal federal analysis. The document explored the link between child-care support and the involvement of women in the labour market.”

“Based on 2013 data, it said the employment rate for “prime-aged” Canadian women — between 25 to 54 years old — with kids younger than 15 years old was 75 per cent. That number placed Canada ninth among fellow member countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a prominent Paris-based think tank.”

“The document said the factors behind the participation rate of women in Canada with young children was connected to several interrelated factors, including education attainment, spouse’s income, labour market conditions, tax rates, child benefits and the availability of affordable child care.”

“By province, the document said that maternal labour force participation was, in most cases, lower in provinces with higher child-care costs — with some exceptions. The paper notes that it’s difficult to quantify the link between low-cost child care and labour-force participation because of other variables, such as the design of the subsidy, the economic context and the availability of daycare spaces.”

The Toronto Star, August 3, 2016: “Fewer moms participate in Canadian workforce than mothers in many other rich nations,” by Andy Blatchford

The Guardian, August 21, 2016: “Rise in women facing discrimination on taking maternity leave,” by Sarah Butler

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Closing the Gender Pay Gap At UWaterloo

“In a memo emailed to faculty Wednesday and obtained by The Canadian Press, the University of Waterloo said a working group tasked with analyzing faculty salaries uncovered a ‘systemic gender anomaly’ that was 'consistent across the university.’”

“As a result, it said an adjustment of $2,905 will be made on Sept. 1 to the salaries of all female faculty members who were in the faculty association’s bargaining unit as of April 30 of last year. However, the working group said in its report that the increases will not be applied retroactively.”

“Several other Canadian universities, including Hamilton’s McMaster University and the University of British Columbia, have given raises to female faculty members in recent years so that they earn as much as their male peers.”

“The working group recommends that the university examine salaries every five years on top of conducting annual reviews within each department. It also stresses that since starting salaries and merit increases are the key factors affecting pay, 'care should be taken to ensure that starting salaries are equitable, as inequity at this point can quickly compound.’”

The Globe and Mail, August 4, 2016: “University of Waterloo boosts female faculty pay after wage gap uncovered,” by Paola Loriggio

CBC News, August 8, 2016: "All female faculty at University of Waterloo get raises after gender wage gap discovered,” by Kate Buekert

The Toronto Star, August 8, 2016: “University of Waterloo must resolve the root causes of the pay gap between male and female faculty members: Editorial”

The Morale Effect of Pay Inequality

“A new study suggests that if bosses want to increase productivity among their workers, they should start by paying everyone equally.”

“Economists from Columbia and Berkeley conducted 14 experiments at set of factories in India to study the effects of pay disparities on worker productivity, and found that the amount you get paid relative to your co-workers has a huge impact on how productive you are at work.”

“The researchers used games and a survey to test the effect of cooperation, social ties outside of work, and general happiness. All suffered within units where workers were paid unequally.”

Fusion, August 8, 2016: “The surprising link between how much you make and how productive you are,” by Rob Wile

National Bureau of Economic Research, August 2016: “The Morale Effects of Pay Inequality,” by Emily Breza Supreet Kaur and Yogita Shamdasani (58 pages, PDF)

Debating the Gender Pay Gap 

“Bourree Lam leads a discussion over why women on average earn less then men, and we hear from readers about their firsthand experiences in the workforce:”

Ignoring Cultural Norms in the Workforce

Should Different Work Mean Different Pay?

Facing a Hostile Work Environment: Your Stories

The Socialization of Women and the Gender Gap

Tell Us: Have Cultural Pressures Led You to a Lower Paying Job?

The Atlantic, August 2016: “Debating the Gender Pay Gap,” by Bourree Lam

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Sessional Faculty in Ontario Universities

“The unprecedented growth in non-tenure/tenure track faculty has led to speculation as to the learning environment and learning outcomes for students. Both national media and researchers have raised concerns about the growth in short-term contract faculty, yet there is little evidentiary data to support policy development.”

“A new CIHE report by Cynthia Field and Glen Jones takes a step towards addressing the lack of evidence to guide debate on the quickly growing population of university instructors who work on short-term contracts.”

“A Survey of Sessional Faculty in Ontario Publicly-Funded Universities reports on findings from a survey of instructors at 12 universities. It identifies and discusses current pressures and challenges sessional faculty experience, and puts forwards several recommendations for improving the learning environment.”

Canadian & International Higher Ed, August 15, 2016: “New report on sessional faculty in Ontario universities”

Canadian & International Higher Ed, August 15, 2016: “A Survey of Sessional Faculty in Ontario Publicly-Funded Universities,” by Cynthia Field and Glen Jones (54 pages, PDF)

Inside Higher Ed, August 18, 2016: "Study: Most Ontario Adjuncts Are Would-Be Full-Timers”

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Combating Sexual Violence in the Workplace and On Campus

“On August 12th, the Ministry of Labour released its eagerly-awaited “Code of Practice to Address Workplace Harassment under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act[OHSA]” (“the Code of Practice”). The Code of Practice provides employers with guidance on how to implement the new OHSA provisions on workplace harassment set out under Bill 132 which comes into effect for employers on September 8, 2016.”

“The Code of Practice is divided into four “Parts”. Each addresses one of the new workplace harassment-related OHSA provisions. Each Part includes a set of “practices” that must be implemented to demonstrate compliance with the Part. The Code of Practice also includes several useful resources (e.g. sample workplace harassment policy and program, investigation template) as appendices.”    

Rubin Thomlinson, August 2016: “Workplace Investigation Alert: Bill 132 Code of Practice” (6 pages, PDF)

Ontario Ministry of Labour, August 12, 2016: “Code of Practice to Address Workplace Harassment under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act”

Legislative Assembly of Ontario, 2016: “Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016″
Norton Rose Fulbright, August 2016: “Countdown to new Ontario workplace harassment obligations: are you ready, employers?,” by Rhonda Shirref (2 pages, PDF)

“The University of Toronto needs to ensure that all members of its community are covered by the same set of procedures when it comes to matters of sexual violence, says the expert panel asked to give guidance on the development of a new policy.”

“That recommendation is one of 40 contained in a report from the panel, led by Mayo Moran, professor of law and provost of Trinity College.”

“The report, released August 11, also calls for norms or levels of protection from sexual violence that do not depend on one’s status in the university; centralized disclosure, reporting, investigation and adjudication of complaints to protect against conflicts of interest and fears of bias; and resources and supports that are easy to find and access. It includes recommendations on defining key terms such as consent, sexual assault, sexual and gender-based harassment and the difference between disclosure and reporting.”

U of T News, August 11, 2016: “Expert panel on sexual violence recommends one set of procedures for all members of U of T community”

University of Toronto, August 11, 2016: “Recommendations for a new Sexual Violence Policy” (11 pages, PDF)

“’The Response to Sexual Violence at Ontario University Campuses,’ a scathing, 56-page research report, has been obtained by Metro. The result of an independent investigation funded by the Ontario government, it calls for a ‘massive change’ in how schools handle sexual violence, says principal investigator Dawn Moore, an associate professor of law at Carleton.”

“The report singles out five distinct, broad areas of concern and makes 18 specific recommendations to fix them, including the creation of anonymous sexual-violence reporting systems on campuses and an independent, community-based oversight body to review universities’ responses to sexual violence.”

“Perhaps most troubling for governments seeking to legislate change, the report suggests that Ontario’s Bill 32, the widely lauded sexual assault policy that has formed the basis of similar bills in B.C. and Manitoba, will direct schools to focus resources in the wrong places.”

Metro News, August 10, 2016: “Ontario’s reforms won’t solve campus sex assault, according to scathing new report obtained by Metro,” by Rosemary Westwood

“FINAL REPORT: The Response to Sexual Violence at Ontario University Campuses" by Doris Buss, Diana Majury, Dawn Moore, George S. Rigakos, Rashmee Singh

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Barista or Better? The Earnings of Post-Secondary Grads

“Stop mocking that university degree as just a bachelor of barista — new research shows Canada’s post-secondary grads really do land jobs with healthy salaries, suggesting the Ivory Tower isn’t a waste of time after all.”

“Those with the biggest paycheques should come as no surprise: engineers, nurses and computer whizzes start at $50,000 to $60,000 a year straight out of university, and engineers can hit $99,000 within eight years. Yet even the humble humanities major pulls in a respectable $57,000 after eight years, according to tax returns crunched by researchers at the University of Ottawa.”

“The study, called Barista or Better? New Evidence on the Earnings of Post-Secondary Education Graduates, tracked the annual income of more than 340,000 graduates from 14 colleges and universities across four provinces from 2005 to 2013.”

The Toronto Star, July 26, 2016: “Higher education does lead to higher incomes: University of Ottawa study,” by Louise Brown

Education Policy Research Initiative: “EPRI-ESDC Tax Linkage Project”

Education Policy Research Institute, July 26, 2016: “Barista or Better? New Evidence on Earnings of Post-Secondary Education Graduates: A Tax Linkage Approach,” by Ross Finnie, Kaveh Afshar, Eda Bozkurt, Masashi Miyairi and Dejan Pavlic (75 pages, PDF)

CBC News, July 26, 2016: “Higher education still worth the money, new research suggests”

Gender wage gap gets bigger…

“The study found that men who graduated from university in 2005 earned $2,800 more than women in their first year after graduation. By year eight, the earnings gap had widened to $27,300, meaning male graduates were earning 44 per cent more on average than female graduates.”

“The pattern held in all fields of study, though the gap was highest for graduates in business, engineering, social sciences and science & agriculture. It was smallest for humanities and fine arts graduates.”

“Women who graduated from health and humanities programs initially earned more than their male counterparts, but fell behind over time.”

Ottawa Citizen, July 26, 2016: “Study finds widening gender gap in earnings among post-secondary graduates,” by Don Butler

The Globe and Mail, July 26, 2016: “Wage gap grows rapidly after graduation, study finds,” by Rachelle Younglai

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Feeling Overqualified?

“One in eight Canadian workers with a university degree is working in a job that requires no more than a high school education, but that group often has weak skills in reading, writing and numeracy, according to a new study from Statistics Canada released on Wednesday.”

“Statscan researchers examined the relationship between overqualification and skills in literacy and understanding numbers. They found that nearly half the university graduates who were working in a job that only required high school had low literacy skills. Similarly, half the overqualified university grads had trouble working with numbers.”

‘“It suggests that the numeracy and literacy skills make a difference,” said the study’s co-author Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté. “That is a massive finding of the study.”’

The Globe and Mail, September 14, 2016: “Overqualified workers often lacking in basic skills: study,” by Rachelle Younglai

“Based on a  self-reported measure of overqualification, this article examines the  association between overqualification and skills among workers aged 25 to 64 with  a university degree, using data from the 2012 Programme for the International  Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). This article also examines the extent  to which overqualified workers are dissatisfied with their jobs. Overqualified  workers are defined in this study as university-educated workers who reported  that they were in a job requiring no more than a high school education.”

Statistics Canada, September 14, 2016: “Insights on Canadian Society – Overqualification, skills and job satisfaction,” by Darcy Hango and Sébastien Larochelle-Côté (16 pages, PDF)

Statistics Canada’s The Daily, September 14, 2016: “Study: Overqualification, skills and job satisfaction, 2012″

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Exploring Education, Skills and Job Satisfaction

“On [September 23rd, 2016], universities [launched] a year-long consultation with the public probing opinions on jobs, environmental sustainability and social services, among other topics. The consultation will also include a survey asking specific questions about what kind of skills graduates will need.”

“Even though statistics show that earnings for university graduates far exceed those of high-school grads, some studies have found that a bachelor’s degree is not a guarantee of a student’s skills. A Statistics Canada study released this month showed that a small minority of students have poor numeracy and literacy abilities.”

“The provincial government is currently talking to the sector about how it may change the way it funds universities to better reflect each institution’s specific mission. The public survey will not play a role in those negotiations, but could help institutions bolster their case for stable grant-funding levels.”

The Globe and Mail, September 23, 2016: “Ontario universities consulting with families to address job-market concerns,” by Simona Chiose

Council of Ontario Universities, September 23, 2016: “Ontario’s Universities Spark Conversation about the Future – Are You Ready?”

“Ontario’s Universities” survey

Ontario’s Universities consultation website

Council of Ontario Universities: Employment

Statistics Canada, September 14, 2016: “Insights on Canadian Society – Overqualification, skills and job satisfaction,” by Darcy Hango and Sébastien Larochelle-Côté (16 pages, PDF)

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Getting Students the Skills They Need

In Higher Education

“Corporate training, while valuable, typically does not count toward an employee’s pursuit of a college diploma.”

“That’s no longer the case under an agreement announced Friday between Colleges Ontario and McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd. As of September, McDonald’s employees can count their in-house management training as credit toward a two- or three-year business administration diploma at one of Ontario’s 24 public colleges.”

“Under the agreement, Ontario colleges recognize that a McDonald’s employee with at least two of four company courses required to become a manager has earned the equivalent of first-year courses in a two- or three-year business diploma. As a result, the manager-in-training could apply to a college and enter a business program in second-year, potentially saving up to $4,500 in tuition. Eligible students can take courses online, in class or a combination of both.”

The Globe and Mail, August 19, 2016: “McDonald’s training is now a path to a college diploma,” by Jennifer Lewington

The Globe and Mail, August 22, 2016: “Students need to think of the world as their classroom,” by David Mulroney

Quartz, August 22, 2016: “Tyra Banks is only the latest celebrity professor,” by Oliver Staley

The Need for Tech Skills

“Provinces such as British Columbia and Nova Scotia have made commitments to prioritize coding in their schools’ curriculums as part of a broader strategy to deliver more support to each province’s tech sector. But Ontario, which will have more than 3.5 times as many projected open jobs in 2019 (76,300) as British Columbia (20,900), has not. While Ontario has made a recent move to increase the amount of math instruction in the classroom to 60 minutes per day, computer science remains an elective high-school course for the majority of the province’s students.”

“Some schools provide specialized computer-science streams, and the Toronto District School Board has implemented a STEM Strategy across all grades, but for the most part, kids who are interested in learning to code must look for opportunities outside of classroom hours. Thanks to not-for-profit programs, such as and CoderDojo, supported by companies such as Salesforce, and innovative initiatives, such as Free Your Mind: A Hip Hop Education STEMposium, students can be exposed to coding if they seek out the opportunity themselves.”

“By prioritizing coding, Canadian children will be better prepared for the jobs of the future, which is essential for the country’s future economic engine and innovation. It’s time for the rest of the provinces to follow the leads of British Columbia and Nova Scotia and equip students for the future.”

The Globe and Mail, August 19, 2016: “Coding and computer science should be mandatory in Canadian schools,” by Ebony Frelix

Quartz, August 22, 2016: “Harvey Mudd College took on gender bias and now more than half its computer-science majors are women,“ by Oliver Staley

The Guardian, August 22, 2016: “Bounty hunters are legally hacking Apple and the Pentagon – for big money,” by Nicky Woolf

But Will They Be Paid?

“The Liberal government wants to know why a dozen federal departments and agencies do not pay their interns. The review was ordered by Treasury Board President Scott Brison earlier this year as the government grappled with the politically charged issue of unpaid internships in the federal jurisdiction.”

“Some of the largest federal departments have interns working for free, including National Defence, Public Safety and Environment Canada, in addition to smaller organizations such as the Canadian Space Agency.”

“The federal government accepts an estimated 1,000 interns each year and, according to Treasury Board policy, is required to pay them unless they’re part of an academic program, such as a co-op placement, that specifically forbids payment.”

CBC News, August 19, 2016: "Liberals probe unpaid internships in federal government,” by Dan Beeby

“Many people suggest that millennials are saving because they have witnessed firsthand the terrible effects of the Great Recession. But they neglect to mention that another impetus for socking away cash is the changing nature of work. Employment has long been the avenue where workers gain retirement security and benefits like health insurance and paid leave. But in recent years, employers have been shifting away from providing these benefits to their employees. Companies have increasingly turned to hiring independent contractors and temporary employees instead of full-time workers, which allows them to offer nothing in the way of benefits. And even workers who do have benefits frequently find themselves paying out of pocket for dental care or lacking a company match for their 401(k)s—a system that was never meant to be the primary way that people saved for retirement in the first place.”

Quartz, August 23, 2016: “Millennials are only saving more because employers are giving them less,” by Kalena Thomhave

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Times Higher Education rankings 2016-2017

“Canada’s top three universities have slipped in global rankings this year in the face of global competition, each falling two to four places in the world’s most closely watched university ratings table.”

“The University of Toronto landed at No. 22 (from No. 19), the University of British Columbia is at No. 36 (34), and McGill University is No. 42 (38). They are the only three Canadian schools to crack the Top 100 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.”

“Released Wednesday, this year’s list also shows schools in China and Hong Kong are on a clear upward trajectory, with two Chinese universities leaping ahead by double digits to overtake UBC and McGill.”

“The rankings are a crucial tool for recruiting students, faculty and staff. A lofty rank also leads to further investment from industry and international collaborations. And surveys of employers have shown that graduates from the most highly rated universities are more competitive in the labour market.“

The Globe and Mail, September 22, 2016: “Canadian universities tumble in rankings as China rises,” by Simona Chiose

Times Higher Education, September 21, 2016: “World University Rankings 2016-2017″

Times Higher Education, September 21, 2016: “World University Rankings 2016-2017: results announced,” by Ellie Bothwell

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Predicting the Future of Private Pension Plans

“The rah-rah news that Unifor has struck a tentative deal with General Motors for new work in Oshawa — the line will be retooled to add the Chevy Silverado pick-up, according to Reuters — and in St. Catharines has drawn plentiful plaudits, a sort of turning-the-tide manufacturing tale. (Take that, Mexico.)”

“What was lost in bargaining — the vote on the deal is scheduled for Sunday — is the defined benefits (DB) part of the autoworkers’ hybrid pension plan, in favour of a defined contribution (DC) plan for all new hires. This sweeping away of the DB plan has been cast as an inevitability, the interment of something old-fashioned or out of step with the new world of pensions. So, you know, too bad, but it had to happen.”

“What is often not factored in is that DC plans are relatively expensive for the plan member, say, 2 per cent per annum, a crushing fee especially in an era of low interest rates. … Here’s another point: longevity. The fear of outliving one’s pension income turns consumers into savers, so absent a guaranteed pension income, pensioners’ negative spending will have negative implications for the economy.”

“And this: a report commissioned by HOOPP, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and others from the Boston Consulting Group found, not surprisingly, that far fewer defined benefit beneficiaries collect supplemental pension payments from the federal government than other retirees. The study estimated that defined benefit pensions reduce the annual guaranteed income supplement payout by between $2 billion and $3 billion annually.”

The Toronto Star, September 26, 2016: “GM’s pension plan changes are troubling: Wells,” by Jennifer Wells

Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, October 22, 2013: “New analysis confirms that defined benefit pensions provide significant benefits to Canadian economy”

The Globe and Mail, September 23, 2016: "GM, Canada Post contracts expose gap between pension haves and have-nots,” by Barrie McKenna

The Toronto Star, September 27, 2016: “Death of private pensions puts more pressure on CPP: Cohn,” by Martin Regg Cohn

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What is the Future of Retirement?

“A report by HSBC suggests that nearly half of working-age Canadians are not saving for retirement. The big international bank says 48 per cent of pre-retirees in the country say they have not started or are not currently saving for their life after work. The poll was part of a global retirement report done by HSBC.”

  • “The survey also found that one in five working-age Canadians say that money from downsizing or selling their home or a secondary property will help pay for retirement. That was nearly twice the global average of 12 per cent and more than the five per cent of current Canadian retirees.”
  • “The poll also found that Canadian retirees were among the “happiest,” with 72 per cent reporting they feel happy in retirement — second only to retirees in Mexico at 80 per cent.”
  • “The survey also found that 53 per cent of Canadian retirees say a government pension is helping pay for retirement, while 35 per cent of those still working say that’s likely to be the case for them.”

“The HSBC report included the views of 18,207 working age people and retirees across 17 countries and territories around the world, including 1,037 in Canada. The research was conducted online by IpsosMORI in September and October 2015, with additional face-to-face interviews in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.”

Metro News, July 14, 2016: “Nearly half of working-age Canadians not saving for retirement: HSBC”

HSBC, July 2016: “Global Report: The Future of Retirement: A balancing act” (36 pages, PDF)

HSBC, July 2016: “Canada Report: The Future of Retirement: Generations and journeys” (49 pages)

HSBC, July 2016: “The Future of Retirement”

Quartz, July 11, 2016: “Millennials will work forever–but they may be happier for it,” by Anu Chatterjee

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Women Working Longer

“Now more women are working at ages when their mothers and grandmothers were long retired. Economists and other academics are trying to figure out why, and research suggests the trend will continue and could accelerate.”

“A prime driver of working in old age is education: Both women and men with college educations are far more likely to be working in their late sixties and seventies than are less-educated Americans, and the number of college graduates is on the rise.”

“Past work history also matters. The surge of women into the workforce in the 1970s and 1980s means that these women, now older, have job skills, connections, and careers that they can continue to pursue.”

“As the oldest baby boomers reach their seventies, they’re not only working; increasingly they’re working full-time. Almost half of women working in their late sixties are in full-time, year-round jobs, up from about 30 percent 20 years ago, Harvard University economics professors Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz found in new research.”

Bloomberg, September 14, 2016: "Why More Women Than Ever Are Putting Off Retirement"

NBER, September 2016: "Women Working Longer," by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz,editors Conference held May 21-22, 2016 (preliminary drafts available for download)

NBER Working Paper, September 2016: “Women Working Longer: Facts and Some Explanations,” by Claudia Goldin, Lawrence F. Katz

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Book of the Week

Empty Promises: Why Workplace Pension Law Doesn't Deliver Pensions, by Elizabeth J. Shilton. Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, 2016. 304 p. ISBN 9780773547872 (hardcover)

From the publisher: "Workplace pensions are a vital part of Canada's retirement income system, but these plans have reached a state of crisis as a result of their low coverage and inadequate, insecure, and unequally distributed benefits. Reviewing pension plans through legal and historical lens, Empty Promises reveals the paradoxical effects and inevitable failure of a pension system built on the interests of employers rather than employees. Elizabeth Shilton examines the evolution of pension law in Canada from the 1870s to the early twenty-first century, highlighting the foreseeably futile struggle of legislators to create and sustain employees' pension rights without undermining employers' incentives. The current system gives employers considerable discretion and control in pension design and administration. Shilton appeals for a model that is not hostage to business interests. She recommends replacing today's employer-controlled systems with pensions shaped by the public interest, expanding mandatory broadbased or state-pension systems such as the Canada Pension Plan to generate pensions that respond to the changing workplace and address the needs and interests of retirees."
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