In the October 2013 Speech for the Throne, the Canadian government announced it would introduce balanced-budget legislation. At the time this vague proposal attracted little interest from anyone, although a year later the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) did produce a substantial document analyzing the benefits and costs of such a proposal.
The recent election was full of varying promises to increase growth rates and employment levels. Few of these promises, however, addressed a critical weakness in our ability to compete in global markets: significant literacy and numeracy skill shortages.
This is a critical area where the federal government has a vital role to play.
When we talk about jobs during the current election campaign, we should be concerned about both the short term and the next few years. We badly need to create jobs now, and also need better labour market policies to avoid emerging skills shortages.
Posted by Ellen Russell and Mathieu Dufour · September 07, 2015 8:30 AM
The current federal election is being fought against a backdrop of deepening inequality and the social problems that accompany it. Promises to “make things better” will no doubt be uttered throughout the campaign.
As we mark another labour day, it is important to remain discerning of the policies on offer.
Few Canadian economic debates are as long-standing and as predictable as that over the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage. Progressives call for a higher wage floor to combat inequality, low pay and poverty. But employers and the political right generally argue that a decent minimum wage comes at the cost of jobs, and harms those it is intended to protect.
Recent tensions in relationships between provincial governments and teachers, especially in British Columbia and Ontario, deserve to be understood in a wider context. Good labour relations in education and positive working relationships between provincial governments and teacher unions are a critical ingredient in the relative success of our public education system.
Canada's education system is generally recognized to deliver good results compared to most other countries.
Over the past 20 years, income inequality has been growing faster in Canada than in other similar countries. During this period about one third of all income growth has gone to the top 1%, leaving precious little to be shared among the remaining 99%. We know the inequality problem all too well, but what is the answer to addressing it?
There seem to be three main pillars that provide effective solutions: progressive taxation, a robust safety net, and ensuring fairness in the workplace. This third pillar includes raising the minimum wage in a transparent and predictable manner, improving associated employment standards legislation, and generally making sure labour laws have kept pace with what’s happening in workplaces across the country.
In a series of recent landmark decisions, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that basic trade union rights, including the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike, are protected by the freedom of association provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Court has struck down federal and provincial laws that deny some workers the right to join a union, which unilaterally change collective agreements without consultation and due process and which limit the right to strike in the event of an impasse in bargaining.
Canadians like their labour law the way they like their touques – sturdy and designed to protect.
As a result, Canadian lawmakers have a long history of consulting with labour and business before tinkering with existing law. This ensures predictability for employers and workers, and has been a hallmark of the Canadian system. A system that is internationally regarded as effective, fair, and most importantly, stable.
Bill C-525, passed by the Senate on Tuesday, throws that tradition under the bus.