Op-Eds

A key to economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic will be targeted measures to address the possible long-term effects of this crisis on the labour market. Bouncing back to employment from lockdown layoffs is becoming more challenging for many unemployed people as there is no job to return to, at least in the short term, or they lack sufficient or relevant skills to find employment. This has led to exceptionally high long-term unemployment rates that will need to be mitigated with labour market and skills development strategies. Long-term unemployment (the number of unemployed people for six months or more) increased by 207 per cent to 462,100 Canadians between March, 2020, and February, 2021. This has boosted the share of long-...
Along with much of the world, Canada’s economy has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic and other events in 2020, notably the shock to global oil markets. How badly? An examination of the immediate data and longer trends indicates significant damage, with a lengthy recovery period ahead. Let’s start with labour markets, where there are signs of recovery but also growing evidence of damage. The unemployment rate exploded to nearly 14 per cent from 6 per cent during the shutdown from March to May. The rate has dropped steadily since as many displaced workers have been re-engaged, but the second pandemic wave and renewed shutdowns in many provinces have meant more job losses. Employment fell by 63,000 in December, and the...
Of all the COVID-inspired clichés of 2020, “we can’t go back to how we were before” gets my vote for most trying. Taken literally, it is empty. We can’t undo the deaths, restore students’ lost instruction, give young people the first jobs they didn’t get, erase the huge debts, enjoy the travel and human contact that didn’t happen. No, we can’t go back to 2019 — which is too bad. Taken as an exhortation — “we shouldn’t go back to how we were before” — it is too often a prelude to magical thinking, a great leap to some environmental, economic or political nirvana previously out of reach. That is silly. A sick person who was never an athlete can dream of completing a triathlon. But their first task is to recover. In the same way, post-...
Since the previous recession in 2008-09, the so-called gig economy and platform work have been growing globally and in Canada. The growth is mainly due to technological and economic changes and the desire for greater flexibility by workers and employers. However, the legal employment framework remains outdated. The COVID-19 crisis has a strong potential to exacerbate the trend by shifting more working-age Canadians into temporary or contracted employment, rather than traditional stable and permanent employment. There is still limited consensus on what the gig economy is, how to classify gig workers and, consequently, how to address concerns about protections for gig workers. There are three approaches to defining the...
In the years leading up to the pandemic, Canada’s place on the world stage was fading. We told ourselves we were a special nation – the country that works in a world that does not. And domestically, we were indeed always stable, mostly prosperous and sometimes even cool. But to the rest of the world, what value did Canada bring? We struggled to attract foreign investment, and foreign buyers for our goods. In peacekeeping, we were a shadow of our former selves. In sports, we claimed the podium less often than we hoped. And in science, our victories often proved episodic. In June, when we lost the vote for a Security Council seat at the United Nations, the rebuke was a shock only to Canadians who didn’t fully appreciate that our...