Vulnerable workers in the shadow economy: is there an app for that?

Non-standard or contingent forms of work are a growing feature of OECD economies. Katz and Krueger (2016), for instance, find that non-standard work arrangements (temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract company workers, and independent contractors or freelancers) accounted for all net employment growth in the U.S. economy between 2005 and 2015. Across the OECD, non-standard work now makes up a third of total employment.

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Newfoundland budget and public sector jobs

Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial 2016/17 budget will be tabled this afternoon and there’s concern about what it will include.  Everyone expects some tax and revenue hikes and spending cuts to deal with the deficit most recently forecast at $2.4 billion.

There’s a lot of speculation about what the government will include in this budget.  Then there will be more about what will be in the second budget the Minister said will be coming later this year.   One thing it shouldn’t include are cuts to public sector jobs because that will just make the situation worse.  The province’s unemployment rate has increased above 14% in the last few months, a rate it hasn’t experience since 2010.  This rate very well may get worse as more unemployed workers return from Alberta.

There may be a misconception that public sector employment in the province has expanded as the economy was doing well and revenues were flowing in but in fact the opposite is true.   Public sector employment in Newfoundland and Labrador is actually now at a record low as a share of total employment in the province and is down by 18% in terms of actual jobs from just three years ago.  In the first quarter of 2016, there were and average of 58,400 public sector workers in Newfoundland and Labrador.  This is a drop of -12,600 or 18% from the 71,000 public sector workers recorded in the province in 2013, according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (Cansim tables 282-0088 and 282-0089).

PS Jobs to 2016Q1

 

Public sector employment in the province dropped to a 25.3% share of total employment in the province in the first quarter of this year.  This is the lowest it has been since these figures were first collected 40 years ago (see chart) and well below the 40 year average of 30.2%.   If they were just at this long-term average, there would be 69,700 public sector workers in the province: more than 11,000 than there are now.

This means fewer public sector workers are working harder to deliver the public services for Newfoundlanders.  These needs will increase as unemployment rises and the province is in recession.  Further cuts to public sector jobs will not only mean cuts to public services, but will also have a terribly negative impact on other jobs in the province.  Every ten jobs cut in the public sector will lead to about another 5 jobs lost in the private and public sector in the provinces, according to employment multipliers from Statistics Canada.

As federal Finance minister Bill Morneau stated, “The right approach is to invest in the economy” and not to cut spending.   There’s good opportunity to generate additional revenues because Newfoundland’s tax rates were cut during the boom times.  Estimates are the province could generate an additional $800 million annually by aligning its tax rates with other provinces and adopting a more progressive tax system.   Tax increases, especially for high incomes and corporations, have a much smaller negative impact on the economy than spending cuts do.

Then there are some of the questionable government spending decisions, such as the costs and revenues associated with the controversial $8 billion Muskrat falls project–but that may have to wait until Newfoundland’s 2016/17 Budget Ver 2.0

 

“Temporary Foreign Workers” are Part of the Free Trade Package Deal

In the last decade, there has been a steady increase in the number of “temporary foreign workers” who come to work in Canada under free trade agreements.  Between 2005 and 2014, free trade agreement workers have doubled and intra-company transferees have tripled. (see Fig. 1)  Back in 2013, there was a huge public outcry when the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) replaced Canadian workers with intra-company transferees. [Read more…]

National Migrant Workers Coalition Launched!

The Coalition for Migrant Workers Rights – Canada (CMWRC) a new national advocacy coalition for migrant workers was launched today. The newly minted CMWRC has member organizations in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, PEI, and Quebec. As part of this special day, the CMWRC has launched MoVE, a campaign for Mobility, Voice and Equality for migrant workers from the Caregiver Program, Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and Temporary Foreign Worker Program. [Read more…]

10% Approval Rate from Citizenship and Immigration for New Caregiver Program Applications

The new Caregiver Program, effective November 30, 2014, was touted as a better and more efficient program for Caregivers and for Canadian employers. But since the launch of the Caregiver Program, only one in ten applications have been approved. Lower-skilled Caregivers applications accounted for the most of these rejections.

The Caregiver Program allows a Canadian or permanent resident to employ a migrant worker to take care of children and other family members who need care. An employer needs to apply and receive a positive or approved labour market impact assessment (LMIA) from the government before they can hire migrant workers under the Caregiver Program.

Last year, the Government replaced the Live-in Caregiver Program for lower-skilled workers with the new Caregiver Program with a mix of lower-skilled and higher-skilled streams within two categories:

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Overturning the Precarity Penalty

The Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario Research Alliance (PEPSO) released an important new report this past week. This mammoth study not only updates PEPSO’s detailed report published two years ago, it extends the analysis of precarity to the ways in which insecurity affects workers’ health, their families, and their children’s life chances. In the process, the report reveals the complex ways in which income and employment insecurity reinforce vulnerability and marginalization far beyond the workplace. The study is chock-a-block with insights and recommendations, many from the United States and Western Europe, for combatting precariousness.

As with the Workers’ Action Centre report released in March, many of the recommendations are explicitly aimed at the Ontario government’s review of the provincial Labour Relations Act and Employment Standards Act. The review comes in the wake of a decade and a half of profound transformation in Ontario’s industrial base and employment composition (see Kaylie Tiessen’s excellent 2014 CCPA-Ontario report for an overview). The long appreciation of the Canadian dollar punctuated by the 2008-09 recession ushered in falling output and employment in Ontario manufacturing and an expansion of low-productivity service-sector employment and self-employment. Fully 35% of employment growth since 2000 has occurred in sales and service occupations, in which the median hourly wage falls well below the low-wage threshold of two-thirds of the full-time median hourly wage earned by Ontario workers.
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