Canadian Labour Policy and Politics
216 pages, 8 x 10
1 map, 37 charts/diagrams, 2 tables
Release Date:01 Nov 2022

Canadian Labour Policy and Politics

Edited by John Peters and Don Wells
UBC Press

Low-wage work and precarious employment are among the most urgent issues of our time. Canadian Labour Policy and Politics serves as essential reading for undergraduates who need to understand the politics of inequality in Canada’s labour market. This comprehensive textbook traces the rise of these pressing problems, reveals the resulting inequalities, and outlines the solutions for a sustainable future.

Written by leading experts and practitioners, the text demonstrates how and why laws and public policy – intended to protect workers – often leave workers vulnerable with little economic or social security. Based on up-to-date data and international comparisons, chapters provide readers with real-world examples and case studies of how globalization, labour laws, employment standards, COVID-19, and other challenges affect workers on and off the job.

Canadian Labour Policy and Politics also engages students in defining a far-reaching policy agenda for developing greater economic equality, political inclusiveness, and a green recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Accessible and clearly written, it is a must-read for students as well as researchers, practitioners, activists, and policymakers. Key features include chapter summaries and outlines, suggestions for further reading, and glossaries.

Students and scholars of Canadian politics and public policy, labour studies, political economy, and sociology will find this an invaluable addition to their bookshelves. The volume is a core text for second-, third-, and fourth-year level university labour and inequality courses. The fresh and insightful overview of Canada’s labour market and policies will also be essential reading for government policymakers, NGO representatives, union researchers and practitioners, and journalists.

This fine-grained analysis of how social outcomes in Canada – whether it be poverty, exclusion, bad jobs, or inequality – result from political processes reflecting the decline of organized labour and the rise of big business as a political actor is simply masterful. Ian MacDonald, editor of Unions and the City: Negotiating Urban Change

John Peters is a research fellow and associated professor at the University of Montreal’s Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work. He is the director of Blue Green Ideas, a research and consultancy firm focused on creating sustainable, equitable, and innovative green economies. Don Wells is professor emeritus, School of Labour Studies and Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. A former steelworker, autoworker, and labour union organizer, he has been active in the migrant workers' rights, peace, anti-poverty, and environmental movements. He was also a policy researcher in the national office of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Contributors: Donna Baines, Yale Belanger, John Calvert, Bryan Evans, Carlo Fanelli, Colleen Fuller, Rafael Gomez, Jennifer Harmer, Rebecca Hii, John Holmes, Philip Kelly, Adam King, Andy King, Stephanie Luce, Janet McLaughlin, Andie Noack, Stephanie Ross, Larry Savage, Jim Silver, Mark Thomas, Steve Tufts, Leah Vosko.


Part 1: Context

1 Confronting the "Monster": The COVID-19 Pandemic / John Peters

2 Globalization and the Rise of Bad Jobs / Stephanie Luce

3 Low-wage Work: Canada in Comparative Perspective / Bryan Evans and Carlo Fanelli

4 Globalization, Work, and Employment Regulation / John Peters

Part 2: The Politics of Labour Policy in Canada

5 Provincial Governments and the Politics of Deregulation / John Peters

6 Precarious Employment in Canada’s Federally Regulated Private Sector / Leah Vosko, Andie Noack, Adam King, and Rebecca Hii

7 Why It’s Hard to Organize a Union and Negotiate a Decent Contract / Rafael Gomez and Jennifer Harmer

8 The Politics of Health and Safety at Work / Andy King

9 Disposable People: The Politics of Temporary Migrant Workers in Canada / Philip Kelly, Janet McLaughlin, and Don Wells

10 Poverty, Jobs, and Social Policy / Jim Silver

Part 3: Cases

11 The Service Economy, Low-Wage Work, and the Populist Moment / Mark Thomas and Steve Tufts

12 The Decline of Good Manufacturing Industry Jobs / John Holmes

13 Neoliberalism, Austerity, and Crises in Care Work / Donna Baines

14 Reform or Erosion? The Challenges Facing Canada’s Health Care Workforce / Colleen Fuller

15 Permanent Precarity? Racial Exclusion, Discrimination, and Low-wage Work among Canada’s First Nations / Yale Belanger

Part 4: Better Futures

16 Canadian Labour and Climate Change / John Calvert

17 Organizing for Better Work / Don Wells

18 In Search of a New Politics of Labour: Democratic Futures / Stephanie Ross and Larry Savage


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