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Working? Employment Policy in Canada

Since the economic crisis of 2007/8, signs of discontent among citizens of Western democracies include the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote. Such examples suggest that many people may feel increasingly alienated from the economic and political forces that shape their lives. Political scientist Stephen McBride new book explores the experience of work in today’s labour market.

Nov 13, 2017

Recent history has witnessed what might be called a populist revolt, including the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote. These political moments respect the alienation of large numbers of people, who feel left behind economically. How did we get here? And to what extent are Canadians "locked" into a given path?

Award-winning academic Stephen McBride, whose expertise spans economics, policy, globalization, and labour studies, is an expansive thinker and a clear writer. McBride considers some relevant history since World War II: the changing winds of political thought; the institutional contours of employment policy; and the interconnection between the social and the economic as it influences our thinking about work. He sketches out the evolution of Canadian employment policy since the 1970s.

Drawing on the latest and most reliable data, McBride then considers topics such as education and training, the importation of labour, employment regulations and benefits, and the decline of unions. In a brilliant and provocative summary, McBride returns to his original question: is "here" where we are stuck? McBride is not convinced that we need to remain passive, allowing workers' security to be further eroded. He describes some polity alternatives that would enable the prioritization of national obligations to citizens over international obligations to capital.