work&labour news&research

from the cirhr library

"Victims" & "Villains"? How Bill C-36 Views Sex Workers (and Violates Their Rights)


"Bill C-36 is based on a belief that sex workers are universally victimized, yet many of its provisions will contribute to sex workers’ rights violations."

"The idea that sex work is inherently exploitative is being used to justify criminal laws that deny or ignore sex workers’ right to security of person."

"The criminalization of clients will push sex work further underground and will make it harder for sex workers to screen clients."

"Criminal Laws, like C-36, fail to address social and economic issues, like inequality and poverty. Instead, Bill C-36 treats anyone involved in sex work as though they are a social problem…"

Rabble, October 17, 2014: “Bill C-36: No safety or security for sex workers,” by Cheryl Auger

Government of Canada, October 6, 2014: “BILL C-36” [As passed by The House of Commons of Canada]

"…[All] too often sex work is conflated with trafficking, child sex abuse and rape — and it is these conflations that drive the scrutiny and negative attention we in the industry so often face. In the year 2014, I believe that morality has no place in any discussion on sex work."

"I don’t ask you to like what I do. If you find the exchange of sex for cash abhorrent, okay then. But what I do ask for is to be allowed to do my job in safety and to be treated with dignity and respect."

"The sex workers I know tell me that their career choice generally boils down to economics. But who’s career choice doesn’t? Certainly abuses abound, and sex workers will be the first to admit that. But what economic system doesn’t come with its fair share of inequality and exploitation?"

The Huffington Post Blog, October 18, 2014: “Is Sex Work Empowering Or Enslaving? 12 Experts Weigh In”

No Significant Link Between Unemployment and Increasing Minimum Wage (CCPA Report)


"Increasing the minimum wage does not result in higher rates of unemployment, according to a study released Tuesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives."

"Instead, the report found, employment levels are largely driven by purchasing power in the economy."

The report urges Canadian policy makers to boost the minimum wage — up to what’s known as a living wage level — in a gradual and ongoing way.”

“‘The wage is relevant, but it’s of a second order of magnitude compared to the crucial question for any business, namely, is there a market for what I want to produce and sell?’ [Jim] Stanford [an economist for Unifor who co-conducted the study] said.”

The Toronto Star, October 20, 2014: “Minimum wage hike does not kill jobs: report,” by Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, October 2014: “Dispelling Minimum Wage Mythology: The Minimum Wage and the Impact on Jobs in Canada, 1983–2012,” by Jordan Brennan and Jim Stanford (26 pages, PDF)

The Next Billion: a Forum about the Connected World


"At the end of 2012, there were an estimated 2.4 billion internet users worldwide, and by 2016, global internet traffic is expected to double."

"This fundamental change in online traffic is occurring largely via mobile device… with rapid growth in emerging markets, specifically.”

"The creation of this connected world will profoundly impact society, politics, technology, education, commerce, and finance."

Quartz — The Next Billion: A Forum about the Connected World

Quartz, September 24, 2014:Facebook’s plan to find its next billion users: convince them the internet and Facebook are the same,” by Christopher Mims

Quartz, January 6, 2014:In 2014 the next billion will access the mobile internet—at $20 a handset,” by Christopher Mims

Quartz, February 20, 2014: “Whats App gives Facebook a lock on the planet’s next billion mobile internet users,” by Gwynn Guilford

Pension Peace

"It took two years of wrangling — and over a decade to get to the wrangling stage — but on September 2, 2014, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced that it had reached an agreement on pension reform with five of its employees’ labour unions."

"In an era of increasingly hostile labour relations, the NL government and its unions managed to negotiate an agreement. Unions now have equal say in the new corporation that is to be established to administer the revised plan."

Rabble, October 16, 2014: “UP! How the NL government and its unions solved their pension problem,” by Hans Rollman

Highlights of the new agreement include:

  • Maintaining a defined benefit plan;
  • The Provincial Government and plan members will share equally in the future responsibility of the PSPP;
  • Five year transition period will be in effect for changes to early retirement benefits;
  • Future service benefits based on the best average six years instead of the current five years. Employees can have past service calculated at the higher of the best average six years of earnings or frozen best five years of earnings. Indexing will also be frozen on past service. Indexing on future service will be suspended;
  • Employee contribution rate increases of 2.15 per cent on earnings up to the Year’s Maximum Pension Earnings (YMPE) and 3.25 per cent on earnings above the YMPE; and,
  • Changes will come into effect January 1, 2015.

PSPP Reform Agreement (10 pages, PDF)

News Release

Pension Estimator

Contribution Calculator

Newfoundland Labrador, Human Resource Secretariat, September 2, 2014: “NEW – Stabilizing the Public Service Pension Plan,”


Getting Young Canadians from Education to Employment

"Across the country, there is a growing understanding that closing the skills gap means better aligning our education and training systems to our labour market needs. For Canadian youth, it is essential the education or training they get is relevant to the job market they will enter. First, they need to know where the jobs will be. Second, they need to know what those jobs will be so they can plan their education and training accordingly. Third, they need education that is not just job training but equips them to be adaptable. Employers do not always provide clear and strong signals to youth. That needs to change, and this report explores how to improve it."

Read the report here (31 pages, PDF).

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, October 14, 2014: “A Battle We Can’t Afford to Lose: Getting Young Canadians from Education to Employment,” by Stacey Roy



"Disruptive innovations may be a staple of business-school study, but schools are uncertain how the rise of mass-audience online education will affect their own market. A number of recent papers try to shed light on this topic. The findings of one study in particular—that massive open online courses (MOOCs) can be more effective than traditional teaching—may cause sleepless nights."

"The study in question, published last month, compared a MOOC in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to a campus-based course on the same subject and a large earlier study of physics classes."

"The results were striking. MOOC participants learned slightly more than they typically would in lectures…. And those who took the MIT classroom course performed no better academically, in relative terms, than MOOC students despite getting four hours a week of face-to-face teaching. This defies the common assumption that an on-campus experience—even excluding non-educational attractions such as socialising—is fundamentally superior to a virtual one."

"The extent to which MOOCs or their offspring will make the classroom obsolete may depend in part on how clever such courses become in the future. … [I]f the technology can be made to work, MOOCs could be superseded one day by what some are calling ‘personalised open online courses’. To misquote the New York Times, might we soon be having a ‘year of the POOC’?”

The Economist, October 6, 2014: “MOOCs: Know your enemy,” by J. S. S.

The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, September 2014: “Learning in an Introductory Physics MOOC: All Cohorts Learn Equally, Including an On-Campus Class,” by Kimberly F Colvin et. al.

"For the fourth time in five years, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business tops The Economist’s ranking of full-time MBA programmes. Even as banking jobs have become scarcer, Chicago, famed for its prowess in finance, has maintained a strong record of placing students in work. Last year 94% of graduates were employed within three months of leaving.”

"View the top 100 schools here.”

The Economist, October 11, 2014: “Which MBA?, 2014”

The Debate on Egg Freezing as a Work Perk

"… [B]y paying for women to delay pregnancy, are employers helping them achieve [a work-life balance] — or avoiding policies that experts agree would greatly help solve the problem, like paid family leave, child care and flexible work arrangements?

"… [W]orkplaces could be seen as paying women to put off childbearing. Women who choose to have babies earlier could be stigmatized as uncommitted to their careers. Just as tech company benefits like free food and dry cleaning serve to keep employees at the office longer, so could egg freezing, by delaying maternity leave and child-care responsibilities."

The process is also not full-proof. In the words of Dr. Marcelle Cedars, director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of California, San Francisco: “it’s not a guarantee; it’s not a baby in the freezer.”

Additionally, “[t]here are class and race divides in egg freezing. A planned pregnancy later in life is much more realistic for highly educated, high-income women, according to June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, law professors who write about the gender and class divide in reproduction — in other words, the kind of people who work at Facebook and Apple. Working-class women are less likely to be able to afford egg freezing; or to be employed during pregnancy; or to receive paid maternity leave.”

"If other white-collar companies follow tech’s lead in offering egg freezing, as they have with other benefits that started in Silicon Valley, that divide could deepen as more women consider the opportunity, or fraught message, when deciding when to start a family."

The New York Times, October 14, 2014: “Egg Freezing as a Work Benefit? Some Women See Darker Message,” by Claire Cain Miller

Harvard Law & Policy Review, August 2014: “Using Egg Freezing to Extend the Biological Clock: Fertility Insurance or False Hope?,” by Seema Mohapatra (pages, PDF)

Those calling the egg-freezing perk a good thing say it’s “another option for women struggling to deal with the reality that their ideal childbearing years can conflict with crucial career-building years. It’s also a way for technology firms to support female employees, something that’s especially welcome given Silicon Valley’s infamously male-dominated workforce. All the better if such efforts allow those companies to lure new talent as well.

"Egg freezing is an expensive endeavor…. An egg freezing payment program is no small company perk."

"The news could help spur even more companies to offer such perks, and ultimately, it could lead to greater cultural acceptance of egg freezing."

Wired, October 14, 2014: “Apple and Facebook Pay for Female Employees to Freeze Eggs,” by Davey Alba

StatCan: Population Growth & a New Website

"While the mathematics of population growth is simple, the dynamics behind the drivers of demographic changes are more complex. Over Canada’s 150-year history, there have been many."

"In recent times, the contribution of natural increase to population growth has waned as the Canadian population aged and fertility rates declined.  Today, natural increase accounts for less than one-third of Canada’s population growth and has ceased to be the major player in the equation.”

"Meanwhile, migratory increase plays an increasing role in Canada’s population growth. Migratory increase currently accounts for about two-thirds of Canada’s population growth.”

"Statistics Canada projects that immigration will not only continue to be a key driver of population growth in the coming years—without it, Canada’s population growth could be close to zero in 20 years…."

Statistic Canada’s The Daily, October 2014: “Population growth: Migratory increase overtakes natural increase”

Developing a New StatCan Website

"When you have a gazillion megabytes of data, you do not want users to feel like they are on a treasure hunt."

“‘We see ourselves as the users’ voice,’ Ms. [Nancy Hofmann, head of Client Consultations] says. ‘Statistics Canada has a wide range of data users. Developing a website that meets the needs of all those users is challenging.’”

"Next month, the client consultation team will play a central role when Statistics Canada launches a beta site to test a new way to publishing our information and asks users to test drive it."

"Keep watch for the beta launch in mid-November. The more users provide feedback, the better the site will be."

StatCan Blog, October 15, 2014: “Heeding the users’ voice”

Marriage Isn’t Dead — Yet

"For poorer and less-educated Americans, the story is different. They, too, are getting married later, but many also aren’t getting married at all. They are more likely to have children outside of marriage, are more likely to say they don’t plan to marry, and, when they do marry, are more likely to get divorced."

"The marriage divide mirrors other trends in the economy, particularly the stagnation of incomes and the disappearance of jobs for those without a college degree. The trends may be related: For men especially, marriage and employment tend to go hand in hand."

Paid Time Off Programs and Practices

"Workplace flexibility ranked as the primary motivator cited by employers for implementing a paid time off (PTO) bank leave system for employees, according to a 2014 WorldatWork survey, ‘Paid Time Off Programs and Practices’ released today [October 7, 2014] in conjunction with National Work & Family Month. Forty-nine percent of the respondents who indicated they use a PTO bank system cited granting employees more flexibility as the primary motivator for implementing a PTO bank system.”

"A few additional highlights from the 2014 survey:

  • The top three primary motivators for implementing a PTO-bank system are ‘to grant employees more flexibility’ (49%), ‘easier to administer’ (20%), and ‘to stay competitive with other companies’ (14%).
  • In 2014, 72% of health-care and social-assistance companies use a PTO bank type system…
  • Organization sizes between 1,000 and 9,999 are more likely to have traditional leave systems versus PTO bank systems. In larger organizations, it is not unusual to find PTO banks because these programs are easier to administer than traditional systems.
  • Organizations with PTO banks are more likely to offer paid time off to part-time employees (81%) versus organizations with traditional leave systems (69%).
  • In 2010, only 40% of organizations allowed employees to use paid time off as of the date of hire. This number increased to 56% in 2014.”

WorldatWork, October 7, 2014: “WorldatWork Releases Paid Time Off Survey”

WorldatWork, September 2014: “Paid Time Off Programs and Practices” (47 pages, PDF)

Previous survey results:

Which Employees Are Delaying Retirement and Why?

"Retirement patterns are changing in the U.S. and in many other countries as well. During the mid-to-late 20th century, labor force participation rates dropped for older workers and rose for younger ones. These trends have recently reversed, especially among men and younger workers."

"The reversal is expected to continue, according to Towers Watson’s 2013/2014 Global Benefit Attitudes Survey (GBAS). Increasing numbers of employees are postponing retirement, many driven by financial necessity. And many of the employees putting off retirement tend to fit a certain profile: less healthy, highly stressed and disengaged from their jobs."

"Plan type affects retirement timing as well, with defined benefit (DB) plan participants retiring earlier than employees with only defined contribution (DC) plans, even where counter influences exist. These findings have implications for employers as they provide some indications of which employees are likely to delay retirement and why."

Towers Watson, September 25, 2014: “Which Employees Are Delaying Retirement and Why?,” by Steve Nyce [click here to down the PDF version, 8 pages]

By now, anyone who regularly reads about Social Security likely knows that delaying benefits until age 70 allows them to reach their highest level.”

"But it’s a whole lot less likely that they know about being able to begin taking benefits early, stopping them at age 66, and enjoying the benefits of delayed retirement credits until age 70."

"Larry Kotlikoff, an economics professor … provides a useful and detailed explanation of the start-stop-start strategy.”

Money, October 13, 2014: “This Little-Known Social Security Strategy Can Boost Your Retirement Income,” by

Jobs Surge, Unemployment Rate Drops: StatCan


"Hiring among private sector employers surged in September [2014] as the Canadian economy posted a gain of 74,000 jobs, ‘nearly all in full-time work,’ according to Statistics Canada."

"The September reading ‘trounced the street’s expected advance,’ Nick Exarhos at CIBC World Markets said."

"The far bigger gain may add fuel to the fire for experts increasingly questioning the accuracy of the monthly jobs reading from the federal agency."

“‘All told, a strong report,’ Exharos said of the September reading, but added that ‘the volatility in the detail gives us pause.’”

"Economist have noted the ‘ever-volatile’ nature of the report of late, said Bank of Montreal’s Benjamin Reitzes."

Global News. October 10, 2014: “Jobs surge by 74,000 as unemployment rate drops to 6.8%: StatsCan”

Global News, October 10, 2014: “6 things to know about Canada’s epic hiring spree in September,” b

Labour Force Survey, September 2014

Statistics Canada — The Journey of Statistics Canada Data and Why It Matters to You