Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Heather Stewart discusses the possibility of a 20-hour work week to better distribute both work and income. And without going that far, Andrew Jackson suggests that our public policy priorities should include a needed shift in time on the clock from people who are working excessive hours to ones who lack for work:
Today, the job market is even more sharply polarized between those who are unemployed or underemployed (such as the one in four part time workers who want more hours), and those who are employed in mainly full-time and permanent jobs who often work very long hours. Data from Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey (CANSIM Table 282-0154) tell us that in any given week, one in five workers (21%) worked overtime (defined as hours in excess of normally scheduled hours) for an average of 8.2 hours, or more than one extra day per normal work week.

Unpaid overtime, mainly worked by salaried professionals, not least in public services, affects 11% of all employees. Paid overtime, mainly worked by hourly paid blue collar workers in industries like construction, transportation manufacturing and resources, affects 9% of all workers. These numbers have increased a bit since the late 1990s.

Theoretically, redistribution of working time could all but wipe out both unemployment and involuntary part-time employment, assuming a perfect overlap of skills and needed experience between those working long hours and those working no or less than desired hours. While this is unrealistic, redistribution of working time could still put a significant dent in the unemployment rate.
More use of work sharing today could help cushion the impact of the slump in resource prices on jobs in the hard hit mineral and energy industries. Even today, many workers in the Alberta oil and gas industry regularly work long hours. There is growing interest in using work sharing to avoid layoffs, and, even more creatively, government, employers and unions might develop programs to use temporarily reduced working hours for training in order to upgrade workers skills which will be needed in the next upturn.

The new Liberal government should also consider the many proposals which have been made over the years to amend the federal labour code so as to limit very long hours of work and to provide employees with more flexible working time options.
- Josh Eidelson discusses Bernie Sanders' sharp critique of welfare plans which try to coerce people into dead-end jobs. Bill Curry reports on Jean-Yves Duclos' openness to a basic income at the federal level. And Stanislas Jourdain notes that Quebec is now working on developing a guaranteed income for its citizens.

- Alan Broadbent and Elizabeth McIsaac call for Toronto to start funding its poverty reduction plan. And the Star argues that we should make affordable access to the Internet available to everybody as a necessary element of social participation.

- Michael Geist optimistically offers some suggestions as to how the Libs could deal with the Trans-Pacific Partnership now that they've signed it without consultation, while Scott Vrooman laments their apparent intentions of ignoring Canadians' concerns. And Erik Loomis offers some valid concerns about the TPP from a U.S. perspective.

- Finally, Patricia Lane discusses how a proportional electoral system could lead to far better governance for Canada.

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