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Strategies for Strengthening Union Support and Membership in Canada

Jun 25, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jun 25, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Improving the Governance of Employment and Training Policy in Canada by Wood & Klassen

Wood & Klassen (2011) proposed modifications to governance based on their analysis of the past experiences and other policy areas. The essay partly agrees and partly disagrees that the proposals made by Wood and Klassen (2011) will address the problems with Canada’s “system” for labor market training adequately. The governance models proposed stressed policymaking that is evidence-based with considerable information dissemination to stakeholders and the public, a situation currently in Canada does not exist with training policy and employment. Moreover, in Canada, there are no processes defined for employer views or feeding evaluation results into active programming of the labor market, apart from on a basis of province-to-province.


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The governance model by Wood and Klassen (2011) has four features: the first was the establishment of the national agency referred to as the Canadian Labor Market Information Agency. In addressing the problems with Canada’s “system” for labor market training, the body will improve the transparency, quality, and usefulness of labor market analysis, reporting, and information. The body will have the responsibility of identifying, disseminating, and maintaining information on the labor market, gathering data and comparative research analysis across the provinces, assessing policies and trends across Canada and even internationally, sharing and monitoring best practices, evaluating program results of the labor market and comparative research. However, to some extent, this proposed agency’s role has been done by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) historically. Moreover, these roles today continues with Ottawa’s federal officials and also the analysis of the labor market in regional Canadian offices in the country. Therefore, this proposal will not bring any change but is just redundancy of what already exists and is operating efficiently.

The second was the establishment of the expanded and reformed Forum of Labor Market Ministers (FLMM) which will be mandated to act as a pan-Canadian intergovernmental, multilateral forum. This will be charged with the duty of collective determination of all employment aspects and Canada’s training policy. According to Wood and Klassen (2011), FLMM will be the Canadian Labor Market Information Agency governing body and will have the responsibility of negotiating for labor market agreements that are comprehensive. This will help in addressing the problems with Canada’s “system” for labor market training.

The proposal by Wood and Klassen (2011) was the consolidation of the separate existing bilateral provincial-federal agreements into one whole comprehensive agreement between each province and the federal government. This will help address the problems with Canada’s “system” for labor market training since every province will only have one agreement of the labor market with the federal government, with a universal set of reporting and accountability requirements. This proposal will help in addressing the issues. However, it would be more appealing if the proposal made a complete devolution of responsibility to each province, for instance, through block funding arrangement. Extracting the federal government from the policy field fully and permitting the provinces to independent and autonomously proceed simple and appealing.

The fourth proposal as part of agreement consolidation and in keeping with the multilateral decision making at large, the programs for the persons with disability and the youths will be transferred by the federal government to the provinces. The provinces in turn will support and accept a federal role that is enhanced in areas such as pan-Canadian reporting, comparative benchmarking, and research.

Up Against the Wall: The Political Economy Of The new Attack on the Canadian Labor Movement by Andrew Jackson

The author’s view of the relationship between union density and social inequality

Union density can be defined as the proportion of the workers who are paid and are members of unions (Jackson, 2011). According to Andrew (2013), from the perspective of social justice, unions are an important force for workers’ economic equality. The collective bargaining of the unionized workers raises the unionized worker’s wages relative to the workers who are non-union especially the workers who are paid lower. Moreover, unions compress differentials in wages in the unionized sector, including the differentials that are based on race and gender. These impacts of equalizing spill over to the non-union workers who are lower paid in countries and communities where union density is high (Card, Lemieux and Riddell 2004; Jackson 2011). Therefore, the wage distribution is greatly more equal in jurisdictions of high union density, and the declining unionizations have been the greatest cause of the rapidly rising inequality in wages since the 1980s, particularly among men. Andrew (2013) stated that it is of great importance to note that the labor movements’ goal should be to narrow wage differentials overall instead of raising the wages of the elites in the union relative to the non-union members. However, Card, Lemieux, and Riddell (2004) pointed out that as the union density shrinks, inequality can be increased by the unions by increasing the wages of the relatively unionized workers who are well off without increasing the relative wages of the workers who are lower paid.

Assess his suggestions for increasing union support and membership put forward in his “Concluding Reflections” to the article

The suggestions of increasing union support and membership, as put forward by Andrew, is significant since the future of unionism in the public sector is in doubt since the private sector is declining continuously. There is a need to increase increasing union membership in certain geographical locations/ specific sectors to improve conditions and raise wages. For instance, organizing hotel and cleaning workers on a city-wide basis and also organizing the workers who work in the community service like the homecare and childcare. This can be done through community-based campaigns to win the support of the local, provincial, and state governments (Milkman and Wong 2001; Kelleher 2008).

Similarly, the suggestion by Andrew (2013) for the need for the law reform for promoting multi-management went for a strategy known simply as satisficing to make the decision. Normally managers are forced by their employer and sectoral bargaining and certification to support union support and membership is sound. This is practical as can be seen from the achievement of high union density in Quebec among workers of child care. Moreover, the suggestion of increasing union support and membership as suggested in the article of Andrew by unions cooperating, perhaps through the labor councils at the local levels conducting community campaigns is also workable and practical from the assessment.

Are they sufficient in light of the challenges identified in the article? If not, why not; if yes, why?

The suggestions provided in the article for increasing union support and membership are not sufficient in light of the identified challenges in the article. The suggestions provided are few compared to the diverse problems unions face ranging from political, economic, and social challenges. The suggestions include increasing union membership in certain geographical locations/ specific sectors to improve conditions and raise wages, and law reform for promoting multi-employer and sectoral bargaining and certification to support union support and membership. These suggestions are less compared to the diverse and numerous challenges that face unions in Canada currently. The increased attacks on unions are a result of their weakness and this can be resisted by increasing their bargaining power and union density in the private sector rather than particular geographical locations, communities, and passing vague laws.


Andrew, J. (January 01, 2013, Up Against the Wall: The Cold War many developing countries were ruled by authoritarian regimes. Dictatorships tend to repress labor and mollify its Political Economy Of The new Attack on the Canadian Labor Movement. De Arte, 76, 4-20.

Card, D., T. Lemieux, and W.C. Riddell. 2004. “Unionization and Wage Inequality: A Comparative Study of the U.S., UK, and Canada.” Journal of Labor Research 25:519-59.

Jackson, A. (2011). Work and Labour in Canada 2nd Edition. Toronto: CSPI

Kelleher, K. (2008). “Growth of a Modern Union Local: A People’s History of SEIU Local 880.” Just Labour 12:1-15.

Milkman, R. and K. Wong. (2001). “Organizing Immigrant Workers: Case Studies from Southern California” Pp. 99-128 in Rekindling the Movement: Labor’s Quest for Relevance in the Twenty-First Century, edited by H. Katz and R. Hurd. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Wood, D., & Klassen, T. (January 01, 2011). Improving The Governance Of Employment And Training Policy In Canada. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 19-22.

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