What is the Future of Canada’s Economy?
“Governments across Canada have a central role to play in stewarding the condition for inclusive hybrid work arrangements”
– Stephen Harrington
Over the past two years, Canadian employees have experienced the benefits hybrid work has, and it’s safe to say that hybrid work is here to stay. However, for hybrid work to become the mainstream, we need help from the government to fully reap the benefits. With the proper rules and regulations, Canada can create a sustainable, equitable and flexible labour market.
Deloitte Canada recently published a report urging the Canadian government to create a better future for hybrid workers. With the government’s help, Deloitte envisions “Canada will be home to a leading hybrid work environment that promotes inclusive growth and benefits all working individuals” all by 2030. With the following recommendations, Canadians previously excluded from place-based work will gain new opportunities to enter the labour force.
Here’s our breakdown of Deloitte’s recommendations:
Update guidance regarding existing employee protections
While hybrid work is inherently flexible without intervention, it will continue to challenge inclusion in the workforce. There is concern that employees with more access to in-person work might receive more privileges over their work from home colleagues. Women and people with disabilities are more likely to work remotely and can be disadvantaged by poor hybrid work policies.
Governments need to confirm how human rights codes will apply to hybrid work arrangements to ensure inclusion and equity.
These policies should focus on the following:
- Sexual orientation
- Marital and family status
- Gender identity and expression
- Equal pay
Modernize employment practices
Based on the current Canadian human rights codes, employers might be required to offer flexibility to accommodate employees. Flexibility benefits both employers and employees making it essential for governments to help employers adopt these practices.
Recently in Ontario, new legislation requires employers to have policies around “disconnecting” from work. The federal government has also begun creating a policy for those workers under federal regulation. As various Canadian governments begin addressing disconnecting policies, these policies should also encourage flexibility without overly constraining standards regarding working hours and location.
Remove cross-jurisdictional barriers
With the absence of geographical limits, hybrid work will create more job opportunities for Canadians who don’t benefit from place-based work. Cross-jurisdictional barriers, mainly income tax requirements and data privacy laws, will need to be adapted for this to happen.
Canada needs to provide employers with clear guidelines to the existing rules for hybrid work. Income tax requirements are currently dictated by place-based work. This creates uncertainties and deters employers from hiring hybrid staff. Data privacy laws are now made up of provincial, territorial and federal structures. Companies that work within multiple jurisdictions may adhere to various guidelines and regulations.
Modernize caregiving systems
Caregiving systems will need to cater to hybrid work arrangements rather than just place-based to create a more inclusive workforce. Women typically take on the role of caregivers, and adapting caregiving systems could allow 90 000 more women to enter the workforce.
Most childcare centres currently work based on the typical 9-5 work-day. With almost 40% of parents with young families working non-standard hours, this is problematic. All levels of government should continue working on establishing affordable and flexible childcare systems.
Accelerate investment into high-speed internet access
Access to high-speed internet is imperative for participating in the remote and hybrid workforce. Although 94% of Canadian households have access to high-speed broadband-only 85%, have access within the home. Throughout the pandemic, it’s become apparent that digital inequity within Canada remains regardless of technological advancement. Those living in rural households and households in Indigenous communities are especially disadvantaged from entering the hybrid workforce. To ensure an equitable labour market, broadband access and speeds issues need to be addressed.
Improve funding for digital upskilling
To fully participate in the hybrid workforce foundation, digital skills are required. For jobs that already require these skills, formal upskilling most likely isn’t immediately necessary but should be prepared for as technology changes. In the future foundational digital skills could look very different, and it’s critical Canadian professionals can keep up with these advancements.
This transition to hybrid work may create a more polarized workforce due to the digital skills gap. Some people at risk for exclusion include women, Indigenous peoples, low-income households and newcomers. The government should prioritize allocating upfront funding for upskilling and funding for non-traditional reskilling avenues to avoid exclusions.
Help central business districts navigate the transition from place-based work
Covid-10 severely challenged local economies and industries that were dependent on place-based workers. Without new government policies, hybrid work may continue to pose disparities and inequities to business centers. Policies can begin with converting unused office buildings into residential or multi-purpose spaces. With these policies, issues like housing affordability and diversification of urban settings can also be addressed.
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