252 pages • preface • 27 charts • index

ISBN-13: 978-1-77244-054-6 • 6 x 9 • Paperback

​Since the economic crisis of 2007/8 signs of discontent have multiplied. Incumbent governments have been defeated and internationally we have witnessed what might be called a populist revolt, including the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote. These political moments reflect the alienation of large numbers of people, who feel left behind economically, largely because of their experiences in dysfunctional labour markets.

Focusing on Canada, and exploring the experience of work in today’s labour market, this book poses the question: How did we get here? What role has policy played? 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. Drawing on the latest and most reliable data, he then sketches out the evolution of Canadian employment policy since the 1970s. Chapters look at education and training, immigration and migrant 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? A strong middle-class emerged in the aftermath of World War II, with virtually full employment. Those conditions are gone, replaced by a global world of infinite complexity. But McBride is not convinced that we need to remain passive, allowing workers' security to be further eroded. He describes some policy alternatives that would enable the prioritization of national obligations to citizens over international obligations to capital.

STEPHEN McBRIDE is Canadian Research Chair in Public Policy and Globalization at McMaster University. His research deals with issues of comparative public policy, globalization, and political economy.  He is the author of Not Working: State, Unemployment and Neo-conservatism in Canada (1992; winner of Smiley Prize 1994), and Paradigm Shift: Globalization and the Canadian State (2001; 2nd edition 2005, winner of the 2007 Weller Prize)​. See Professor McBride's research here.



There’s nothing more important for building a strong economy, and a strong society, than providing every willing person with productive, secure, and fair work. In no other single book can a reader learn so much about work, what’s wrong with it, and how to fix it. Immensely readable and ultimately optimistic.
Jim Stanford
Economist and Director, Centre for Future Work,
Sydney, Australia

An engaging and accessible text, rich in evidence-based arguments for restoring employment to the centre of politics and public policy.

William K. Carroll
Professor of Sociology and Co-director,
the Corporate Mapping Project
University of Victoria