Developments in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Practices in Canada: An Update from the 1980s

Human Resources

This study was undertaken as part of the Structural Change in Canadian Industrial Relations project at the Centre for Industrial Relations, University of Toronto.

The Canadian industrial relations system has followed a course of incremental change and adjustment over the past decade that leaves intact the basic institutional framework and relationships among labor, business, and government. Thus, the system, while changing in ways that are similar to employment relations in other industrial nations, has not undergone any dramatic transformation. While the political forces that influence industrial relations policy and practice predict continuation of this incremental pattern of adjustment, economic pressures to adjust rapidly to a changing market context are likely to test the resilience of this political equilibrium in the 1990s. If the pace and pattern of innovations in industrial relations policy and practice does not accommodate changes in the marketplace, we may expect, at the margin, some decline in investments in Canada contributing to slow growth in employment and income and lagging national competitiveness. Such economic stagnation will, inevitably, put new strains on the political alignment that has made incremental change possible over the last decade.

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