Canadian Institue Of Planners

Shaping our Communities
Sustaining Canada's Future.

Plan Canada - Spring 2022

The Future of Work (Spring 2022)

Over the past century, the Canadian economy has transformed in ways that Thomas Adams and those who helped establish the Town Planning Institute could hardly have imagined. From an early dependence on resource extraction and agriculture, Canada has urbanized, and a more globalized economic context has emerged. Planners have had to respond along the way by, for example, managing the placement of noxious industries, collaborating with other professions to ensure and improve public health, coordinating the development of transportation and technological infrastructure, and accommodating the transformative shifts in office employment. How Canadians work continues to evolve and change.
The struggle to keep pace with change gave rise to the need for government oversight on infrastructure spending, land use, and municipal governance. Helped along by innovations in transportation that made it possible for workers to live beyond walking distance from their place of work. From industrial estates to office parks, and before you could say “official city plan,” Canada moved from the industrial revolution to the ‘knowledge economy’ and its high-spending twin, the ‘consumer economy,’ with 80% of the labour force engaged in the services sector. Prior to COVID, retail workers still outnumbered those employed in healthcare and social services.
Employment in manufacturing has long been in relative decline. In today’s world, where people work and what they do for a living are completely different than they were just a generation ago. As the world emerges from a transformational global pandemic, how will work further evolve? Can we expect a decentralization of work away from traditional downtowns, suburban nodes, and office parks? Will a rise in remote working put pressure on rural settings to accommodate ex-urbanites? Is career-planning destined to become an oxymoron, as the gig economy continues to grow in importance? Is a commitment to flexibility, protecting employment lands, and mixed-use zoning going to be enough? Should functional zoning and a mobility-based approach to planning evolve to focus more on community well-being? What does the future of work mean for vulnerable populations? Is the next generation equipped with the tools to succeed in the new workplace? In this issue of Plan Canada, the role of planners in helping communities face the future of work is explored.

Article submission has now closed.