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While data on the extent of outsourcing by Canadian businesses is scant, there is general agreement that over the last several decades the phenomenon has increased and taken a variety of forms including the use of global supply-chains (offshoring) and domestic subcontracting (outsourcing).175 In this way, large businesses have been able to shed responsibility for the employees who actually perform the work. David Weil has aptly characterized this phenomenon as “fissuring”, which can take a variety of forms including sub-contracting, franchising, and other arrangements.176 A related phenomenon that will be addressed here is the use of temporary employment agencies through which companies continue to produce goods and services internally but try to avoid responsibility for having their own employees by securing workers on ostensibly temporary bases through an agency’s action as intermediaries. Indeed, in both scenarios, there are intermediaries between leading businesses and the workers who perform the productive labour, which may result in poorer terms and conditions of employment because of the more highly competitive environment in which the work is performed and concomitantly in greater challenges for workers in gaining the benefit of protective labour and employment laws. Despite these well-known problems, Canadian labour and employment law has largely responded to these challenges in a piecemeal fashion.

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