Tom Fraser is a researcher at SEIU Healthcare, a trade union representing 60,000 healthcare workers in Ontario, Canada. His research is broadly interested in tracing the shift in Canadian political economy towards a strange dualism wherein labour is increasingly concentrated in the non-wealth producing spheres of social reproduction and capital accumulation grows more and more untethered from reality through its growing reliance on finance. Identifying the roots in the ‘post-industrial’ economy in the welfare state structures of the postwar period, his work seeks to understand how care work has come to dominate today’s society and labour movement. Tom has been involved with DePOT since his MA.

Invested in Crisis: Pensions and Political Economy

My book project, “Invested in Crisis: Pensions and Political Economy,” explores the recent history of pension reform in Ontario. Beginning with the research question, “how did it come to be that Ontario pension funds are some of the biggest players in global real estate?,” I try and make sense of entangled histories of welfare state formation, labour market transitions, and shifting regimes of capital accumulation to determine how the ability of hundreds of thousands of public sector workers to retire is contingent upon extractive investments in housing and infrastructure. Melding history, geography, and political economy, I situtate the rise of the mega-pension fund in the context of Ontario’s deindustrialization, the rise of finance, and the global politics of the built environment.