‘Precarious’ employment rises in Canadian labour market

Recent York-based research has shown continued growth in insecure or so-called “precarious” employment in the Canadian labour market. This news, expected to reshape analysis of employment trends in Canada, comes just as opposition parties in the Ontario election call for a rise in the minimum wage.

The findings of the study, led by York Professor Leah Vosko (right), contradict earlier conclusions that growth has stabilized in “non-standard employment” (work that is not full-time and permanent). And it challenges conventional statistical models used in Canada to assess labour market conditions and laws governing workplace organization and health.

“The Canadian labour market is becoming more precarious and unstable,” said Vosko, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Feminist Political Economy. “This is due to the growth of temporary and part-time wage work, self-employment and other forms of work not fully protected by labour laws and policies.”

Vosko’s research findings and related studies by community researchers are featured in the current issue of Just Labour, the online journal of the Centre for Research on Work and Society at York University. Vosko’s analysis will be published by Statistics Canada in the next issue of Perspectives on Labour, http://www.statcan.ca/english/ads/75-001-XPE/.

Vosko and colleagues Cynthia Cranford at the University of Toronto and Nancy Zukewich at Statistics Canada measure the level of precariousness in each form of work included in the model of non-standard work used by Statistics Canada and reveal a substantially different picture of the Canadian labour market.

The precariousness of non-standard employment is measured based on the following factors: limited social benefits, poor legal protection, job insecurity, temporary or short-term work and low wages.

The research was conducted by the Community University Research Alliance on Contingent Employment, and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. For more details about the study, visit Just Labour at www.justlabour.yorku.ca.