Forty per cent of residents in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area are now working in jobs with some degree of precariousness, according to a study released by McMaster University in Hamilton and United Way Toronto.
Drawing on data from Statistics Canada and from a survey by the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario (PEPSO) research group, the study found:
• Barely one-half of those working today are in permanent, full-time positions that provide benefits and a degree of employment security.
• At least 20 per cent of those working are in precarious forms of employment.
• Another 20 per cent are in employment relationships that share at least some of the characteristics of precarious employment.
• Precarious employment has increased by nearly 50 per cent in the last 20 years.
While the situation is worst for those who are low income, the challenge of finding stable, secure jobs exists across all demographic and socio-economic groups, said It's More Than Poverty: Employment Precarity and Household Well-being.
"Labour markets today are not what they were in the 1960s and 1970s when many of the regulations that influence employment conditions were adopted. Moving forward, we need to work together to look at these regulations and assess how they can better support people who are employed precariously,” said Wayne Lewchuk, professor in the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University.
People who are precariously employed delay significant life plans, such as getting married or having children, said the study. Families are also suffering from rising stress due to uncertainty and many are struggling to access adequate child care. At a community level, precarious employment among some groups is leading to a decline in volunteering and a decrease in philanthropy.
"Precarious employment affects us all. It threatens our communities and undermines the prosperity of our cities," said Susan McIsaac, president and CEO of United Way Toronto. "We must take action to ensure that jobs are a pathway to economic security for everyone."
The report calls for governments, employers and other stakeholders to work together to develop a shared agenda that focuses on income and employment security, training and enhancing social supports for families and communities.
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