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Precarious Work in Canada

Reading Analysis of Precarious Work

Working in the 21st Century

The word precarious is used to refer to workers who are paying in cash, below their National Minimum Wage. It is a form of job that is poorly paying, not covered, and unsafe. This applies to cases in which employees are unaware of their job status, do not have an employment contract, and cannot obtain fundamental employment rights, for example, pay leave or breaks. Based on the class lectures, as many as 25% of the Canadian population were employed precariously. Low-income families depend heavily on income from two or more family members, who often work for more than one job.

According to Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Employees who are perceived to work precariously are part-time workers involuntarily because they want more hours. It is also the employees who work part-time voluntarily, in the sense that they do not want or cannot use more hours. Furthermore, some work exclusively with temporary aid agencies or employers on a temporary basis. These workers are contract or term employees. They can also be temporary or seasonal staff. And certain workers cost less than the mid-hour average for primary work.

According to International Labor Rights Forum, precarious work is part of a worldwide business culture to lower labour wages and weaken decent work by ‘flexibilization’ or casualization of the labour market. These types of positions are much more likely to be occupied by women, minorities, and migrant workers. Rarely do they earn welfare insurance, and the opportunity to form a union also is refused. While workers have the right to form a union, they are reluctant to unite when they realize that they will quickly be replaced.

Precarious Work in Canada

The health of employees, families and societies is impacted by employment precariousness. Three significant trends have contributed to its recent success, namely the increase of ‘flexible jobs’ and subsequent erosion of worker employment and conditions since the mid-1970s: increasing interest in and the availability of new data and information systems for social determinants of health, including employment conditions (Benach et al., 2014).

The disadvantages of precarious work based on the article published by Work Rights centre are that low wages from under the table jobs paid below the minimum wage rates are the most significant source of in-work poverty. Another consequence is when uncontracted labour and cash in hand transactions find it impossible for people to record their job history and access to in-work benefits. Casual job conditions often delay career development and is another cause of in-work poverty. They found that employees who are paying cash in hand below the minimum wage do not satisfy the leasing companies’ conditions. Their only alternative is to live illegally in overcrowded housing where their deposits are not secured, and they are still under threat of eviction. Low paying jobs also require workers to work extra hours to cover the financially uncertain quality of their work. This urgency to maximize working hours leaves less time for socialization, which in turn harms human psychological well-being and threatens group ties.

  The increase in precarious work is making Canada’s labour market more unstable. At the same time, regardless of the form of employment, more and more workers are earning less money, working either too much or too little and having less control over their work. Many workers are also in precarious social locations because the increase in precarious employment is gendered and racialized (Cranford, 2003).

  • Benach, J., Vives, A., Amable, M., Vanroelen, C., Tarafa, G., & Muntaner, C. (2014, March). Precarious Employment: Understanding an Emerging Social Determinant of Health. Retrieved December 05, 2020, from https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182500
  • Cranford, C., Vosko, L., & Zukewich, N. (2003). Precarious Employment in the Canadian Labour Market: A Statistical Portrait. Retrieved from https://www.yorku.ca/julabour/volume3/cranfordetal_justlabour.PDF
  • International Labour Rights Forum. (n.d.). Precarious Work. Retrieved December 05, 2020, from https://laborrights.org/issues/precarious-work
  • Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, Skills and Development. (n.d.). Vulnerable Workers in Precarious Jobs. Retrieved from https://www.ontario.ca/document/changing-workplaces-review-final-report/chapter-4-vulnerable-workers-precarious-jobs
  • Work Rights Centre. (n.d.). What is Precarious Work? Retrieved December 05, 2020, from https://www.workrightscentre.org/what-is-precarious-work

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