The “Gig Economy” Is On The Rise Says Statistics Canada

Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

Let’s call it what it is: contract work. Employment devoid of benefits, vacation pay, and sick days is becoming the norm, according to Statistics Canada.

As part of new data released Monday, StatsCan reported that 8.2 per cent of all workers could be classified as “gig workers” in 2016 – up 5.5 per cent from 2005.

The fall-out has left gig workers reportedly feeling lonely powerless and out of the housing market. The type of gigs included aren’t just Uber drivers or Skip the Dishes delivery services. The decentralized workforce is permeating every sector of the Canadian economy.

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Surprisingly, only 27.5 per cent of contract workers were 34 years or younger (i.e. millennials). This information contrasted with a recent study by Angus Reid that stated the number of contract millennial workers was much higher. Studies have shown that gig work leaves many in this type of economy understandably stressed and even burnt out well before retirement.

But it’s not just millennials who are working contract, according to StatsCan. Informal employment” was highest among the bottom 40 per cent of Canadian earners – those who were twice as likely to need the work. And yet the contract wages were measly: in 2016 the average net income from contract work was just $4,303.

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And the gig economy has a definite impact on home ownership.

Let’s say, as an example, that the average price of a home in Toronto is $763,600. If you were to apply for a high-ratio mortgage that requires a 5 per cent down payment, you would need to save up $38,180. If you were to put away $500 per month, it would take you just over 6 years to save that amount. For those working in the gig economy, home ownership is just not a reality.

Also, for those in the gig economy in Toronto, rents are also a major concern.

Rental rates in Toronto jumped by 8.6 per cent between 2018 and 2019. In 2018, the average rental rate was $2,385 for all property types listed on Rentals.ca, however, that rate increased to $2,591 in 2019, an increase of 8.6%.

Overall in 2019, the average rent in Toronto was $2,504 per month.

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“For most gig workers, gig work was only a temporary activity,” StatsCan noted in the survey summary. “Roughly one-half of those who entered gig work in a given year had no gig income the next year.

“However, a non-negligible share of gig work entrants — about one-quarter — remained gig workers for three or more years,” StatsCan noted, adding that “professional, scientific and technical services” accounted for 19 per cent of men and 17.4 per cent of women in the gig economy, while “administrative and support, waste management and remediation services” accounted for 10.6 per cent of men and 13.4 per cent of women.

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Health care and social assistance was by far the leading sector among women at 20.2 per cent.While it’s doubtful that anyone would want those in the forefront of our healthcare industry to be among our most vulnerable workers, It would seem that is the  trend these days.

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