05/21/2015 07:53 EDT | Updated 05/21/2015 07:59 EDT

Precarious Work Becoming The Norm, Toronto Study Finds


Nearly half of working adults in the Greater Toronto Area are employed in precarious work, according to a new report by the United Way.

And it’s not just people in low-wage jobs who face insecure employment; it affects workers across all income levels, says the report titled “The Precarity Penalty,” which looked at the labour market in the region from Hamilton to Whitby.

However, those in precarious working situations earn significantly less than those with secure employment and live in lower income households.

“If left unchecked, the social consequences of these changes in our labour market will not only affect the ability of people to build stable and fulfilling lives, but it will threaten our region’s capacity to develop a competitive workforce.”

The percentage of workers in the most precarious types of work, including self-employment, part-time work and temporary work, has grown by 60 per cent since 1989, the report found.

The report also noted that precarious work leads not only to poverty but also an increase in health and mental health issues.

Insecure employment can affect decisions related to starting a family and can introduce anxiety and financial stress into relationships and households, the report said.

“While these effects are most pronounced in low-income households, insecure employment also creates challenges in middle-income households.”

It also found that just eight per cent of workers in precarious situations have employer-funded health benefits, compared to 100 per cent of employees in secure roles.

The report also suggested solutions to create a more stable work environment, such as providing more training opportunities, addressing discrimination in hiring, job retention and advancement, and updating labour standards to address the impacts of irregular work schedules.

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