The above analysis relies on Statistics Canada’s Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID; 1999-2009).  The SLID was introduced in 1993 in order to improve understandings of the economic well-being of Canadians over time, and provides information on people’s labour force experiences, human capital and demographic characteristics. 

The SLID sample is composed of two panels of respondents (roughly 30,000 adults in 15,000 households), and each panel is surveyed annually for a six year period, with a new panel being selected every three years.[57] The SLID sample is selected from the monthly Labour Force Survey, which uses a two-stage sampling process, first selecting a sample of geographic areas, and then a sample of dwellings from each area.[58] Residents of institutions and persons living on Indian reserves or in military barracks are excluded from the SLID sample. The longitudinal nature of the SLID is particularly useful for understanding how household income changes over time, but also makes it difficult to capture the experiences of migrant workers, or people who move often. Each successive wave within a panel has declining response rates and respondents who miss responding to two subsequent years of a survey are treated as non-respondents.[59] Thus, those who move frequently are unlikely to be included in later waves of the survey. For instance, a demographic analysis shows that young people have lower response rates to the SLID than those who are middle-aged and seniors,[60] in part because this group is more difficult to trace than more established households and household members. The variation in response based on age is compensated for by Statistics Canada’s weighting system, and so accurate population estimates can still be made, but concerns remain about the SLIDs effectiveness in capturing highly mobile populations.

The SLID uses Computer-Assisted Telephone interviewing for data collection, using the basic contact information for each household established in the LFS. Access to the public-use SLID microdata from 1999-2008 for this research was obtained under a license agreement from Statistics Canada, data from 2009 was accessed using the SLIDRet remote retrieval system. Data were analyzed using SPSS 18, using the appropriate population weights.

The primary population of interest in this analysis is people residing in Ontario who were members of the labour force in the relevant year. For the majority of the analysis, the focus is on those who were employees (i.e. not self-employed). The analysis is based on respondents’ ‘main’ job in the reference year, that is, the job in which they had the most scheduled hours (or if scheduled hours are equal in more than one job, the job with the highest earnings). Thus, this analysis provides an assessment of precariousness in workers’ main jobs, and not in auxiliary or secondary jobs.

It is important to note that the variables used in this analysis of precarious work are based on employee reporting, and not employer reports. For instance, workers were asked:  “In your job with [employer], did you have an employer pension plan?” and “How many persons were employed at the location where you worked for [employer]?” (or all locations, if the employer has more than one location). Respondents’ hourly wages are based on the amount paid at the end of the reference year (or the end of the job) and includes tips, bonuses and commissions. For respondents who did not report an hourly wage amount, the implicit hourly wage is calculated using income, months, weeks and hours worked. Proxy reporting is allowed in the SLID; that is, household respondents can answer for others in the household provided they are knowledgable and willing to do so.

The results presented above are based on yearly, cross-sectional estimates. That is, the trajectory of individual workers and/or households is not tracked over time, but the aggregate results from each year are compared to those of previous years, in order to show change or stability over time.


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