In this report, we use data from Statistics Canada’s Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) to map the prevalence of precarious jobs in Ontario’s labour market over the decade long period between 1999 and 2009.[2] Many current labour regulations and policies are premised on the norm of a standard employment relationship (SER) defined by a full-time continuous employment relationship where the worker has one employer, works on the employer’s premises and has access to extensive social benefits and statutory entitlements from that employer. Research shows, however, that this employment model, and particularly its associated securities, is waning.[3] In contrast to the SER, precarious jobs are characterized by specific features of labour market insecurity.  They tend to be clustered in part-time and temporary forms of employment, although on account of the lowering of the bottom of the labour market during the post-1980 period, features of precariousness are also increasingly found in full-time permanent jobs.

To date, studies of Canada as a whole have shown that precarious jobs are most often held by workers in certain social locations, especially women, immigrants, and racialized people[4] and in certain sectors, industries and occupations, such as in the private sector and sales and services in particular.[5] Yet with the exception of studies of Quebec,[6] there is a dearth of analysis of the dynamics of precarious employment in provincial labour markets even though the provinces represent a significant site of labour regulation since the Federal Labour Code covers just ten per cent of all workers in Canada.  At the provincial level, there is limited awareness of the different permutations and combinations of key features of labour market insecurity identified with different employment statuses (e.g., self-employment or paid employment) and forms of employment (e.g., part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent paid employment) and their prevalence among differently situated workers, both workers in different industries and occupations and in different social locations.  This report aims to fill this knowledge gap, and thus is a necessary step towards correcting the disjuncture between labour market realities and the model upon which many provincial labour regulations and policies are premised. To this end, in the analysis that follows, we aim to answer four questions about precarious jobs in Ontario: 

  1. How has the structure of the Ontario labour market changed from 1999-2009, particularly in relation to the prevalence of part-time and temporary forms of paid employment and solo self-employment, forms of employment which are typically identified with precarious jobs?
  2. How prevalent are the different features of labour market insecurity in the Ontario’s labour market, and how has their prevalence changed from 1999-2009?
  3. In what sectors, industries and occupations are precarious jobs most prevalent?
  4. What are the socio-demographic characteristics (gender, ethnicity, immigration status) of people who hold precarious jobs and how has this changed from 1999-2009?

Methodological details about the objectives, data collection, sampling and coverage limitations, and analysis of the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, the principal survey upon which the report relies, are found in Appendix A. 


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