Applying the multidimensional approach to precarious employment means that the analysis must take account not only to types of work, but also the impact on the people who do the work. As discussed earlier, precarious employment is over-populated with racialized people, especially women, and newcomers, and temporary migrant workers and non-status workers. Racialized people, especially racialized women, are much more likely to hold precarious employment or to be unemployed. Thus, racialized women, in addition to disproportionately bearing the burden of domestic work within their own household, are more likely to be slotted into precarious employment relationships of paid domestic work. It is not only more likely that women will hold precarious employment, and that they will not hold full-time permanent employment, but also that they will hold the most precarious forms of employment stemming from part-time temporary paid work. The “racialized gendering of jobs”, therefore, is a prominent feature of the labour market.
Younger workers, both men and women, are entering the labour market in precarious employment. Older workers often find employment through temporary agencies. Persons with disabilities, especially those who are affected by multiple aspects of social location, are less likely to be employed and therefore vulnerable to precarious work. HRSDC reports that the employment rate for persons with disabilities increased from over 46% in 2001 to over 53% in 2006, however.
Well over 60% of the country’s population growth occurs through immigration. Indeed, Canada’s growth in population and economy has now assumed a greater dependence on immigration than throughout much of the last century. With one in five residents born outside the country, not since the early 1930s have newcomers made up such a considerable proportion of the total population. Increasing numbers of immigrants come from Asia, including the Middle East (the source countries of the largest proportion), with the proportion from Central and South America and the Caribbean and from Africa slightly increasing between 2001 and 2006. Over half of immigrants come to Ontario. In the face of a declining birth rate and aging populace, Canada has relied on permanent and temporary immigration, including non-status labour, to address national labour shortages. Increasingly, immigration – and immigration from certain countries – accounts for the people doing precarious employment in Canada.
Statistics Canada’s recent study examining 280,000 immigrants to Canada revealed that poverty rates are three times greater for new immigrants than for Canadian citizens. During much of the 1990s almost one in five new immigrants lived in a state of chronic low income which has been estimated to lead to annual losses of five billion dollars in the national economy. A not uncommon pattern for immigrants has been that they find short-term, low paid jobs when they arrive in Canada, but that within five years or even less, they have moved to more stable work that is better paid with benefits. At the macro level, this pattern has changed. A Statistics Canada study found that “[m]ore than half (54%) of the 5.0 million people in non-standard jobs in 1999 maintained this form of employment throughout the following two years”.
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