“Precarious work” typically involves jobs that are insecure, low paying, lacking benefits (e.g., pension, medical or dental), a lack of control by the worker and are often dangerous. We refer to people engaged in precarious work as “vulnerable workers”.

“Precarious work” finds much of its meaning when it is compared to the “standard employment relationship”. The standard employment relationship is based on a concept of full-time, continuous and life-long or permanent work with decent pay and benefits. However, in the last two decades, it is becoming less common and is being replaced with more part-time, temporary, seasonal or other forms of work that is insecure.

More and more workers have short-term work or are treated as if they are (in)dependent contractors, even though the conditions of work in other ways resemble employment. They may not receive benefits or the protection offered under employment statutes because they are not “employees”. The number of temporary foreign workers in Canada have also spiked as a result of immigration programs, such as the Seasonal Agricultural Worker and the Live-in Caregiver Programs. While these programs benefit both foreign workers and Canadian employers, they have been under scrutiny for the way in which some workers have been treated and ineffective enforcement of minimum labour standards.
Precarious jobs are disproportionately held by women, members of racialized communities, newcomers to Canada, temporary migrant workers and non-status workers. The nature of the work, low pay, lack of benefits and poor working conditions associated with some precarious jobs can perpetuate the disadvantages experienced by members of these groups.

The Law Commission of Ontario’s Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work Project will review the nature of precarious work, the identity of vulnerable workers, the existing protections and enforcement mechanisms for people engaged in these forms of paid work and the impact of precarious work on the daily lives of vulnerable workers and their families. 

The LCO has developed a Consultation Paper and more detailed Background Paper to identify issues and potential areas of reform, and to provide a focal point for discussion and consultation. Some people may choose to read only the Consultation Paper which is a freestanding document. We are interested in hearing from anyone with an interest in these issues, including workers, employers, academics, government and the public at large. Please provide comments on either or both of these Papers, by April 1, 2011 by mail, fax, or e-mail to:

Law Commission of Ontario
276 York Lanes, York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON, Canada, M3J 1P3

Tel:  (416) 650-8406
Toll free: 1 (866) 950-8406
TTY: 1 (877) 650-8082
Fax:  (416) 650-8418         
E-mail:  LawCommission@lco-cdo.org

We are happy to discuss methods of consultation that will work for you. If you have questions regarding this consultation, please contact us at (416) 650-8406.

Based on the LCO’s independent research, including the responses to the Consultation Paper, the LCO will issue an Interim Report, followed by a Final Report with findings and recommendations in the Spring of 2012.