Insecure jobs destabilize communities

February 28, 2013

McMaster University and United Way Toronto have released new findings about the shrinking number of workers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area who have stable, secure jobs.

According to the research, 40% of residents are now working in jobs with some degree of precariousness. While the situation is worst for those who are low income, the report revealed a surprising finding: precarious employment now exists across all demographic and socio-economic groups.

"Precarious employment affects us all. It threatens our communities and undermines the prosperity of our cities," said Susan McIsaac, the President and CEO of United Way Toronto. "We must take action to ensure that jobs are a pathway to economic security for everyone."

The study, titled It's More Than Poverty: Employment Precarity and Household Well-being shows that people who are precariously employed delay significant life plans, like getting married or having children. Families are suffering from rising stress due to uncertainty and many are struggling to access adequate childcare. At a community level, precarious employment among some groups is leading to a decline in volunteering and a decrease in philanthropy.

According to Wayne Lewchuk, Professor in the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University "Labour markets today are not what they were in the 1960s and 1970s when many of the regulations that influence employment conditions were adopted. Moving forward we need to work together to look at these regulations and assess how they can better support people who are employed precariously."

The report concludes with a call to action for governments, employers and other stakeholders to work together to develop a shared agenda that focuses on income and employment security, training and enhancing social supports for families and communities. On Monday, February 25 United Way and McMaster University will co-host a symposium to begin this conversation.