Precarious work conditions need to change, report urges
Workers need more stability, including benefits and full time hours, employment counsellors say
Job seekers across the province are finding more postings for temporary and contract jobs and fewer for full-time jobs with benefits — a trend the Law Commission of Ontario would like to see end.
In a new report, the commission calls for changes to the Employment Standards Act, which they say would provide workers with more stability.
According to a marketing and communications officer with YES Employment Services in Thunder Bay, job seekers often have to compromise on what they want in a job.
"Wages are one thing, but benefits are such a bonus and it's rarer and rarer when people come in and see postings," Sharon Kovacic said. "The postings that we get in, when it has benefits, it's usually a very tough competition to get that job."
Kovacic added major retailers that will soon set up shop in the city — like Target and Toys 'r Us — are posting more jobs with benefits.
The high number of short-term contracts and low-wage positions is not news to employment adviser Tammy Oliphant, who said the number of workers having trouble getting full-time work in Dryden has increased over the past decade.
"[Underemployment] results in suffering from depression and not taking care of their children, because they will take care of their children before they'll take care of themselves and that sort of thing. So, it just affects everyone," said Oliphant, who is employed by Northwest Employment Works, the sole job centre in Dryden.
‘We want stability’
While she would welcome a higher minimum wage for workers, Oliphant said she'd rather see more employers moving into the region.
"We want stability for our community," she said. "I think definitely the community is concerned … if people in our town are not making a good wage, they're not spending money in the community."
The Law Commission of Ontario made 47 recommendations in their report, many of which had to do with updating the Employment Standards Act, with items ranging from reviewing the minimum wage for the province, to making a public awareness campaign to educate the public on their rights and ensuring temporary workers receive appropriate pay in comparison to full-time employees doing the same work.
"The nature of employment is evolving and the standard employment relationship based on full-time, continuous employment, where the worker has access to good wages and benefits, is no longer the predominant form of employment, to the extent it ever was," the report states.
"Today more work is precarious, with less job security, few if any benefits and minimal control over working conditions. Precarious work may be contract, part-time, self-employment or temporary work. While this change has affected all groups of workers, women, racialized persons and recent immigrants are more likely to be ‘vulnerable workers’ engaged in precarious work."