Nova Scotia

Urban Worker Project works to change trend of short-term, insecure jobs

Permanent jobs with benefits are harder and harder to find across Canada. The Urban Worker Project wants to change that economic trend.

Most new jobs created in Canada are part-time, casual or short-term contract jobs

Young Canadians are having increasing difficulties finding decent-paying, full-time jobs with benefits. (CBC)

A workers' advocacy group is calling attention to a troubling aspect of Canada's labour market where short-term, contract and part-time jobs are the norm.

Today, more and more young people aren't able to find jobs that they are confident they can keep, that have benefits or a pension and that they won't lose if they get sick, Andrew Cash of the Urban Worker Project told CBC's Information Morning on Thursday."

"The majority of jobs today in Canada are those kinds of jobs — the majority of new jobs."

The Urban Worker Project's goal is to make the issue known and to bring pressure to change what is an entrenched economic pattern.

"To give a voice to people who are freelance, self employed and working on short-term contracts," Cash said.

They include a wide range of workers from those in information technology sector and arts and culture to people who are taxi drivers, barbers and small entrepreneurs.

No silver bullet

Across Canada, the category of self-employed workers increased almost 45 per cent between 1989 and 2007, according to the Statistics Canada labour survey.

"There's not going to be one silver bullet for all of this," Cash acknowledged.

But changes in some labour policies can begin the process, he said.

For example, "a parental leave for all would be something that isn't necessarily tied to EI. How is a young person going to start a family if they can't get the leave? And more and more young people can't get the leave," he said.

"Companies, and sometimes in the public sector, too, there's some misclassification of workers who are actually in on contract for several years but they are not an employee although they are doing the exact same work as their colleagues who are employees.

"That is a function of laid-back labour regulations and the lack of enforcement of rules that are there already," Cash said.

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