By the Numbers: The hidden cost of precarious employment in Canada

By the Numbers: The hidden cost of precarious employment in CanadaToronto – July 20, 2015 – Precarious employment is one of the greatest challenges facing workers in the Canadian labour market today. The term refers to jobs with high levels of uncertainty surrounding compensation, scheduling, and future employment. A new study conducted by McMaster University and the United Way Toronto, entitled The Precarity Penalty, highlights the major hidden costs of precarious employment in Canada.

2 million +

Over 2 million Canadians find themselves in precarious and temporary employment today, and the majority of new jobs being created in Canada are precarious in nature.  

$11,600 - $18,000

On average, workers in precarious jobs earn between $11,600 and $18,000 less per year than people in comparable permanent positions.


Parents in precarious work situations are three times more likely to be unable to purchase school supplies and clothing for their children than parents in more stable employment positions.


More than 60 percent of precarious workers surveyed say their incomes sometimes vary from week to week.


In 2014, nearly 30 percent of precarious workers went for more than a month without work, and 15 percent were unable to find work for 12 weeks or longer.  


Nearly one in four precarious workers expect their hours of paid work to drop in the next six months.


Only 8 percent of precarious workers receive medical benefits, compared to 100 percent of those in secure employment.

  > 20%

Over 20 percent of workers in less secure employment living in low-income households report that they would seek a loan from a relative or friend to balance household finances, but only 10 percent would access a bank loan.


Workers in less secure employment living in low- and middle- income households are 50 percent more likely to volunteer to improve job opportunities than workers in more secure employment.

Sources: PEPSO, 2015. "The Precarity Penalty."