Fast Facts on Precarious Work You Should Know

Precarious work is a hot topic in the labour market in Canada. One of the main problems with it is that it is hard to define because there are so many different forms of it. Most people refer to it as when workers who fill permanent job needs are denied full workplace rights. It’s usually unstable, low-paying and tends to have dangerous working conditions.

And it affects different industries in varying ways. A fast-food worker could be forced to work despite being sick because they can’t afford to take the day off. A freelancer could be underpaid or fired suddenly with little repercussion. A temporary worker could be forced to do unsafe work.

It is important that we as Canadians in the workforce understand it because it is growing and becoming the way employers are looking to hire.

Here are some fast facts about precarious work.

There are a lot of them. Over two million Canadians are employed in precarious work.

Professionals experience precarity too. More than a fifth of Canadian professionals are in precarious work with women being far likelier than male counterparts to be in precarious work.

Education does not make a difference. Precarious professionals are more likely to have a post-graduate degree than non-precarious professionals

It isn’t just part-time work. Twenty-six per cent of precarious workers have reported having a full-time job.

It’s unsafe. A recent study by the Ministry of Labour found that three-quarters of inspected workplaces that hired precarious workers violated the Employment Standards Act.

It’s a health risk. Precarious workers are more than twice as likely to report having mental health conditions including depression and anxiety.

The pay is much lower. People in insecure positions make 46 per cent less than workers in the same field with secure jobs.

It affects children. Parents in precarious work are three times more likely to be unable to purchase schools supplies and clothes for their children.

It’s unstable. More than 60 per cent of precarious workers say their incomes vary from week to week.

It’s trapping workers. Precarious workers can become trapped because their income remains low limiting their housing options ability to form relationships and start a family.

It affects some more age groups more than others. Canadians younger than 25 or older than 65 are significantly more likely to be employed in precarious work.

These are important facts but they are just skimming the surface. Our labour market and quality of jobs will depend on how much we rely on precarious work. Learn more about precarious work in our other blogs The Physical Health Effects of Precarious Work (add link once posted) and Precarious Work: How Does It Affect Mental Health? 


Do you want more content specific to your situation?  

Let us help you better by taking a quick survey so that we can create custom resources for you.


We're here to help

Do you have any questions about your rights in the workplace or need someone to talk to about your job stress? Contact one of our free labour counsellors at (403) 259-4608 or

Learn More About
Wage Issues

Do You Have Enough Savings to Retire? Find Out Now.

In a perfect world retirement, would be something that everyone looks forward to. A chance to be …

Read More

You’re Being Underpaid. Here’s What to Do.

You may like your job, the people you work with and even your boss – but if you’re underpaid it c…

Read More

Termination – What Are Your Rights?

Getting fired is no fun. No matter what age you are, it can be totally devastating. You may immed…

Read More

Why Do Women Make Less Than Men?

It seems like every month there’s another study out about how women earn less than men in Canada.…

Read More