2021, Innovations in Research

Understanding Precarious Work in BC

A Pre-Pandemic Baseline

This research was conducted to explore experiences and prevalence of precarious employment and multi-dimensional precarity in BC. Precarious employment is a concept that is used to describe forms of work that are insecure and are often low-paid, temporary or contract-based, with part-time or irregular hours and few or no benefits. It increasingly includes, but is not limited to, gig or platform-based work. Our research project built on the insights of the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario (PEPSO) project and involved an online survey of more than 3,000 workers across British Columbia. The results of the survey illustrate that precarious employment, and related dimensions of precarity that impact the well-being of households and communities, were higher in BC pre-COVID-19 than Statistics Canada data suggested. The implications of these findings are that a just recovery must address systemic and institutionalized inequalities in BC, rather than simply focusing on a return to "normal" that devalues the labour of Indigenous, racialized, gendered, and immigrant and migrant workers.

Read pieces by Kendra and Iglika on the prevalence of people working multiple jobs and access to paid sick leave on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative's Policy Note blog.

Shares of BC workers with more than one job by region (Figure 1), age (Figure 2) and household income (Figure 3)

From "Working multiple jobs to make ends meet: More common in BC than we might think" (Ivanova & Strauss, May 2020, Policy Note)

BC workers' access to paid sick leave by annual employment earnings (Figure 1), type of job (Figure 2), region (Figure 3) and industry sector (Figure 4)

From "Paid sick leave finally on the agenda: Here’s why it matters" (Ivanova & Strauss, May 2020, Policy Note)

Presentation at Innovations in Research, April 13, 2021

Kendra Strauss
Iglika Ivanova

Labour Studies Program; Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC Office)

Labour, precarious employment, precarity, income, security, health, gender, race, immigrant status


Kendra Strauss

Kendra Strauss (she/her/hers) is the Director of the Labour Studies Program at Simon Fraser University and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology. Her research focuses on the regulation of labour markets, paid and unpaid work, care labour, social reproduction, and social infrastructures.

Learn more:

SFU Labour Studies on Twitter @SFU_LBST

Iglika Ivanova

Iglika Ivanova is a Senior Economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)'s BC Office. Iglika is a feminist economist who researches and writes on key social and economic challenges facing BC and Canada, including poverty, economic insecurity and labour market shifts toward more precarious work. Iglika also investigates issues of government finance, tax policy and privatization, and their impacts on the accessibility and quality of public services, and ultimately on economic and social inequalities. She is particularly interested in the potential for public policy to build a more just and inclusive economy.

Iglika’s community involvement outside of CCPA—on boards, in coalitions and in other advisory roles—is in service of promoting equity and empowering women and communities whose voices are rarely considered in Canada’s public policy debates.

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