Over half of all Ontario post-secondary workers show signs of job precarity: Report

February 6, 2018

OTTAWA — Precarious employment is on the rise in Ontario’s post-secondary sector, a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has found. The report examines the prevalence of precarious work on campuses and finds that certain workers are becoming more vulnerable to precarity.

Fifty-three per cent of college and university workers in the province are to some extent precariously employed, according to analysis of Labour Force Survey (LFS) data. The study also includes first-hand accounts of the impacts of precarity from a recent survey of workers.

“There has absolutely been an increase in precarious work on Ontario campuses, and that mirrors what we see happening across society more broadly,” says Erika Shaker, report author and CCPA Director of Education and Outreach. “It’s also clear we need to rethink how we collect and measure data about precarity, to better understand and address workforce trends, as well as the impacts for workers, families and communities.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • 53 per cent of post-secondary workers in Ontario experience one or more indicators of precarious work: juggling multiple jobs, more temporary work and more unpaid work;
  • The biggest trend has been a significant shift from permanent to temporary work on campuses since the late 1990s, and an increase in multiple jobholders;
  • Unpaid overtime is also up among temporary workers;
  • Data show growth in work categories that are more precarious, like research and teaching assistants, alongside a decline in categories that have been traditionally less precarious, such as librarians, as a proportion of the total sector workforce.

“Precarity impacts the quality of work and life for employees — not to mention the education that students receive,” Shaker adds. “Workers tell us they routinely cope with tremendous levels of stress and chronic financial instability. These working conditions are also learning conditions.”

“Post-secondary institutions are well-positioned to take on a leadership role in pushing back against the rise of precarious, insecure employment in the province, rather than building a work model dependent on it.”  

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No Temporary Solution: Ontario’s shifting college and university workforce is available for download on the CCPA website. For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact: Alyssa O’Dell, CCPA Media and Public Relations Officer, at 613-563-1341 x307, cell 343-998-7575 or alyssa@policyalternatives.ca

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