Briefing

Documents show Ottawa feels its response to the increase in gig workers has been slowed by unreliable data

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Officials from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) felt that studies from Statistics Canada and the Bank of Canada don’t accurately measures how many Canadians work in the gig economy. The department is looking to take part in an international survey of platform-based workers, as well as an in-depth study with Statistics Canada, which could both take place in 2020. (Canadian Press)

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Talking point: Gig workers make up an increasingly large part of the overall workforce—some estimate the U.S. number is at least 25 per cent of the entire workforce. Work in this sector can have low wages, and lack job security or benefits; gig workers also tend to skew young. Measuring the number of workers in the country is therefore important to government officials, but there isn’t currently a number they deem reliable. According to the documents, the studies from the two federal departments had small sample sizes, but claimed Canada had much fewer gig workers than other similar countries. One reason for the issue is that there are different definitions for what jobs fall under the gig economy. ESDC used the U.S. definition, which counts all workers who take on short jobs online or on apps that connect them directly with customers and arrange payments. That would count workers like Uber drivers or Foodora couriers, but it wouldn’t include those who work several part-time jobs or live off short-term contracts.