The number of Canadians taking on freelance or independently-contracted jobs as part of the so-called “gig economy” is on the rise.
According to a new report from Statistics Canada released on Monday (via The Star), about 1.7 million workers, 8.2 percent of the Canadian labour force aged 15 and older, did some form of gig work in 2016. That marks an increase from about 1 million workers in 2005, or 5.5 percent.
The study found that informal employment was highest among the bottom 40 percent of Canadian earners, who were about twice as likely to need the work. It also found that the median net income from informal work in 2016 was just $4,303 CAD annually.
“For most gig workers, gig work was only a temporary activity,” StatsCan noted in the survey summary. “Roughly one-half of those who entered gig work in a given year had no gig income the next year.”
“However, a non-negligible share of gig work entrants — about one-quarter — remained gig workers for three or more years,” the report added.
The report had found those who were part of the gig economy are more likely to be poorer Canadians, women and immigrants. Those in the bottom 40 percent of the income ladder were about twice as likely to be involved in gig work as other workers. Meanwhile, 9.1 per cent of all female workers and 7.2 per cent of male workers participated in the gig economy.
Gig economy work is defined in the study as “unincorporated self-employed workers who enter into various contracts with firms or individuals to complete a specific task or to work for a specific period of time.” It includes freelancers and on-demand workers hired by online platforms such as Uber and Fiverr.
The last year has seen policymakers and workers push for better working conditions in the growing gig economy, including guaranteed minimum pay, vacation and benefits. Last year, the B.C. government passed legislation expanding its authority to set fares and distribute licenses ahead of ride-hailing companies’ foray in the province.