Niagara, ON: Poverty and Employment Precarity in Niagara (PEPiN) has completed a research study on precarious employment and its impact in Niagara. Unemployment rates may be lower than previous years, however, a little over half of working-age Niagara residents have some form of precarious employment. We define precarious work as work that is typically part-time, temporary, or contract, and often without longer term job security and employment based benefits. It is often called non-standard employment.
PEPiN is an initiative between United Way and Brock University made possible with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The report, “Uncertain Jobs, Certain Impacts: Employment Precarity in Niagara”, suggests that precarious employment has a significant impact on the individuals, families and communities it touches, and that these impacts are indeed widespread and pervasive in Niagara. Moving forward, lead researcher, Dr. Jeff Boggs, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Tourism Studies at Brock University, would like to see an even larger sample of Niagara’s population in order to more precisely identify the extent and impacts of precarious employment.
“We are reasonably confident that roughly half of those working in Niagara between April 1st 2016 and March 31st 2017 are engaged in some type of non-standard or precarious work. While some Niagara residents choose such work to accommodate their lifestyle and family situations, far more find themselves suffering negative social and economic effects that are linked to not having standard, full-time jobs with benefits” says Dr. Boggs.
This research project is an important first step in an evidence-informed decision-making process to encourage meaningful action. The report also includes a list of recommendations, aimed at government and employers, to reduce the incidence of precarious employment and to mitigate its impacts.
In an effort to replicate similar studies conducted in other Ontario cities by the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario (PEPSO) research group, the PEPiN study analyzed survey results from a random sample of 713 employed Niagara residents. Study participants answered questions about their backgrounds, family situations, current employment, health, and economic standing. PEPiN contracted Leger, the same survey research group which conducted the other PEPSO studies, to survey participants on their experience with precarious work, mental health, general health, and overall quality of life. The report can be found online at www.pepniagara.ca.
After evaluating answers to survey questions completed by phone interviews, results indicated the following:
- Only forty-eight percent of all workers in the 12 municipalities of the Region of Niagara have stable, secure full-time jobs resulting from what is called a standard employment relation (SER). Everyone else is working in situations with some measure of precariousness. This includes jobs without benefits and jobs with uncertain futures.
- In Niagara, precarity has been most prevalent among young adults (25-34 years of age), older adults and the foreign born who have been in Canada 20 or fewer years. However, precarity is found among all demographic groups.
- In Niagara, being precariously employed is worse when you’re earning a low income — but it’s found across all income levels and it hurts everyone who experiences it.
- Precarious employment has a harmful effect on individuals, children and families. It can damage the social fabric that ties together our communities because it makes it more difficult for people to form relationships and plan spending time with family and friends.