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- About CPRN
- The Vulnerable Workers Project
- Aspects of vulnerability in the labour market
- Globalization, risk, and policy choice
- Growth in non-standard work
- Mapping the dimensions of vulnerability
- Low pay
- Access to rights, benefits, supports
- An independent, non-profit, policy research think tank
- Mission: "to create knowledge and lead public debate on social and economic issues important to Canadians"
- Four Networks: Family, Health, Work, Public Involvement
The Vulnerable Workers Project: Goals
- To explore the sources of vulnerability
- To document the circumstances of vulnerable workers
- To identify policies and practices to enable vulnerable workers to realize their potential:
- for their own personal development
- to contribute to our economy and society
- To stimulate change in public policies and in workplace practices
The Vulnerable Workers Project: Studies
- Defining Vulnerability in the Labour Market (2003)
- Non-standard Work and Economic Vulnerability (2005)
- Towards Enhancing the Employment Conditions of Vulnerable Workers: A Public Policy Perspective (2005)
- Does a Rising Tide Lift All Boats? Low-Paid Workers in Canada (2005)
- Lifting the Boats: Policies to Make Work Pay (2005)
- New Approaches in Achieving Compliance with Statutory Employment Standards (with IPAC) (2005)
- Risk and Opportunity: Creating Options for Vulnerable Workers (2006)
Labour market vulnerability: The broad concept
- Workers whose participation in labour market leaves their well-being at risk.
- In other words, those who find it difficult to access work that provides a decent income and/or working conditions that meet societal norms.
- Related to, but not synonymous with, growth of non-standard work.
Aspects of vulnerability in the labour market
- Persistently low pay
- Persistent unemployment or underemployment
- Poor access to employment rights, benefits, supports, learning opportunities
- Lack of access to collective representation
What we would like to achieve
- Decent pay (wage plus any income supplement surpasses individual Low Income Cutoff)
- Decent working conditions (access to basic protections)
- Broad access to benefits and supports that are important to well-being
- Opportunities to 'move up'
Globalization, risk, and policy choice
- Greater mobility of capital => greater emphasis on economic efficiency and flexibility. But governments and employers still have choices to make.
- Risk is being transferred from employers to employees.
- Are we distributing risk in a way that helps us realize our social and economic objectives?
- What policy platforms and instruments can be used to improve outcomes?
Growth of non-standard work
- Standard employment: full-time employee, indefinite duration, one employer
- Gradual increase in share of non-standard work over last 25-30 years; now almost 40%
- Own-account self-employment: 6% in 1976; 10% in 2000.
- Reasons for growth: new technologies; globalization; business need for flexibility; costs of providing benefits; some workers seeking work/family balance or greater independence
Mapping the dimensions of vulnerability
- 1/6 of full-time workers earned under $10/hour in 2000 (same as 1980).
- Higher incidence of low pay for women, young people, less-educated, recent immigrants.
- Median wages stagnant 1981-2004 (falling for new hires), yet educational attainment has risen.
- 30% of low-paid live in low-income households.
- Half of low-paid workers in 1996 had not moved up five years later.
- Non-standard workers are paid less than full-time, permanent workers.
- At least 1/4 of part-time workers prefer full-time work.
Poor access to rights, benefits, supports
- Non-standard and low-paid workers have little access to extended medical coverage or employer pension plan.
- Low-paid workers unlikely to receive employer- sponsored training or government help to upgrade skills.
- Less than half of unemployed benefit from EI.
- Self-employed not covered by laws that set minimum standards of employment. Some regular employees do not benefit from the laws because of lack of compliance.
- 1/6 Canadians are unable to afford decent housing.
- Affordable child care is scarce in most provinces.
Poor access to collective representation
- Unionization rate for jobs earning less than $10/hr was 10% in 2004 (down from 15% in 1981).
- For jobs earning $10+ per hour, unionization rate was 37% in 2004 (44% in 1981).
Source: Morissette and Picot 2005
Mapping vulnerability: conclusions
'Knowledge economy' is leaving many working people behind.
- Despite rising levels of educational attainment, share of work that is low-paid is unchanged since 1980.
- Growth in non-standard work has weakened access to employment rights and benefits.
- With government cutbacks to social assistance, unemployment insurance, and skills upgrading programs in the 1990s, many of those left behind are not well-positioned to bounce back.
Chung, L. 2004. "Low-Paid Workers: How Many Live in Low-Income Families?" Perspectives on Labour and Income, 16(4), 23-32.
Galarneau, D. 2005. "Earnings of Temporary versus Permanent Employees." Perspectives on Labour and Income, 6(1), 5-18.
Janz, T. 2004. "Low-paid Employment and Moving Up: A Closer Look at Full-time, Full-year Workers 1996-2001." Income Research Paper Series, Statistics Canada.
Marshall, K. 2003. "Benefits of the Job," Perspectives on Labour and Income, 4(5), 5-12.
Morissette, R. and Picot, G. 2005. "Low-paid Work and Economically Vulnerable Families over the Last Two Decades." Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper, Statistics Canada.