Backgrounder: Gig workers and digital platform workers

A growing share of Canada’s workforce consists of “gig workers.” These are workers who enter into short-term contracts with firms or individuals to complete specific and often one-off tasks. The term “gig work” includes:

However, much of the growth of the gig economy is a result of new technologies. These new technologies make it easier to connect workers and work. That is why the term gig workers also includes people who find work through the growing number of:

These include:

More and more Canadians are drawn to the flexibility of gig work. It allows them to work when and where they want while using tools they likely already have, such as:

This reduces many entry barriers to the labour market and helps Canadians access paid work, particularly:

Gig work can also help businesses that need specialized talent to become more efficient and productive. Gig work may improve productivity by matching available labour with appropriate work more efficiently. It may improve when the benefits of gig work are extended to the wider economy.

There can also be drawbacks to this type of work. Employers or businesses often classify gig workers as self-employed independent contractors and not employees. As a result, they do not have the protections afforded to employees under Canadian labour statutes, such as:

They also lack access to important social security programs such as employment insurance. If they lose their job or are otherwise unable to work, they have limited support.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of:

Each day, they risk exposure to the virus to ensure the continued flow of goods. For example:

Despite their importance, they often earn less. They also lack job protection if they get sick or need to care for a loved one. It is time to consider how to best protect these workers from the risks associated with the growing gig economy. And, how the Government could do it while maximizing the positive features of this new world of work.

The Minister of Labour, Filomena Tassi, has a mandate to protect all workers in the modern economy. This includes develop[ing] greater labour protections for people who work through digital platforms, whose status is not clearly covered by provincial or federal laws.

To move forward with this commitment, the Government will begin additional consultations with stakeholders in the coming months. This will involve:

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