The evolving Canadian workplace

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Overall summary

This infographic presents key trends and observations that show how Canadian workplaces are evolving. These are important factors that influence policy development within the Government of Canada.

Alternate formats

The evolving Canadian workplace (complete version) [PDF – 1,000 KB]

The Government of Canada’s Labour Program is responsible for promoting safe, healthy, fair and inclusive work conditions and cooperative in federal private-sector industries and, in some cases, for the federal public service and other federal establishments.

Many Canadians remain outside of the labour market in a context of labour shortages

Figure 1: Participation rates*
Figure 1 – Text description
Table 1: Participation rates*
Year Male Female Female (with young children)** Indigenous (off reserve) Persons with disabilities***
1990 93.10% 75.50% 64.30% No data No data
1991 92.40% 75.90% 66.10% No data No data
1992 91.40% 75.30% 65.40% No data No data
1993 91.40% 75.70% 65.70% No data No data
1994 91.20% 75.40% 65.90% No data No data
1995 90.90% 75.70% 66.70% No data No data
1996 90.80% 76.00% 67.60% No data No data
1997 90.90% 76.80% 68.60% No data No data
1998 91.10% 77.60% 69.20% No data No data
1999 91.10% 78.20% 69.60% No data No data
2000 91.00% 78.50% 70.30% No data No data
2001 91.10% 79.10% 70.70% No data 61.4%
2002 91.50% 80.40% 71.30% No data No data
2003 91.60% 81.10% 71.90% No data No data
2004 91.60% 81.50% 73.00% No data No data
2005 91.50% 81.10% 73.50% No data No data
2006 91.10% 81.30% 72.10% No data 65.2%
2007 91.10% 82.10% 74.10% 76.7% No data
2008 91.40% 82.00% 72.60% 77.9% No data
2009 90.70% 82.20% 73.10% 77.7% No data
2010 90.50% 82.30% 73.70% 74.8% No data
2011 90.50% 82.10% 73.40% 75.7% No data
2012 90.80% 82.30% 73.90% 77.7% 62.3%
2013 90.70% 82.50% 74.90% 77.0% No data
2014 90.50% 81.80% 74.20% 76.9% No data
2015 90.90% 82.00% 73.70% 75.9% No data
2016 90.90% 82.20% 74.60% 77.4% No data
2017 91.10% 82.90% 75.40% 77.8% 73.4%
2018 90.80% 83.20% 74.50% 77.9% No data

*25 to 54 years

**Women with children aged 5 years and under.

***Data not comparable over time due to different survey methodologies.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Canadian Survey on Disability, Participation and Activity Limitation Survey.

A little over 1/3 of Canadian workers are in non-standard employment; some of these workers do not enjoy any labour standards protections

Figure 2: Incidence of non-standard employment
Figure 2 – Text description
Table 2: Incidence of non-standard employment
Form of employment 1997 2007 2018
Non-standard employment 38.1% 37.2% 37.1%
Self-employed 17.1% 15.5% 15.3%
Permanent part time 11.6% 10.7% 10.5%
Temporary 9.4% 11.0% 11.3%

Source : Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey (1997, 2007 and 2018).

Canadian private-sector union coverage has declined; it remains higher in the federally regulated private sector

Figure 3: Collective bargaining coverage rate by sector
Figure 3 – Text description
Table 3: Collective bargaining coverage rate by sector
Year Canada Public sector Private sector Federally regulated private sector*
1997 34% 75% 21% 41%
2007 32% 75% 19% 37%
2018 30% 75% 16% 34%

* Includes federal crown corporations.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey (1997, 2007 and 2018); Labour Program calculations.

Canadians’ work-life balance is average when compared with similar economies

Figure 4: OECD Work-Life Balance Index (Higher score equals a better work-life balance)*
Figure 4 – Text description
Table 4: OECD Work-Life Balance Index (Higher score equals a better work-life balance)*
Country Score
Japan 4.6
Iceland 5.1
Australia 5.6
New Zealand 5.9
United States 6.0
United Kingdom 6.4
Austria 6.8
Portugal 7.0
Greece 7.1
Canada 7.3
Ireland 7.9
Finland 8.0
Luxembourg 8.0
Switzerland 8.4
Sweden 8.4
Germany 8.4
Belgium 8.4
Norway 8.5
France 8.7
Spain 8.8
Denmark 9.0
Italy 9.4
Netherlands 9.5

*Based on % of employees working very long hours and amount of time devoted to leisure and personal care (index ranges from 0 to 10).

Source: OECD, Better life Index (2017).

New technologies are leading to longer hours for some, but also more flexibility

Figure 5: Half of working Canadians who used technology feel that technologies such as the Internet, email and cell/smart phones allow more flexibility in their work hours
Figure 5 – Text description

Question: Do technologies such as the Internet, email and cell/smart phones allow you more flexibility in the hours you work?

  • Yes: 49%
  • No: 51 %

Source: Angus Reid Institute, Canadians at Work, 2015.

Figure 6: 40% of working Canadians feel that technologies such as the Internet, email and cell/smartphones have increased the amount of time they spend working
Figure 6 – Text description

Question: Have technologies such as internet, email and cell / smartphones affected the amount of time you spend working?

  • Increase: 40%
  • Decrease: 9%
  • No effect: 51 %

Source: Angus Reid Institute, Canadians at Work, 2015.

Gender earning gaps persist

Figure 7: Median annual earnings, latest year
Figure 7 – Text description
Table 5: Median annual earnings, latest year
Group Men Women
Total population $46,000 $33,000
Visible minorities $38,000 $28,000
Recent immigrants $31,000 $21,000
Indigenous peoples $38,000 $29,000
Others $50,000 $35,000

Note: Sample limited to only employees (full- and part-time) with applicable and available employment incomes; negative income values are dropped. Recent immigrants are defined as those who settled in Canada less than five years prior to the Census. Others include non-visible minorities, non-recent immigrants and non-Indigenous peoples.

Source: Statistics Canada, Census of Population (2016).

A smaller proportion of private-sector employees are covered by a registered pension plan, and more of these plans are defined contribution plans or other types of plans (for example, hybrid)

Figure 8: Private-sector employees covered by a registered pension plan
Figure 8 – Text description
Table 6: Private sector employees covered by a registered pension plan
Types of plans 1997 2007 2017
Private sector overall 28.2% 25.7% 22.7%
Defined benefit 21.9% 15.8% 9.2%
Defined contribution 5.6% 6.7% 7.6%
Other types of plans 0.6% 3.1% 5.8%

Source : Statistics Canada, Pension Plans in Canada (1997, 2007 and 2017).

Both the median wage and the average minimum wage have increased slightly since the early 1980s

Figure 9: Wage trends (2018 dollars)
Figure 9 – Text description
Table 7: Wage trends (2018 dollars)
Year Median hourly wage Average minimum wage
1970 No data $8.74
1971 No data $9.51
1972 No data $9.55
1973 No data $10.02
1974 No data $10.55
1975 No data $11.07
1976 No data $11.67
1977 No data $11.34
1978 No data $10.77
1979 No data $10.37
1980 No data $9.81
1981 $20.56 $9.50
1982 $20.76 $9.02
1983 $20.97 $8.59
1984 $21.18 $8.53
1985 $20.70 $8.39
1986 $20.23 $8.18
1987 $20.54 $8.26
1988 $20.97 $8.32
1989 $20.79 $8.39
1990 $20.68 $8.42
1991 $20.70 $8.37
1992 $20.74 $8.88
1993 $20.76 $9.08
1994 $20.81 $9.35
1995 $20.83 $9.44
1996 $20.85 $9.56
1997 $20.89 $9.52
1998 $20.95 $9.50
1999 $20.85 $9.50
2000 $20.87 $9.33
2001 $21.03 $9.22
2002 $21.05 $9.12
2003 $20.64 $8.99
2004 $20.91 $9.03
2005 $21.07 $9.11
2006 $21.28 $9.29
2007 $21.42 $9.38
2008 $21.85 $9.76
2009 $22.31 $10.24
2010 $22.78 $10.66
2011 $22.14 $10.74
2012 $22.02 $10.94
2013 $22.70 $11.01
2014 $22.33 $11.06
2015 $23.05 $11.26
2016 $22.74 $11.43
2017 $22.96 $11.63
2018 $23.17 $12.86

Note : The average minimum wage is weighted by the number of employees in each province. The median hourly wage includes all employees aged 17 to 64 years old.

Source: Statistics Canada (“Changing characteristics of Canadian jobs, 1981 to 2018” (2018), and Labour Force Survey); Labour Program calculations (2019); Labour Program calculations.

Real wage growth for middle income earners has remained modest since the late 1990s

Figure 10: Cumulative wage growth (1997-2018) (adjusted for inflation)
Figure 10 – Text description
Table 8: Cumulative wage growth (adjusted for inflation)
Percentile 1997-2018
10th 32%
25th 15%
50th 12%
75th 15%
90th 20%

Note : The percentiles refer to the wage growth at specific points in the wage distribution (low value refers to low wage while higher value refers to higher wage). For example, an individual whose real wage is located at the 50th percentile of the overall wage distribution from 1997-2018 experienced cumulative real wage growth of 12% over the period.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey.

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