MILLENNIALS TALK ABOUT PRECARIOUS WORK
Young Canadians bear the largest burden of precarious work and are more likely to be forced to take unpaid internships and part-time, casual, or temp work. 39% of Canadians between the ages of 15–29 are precariously employed. Here are some of their stories:
“After graduating from university, I was unable to find any steady work and now my resume has about 8 jobs spanning 2 years, which makes me look like I can’t hold down a job. With very irregular pay and jobs that don’t pay enough, trying to pay off school debt has been very difficult. I’m back at school now and hoping a new field will bring more job opportunities, but I’m not going to hold my breath.”
–David has a BA Psychology and Religious Studies. He’s originally from rural Quebec but lives in Ottawa where he’s studying Translation and working full-time as a manager at a fitness club.
“For me, precarious work means living permanently on the edge, not knowing what the future holds and what I can do to secure a future for myself and my family. At times, I find exciting work — great opportunities, new challenges, learning new skills and meeting new people. But at other times, it’s about welcoming anxiety as an everyday companion in my life, which makes daily living a constant battleground”
–Émilie has a PhD in Social and Political Thought. She’s originally from Quebec City but she now lives in Montreal and travels weekly to Ottawa to teach.
“I am constantly on the look out for work. Short term, uncertain contracts, and piecemeal freelance work has driven me to self employment and working without the safety net of EI, collective action to represent my concerns with employers, being underpaid, taken advantage of and unsure of when my next paycheque will come in. Being a member of the precariat means instability and an inability to further my life beyond my next paycheque.”
–Andrew is a photo-journalist, originally from New Brunswick. He splits his time between Fredericton, Ottawa, and wherever else work takes him.
“When I finished my Master’s degree in 2005 at 23, I was unprepared for how long it would take to pay off my debt. I took full-time work as soon as it was offered, but it was a struggle. Since then, I’ve found work through agencies, had permanent and casual contracts. I’ve been laid off and now I work two minimum wage part-time jobs. It’s still a struggle.”
–Melanie has a Master’s in Canadian Studies. She works as a part-time, unionized employee in the grocery industry. She’s originally from Manitoba but now lives in Toronto.