July 12, 2016 10:52 pm
Updated: July 12, 2016 11:26 pm

Low-paying jobs keep Canada’s employment numbers afloat

A spike in jobs in Canada's food service industry helped balance a recent decline in other, better-paying sectors.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The recent jobs numbers from Statistics Canada at first glance seem to be in decent shape — “Employment was unchanged in June (0.0%).”

But read on and find there’s a catch: rather than “unchanged,” it was balanced by a loss of manufacturing jobs and spike in accommodation and food service gigs (low pay) and self-employment (little to no security).

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Manufacturing, the blue-collar cornerstone of the Canadian job market for decades, continues to suffer.

“Employment in manufacturing declined by 13,000 in June, bringing year-over-year losses to 30,000 (-1.8%). Employment in manufacturing has been on a downward trend since the start of 2016,” the report states.

Communities across Canada are seeing an increase in working poverty, says Deanna Ogle from Vancouver-based Living Wage for Families Campaign.

“The stats reflect, I think, what many of us feel we’re experiencing when we’re talking to folks in our community or families, about the jobs that they’re facing,” said Ogle.

“Increasingly what’s available tends to be low-wage work in industries that tend to be more precarious, so you’re not seeing good-paying, long-term jobs at the same rate that folks used to.”

And an increase in self-employment doesn’t necessarily mean a rise in entrepreneurship — people are resorting to freelance or contract work because that’s what’s available.

“They don’t have the same access to some of the protections in the workplace, nor the reliability of wages.”

Freelancing has become so common it even has its own union, “to improve the conditions of—as well as raise awareness and respect for—the work that freelancers do.”

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The struggle for individuals and families to get by has a ripple effect on communities and businesses.

“They’re not able to go out to dinner, they’re not able to shop at their local stores, so it has a long-range impact on our economy as well,” said Ogle.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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