Unemployment is down. But is this a good thing?

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According to a news report published by the Canadian Press, the unemployment rate in January 2015 went down to 6.6%. Over 47,000 jobs were created last month. This is good news, right? Well, not really. If you take a closer look at the numbers, the news doesn’t look as promising.

First, the economy shed nearly 12,000 jobs in January. That means there was only a net increase of 35,000 jobs. But most of the 12,000 jobs that were lost were full-time positions, and the majority of the 47,000 jobs created were part-time. These numbers reflect a growing dependence on part-time workers rather than full-time staff.

Unfortunately, this is not a new trend. In 1997 there were about 25,000 part-time employees looking for full-time work. In 2013 that number went up to well over 100,000 people, a 300% increase in only 15 years. This number does not include people who prefer part-time over full-time work. These people are actively seeking a full-time job but can’t find it.

This can be a frustrating experience for a lot of people. Full-time work offers a level of stability that part-time work simply doesn’t offer. Full-time employee are more likely to receive better vacation time, superior health and dental benefits, higher pay, and enhanced job security.

It was welcome news when Ontario’s Labour Minister Kevin Flynn announced the Ontario Government will be reviewing the province’s labour and employment laws, particularly the Employment Standards Act.

The Workers’ Action Centre, a labour rights group, felt this was a step in the right direction. The Action Centre stated the current laws do little to protect part-time workers. In the past companies have lobbied the government to exempt certain workers from basic rights such as minimum wage, overtime pay, and public holiday wages.

Sometimes employers will even misclassify their staff as independent contractors. Those workers lose their legal protection as well as their entitlements to Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan.

Everyone in Ontario deserves a stable, living wage. Employers also need to remember that a happy worker with a stable job will be more productive than a person  employed in precarious work.



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