The gig economy has been transforming the landscape of work and employment in Canada in recent years. It offers workers and employers flexibility and the number of Canadians in non-traditional, short-term work arrangements is increasing.
Understanding the statistics of the gig economy in Canada is important to employers as well as for anyone participating or considering participating in the gig economy. In this article, we look at the statistics of gig work in Canada, including its challenges and opportunities to provide you with a clear view of the nature of the gig economy in Canada.
Gig Economy Statistics for Canadians
- 28% of adult Canadians work in the gig economy, most of them part-time.
- 79% of gig workers do at least two jobs to earn a sufficient income.
- 20% of Canadians have taken on a gig job in the last year to boost their income.
- Almost half of Canadians who participate in the gig economy as a side hustle say they may not declare all of their gig work income.
- Canadians aged 18-34 are the most likely age group to do gig work.
- 41% of Canadians who have low household incomes do gig work.
- The main reason for gig working is to make extra money.
- 66% of Canadian gig workers are concerned about the lack of sick days and benefits.
- Work that can be done from home online is the most time of freelance service offered in Canada followed by maintenance and babysitting.
- 85% of Canadians who rely on gig work worry about their retirement.
What Is the Gig Economy?
A gig economy, also known as freelancing, is a labour market relying on temporary and often part-time positions that are filled by independent freelancers and contractors instead of permanent, full-time employees. Gig working can offer people flexibility. However, it offers little or no job security.
The employees in the gig economy are often hired through an online platform. The term gig economy covers a wide range of positions, ranging from writing code or delivering lectures to delivering food or transporting passengers.
While the gig economy was already established before COVID-19, the trend accelerated during the pandemic with more people working from home. It also prompted many people to look for alternative employment opportunities, often in the form of gig work.
Gig Economy in Canada
According to a survey from Angus Reid, 17% of Canadians were participating in the gig economy in 2019. Following the pandemic, 28% of Canadian adults participate in the gig economy. A vast majority, at 74%, of Canadian gig workers do it to earn additional income. However, 51% of gig workers are taking on extra work without their permanent employer knowing about it.
According to Statistics Canada, most gig workers in Canada earn under $5,000 per year from gig work. Only about one-quarter of Canadian gig workers earned the majority of their annual income from gig work. 79% of remote employees in Canada did at least two jobs simultaneously to earn a living.
The Rising Cost of Living Has Contributed to the Popularity of the Gig Economy
According to a survey from February 2023, 85% of Canadians worry about their income keeping pace with rising costs of living. This has prompted more Canadians to take on gig work to supplement their income. 63% of gig workers in Canada say they are participating in the gig economy because of the rising inflation and cost of living this year.
20% of Canadians have taken on a gig job in the last twelve months to boost their income. In addition, 15% of Canadians are thinking of taking on a side hustle to increase their income in the near future.
Almost Half of Part-Time Gig Workers May Not Declare Their Earnings
When asked about declaring their additional income from gig work, 49% of those who did it as a side hustle said they might not declare all of their income. A further 44% of those who participate in the gig economy on top of their regular work, said they would consider not declaring any of their gig work income.
Younger Canadians More Likely to Be Gig Workers
Gig workers in Canada are more likely to come from the younger age groups. 42% of men and 45% of women aged 18-34 are currently or have worked in the gig economy in the last five years.
Among 35-54-year-old Canadians, 39% of men and 32% of women have worked or are still working in the gig economy. The percentages fall to 29% of men and 24% of women among Canadians over 55 years of age.
Women Are More Likely to Create Content
There is a difference in the type of gig work men and women are more likely to do in Canada. Women gig workers in Canada were more likely to create content such as videos, podcasts, or blogs than men. 58.4% of gig workers in this category are women. In contrast, men make up 73% of gig workers offering food delivery and rideshare services.
Gig Workers More Likely to Come From Low Income Households
While there are gig workers in all household income groups in Canada, the percentage is slightly higher among the lowest income brackets. 41% of Canadians who earn less than $25,000 annually gig work currently or have done so in the last five years.
The percentages decrease the higher the income gets. 37% of Canadians earning between $25,000 and $49,999 have at some point taken on gig work. The percentage among people from households earning between $50,000 and $149,000 is 33%, while it is 31% among people from households earning above $150,000.
Two-Thirds Have Worked in the Gig Economy For Under Three Years
Most Canadians who work in the gig economy have been participating in it for less than three years. 30% of Canadian gig workers have done it for up to one year, while 37% have gig worked between one and three years. 24% of Canadian gig workers have been doing it for four or five years and just 9% have over five years of gig work experience.
Advantages of Gig Working for Employees
The main advantage, at 74%, for Canadians to participate in the gig economy is the ability to make extra income. 39% of gig workers saw establishing a better work-life balance as an advantage of gig work, while 34% it was a way to earn money and gain experience while they looked for a full-time job. Having control over your own work schedule was also a key motivator at 25%.
Disadvantages of Gig Working for Employees
Canadian gig workers say the main disadvantage at 66% is that there are no benefits or sick days for them. This was closely followed by it not being secure work in the long term at 65%. The lack of protection for workers’ rights and poor regulation was a concern for 51% of gig workers, while 50% said it was not great money and 17% worried about going into debt.
People who rely on gig work for their income were the most likely to worry about the lack of benefits and sick days at 74%. They were also more likely to worry about going into debt and their long term security at 20% and 72% respectively.
Advantages of Hiring Gig Workers
The benefits for employers include reduced costs and a wider range of applicants. When hiring a person to complete a “gig”, employers can save, for example, on benefits and salary as they do not need to hire someone full-time but can hire a freelancer only when their services are needed. Because much of gig work can be done remotely, it gives employers more choice on freelancers to hire.
Disadvantages of Hiring Gig Workers
While there are potential benefits, using gig workers also has disadvantages. The main disadvantage at 35% is the availability of suitable workers when you need them. The next disadvantage at 33% is the lack of control employers have over freelance workers.
Some employers, at 22%, also found that using gig workers increased their administrative burden. While 6% saw the cost of hiring qualified gig workers as a disadvantage and 4% cited other disadvantages.
How Canadians Feel About Gig Economy
Canadians who have never participated in the gig economy are less likely to view it as something positive for working Canadians. 23% of those who have never done gig work said the gig economy was good for Canadians compared to 39% of those who had or still worked in the gig economy.
While 30% of people who had participated in the gig economy said it was more negative than good for working Canadians, 38% of those who had not participated saw it as negative. The rest of the people in both groups were not sure if gig work had a negative or positive effect on working Canadians.
74% of Canadians saw the gig economy as a positive way for willing workers to earn an extra income and 39% believed gig working gives you potentially better control over your work-life balance.
The Biggest Portion of Canadian Gig Workers Work Online
The most common work among Canadian gig workers is work that can be done from home on the computer. This includes tasks such as graphic design, computer programming, translation, and editing. 36% of Canadians participating in the gig economy offer services that can be classified under the umbrella term of office work.
The next most popular category is maintenance work at 30%. However, this type of gig work is more common among men than women at 44% compared to 15%. Babysitting comes third with 29% and the division between men and women is the opposite compared to maintenance work with 44% of women and 13% of men gig workers having offered their services as babysitters.
The least common gig economy services include AirBnB at 6%, delivering food also at 6%, and driving for services such as Uber or Lyft at 4%. Men are more likely to deliver food or offer transport services than women. Other services offered by gig economy workers include house sitting, dog walking, personal assistance services, and posting online content.
Gig Workers More Likely to Have Financial Worries
Canadians who gig work are more likely to worry about losing a job and not having saved for retirement than those in permanent roles. 63% of people who rely on gig work are worried about someone in the household losing a job because of the economy. The percentage among Canadians who have never participated in gig work was 41%.
On average, 61% of Canadians feel they would not have a comfortable retirement based on their current financial situation. 85% of people who rely on the gig economy say they would not have a comfortable retirement based on their current finances compared to 55% of people who have never gig worked.
Gig working has become more common in Canada in recent years and this development was speeded up by the pandemic. 28% of adult Canadians now participate in the gig work economy but most of them do it part time as a side hustle. While there are benefits to gig working such as flexibility and earning an extra income, there are disadvantages too, such as no sick days or benefits that need to be taken into consideration
Frequently Asked Questions
Gig economy refers to work performed by employees who are hired to perform a task or several tasks on a short-term basis. Gig workers offer a range of services such as delivering food, tutoring, and proofreading.
28% of Canadians do some form of gig work. However, for most of them, this work is in addition to their regular work to provide an additional source of income.
The most common service offered by gig workers in Canada is work that can be done online from home such as editing, writing, graphic design, and translation.