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Zero-hours and near zero-hours work in Canada

TitleZero-hours and near zero-hours work in Canada
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsCooke, G. B., Sayin F. K., Chowhan J., Mann S. L., and Zeytinoglu I. U.
EditorO'Sullivan, M., Lavelle J., McMahon J., Ryan L., Murphy C., Turner T., and Gunnigle P.
Book Title{Zero Hours and On-Call Work in Anglo-Saxon Countries}
Pages137 - 157
PublisherSpringer Singapore
CitySingapore, SG
Keywordscasual, labour law, personal support workers, rural employment, variable schedules, young workers

In Canada, many employees have variable schedules with few pre-assigned shifts and often sporadic work hours with little advance notice. Through case studies, a picture is painted of the employment challenges facing Canadians in precarious jobs. One case looks at personal support workers (PSWs) in the health and social care sectors. While one might expect PSWs to have stable, secure jobs, this is not the situation for many, in terms of pay, work schedules and employment status. In the second case, rural workers are studied. In short, they also face difficulty finding sufficient income opportunities due to sporadic employment opportunities, low pay, and often, highly variable and/or short workweeks. Yet, some owners and managers of small enterprises feel the need to use ‘if and when' shift arrangements that might include near zero hours workweeks, occasionally or seasonally. The willingness of Canadian workers to accept paid shifts without advance notice is a reflection of a reluctance to complain to management, a lack of union and regulatory protection, and/or because of a need for any paid hours, even if inconvenient. In our opinion, Governments at various levels in Canada have not caught up, in terms of policy responses, with the realities of the today's working conditions for those without power in the labour market. Given insufficient government intervention, we hope that Canadian companies more heartily embrace their social responsibilities, and design jobs with more stability and income certainty for their employees, especially for those with few, if any, guaranteed work hours.