The gig economy is quickly becoming a central part of Canadian life. The jobs aren’t just limited to Uber and Skip the Dishes. Grocery stores, laundries and more are banking on a new workforce that will accept jobs on a per-task basis.
Even a hallmark of Canadian life – snow-shovelling – is being absorbed into the gig economy. A recent startup in Calgary lets homeowners hire shovellers using their smartphones.
As sociologists, we envision a decentralized workforce, bereft of regular human contact or continuous employment. Yet this outlook stands in stark contrast to optimistic portrayals of a flexible economy that empowers workers to control their own fates. Which narrative – decentralized and isolated or connected and empowered – best reflects the reality of Canada’s gig workers?
It turns out that separating the hype from reality about the Canadian gig economy is no easy task, given the dearth of available data on gig workers.