Workers Health & Safety Centre

OFL survey results link insecure work with worker stress and illness

OFL survey results link insecure work with worker stress and illness
Precarious work takes a significant toll on mental and physical health, according to a new survey, of nearly 5,000 Ontario workers, by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL).
The Precarious Work Engagement Survey is part of the OFL’s Make it Fair campaign. OFL initiated the survey to raise awareness on the full extent and effects of precarious work.
Survey results are also designed to inform the Ontario government’s review of the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. Through their Make it Fair campaign, the OFL is lobbying for changes to these laws “to make sure workers don’t face the overwhelming stress of long-term precarious employment.” The changes they are pushing for would improve standards for every worker in Ontario and make it easier for them to join a union.

The Results

Almost one-third of survey respondents reported mental and physical health issues as impacts of precarious work. According to the survey results, young people (18 to 34 years), precarious workers, and women are more likely to experience mental health distress.
Survey results also included the following:
  • More than one-quarter of all survey respondents report they are currently employed in precarious work (i.e., part-time, temporary).
  • Workers aged 18 to 34 years report much higher levels of precarious work, 45 per cent of this group of respondents reported they are currently employed in a precarious job.
  • Nearly 90 per cent of all survey respondents have children, family members and/or friends who are precariously employed.
  • More than 40 per cent of precarious workers report full time jobs/stable income as a significant economic concern.
  • Wages/pay equity and benefits were identified as top priorities across all demographics.
  • More than 80 per cent of survey respondents recognize that precarious work is more common today than five or 10 years ago.
According to OFL president, Chris Buckley, survey results underscore the necessity of modernizing Ontario’s “woefully out-of-date employment laws.”
“We need to consider the whole picture when it comes to employment, instead of just businesses’ bottom line,” said Buckley. “I think that’s what business critics are missing, when we talk about changing the employment laws to make improvements for workers. Precarious work makes people sick – period.
The 15-minute survey was conducted online and in person from July to November, 2016. Invitations to participate in the survey were posted on the OFL website. Of the 4,771 survey respondents, 82 per cent were union members; close to three-fifths were female, and two-fifths were male.
OFL survey results are consistent with an extensive body of research documenting the devastating effects of precarious work, including recent research into the major role precarious work plays in the develop of cardiovascular disease.
Make it Fair campaign along with the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign are working to mobilize labour unions to fight for employment law reform throughout the government’s review process.
Want to read the Precarious Work Engagement Survey Final Report?
Want to participate in the OFL’s Make it Fair campaign?
Link to other related WHSC news items:
Precarious employment impacts health of working women
Stressful work factors driving cardiovascular disease
Changing workplaces review submission deadline fast approaching