Canada: The Canadian Gig Economy: Embracing The Future Of Work

Labour, Employment and Human Rights Bulletin
Last Updated: April 22 2019
Article by Sherisa Rajah and Shane Todd

Canada has been enjoying its lowest unemployment rate in nearly forty years.1 Despite that rosy economic indicator, a majority of surveyed Canadians are experiencing a "psychological recessions" -- we feel that the country is experiencing a mild or severe recession.2 This economic anxiety may be a symptom of uncertainty about the modernization of the Canadian economy, and changes in the nature of work. The best treatment for our anxiety may be embracing the gig economy as part of the future of work.

What is the Gig Economy?

Investopedia describes a gig economy as one in which "temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend towards hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees".3 It is different than the historic model of full-time workers "who rarely change positions and focus instead on a lifetime career".4

In economically struggling communities and regions roiled by globalization and changing consumer demands, technology can create spontaneous work opportunities that may not have otherwise been available. The gig economy can also provide more efficient services to consumers. This growth is, in part, based our dependency on the internet. Social media now allows service providers in the gig economy to connect with the consumer in real time via "work on demand" apps. For example, Handy -- an app that allows users to retain people offering residential, cleaning, installation and other home services on demand.

The gig economy is not limited to new apps. Canadian employers are already using the gig economy for work that does not create fixed employment.

A workforce study conducted in 2017 estimated between 20% to 30% of the Canadian workforce already consisted of "non-traditional workers" -- meaning contingent, consultant, contractual, part-time, freelance and/or virtual workers.5

The Social and Economic Benefits of a Gig Economy

Workers in the gig economy are usually independent or dependent contractors. A key characteristic is increased control over one's own affairs. This may be one of the key individual benefits. One study found that approximately half chose work in the gig economy for greater autonomy and control, half said they were supplementing their income on the side, and over forty percent said they were balancing career with family needs.6

The benefits of the gig economy to competition have also come to light. The Competition Bureau of Canada, whose mandate includes promoting the benefits of competition, published a White Paper in 2015 that concluded the gig economy impacting the traditional taxi industry was for the better and here to stay:

"[...] Consumers can expect to enjoy the benefits of this increased competition, including lower prices, greater convenience and availability, and better quality of service through improved technology. With the right balance of competition and regulation, passengers can expect that the industry will ensure safe, competitive, and innovative transportation options in the future."7

There have been fears that the gig economy will displace workers in traditional businesses. But, preliminary studies in the taxi industry have shown there may be more complementation (that is, working in both traditional and gig models) rather than displacement.8 Some loss of market share may result from competition, but the pie can still grow and benefit everyone. Entrepreneurs, for example, can benefit from the multitude of professional services available to their business without the onerous employment obligations.

In addition to benefits from increased competition, gig economy platforms may have equitable effects. Ride-sharing services, for example, have becoming a preferred option for women due to stronger accountability features that make women feel safer accessing them over traditional enterprises.9 There is also anecdotal evidence of enhanced consumer access for racialized minorities and traditionally underserved communities.10

The gig economy may also lift people out of the underground economy by giving them legitimate, flexible work opportunities with low entry barriers. Vulnerable members of society -- like the disabled, or those with cultural, language, or social barriers to finding employment -- can avoid the traditional burdens of the hiring and employment process through gig economy platforms. After all, the only thing they need is an Internet connection and a willingness to work.11

Embracing the Future of Work

A worker in the gig economy is free to manage their own output, deliverables, and earnings. They have no obligation to work, but if they choose to do so, they can work from wherever, whenever, and for whomever they choose without exclusivity.

This in stark contrast to the presumptions of the traditional employment relationship. What we have are a number of economic opportunities for gig workers to earn a living that are being frowned upon because there is no conformity to traditional employment models. The vexing question is why these commercially negotiated relationships have to be boxed in as employment relationships at all.

As Canadian companies look to optimise operations and streamline costs, it has become clear that businesses, entrepreneurs and unemployed citizens alike may have to embrace the gig economy despite the muddy regulatory waters may be. The focus should be on encouraging gainful economic opportunities through better protections for gig workers, rather than quashing models that have the potential to empower the workforce.


[1] By the end of 2018, the rate had fallen to 5.6%: "Labour Force Survey, December 2018", Statistics Canada (4 January 2019), online.

[2] "Economic Outlook 2019: Canadians In Psychological Recession", Pollara Strategic Insights (13 January 2019), online.

[3] "Gig Economy", Investopedia (24 May 2018), online.

[4] Ibid.

[5] "Workforce 2025: The Future of the World of Work", Randstad Canada (18 April 2017), online.

[6] "The Gig Economy: Achieving Financial Wellness with Confidence", BMO Wealth Management (30 July 2018), online; see also Elaine Pofeldt, "Why Older Workers Are Embracing the Gig Economy", Forbes (30 August 2017), online.

[7] Competition Bureau, "Modernizing Regulation in the Canadian taxi industry", Government of Canada (26 November 2015), online.

[8] Sunil Johal, Sara Ditta & Noah Zon, "Taxi and Limousine Regulations and Service Review – Emerging Issues in the Taxi and Limousine Industry", Mowat Centre (22 October 2015) at 7-8, online.

[9] See "City of Ottawa - Taxi and Limousine Regulations and Services Review: Customer Experience", Core Strategies (14 October 2015), at 8; Ashley Csanady, "If the Uber debate is really about safety, why are women's voices being sidelined?", National Post (26 April 2016), online.

[10] Gene Demby, "Apps Make Googly Eyes At Riders Tired Of Being Snubbed By Cabbies", National Public Radio (21 October 2014), online.

[11] See Steve Hawk, "What an economist learned by driving for Uber", Quartz (5 March 2018), online.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions