Article by Ema Noëlla Kibirkstis 

Precarious work can be defined as insecure and unstable forms of employment, and includes jobs with little security, no pension, and no benefits. Typically, it refers to people who work from contract to contract, are self-employed, or in low-wage jobs.

On Sunday June 12th, the New Democratic Party held a Regional Consultation on Precarious Work in the Millennial Generation. This event took place as part of a precarious work campaign known as #GenYAsksY, prompted by NDP MP, and Critic for Jobs, Employment, and Workforce Development, Niki Ashton.

#GenYAsksY hopes to shed a light on, and manage five particulars linked to precarious work, the first being that this is generally a problem that young Canadians have to face. Their website proclaims that 39% of Canadians aged 15-29 are precariously employed.

As the hashtag suggests, this campaign particularly targets millennials, synonymous with generation Y or the net generation – the descendents of the baby boomers, and the first generation raised in a digital world.

Their second note is that there is also an equity issue at hand. The NDP claim that between 25-35% of jobs in Canada display one or more characteristics of precarious work, and are mostly populated by “young Canadians and marginalized groups, such as women, new immigrants, aboriginal persons, and persons with disabilities.”

Third on the list is that “the consequences of precarious work are exacerbated by the high cost of post-secondary education.” More so than any generation, Gen Y attends post-secondary institutions, where tuition fees have increased across the country. In other words, students have more loan debt than ever, and more difficulty paying them off.

Forth, it is assumed that “young Canadians are putting off life milestones because they just can’t afford them,” such as starting a family and/or buying a house.

Lastly, it is said that this type of work “is more likely to involve health and safety risks,” which probably does not come as a surprised to many Canadians in these positions. Anxieties related to unstable work can easily disturb day-to-day life and cause mental and physical health issues.

Sadly, creating a hashtag won’t solve anything, but it seems to be the right track to gaining the attention of young Canadians. The NDP have yet to post any plausible solutions to this job crisis, but the campaign is still in the works, and hopes to attract the stories and attention of millennials across the country, and consult them, to improve the workforce; a bottom-up approach hoping to give more power to those affected the most.

Already, analysis of regional reports and proposed ideas are underway, and Ashton hopes that by October 26th – when they host a day-long forum on Parliament Hill – they are able to have a more concrete idea of legislation and/or policy changes that the federal government could take on.

Ashton says that it became evident, through talking with so many young people, that this type of generation-linked financial problem has never existed before, and there is a need to change not only legislature, but also cast a broader message.

“There is a need to have leaders that are challenging the status quo in terms of our economic policies and our social policies that are either not making a difference for young people or sending them further and further back,” Ashton explained enthusiastically.

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