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Temp jobs outpace full-time B.C. positions

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

B.C. citizens are increasingly working temp jobs, such as office workers. (FOTOLIA)

B.C. citizens are increasingly working temp jobs, such as office workers. (FOTOLIA)

British Columbia has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of people working temporary jobs instead of steady employment, according to a study being released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The two-year study was conducted by Simon Fraser University masters of human geography student Andrew Longhurst.

Longhurst’s study found that between 2004 and 2013 temporary jobs grew 30% per year while the creation of permanent jobs rested at 13%.

Last year, 20,000 temp workers were in the province compared to 9,000 in 2004.

Temporary jobs offer less stability and aren’t subject to severance pay and notice of termination, and are often chosen as a last resort for employment, reads the report.

Longhurst said workers can become trapped in a cycle of temporary work once they slide into it and women are the majority of the workers.

“The bottom line is this is indeed a precarious form of employment that comes with a great degree of economic insecurity for workers,” he said. “A lot of these workers experience low incomes associated with poverty.”

Making it more difficult to escape constant temp employment is if an employee has temped for a company that wants to hire them, they often have to pay the temp company to release the employee, making a permanent job offer less likely.

Longhurst also found two-thirds of the temp agencies in the Lower Mainland are not registered with the Employment Standards Branch, which is a requirement.

Earlier this year, the think tank C.D. Howe Institute linked the Temporary Foreign Worker program to unemployment in the province, and Longhurst suggested that could also play a role in domestic temp workers.

Some of the issues outlined in the report are workers not being paid for travel time between the agency and assignment, temp workers being required to take unpaid training, and workers being called in for jobs that weren’t there upon arrival.

“As a society we all pay for this,” Longhurst said. “People take on more debt and they have less disposable income to spend in our local economy.”


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