Precarious Work private member's bill begins hearings

Sault MP Terry Sheehan's precarious work motion has been launched at the committee stage.

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A federal government standing committee has launched its hearings on Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan’s precarious work motion.

Expert testimony from a University of Ottawa law professor, an economist with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada and the president of Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy, was received by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and Status of Persons with Disabilities.

The committee also heard from Sault Ste. Marie resident Allyson Schmidt on the personal experiences and hardships she faces raising children and holding down several part-time jobs in order to make ends meet.

Sheehan said he was pleased to kick off the committee hearings Monday.

He argues the need to start a detailed, shared definition of precarious employment in Canada is the only way to create policy to effectively support Canadians.

“It’s amazing the speed and levels of engagement that this private member’s bill I put forward happened,” Sheehan said.

The motion earlier received unanimous support and the committee work stage has begun, he said.

“It is apparent that having a foundation for the government to build policy, having the ability to develop accurate statistics and having fairness among organizations, employers and employees, is critical,” Sheehan said.

There has never been a formal definition for precarious employment despite its growing trend in Canada.

The motion asks Parliamentarians to examine the needs and indicators of precarious workers in Canada in order to apply effective support for all Canadians.

The hearings will continue Thursday with testimony from the C.D. Howe Institute, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Labour Congress and Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Sheehan said it’s important to create a balance by hearing from employers, union organizations and university and college experts.

“We are moving the yardstick forward on an issue people may have, in the past, thought was too challenging to tackle. We decided to confront it head on and I’m happy so many are coming with us and believe how important this is, not only for people in Sault Ste. Marie, but across the country,” he said.

Short-term contract workers are often denied benefit packages, sick days or pension plans, that equivalent full-time, permanent staff receives, although they may be working side-by-side completing the same work.

Precarious work is also believed to take a toll on the physical and mental health of individuals and their lifestyles and involvement in the community.

Statistics show one in five health-care professionals are working precariously along with three in 10 educators.

Anyone wanting to submit input on precarious employment can do so by writing or emailing the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, Sixth floor, 131 Queen St., House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0A6 or email