New Canadian Gig Workers

The Cause

The project will help 30 younger and newer self-employed new Canadians improve and accelerate business success in the Edmonton area. It will collect and share information on best practices of 20 successful self-employed New Canadians. Research participants and their peers will benefit from having an historical perspective and positive role models as part of their business foundations. They will benefit from access to a unique space for new Canadian gig workers to do online networking, learning, personal support, referrals, recommendations and endorsements, business mentoring, tap into health and wellness resources, webinars, and expand their horizons.
There will be a particular focus on supporting younger (age 20 - 35) and more recent immigrants as statistics show these people are particularly at risk of delayed entry into the Canadian economy. Many more are under-employed in low paid entry-level positions as well.
Contacts with known immigrant communities will result in recruitment of project participants. A quick needs assessment will be conducted among those recruited. This will identify top priorities as experienced by new Canadian gig workers and other self-employed new Canadians. This information will be used to guide the collection of solutions from the experienced self-employed.
Experienced gig workers and self-employed people will be selected and asked to contribute information on their management insights, wisdom and best practices. This includes business strategy, marketing and sales, operations, human resources, finance and accounting, as well as soft subjects such as time management, stress management and managing work-life balance.
Information collected will be collected, organized, and shared on an online platform that is easily accessible for years to come. It will get more useful as more people contribute to it.
More people will recommend it to others and it will grow. This platform is likely to include discussion forums, videoconferencing, webinars, a management wiki and resource portal/hub. Together these tools comprise a virtual community of practice. This platform is scalable so that thousands of new Canadians, gig workers and self-employed will be able to use it to learn how to excel in their businesses.

Who Will it Benefit?

This project will directly benefit 30+ gig working and self-employed new Canadians who are seeking a stronger connection with the Edmonton area business community. Members of ethnic communities from all continents in the region will be invited to participate.
Recent research says that during new immigrants’ first few years of adjustment in Canada, their ownership rates are below those of the Canadian-born, but after 4 to 10 years in Canada, the situation is reversed. In 2010, about 5.8% of immigrants who had been in Canada for 10 to 30 years owned a private incorporated company (with employees) compared to 4.8% of the Canadian-born. However, firms immigrants own tend to be smaller than those owned by the Canadian-born. Furthermore, about 10.8% of such longer-term immigrants were unincorporated self-employed compared to 7.5% of the Canadian-born.

This project will attempt to rectify some barriers many new Canadians face in the Canadian economy by creating a supportive community:
• credentials not accepted as equivalent
• work experience outside Canada is not accepted as equivalent
• few local job performance references
• a very small network of friends and relatives
• accent is sometimes a challenge for some Canadians
• don't fully understand Canadian banking, taxes, corporate, labour and consumer laws
• seeking work while managing housing issues, child care and other demands of immigrant settlement
• a global pandemic has reduced opportunities

The portion of the workforce working short gigs will grow to 40% by 2025. Why do people take on gig work:
• freelancing is a traditional means of employment, (arts, trades and professions)
• personal choice - self-employment is the preferred way to make a living
• seeking full time employment has not been successful
• to fill an income gap and pay the bills until a full time job is obtained
• a side gig to supplement your regular income stream

There are many problems with gig work:
• When you are busy on one contract you may not have time to locate your next gig
• No income between gigs, which may be weeks or months
• Not eligible for Employment Insurance, employee health care, vacation or other benefits
• You may be competing against much larger and more resourceful companies
• You may have a disadvantage in negotiating contracts with larger, more established clients
• Unethical clients may not pay for your work after its done

Wayfinders will collect and share information regarding solutions to these issues.