Precarious Post Secondary Employment in Canada
Excerpts from Contract U: Contract faculty appointments at Canadian universities
by Chandra Pasma and Erika Shaker
What is precarity?
...........a contract worker who is paid low wages, who receives no benefits, and who has no idea whether they will still be employed in a few weeks may feel very precarious. Other factors can also contribute to the experience of precarity, including race, gender, disability, and immigration status.
While our stereotypical image of precarious workers is often young people in low-skilled, entry-level jobs, the reality, as highlighted by the recent CCPA report No Safe Harbour: Precarious Work and Economic Insecurity Among Skilled Professionals in Canada, is that a growing number of precarious workers are in highly skilled, professional positions. In this regard, the post-secondary sector can be seen as something of a bellwether sector, revealing trends that are taking place in the broader labour market.
Who are contract faculty?
Surveys of contract faculty suggest that a majority of contract faculty are women. They tend to be younger but for the most part are no longer students themselves. Between one-half to two-thirds of contract faculty have a Ph.D. The majority have been teaching on contracts for five years or more. Some contract faculty are professionals working in their field who teach one or two courses on the side and have no wish for full-time employment. Others are retired professors coming back to teach a course. But there are also many who are teaching part-time or on contract solely because they can’t find permanent, full-time academic employment. According to a recent national survey by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, more than half of contract faculty want a tenure-track or permanent appointment.
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