Getting Hard Data in Niagara on the Hard Truth of Employment Uncertainty

“Everybody knows” that work is increasingly unpredictable and low-paying for many members of our community. However, a certain percentage of the labour force has always been faced with these challenges. To truly understand how things have changed, and the types of fresh solutions required, actual current data regarding precarious employment is very much required.

Precarious employment (PE) is not only ‘non-standard’ work (standard meaning full-time, permanent, with benefits). Actually, it can feature any or all of:

  • Wondering if one will still have a job soon;
  • Not having control over working conditions, wages and pace of work;
  • Not feeling that the labour laws apply to one as they seem to do for others; and
  • Not having enough income to maintain oneself as well as dependents.

Thanks to a recent grant from Ontario’s Trillium Foundation, the Poverty & Employment Precarity in Niagara (PEPiN) steering committee is organizing the PEPiN study. Our members include Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute and the United Way of Niagara Falls & Greater Fort Erie.

In 2012, research using methodology developed by Professor Wayne Lewchuk of McMaster was conducted, through a partnership between the United Way Toronto and York Region, McMaster University, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council/Community-University Research Alliances project on Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario. The PEPiN study will replicate this methodology to enable common variables for comparison between Niagara and our neighbouring communities.

Telephone calls will be made to find workers who meet the above description of PE. Interviewees will be asked survey questions so that we may better understand the challenges and issues facing people in this situation.

The PEPiN survey will be conducted through the balance of 2017 across Niagara’s 12 local area municipalities. In addition to extending to all communities, we fully expect that all sectors, from government, non-profits and education to agriculture, manufacturing and tourism, will be represented in the data set that results.

The PEPiN study group will then analyze telephone survey data for patterns, trends and areas for recommended action.

Our intent is that the data and its analysis will articulate for decision makers a clearer picture of the true nature, extent and impact of employment precarity on Niagara. This will enable evidence-informed decision-making and the reduction or elimination of negative impacts.

The final report of the PEPiN study will be shared here, on the Niagara Knowledge Exchange, so please stay tuned to this space for the findings.

You can stay in touch with the study and share your own experience of PE in Niagara, or of how PE was dealt with by an employer. You can learn more and advocate by visiting us at, on Twitter: @PEPNiagara, or on our Facebook page.

Precarious employment is a complex problem and many have a role in fixing it. How do you see yourself engaging in this work for Niagara?

Paul Connor


Photo Credit: Cheryl DeWolfe

Niagara Knowledge Exchange & Community Calendar

The Value of Volunteering @ Online
Oct 18 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

When placing a value on volunteering, it has become common place to use a wage replacement formula, multiplying the number of volunteer hours by an hourly wage (using minimum wage or industry pay rate scales) and to come up with a dollar value for the volunteer time. Others have tried to calculate the fair market value for the service provided (a tutoring session, a meal delivered, a strategic planning session facilitated). While talking about the thousands, millions, or billions of dollars worth of time or service given captures peoples’ attention, it still falls short of capturing the full story.

This webinar will provide an overview of the models and tools available to measure impact, provide highlights from the Conference Board of Canada’s recent discussion paper, The Value of Volunteering, and introduce participants to the Value of Volunteering Wheel, launched during National Volunteer Week 2018.

At this webinar we will:

  • Explore different types of value generated from volunteering
  • Describe challenges in calculating the value and impact of volunteering
  • Identify models and tools available to help measure the impact of volunteering

This webinar is hosted by CharityVillage.

Application Deadline: Social Enterprise Pitch Competition @ Online
Oct 19 all-day

Innovate Niagara’s Social Enterprise Pitch Competition is in partnership with the ONE Social Enterprise Partnerships – Southwestern Ontario.

A panel of industry experts will review the applications and select the top five Social Enterprises. The selected enterprises will have the opportunity to present at the Social Enterprise Pitch Competition on November 27, 2018 in front of a panel of judges and live audience for a chance to win the grand prize of $2,500 or the people’s choice prize of $500.

Click here to access the online application form.

This competition is administered by Innovate Niagara.

Reaching In, Reaching Out: Promoting Resilience in Adults and Young Children @ ECCDC
Oct 19 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Please Note: This training is provided over 4 dates (3 hrs workshops).
Friday October 12, 19 and Friday November 2, 9 2018

The cost for this workshop is $80.00 which includes all sessions, light refreshments and all training materials.

RIRO Resiliency Skills Training is an evidence-based, two-part program for service providers who work with children from birth to eight years.

Part 1: Introduces adults to key resiliency research and skills that enhance self-regulation skills and promote a “resilient” perspective and flexible approach to handling conflict, problems and everyday challenges.

Part 2: Helps adults apply the resiliency skills directly with children by:

  • increasing their understanding of children’s thinking and behaviour
  • supporting children’s development of seven critical abilities associated with resilience
  • introducing child-friendly approaches using children’s literature, puppets and resilience-building activities.

This workshop is hosted by the Early Childhood Community Development Centre (ECCDC).

Healthfest 2018
Oct 20 @ 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Drop in to browse the room of exhibitors and grab a healthy snack. Bring the kids to enjoy some of the features in store especially for them.

There will be guest speakers throughout the day.

This event is hosted by Wainfleet BIC Church.

Niagara Health Expo @ Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre
Oct 20 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Come to the Niagara Health Expo to connect with doctors, healthcare practitioners and wellness specialists.

Visitors can meet exhibitors, ask questions, view demonstrations, try samples, participate in activities and tests, attend expert speaker sessions, and get free chances to win prizes.

A 50/50 draw and a silent auction will be featured to support the Hotel Dieu Shaver Foundation. The first 100 people to enter the Expo will receive a gift bag filled with items from our event partners.

The one day shop for health and wellness will cover an array of services and products, from head to toe. Get tips on prosthetics and orthotics, home health care, personal injury law, hearing aids, breast assessment, mental health, vision, dental, chiropractic, Family Doctors, COPD, fitness training and Pilates, pharmacies, naturopathic medicine, foot care, and much more.

This event is hosted by Divine Media.

Promoting Racial Justice in Health Care: How Discrimination Affects Our Mental Health @ Brock University - South Block 203
Oct 22 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Presented by: Uppala Chandrasekera, Director of Public Policy, Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario

Those of us who work in health care often believe that because we are part of a helping profession, we are immune to discrimination. Yet discrimination persists – it impacts service users, service providers, organizations and the entire health care system.

This lecture will explore the causes and impacts of discrimination on mental health and identify opportunities and resources for addressing discrimination at an individual, organizational and systems level.

This event is free and open to the Brock Community. Faculty and students are encouraged to attend.

The Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Lecture Series: Promoting Racial Justice in Health Care is named in memory of a first-year Medical Sciences student who died in the service of another in 2017. Yosif had dreams of becoming a doctor and hoped to one day make a difference in the world.

This event is hosted by Brock University.

System Mapping Webinar @ Online
Oct 23 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

System mapping is an essential step in rolling out a system planning approach to preventing and ending homelessness. System mapping involves a series of activities that achieve a comprehensive view of a community’s resources connected to homelessness.

Specifically, system mapping includes:

  • An up-to-date resource directory for all services available to people at risk of or experiencing homelessness in a community.
  • Mapping of the locations of the various community resources to discern location patterns.
  • Categorization of all programs by target population, eligibility criteria, geographical scope, service model and focus.
  • Real-time occupancy report to show what spaces are available in services.
  • Clear eligibility criteria, access/referral process for those looking for help.
  • Feedback loop from clients/users of services to each of the resources.
  • Performance indicators to track community demand and feedback on services.

This webinar will provide participants with a comprehensive view of system mapping and present some on-the-ground initiatives from Lethbridge, AB and St. John’s, NWD.

Lethbridge’s approach has mobilized diverse funders and service providers to create a real-time system map that connects the dots for people in need, as well as policy makers and funders.

St. John’s has focused on understanding the needs and of the housing and homeless sector with a comprehensive research approach to system mapping that is unearthing significant insights into the workings of the system of care.


  • Dr. Alina Turner – Principal, Turner Strategies
  • Marty Thomsen – Manager, Community Social Development, City of Lethbridge
  • Jennifer Tipple, Performance Management Planner, End Homelessness St. John’s, NWD
  • David French – Director of Policy and Planning, A Way Home Canada

This webinar is hosted by the Systems Planning Collective.


Ontario Trillium Foundation

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