Despite their high level of education, credentials, skills and even experience, 22 per cent of Canadian professionals are in precarious jobs, says a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Ontario (CCPA-Ontario) office.

Based on a first-of-its-kind national survey of professionals about precarious working conditions, No Safe Harbour: Precarious Work and Economic Insecurity Among Skilled Professionals in Canada shows professionals across the country are not immune to the hallmarks of precarious work: no steady income, no pension, no benefits, no sick pay.

“We tend to think of precarious work as something that happens in low-wage, low-skill jobs, but the findings from this national survey suggest there is no safe harbour,” said Ricardo Tranjan, CCPA-Ontario senior researcher. “Even highly-educated professionals are experiencing economic insecurity and unstable working conditions.”

Even full-time work isn’t a buffer: 26 per cent of precarious professionals work full-time, though most go contract-to-contract (37 per cent) or work part-time (34 per cent). The majority (60 per cent) of precarious professionals don’t have a pension plan or RRSP, nor do they get sick pay.

The report found precarious professionals in both the private (40 per cent) and public (30 per cent) sector. Precarious professionals are in all professions, but they’re concentrated in three occupational categories: education (28 per cent), health care (18 per cent), and business, finance and administration (19 per cent). The majority of precarious professionals are women (60 per cent) and there is a higher incidence among professionals aged 55 and older.

“You would think the combination of education, age and experience would buffer professionals from unstable jobs, but all the hallmarks of precarious work are creeping into professions,” says Trish Hennessy, CCPA-Ontario director. “The survey reflects some deep-seated concerns about economic insecurity. The majority (57 per cent) of professionals without full-time work prefer better job stability and 43 per cent of them say the lack of stability keeps them up at night.”

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