COVID-19 and Precarious Employment (COPE)

O'Campo, Patricia J | $302,175

Ontario Unity Health Toronto 2021 CIHR Project Grant

With the COVID‑19 induced economic downturn, workers with precarious employment have experienced large negative impacts on financial well-being. While the federal government has responded with financial assistance for workers, precarious workers are eligible for too few of these benefits. In this study, we will measure the impact of the COVID‑19 crisis on the health and well-being of precarious workers in Ontario and their families/households. We will also determine to what extent they experienced relief from workplace and government assistance emerging in response to the pandemic. We will answer two research questions: 1.How have government and workplace policy responses in the wake of the COVID‑19 virus supported or neglected workers with the highest precarious employment conditions in the first three years of the pandemic? 2.How have the first three years of the COVID‑19 economic and health crisis affected employment conditions, health and well-being, and access to resources and health care for workers with the highest precarious employment conditions and their families/households? In this two-year longitudinal study we will administer short 15-minute online surveys to up to 500 individuals with precarious employment. We will conduct longer in-depth 90 minute qualitative interviews with 60 individuals with the high levels of precarious employment. To answer our research questions we will have 3 waves of quantitative surveys and 2 waves of qualitative interviews to monitor changes in conjunction with the evolving pandemic. We will complement these participant interviews with an analysis of ways in which workplace and government emergency responses have succeeded or failed to meet the needs of precarious workers. Our research advances the science of precarious employment and public health and also flags crucial policy gaps experienced by those with precarious employment over the first three years since the start of the pandemic.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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