I think it's a really good question. To me, this is something that's been around for quite some time and yet we're only identifying it now as a problem.
If we go back to seasonal work, with many of the work characteristics for people in fisheries, for example, it might seem like precarious work, but that industry has been around for generations. Individuals in that industry have handled it well enough over the years, except for obviously in the many years of decline that we've seen in the industry in the past while.
Then, why now? Why are we worried about this now? I think the challenge is that it's starting to impact a lot more folks who aren't necessarily prepared for that kind of volatility, living in certain environments or wanting a particular way of life, or simply not making enough income to manage through it.
I'll point to some of the statistics that Monique pointed out about how non-standard work may not be increasing in Canada as a share of total work. The statistics do bear that out. Part-time work, for example, hasn't changed as a share of total employment since 1993.
However, in our research, we show that basically there are certain sectors within part-time work that have seen quite a large increase in the total share of employment. Those would be things like accommodation and food services, retail, and the education sector—Allyson already mentioned it—is a huge one. Two of those three sectors pay some of the lowest wages in the country. With regard to the education sector, while it pays fairly well on an average basis, the average hours worked in that sector are by far the lowest. It's something like half the national average, so even if you get a decent wage, you're not going to get enough hours.
Now we're starting to see the kinds of precariousness that impacted previous generations in certain industries, like fisheries, for example, start to bleed out into broader society. We're seeing certain pockets of people who are now getting hit with this volatility that they are unequipped to deal with because of low-income levels or what have you.
From the perspective of why we care about it, I care about it in the same way that I care about people living in poverty. It's happening in our economy because of any number of reasons: pressures on business competitiveness, slowing growth, low productivity growth. There are any number of broad economic trends that we can point to.
The reality is that while those things are happening, we're seeing a societal outcome that we aren't happy with. That's why I think precarious work matters as much as poverty.