The Gig Economy: How Canadians Can Make More Money On The Side


✔ 40% of Canadians are a part of the gig economy

✔ Canadians who earn less than $50,000 annually are the most likely to pick up gig work and informal employment

✔ A large portion of the gig work being picked up is categorized as “white collar” work, like temp office jobs

✔ Taking on gig work can help you gain skills and experience, supplement your income, and find employment that fits your lifestyle  


As the middle class disappears and debt levels rise among working Canadians, it takes grit and creativity to make ends meet.

You’re applying for work, and you find another job that you’re confident you can do well. You are qualified—maybe even overqualified— but you just can’t seem to get the job you want. Again, you don’t get a call back from the employer. So instead of working in your field as a specialist or manager, you take an entry level role for a fraction of the pay, which doesn’t cover your bills and you’re not making enough to pay off your student loans. If this sounds like you, you are likely among Canada’s underemployed workers.

Overqualified and Underpaid?

Underemployment means that you are working in a job that doesn’t make full use of your skills and abilities. Millennials and new Canadians with an education but little work experience, as well as people living with a disability are among Canada’s underemployed workers as they struggle to establish themselves in an economy where a bachelor’s degree is now table stakes, not a differentiator. As a result of having to work in a role they are overqualified for, usually underemployed workers are making less money, have less job security, and struggle to make ends meet.

Canadian millennials are the most highly educated workers in our history—but what does that education mean? recent graduates in Canada are finding that post-secondary education doesn’t guarantee stable employment after graduation. As a result, many new graduates are stuck in jobs whose pay does not reflect their real skills or talents while their degree ages. Likewise, half of male new immigrants, and two-thirds of female new immigrants with a bachelor’s degree are working in a job that they're overqualified for.

Canadians wo are living with a disability are also more likely to struggle with finding adequate employment. Only half of Canadians living with a disability are employed, a study by Angus Reid reports. Almost 7 in 10 respondents said that they were out of work as a direct result of their disability.

Regardless of your circumstances, you have a lot to give. Fortunately, there is a world where you can make your own hours, balance your personal needs, and bring in extra income with the skills or tools that you already have. If it’s challenging for you to find conventional work, it’s not the end for you… it’s just time for you to take matters into your own hands.

Informal Employment Can Help You Gain Skills and Experience

If you’re qualified for a job in your field but lack experience, consider gaining that work experience little-by-little. That’s what 40% of Canadians who participate in the gig economy are doing. Picking up side work can help you gain the experience you need to find full-time employment in your field.

Canadians who are bringing home less than $50,000 annually are most likely to be participating in informal employment—think: contract, temp, non-permanent, non-fulltime jobs. But it’s not what you think. A large portion of work being picked up on the side or in piecemeal is not the conventional “side hustle” you’re probably thinking of. 36% of gig workers described their primary work as “office work,” including computer programming, graphic design and editing documents.

If your dream is to become a graphic designer but your degree alone isn’t cutting it, consider freelancing or picking up project work where possible—and while you’re in the office, make a point to network and build connections with your coworkers.

Channel Your Inner Entrepreneurial Spirit

As Milton Berle said, “if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Canada as over half of Canadians have thought about owning their own business. This is especially true for millennials who are more likely to be toying with the idea of opening their own business.

If you’re thinking about becoming your own boss but aren’t ready to jump in with both feet, you might want to start your own side gig in a less formal way. You might be able to make money from a passion project, like painting or making jewelry. If you’re skilled in a trade like writing or hairdressing, you can try freelancing or picking up side jobs.

Create Your Own Stability

Picking up gig work can help alleviate some of the pressure on your finances and give you a greater sense of security. Gig work is often short term, temporary or part-time. If you’re already working a permanent job, gig work might be a great solution to help you fill the gaps, and since the work is often temporary, it’s low-commitment. Be selective, and find the solution that matches your personal needs or schedule.  

Half of survey respondents said they were taking on informal work to bring in some extra spending or savings cash. Nearly one-third said they would not be able to “make ends meet” without the informal work.

Gig websites, online shops and good ol’ fashioned networking are some of the most effective ways to find informal work. There’s lots of nontraditional jobs that you can take up that will conform to your life, rather than seeking a role that you can conform to. And if all else fails, create your own.

Getting Started

Although it may not be your ideal scenario, use your side hustle to give yourself more options—choose wisely, and make connections along the way. You never know, if you end up being really good at your side hustle, maybe it could become your full-time gig. Many side hustlers have successfully transitioned their businesses into a full-time endeavor, where they make their own hours, pick their own clients, and their roles are only as limited by how hard they are willing to work.

According to Ispos, Six in ten (61%) Canadians who don’t own a business say that having the financial capital necessary to start a business would encourage them to take the plunge. If you’re ready to take the plunge but need the capital, we can help.


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