By Ron Baker

A gig economy is one where one person is doing more than one job/gig at a time. A gig is considered to be a contracted position, part-time work, seasonal labour, casual labour. . .

At various stages in our lives, this is the reality we have lived. For youth, this may look like survival in order to not head back home. For immigrants, this is a way to provide for themselves and others back home. For those in times of financial depression, this is the only option that is available. For seniors, this is a way to stay active without over-committing – or more realistically to make up for pension income that is not available.
I’m now part of the gig economy. For years I was a salaried/contract worker for one employer. I didn’t have to worry about additional insurance, pension payments or health benefits.

Now I have my own insurance, manage my pension, and am careful about my health. I’m also under three bosses – each gig having its own employer. Each boss has a different approach to finances and payments. While this has stretched me, my experience has been positive.

Not so with others. The stress can increase with each job added to the previous load. Physical health and welfare can be affected – as well as interactions at home and in the workplace.

Finances created in this way are often below a median wage. Promotion is difficult to obtain. While additional funds for a promotion may be justified by the work achieved, the employer may be handcuffed by an available cash outlay.

COVID has hit us hard. On their own, employers cannot justify cash outlays when there is no production. Cutting back employees is not easy. Government intervention has helped stabilize short-term financing (for both employers and employees).

All is not well in many people’s financial world. Is there a solution?

Now, I’m a bit of a historian. This past century or so, our province was built on the cooperative movement – particularly in light of a great depression, labour unrest and the need to work together. A pastor, T. C. Douglas, combined his compassion for people with his desire for collaboration – to see the best for all citizens by all citizens. Within a conservative climate, he stressed the need to credit people with a desire for community and helping one another.

Are we still FOR others? Is our polarity of ideals and theories (conspiracy and otherwise) going to drive a wedge between us? Can we return to the roots of both the indigenous and the settlers to be stewards of the land and of each other? Are we ready to esteem others greater than ourselves – and act on that assumption?

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