Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Working on Keeping it Together: Exploring the Lived Experience of Precarious Employment in Rural Ontario

Document type Thesis
Author Gaspard, Valencia
Degree Ph.D., School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Publisher University of Guelph; Guelph, Ontario
Date 2019
Pages 179 pages


Precarious employment is often experienced as contract work, involuntary part-time work, low wage work, and self-employment. There is a well-developed body of literature pointing to negative health, economic, and social impacts related to precarious employment in urban centres, while little consideration has been given to the particularities that may make a rural precarious employment experience different. The goal of this exploratory research project is to understand the experience of being precariously employed in rural Ontario. Nineteen unstructured individual interviews with rural Ontarians experiencing rural precarious employment were conducted. The phenomenon of rural precarious employment was distinguished by five themes (financial, health, self-view, social, and system) emergent through phenomenology. The phenomenon encompassed experiences of poverty, decreased health, negative self-views, social struggles, and marginalization from support public systems. Unpacking precarious employment in rural Ontario from the experience of workers has significance for both rural scholars and policy makers. Rural scholars benefit from a better understanding of precarious employment as an experience in rural areas, and the addition of lived rural experiences to the precarious employment literature advances the understanding of urban bias in scholarship. This research provides provincial policy makers the opportunity to craft rural focused employment policy and better understand how services can support rural precarious employees.