What You Need to Know About Canada’s Growing Gig Economy

24 Jun 2021

The landscape of employment has changed along with the rest of the world, with new trends emerging and shaping the ways we will continue to work in the future. As Canadian employment continues to rise, growth in the gig economy is also becoming more apparent.

Even pre-pandemic, 20 to 30% of professional work in Canada was already made up of gig workers. As more people have begun to explore options outside of the traditional 9-to-5, we look at how it has and continues to change the working landscape today.

Growth of the Gig Economy in Canada

The boom in the gig economy may seem like a recent and revolutionary change to move away from the traditional 9-to-5 working environment, but it actually isn’t a new phenomenon. Temporary work started decades ago when corporate executives grappled with major expenses from full-time employee costs in the face of economic and industrial decline, known as The Great Recession in the 1970s. That very shift eventually laid the groundwork for today’s gig economy. Flexible work arrangements continued to grow in the early 2000s as technology improved, and the labor market kept climbing to where it is today. In 2019, about 40% of Canadian millennials reported working in the gig economy, a number that grew even higher thanks to the pandemic.

The recent boom of the gig economy is no surprise considering its obvious advantages. As people struggled to recover from layoffs during COVID-19, most turned to freelance work and found they could work for multiple contractors with flexible arrangements when it came to hours and pay. As a result, many found themselves prioritizing their personal needs and setting work arrangements around those needs rather than adjusting their personal life to fit a full-time job. It led to the rise of the independent worker, who is more empowered than ever despite today’s struggles.

However, this doesn’t mean that larger organizations lost opportunities to hire altogether. Recruiters and business leaders who followed the trend used comprehensive sourcing like Virtus Talent to get the best people on board. This approach considers all sorts of engagements, from permanent and short-term placements as well as temporary specialists.

It seems that the gig economy can be beneficial to all concerned.


Fields Driving the Growth of the Gig Economy

As the gig economy is projected to grow even further in the post-pandemic years, many industries are finding ways to provide opportunities for rewarding work.


There was a drastic jump in digital transformation following the pandemic. This presented businesses with opportunities as well as tighter competition. Canadians are some of the heaviest internet users worldwide, and they’re becoming increasingly more reliant on e-commerce. This drove up the demand for branding and design specialists, as businesses scramble to make their mark online.

When it comes to creating a social media presence, visual design is everything. And it has to be consistent across every touchpoint, too. According to a guide on designing a social media campaign by Later, a fresh design can set the tone for your brand. It ties all of your campaigns and products into your brand identity. Plus, according to the aforementioned guide, coming up with designs should start with establishing goals and objectives. Design specialists are in high demand as they’re able to draw out purposeful design decisions from these set scopes. Additionally, they can translate the overarching concept to cover anything posted online — from a new product launch, giveaway content, and even virtual events. More and more businesses seek skilled designers to encapsulate their brand message in visually captivating ways. So, it goes without saying that eye-catching content is a must in the highly saturated digital space.


Information and Communications Technologies

Many IT professionals can be found in the gig economy, and it’s no surprise why. All businesses depend on the efficiency of their IT systems and structures to operate, so they require expert consultants, especially with newer technologies like blockchain and 5G fast emerging. While getting clients may seem easy given the demand in this field, the standards for required experience can be quite high.

Freelancers who worked in-house first have the best chances at succeeding when going freelance due to credibility, and this helps attracting higher-level clients. And with positive growth trends in ICT employment forecasts this year, IT freelancers in several Canadian provinces can remain confident about better opportunities in the near future.


This field is well known for engaging temporary workers to fulfill short-term projects given the pace of the industry. Whether it’s copywriting, designing, or accounts work, even people with little to no experience can contribute their talents by presenting a solid portfolio. The industry is also continuously growing, especially in digital. Statista reports that digital ad spending in Canada is projected to reach $12.1 billion in 2024 from $9.5 billion this year.

Growth in the advertising market and industry means more opportunities in the job market. With current trends, we may see more freelancers and independent contractors taking on these new roles. And as businesses continue to require marketing and advertising strategies in the new normal, independent workers in advertising will be very highly valued, indeed.

The gig economy continues to expand in both scope and complexity, and as it does, it becomes important to ask the right questions, which we tackle in our feature titled ‘When is it the Right Time to Use Freelancers’. During this time of change and growth, it’s important that businesses stay ahead and learn to maximize and work with the undeniable force that is the gig economy.

Post specially written for virtusgroups.com

by Janette Blevin

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