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Canada’s New Working Class Requires New Policies and Priorities


September 29, 2022

OTTAWA, ON –Canadian leaders need a better understanding of the working class if they hope to develop an effective agenda to meet the challenges of inflation and economic turbulence. A new Cardus report entitled Canada’s New Working Class offers leaders a contemporary, modern understanding of the 6.5 million Canadians who are in the working class. One of the report’s key findings is that members of Canada’s working class are as likely to be women or recent immigrants in sales or service jobs as they are to be men doing blue-collar, mostly unionized, manufacturing work.

“Many have an image of the working class that’s stuck in the 1960s,” says report co-author Sean Speer, a fellow at the Public Policy Forum and the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, as well as editor at large at The Hub. “Today, the working class is more typically a Walmart cashier or an Amazon delivery driver than a General Motors factory worker or a Domtar mill hand.”

Other key findings in Canada’s New Working Class include:

  • Nearly half of working-class Canadians are in service-sector jobs today.
  • 53% of working-class Canadians have a post-secondary certificate, diploma, bachelor’s degree, or higher.
  • The average hourly wage for working-class jobs ($21 per hour) is almost 42% lower than the average earned in non-working-class occupations ($36 per hour).
  • Nearly 50% of visible minorities were employed in working-class jobs compared to 39% of non–visible minorities in 2016.

Canada’s New Working Class also calls on leaders to adjust their policies and priorities.

“Anyone seeking to represent and serve working-class Canadians needs to consider a whole host of policies, including drug and dental benefits, childcare flexibility, labour regulation, and immigration,” says report co-author Renze Nauta, Work & Economics Program Director at Cardus. “This isn’t your dad’s working class. The old models don’t work anymore.”

Among its recommendations, the report calls for:

  • Solutions for workers who lack dental and drug coverage, possibly through federal subsidies to help lower-income individuals buy private insurance plans, or portable, government benefits for workers without employer-provided coverage.
  • Childcare flexibility and affordability for those who work multiple jobs, work part-time, or do shift work—possibly through a new refundable Child Care Expense Deduction to cover care outside the typical 9-to-5 framework.
  • Updated labour regulations to cover those doing ridesharing, delivery, or courier work through digital platforms.
  • New approaches by unions to make themselves relevant to the new working class by emphasizing collaborative approaches rather than adversarial labour relations and traditional political activism.
  • Improved credentials recognition for immigrants to help avoid forcing them into working-class jobs for which they are over-qualified.

Canada’s New Working Class is freely available at To arrange an interview with a report co-author, please, contact Daniel Proussalidis at or 613-899-5174.


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Daniel Proussalidis

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