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Rise of Gig Economy in Canada

"We used to live in a world where there were people and there were businesses.  Now we live with a third category, which is people as businesses. What that's doing is bringing the world back to [an older form of economy]."  -  Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb

From large metropolitan areas to quaint countryside spots, the gig economy has made its way into Canada. 

The gig - or sharing - economy focuses on direct peer-to-peer communications and sharing versus buying assets. 

Whether taking on a gig to earn extra income, or using an under-utilized asset to make money for you, there lies the power of the gig economy.

While 'sharing' and 'gig work' are not new ideas, their digitization is. 

Today I want to discuss how Canada is responding to this new trend.

 

Growth of the Gig Economy in Canada

In 2014, a survey reported that a little over 10 million Canadians were already participating in the gig economy. In a country with a population of 36 million, that's a very high participation rate.

Currently, about 45% of Canadians are interested in renting or sharing under-used assets to generate income. These assets include homes, cars, consumer items, and in WeGoLook's case, spare time.

Of those Canadians who don't operate in the gig economy, 42% have expressed interest in participating at some point in the future.

Much of the cold feet for Canada appears to be due to government regulatory measures. 

Government policies need to be worked out to attract investors, especially with Canadian startups. However, with any large economic structure shift, there are growing pains. 

In January 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledged the need for increased innovations to keep up with the lightning speed of the digital age.

Let's face it, because the gig economy thrives on mobile technology and advancements in digital processes, the Prime Minister is right.

But don't take his word for it, ask the sharing economy pioneers, Airbnb.

As a nod to Canada's growing gig economy, Airbnb recently purchased the Canada-based startup Luxury Rentals for $300 million.

 

Canadians and the Gig Economy

As Canada's head honcho has already established, changes in government regulations need to be made to keep up with digital advances in technology. This is particularly the case with liability and tax issues.

However, for businesses to move forward in a digital age, a lot of these regulations will need to be addressed anyway.

The gig economy can shake up the very heart of Canada's economic infrastructure. 

By introducing a new type of worker and gigs instead of full-time employment, tax laws and revenue reporting will need to be re-visited.

And, the outlook is encouraging. 

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce released a recent report which calls for immediate action in addressing insurance and tax issues in light of the growing popularity of the gig economy. 

According to the report, almost two-thirds of Ontarians see growing the gig economy as good for Canada's economy. 

In the 18-34 Ontarian age demographic, almost 40% of consumers are already participating in the gig economy.

Certainly, consumer behavior is shifting. 

The idea of sharing assets and re-defining the meaning of "abundance" appeals to the younger generation (yes, we're talking about you Millennials).

Younger generations are placing more importance on experiences instead of ownerships and stockpiling assets. 

Clearly, the popularity of the gig economy pioneers such as Uber, Airbnb, and WeGoLook are examples of this trend. 

Ordering transportation, or staying in someone's rented home, is becoming more popular and accepted amongst a tech-savvy generation.

Especially because the transactions can be done on-demand from a smartphone.

 

Where to Find the Gig Economy in Canada

Currently, the biggest gig economy businesses in Canada are Uber and Airbnb.

Uber has expanded throughout Canada. The service is now available in five major cities including Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, and Edmonton. And, there are plans to expand even more.

In Montreal, Airbnb has generated over $54 million of revenue in just one year.

However, with on-demand access to gigs through platforms such as WeGoLook (field survey work) and Upwork (freelancing), the gig economy is only a few keystrokes away on your mobile device. 

In fact, WeGoLook recently expanded to Canada. Check us out with some new Lookers we met! #ImALooker

 

The Canadian Gig Economy: Final Thoughts

The gig economy is becoming more popular in Canada. This is because it allows folks to earn money from things they already own. The power of mobile technology has brought the power of the gig to a worldwide audience, and Canada is all-in with this trend. 

The availability of consumers to deal directly with businesses or individuals providing services gives power back to the consumer. 

But the gig economy isn't only empowering consumers.

For businesses, digital technology makes traditional "employment ads" a thing of the past. By posting a gig for a short-term assignment, gig workers can be found almost immediately. 

This saves businesses time and money. By hiring gig workers, an employer can select from a pool of highly targeted and talented candidates. 

Because there is no need to add staff to the payroll or pay benefits, it's glaringly obvious how a business can save money.

Although the sharing (gig) economy is alive and well in Canada, there is so much more potential.

At WeGoLook, we are so excited about our expansion North, and given the popularity of the gig economy in Canada, it will be an exciting ride.

If you are interested in being a business partner in Canada or a Looker, we would love to talk more!