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Poverty and Precarious Employment in Southern Ontario (PEPSO)

Department of History Associate Professor Jenny Carson and Department of Politics and Public Administration Professor Myer Siemiatycki are project leads in a five-year SSHRC-funded Community University Research Alliance project on Poverty and Precarious Employment in Southern Ontario. 

Led by researchers at the United Way Toronto and McMaster University, this project includes over twenty community partners across southern Ontario, as well as researchers at Canadian and international universities. Dr. Carson’s and Dr. Siemiatycki’s research explores how workers and their allies are responding to the growth of precarious or insecure, low-wage employment through collective bargaining, grassroots organizing, living wage movements, and campaigns to secure more favourable workplace legislation.

Drawing on interviews with workers, labour and community leaders and politicians, the project examines how workers employed by the City of Toronto are mobilizing in opposition to Toronto City Council efforts to privatize cleaning jobs in police stations, daycares and other municipal buildings. As the project’s historian, Dr. Carson is particularly interested in placing contemporary worker mobilizations in historical perspective, highlighting how workers consciously and subconsciously draw on past organizing repertoires. By assessing the strategies that workers have developed in the face of growing job instability and declining wages, this research will help both academics and policy-makers understand the adverse social and economic impacts of precarious employment and growing income inequality.