Ontarians believe the future of work has permanently changed due to COVID-19

Survey on the future of work finds that Ontarians believe Ontario needs to update employment regulations and practices

The author(s)
  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, December 9th, 2021 –   On Thursday, December 9, the Government of Ontario released a report prepared by Ontario’s Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee (OWRAC) entitled “The Future of Work in Ontario”, which includes 21 recommendations to help make Ontario the best place to work, live and raise a family. The report can be found here.  

An Ipsos poll conducted for the committee finds that 89% of Ontarians believe that the workplace has changed permanently, and Ontario needs to act to update its employment regulations to reflect the changing environment. 

According to the poll, conducted between July 27 and 30, 2021, 80% of Ontarians favour stronger labour supports and benefits for all workers, especially among those 55 years of age and younger, women, and households with an income of less than $60,000.

The pandemic and the future of work

Close to half (44%) of Ontarians say the pandemic has made them reconsider the type of job they want to hold in the future. This is especially true of millennials (62%), those in the Greater Toronto Area (51%), recent immigrants (70%) and university-educated respondents (52%).

Similarly, 43% say that if they could work remotely, they would likely move somewhere else from where they are living today. Millennials (60%) and Gen Z (59%), residents of the Greater Toronto Area (49%), and recent immigrants (72%) were most likely to hold this view.

A full 95% of Ontarians (66% strongly, 29% somewhat) agree that people who work from home should have the right to disconnect from their employer at the end their workday. An almost equal proportion - 90% agree that remote workers in Ontario should have the same rules and regulations as people who work in a workplace.

Making Ontario the best place to work

Just over half of respondents (51%) agree that the current rules for work in Ontario do a good job of balancing the interests of both workers and employers, while less than half (47%) agreed that Ontario has the right rules in place to make sure workers can have a good work-life balance.

Having a stable paycheque (92%), having good health and other support benefits (90%), and having interesting work to do (88%) topped the list of career values and expectations. 

Making Ontario one of the best places in North America for employers to find workers was a priority of 82% of respondents, but only 54% agreed that this describes Ontario at present.

Investing in education

When it comes to education, 73% strongly (27%) or somewhat (46%) agree that they are confident they have the education or skills needed to have a job they want, where they want to live. Close to 9 in 10 (88%) felt that improving the education system in Ontario should be a high priority, and of that, 44% felt it should be a very high priority. Likewise, 88% felt that training workers to find good paying jobs that are in demand by Ontario employers should be a high priority, including 34% in that group who felt it should be a very high priority. 

Close to three in four (74%) agree that Ontario’s community colleges do a good job of preparing young people for jobs in Ontario. However, only 56% said the same for Ontario’s universities. At the primary/secondary school level, 81% felt that it was important that the province of Ontario invest more in elementary and high school education.

Most respondents (61%) said that more training should be provided to workers by businesses, compared to 39% who said more training should be provided by governments. Those more likely to say more training should be provided by businesses included boomers and men, while those more likely to say more training should be provided by government included those aged 55 and younger, women, and those living in Northern Ontario.

Matching talent to need

Matching workers to jobs was a key priority, as 80% felt that the Ontario government should develop an online platform so people can match their expertise with employers who need those talents.  Related to this, 78% felt it is important that people who work for multiple employers at the same time should have the same rights and benefits as those who work for only one company. Wages were also seen as important, and only 23% felt that it was not at all important to increase the minimum wage.

Gig worker and the gig economy

A slight majority (57%) were familiar with tech platform workers, and a similar proportion (55%) were familiar with the concept of gig workers. Millennials & Gen Z are among the most likely to report familiarity with both ‘tech platform’ (Gen Zers & Millennials: 76% vs. 47% of Gen Xers & Boomers) and ‘gig workers’ (Gen Zers & Millennials: 72% vs. 46% of Gen Xers & Boomers).  Likewise, Toronto residents (GTA 416) are more likely to report familiarity with both ‘tech platform’ (Toronto: 74% vs. 53% all other regions) and ‘gig workers’ (Toronto: 71% vs. 51% all other regions).

Six in 10 (61%) agreed that technology or gig workers and people working for multiple employers are more common. Respondents saw the benefits of technology platform work, with 79% agreeing that technology platform work is great for people who want a flexible schedule, and 71% agreeing that this type of work is a good option for older people who don’t want to work full-time anymore.  A smaller proportion (60%) felt that this type of work is a good option for entry level jobs for those entering the workforce. 

Close to half (48%) said that they would pay more for products or services provided by technology or ‘gig’ workers to ensure they have better working conditions, and the same proportion (48%) said they would pay more for products or services provided by these workers to ensure they get paid a fair wage.

Respondents were split on whether full time employees who make long-term commitments to their employers should get better benefits (50%), or whether ‘gig’ technology workers and part-time workers should get the same benefits as full-time workers in Ontario (50%). Gen Z & Millennials are more likely to pay more for products & services produced by ‘gig’ workers to ensure they have better working conditions (57% vs. 43% of Gen Xers & Boomers) and to ensure they get paid a fair wage (57% vs. 43%). 

About the Study

These are the results of an Ipsos survey conducted on behalf of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee (OWRAC) between July 27 and 30, 2021.  The sample size was 2,003 Ontarians aged 18 years and older.  The data have been weighted by standard demographic variables – age, gender, region, and education in accordance with census proportions. The precision of Ipsos online surveys is calculated via a credibility interval.  In this case, the sample is considered accurate to within +/- 2.5 percentage points had all Ontarians 18 years of age or older been surveyed.


For more information on this news release, please contact:

Darrell Bricker

CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs

+1 416 324 2001

[email protected]


The author(s)
  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs