A Modern Approach to App-Based Work in CanadaWritten by
Pete has been driving on the Uber app in Toronto for six years. As a life coach and single dad of two daughters, he references Uber as the most amazing side hustle out right now, and loves the flexibility and independence it offers him.
“The flexibility is what got me into Uber in the first place—being able to work whenever you want, and make as much as you want,” Pete says. “At any given moment my daughters can call me, and with the flexibility of Uber, I press a button and I can attend to them. That’s just fantastic, getting the power back into your hands. There’s no stress, there’s no one you need to answer to. The platform itself has mastered how to give people their time back.”
When it comes to flexibility, Pete’s not alone. We conducted a survey with over 23,000 drivers and delivery people in Canada and found that 74% named flexibility and independence as a top area of satisfaction. In a separate survey, 85% of respondents said that they could not drive or deliver if it didn’t offer a flexible schedule.
But for drivers and delivery people like Pete, choosing the flexibility and independence they need means losing the benefits and protection they want. The past year has been difficult, especially for essential workers like drivers on the front lines. COVID-19 has changed the way we all think about work. But more importantly, it has refocused attention on Canada’s outdated labour system in which some workers get benefits and protections while others do not. This is a norm we can no longer accept, and we have a responsibility to help create a better future for app-based work.
Today we’re introducing Flexible Work+: A Modern Plan for App-Based Workers. This new proposal would help drivers and delivery people who earn through app-based work receive new benefits and protections—while still keeping the flexibility they value.
We’re asking provinces to require our industry to provide:
- Self-directed benefits based on hours worked, allowing drivers and delivery people to withdraw cash for the benefits they want to fund. Items like dental or vision care, RRSPs, or tuition and education expenses.
- Enhanced worker protections through additional training and tools to help keep workers safe and protected while driving and delivering.
This plan is rooted in driver and delivery people’s feedback—81% of drivers and delivery people surveyed preferred this new Flexible Work+ model and the traditional independent contractor model over employment. We remain committed to providing flexibility, and making this the foundation of our plan for the future.
But to make a real difference, reform must be industry-wide. Every person that signs up with a platform company should be able to get the same benefits and protections, no matter the company, and count on the same set of rules to hold these companies accountable. We invite policymakers, platform companies, and social representatives across Canada to come together to set this new standard for app-based work.
Advocating for new laws is one step, but there’s still more to be done. As an industry, there are several actions we can take on our own to raise up driver and delivery people. At Uber, we’re looking at this in three ways:
- New ways to give drivers and delivery people greater transparency and insight into earning data so they know how much to expect based on when and how often they drive.
- Elevating driver and delivery people’s voices to ensure everyone on the platform feels better represented. Our February survey is a first step, and we’ll continue to ask and share honest feedback about the Uber experience.
- Develop opportunities and make investments to support drivers and delivery people in lifelong learning.
At a time when we need more jobs, not less, we believe Uber and other platforms can be a bridge to a sustainable economic recovery. Together with government and industry partners, we can establish a better approach to app-based work for all.