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Study: Assessing Job Quality in Canada: A Multidimensional Approach

Released: 2018-12-10

Over the past decade, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations have implemented important initiatives aimed at developing statistical indicators to measure individual and societal well-being. Some of these efforts have been devoted to better understand job quality. While good jobs were traditionally viewed as those providing relatively high wages and better benefits (for example, a workplace pension plan), it is now acknowledged that job quality includes other dimensions such as autonomy, work intensity and prospects for career advancement.

Despite this growing interest in job quality, no Canadian study had provided a comprehensive assessment of the multiple dimensions of job quality to date.

Using data from the 2016 General Social Survey, a new Statistics Canada study fills this information gap. It provides a portrait of job quality in Canada using a framework that covers six broad job dimensions: income and benefits, prospects for career advancement, work intensity, working-time quality, skills and discretion and social environment.

The study shows that several dimensions of job quality vary significantly across industries and occupations. For instance, 44% of manufacturing workers reported having good prospects for career advancement, compared with 60% for their counterparts in finance and professional industries. Overall, just over half of workers reported having good prospects for career advancement.

Manufacturing workers were also less likely (34%) than their counterparts in finance and professional industries (59%) to be able to choose the start and end time of their work day.

While 26% of workers reported having difficulty managing their workload, the corresponding percentage for workers employed in the health care sector—the sector which had the strongest employment growth from 2006 to 2016—totalled 30%.

Health care workers were also more likely to report experiencing verbal, physical or sexual violence at work (25%) than the average Canadian worker (15%). Proportionately fewer of these workers (55%) reported receiving support from their managers, compared with the entire workforce (64%).

The study also shows that not all socio-economic groups have equal representation in high-quality jobs. Workers with a high school diploma or less were more likely than other workers to work in jobs involving less flexible work schedules, low autonomy, lack of training opportunities and employment benefits.

Young workers—those under 30 years of age—were more likely than their older counterparts to hold jobs with involuntary and irregular work schedules. Nevertheless, young workers did relatively well in terms of prospects for career advancement, manageable workload and access to informal training.

Overall, there was no industry or occupation which scored higher (or lower) than the average on all dimensions of job quality.


The research paper "Assessing Job Quality in Canada: A Multidimensional Approach," which is part of the Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series (Catalogue number11F0019M), is now available.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Wen-Hao Chen (613-864-0532;, Social Analysis and Modelling Division.

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