In a fast-changing economy characterized by part-time work, gigs, frequent changes of employers and reskilling, Canada should consider creating a nimble benefits and pension system that is tied to the worker rather than the employer and ensures ease of access, portability, coverage and generosity.

Summary and recommendations

Canadians live and work very differently today than they did 50 years ago. The emerging gig economy and changing business practices are diminishing stable, full-time work and, as a consequence, more workers are finding themselves without adequate pension or benefit coverage. The solution may be to explore a nimbler, targeted model for providing benefits called portable benefits.

To move forward on this key employment issue, more information and analysis are needed on the potential costs and advantages of a portable benefits plan, as well as the impact that such plans would have on under-represented groups. Federal, provincial and territorial governments should, at a minimum:

  • Conduct detailed analysis of the costs and benefits as well as the feasibility (economic, operational, technological, political, legal) of a portable benefits model
  • Consult extensively with stakeholders to understand their diverse interests and needs
  • Evaluate existing models of portable benefits, beginning with the Washington State case study referenced within this policy brief

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