Survival Jobs in Canada: Weighing the Pros and Cons
Leaving your home country and moving to a new one to start a new job and a new life is a big undertaking for anyone. This is part of what makes the life of an immigrant so tough. The life of an immigrant in Canada is no different. Most of the people who move to Canada for new careers hope for some level of career progression. This may even be the primary reason that you move to the country. However, fortune isn’t always on your side and you have to keep your finances in check while you wait for things to take off. This is where Survival jobs in Canada come into play.
To survive in a new country, many immigrants often have to start working within the first few weeks or within the first month of setting foot in Canada. They also join these temporary jobs in Canada to gain some Canadian experience, gather some life savings or support themselves while working towards their primary goals.
In this article, we will introduce the concept of survival jobs, define it, outline the advantages and disadvantages. At the end of it, you should have a holistic understanding of survival jobs in Canada and make more informed decisions going forward. Without further delay, let’s get into it!
What are Survival Jobs in Canada?
As the name suggests, a survival job in Canada helps you survive by covering basic living costs. It allows you to pay the bills while still giving you enough time and room to pursue your primary goals. These types of jobs also have other benefits such as helping you gain experience locally, build up a network and strengthen your language skills. Since these are usually low-skilled jobs you wouldn’t need much professional experience.
Some common examples of survival jobs in Canada are factory or construction workers who take on roles like lab technician, general labour, shipper receivers, machine operators, and so on. It could also be in other industries which would include jobs like being a barista, a server or bartender, sales associate, cleaner, dog walker, and so on.
These jobs are also minimum wage jobs, generally speaking. This means most employers will pay you the minimum hourly or daily wages that they are legally expected to pay. The minimum wage rate in Canada can vary depending on the province or territory. Each province or territory has labour laws that dictate not only the minimum wage but other factors as well. These include working conditions, minimum working age, overtime rules, trade unions, and so on.
Types of Survival Jobs in Canada
There are generally three ways of classifying survival jobs in Canada. You can either do it as a temporary job, a part-time job or a full-time one. If it’s temporary it means you take it on for a fixed short-term duration like a few weeks or months. These are usually contractual. Part-time and full-time survival jobs are exactly what they sound like, with one notable difference. The time of work aside, with short-term jobs, you get more time to yourself and it’s generally more flexible. On the other hand, employees who undertake long-term survival jobs might be entitled to certain perks and benefits that might not be offered to part-time employees.
Advantages of Taking Up Survival Jobs in Canada
1) Pays the Bills – One of the main reasons that people take up survival jobs in Canada is that it pays the bills. It covers the basic expenses so you can focus on building your life. There are also other uses for it. For example, if you were renting an apartment and you need proof of income, this is a quick solution. As per the law, employers cannot pay you less than the minimum wages allocated by the province where you stay. Some jobs like being a waiter or a bartender might give you a little bit more cash in the form of tips, but that depends on where you work, the customers, and your people skills.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.“ – Colin Powell, Former United States Secretary of State
2) Pick up Soft-Skills – Survival jobs are a great way of building up your professional foundation in Canada. It gives you a feel for the job market and teaches you valuable soft skills that employers look for. One of these skills is language skills, particularly English. What you need to understand is that many immigrants that come to Canada come from all walks of life, and different parts of the world. This means that not everyone speaks English as their first language. Survival jobs allow you to brush up on these skills. Not only that, but you might just pick up a few Canadian slangs along the way!
3) Networking Is a Great Option – Working a survival job, you will likely meet a lot of people along the way. From co-workers to bosses, customers, clients, vendors, and so on. This will serve you well as it can become the foundation of your professional network. Build relationships with people along the way and you can start working your way up the career ladder.
Disadvantages of Taking Up Survival Jobs
1) Low Pay – With any survival job in Canada, you will never make enough that it will allow you to live a luxurious lifestyle. These are minimum wage jobs at best. You will have enough money to pay your bills and not much else for the most part. What’s more, you might have to work overtime some days depending on the industry and the business you’re in.
2) Reduced Hours for Job Search – Look, the very nature of these minimum wage jobs is that you have a flexible schedule. That’s why students take them up all the time. However, if you keep in mind that you do have to put in certain hours and the occasional overtime, you will notice that it doesn’t leave as many hours in the day as you might like to apply to new jobs, network, build your resume and so on. There is flexibility and then there are minimized hours. Keep this in mind when applying for survival jobs in Canada.
3) Complacency – It’s a slippery slope when you consider the working nature of these jobs. As we have mentioned countless times by now, you get enough to get by with this line of work. Some might find that enough and get complacent. This is dangerous as it severely affects your future career prospects as you will not be looking for the work that you studied for. Several underlying issues can come with this, like job dissatisfaction, uncertain financial situations, familial issues, and so on. So, always keep in mind, these jobs are called temporary or survival jobs for a reason, even the long-term ones.