Transcript: The Gig Economy Amid COVID-19 | Jul 03, 2020

Jeyan sits in a room with one red brick wall. He's is in his thirties, with short black hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a gray suit and a checkered shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Ontario economy workers during COVID-19. Jeyan Jeganathan. @JeyanTVO. @theagenda."

Jeyan says AS ONTARIO LOCKED DOWN FOR THIS
PANDEMIC, GIG ECONOMY WORKERS,
PARTICULARLY FOOD COURIERS,
BECAME BUSIER THAN EVER.
DAVID ROCKNE CORRIGAN IS
OUR ONTARIO HUBS JOURNALIST
COVERING THE EASTERN PART
OF THE PROVINCE.
HE'S BEEN LOOKING INTO
WHAT IT'S HELPED REVEAL
ABOUT THIS SUBSET
OF THE LABOUR FORCE
AND JOINS US NOW FROM KINGSTON.

David is in his thirties, clean-shaven, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit and a printed shirt.

Jeyan continues WELCOME TO THE SHOW.

David says HI, JEYAN.

Jeyan says NOW, GIG WORKERS HAVE PRECARIOUS
EMPLOYMENT AT THE BEST OF TIMES.
WHAT HAS LIFE BEEN
FOR THEM DURING THIS PANDEMIC?

The caption changes to "David Rockne Corrigan. Eastern Ontario Hub Journalist."

A screenshot from the TVO website pops up showing an article. It reads "tvo.org/OntarioHubs. Coronavirus. How A.I. can help gig workers understand their rights. By David Rockne Corrigan."

David says WELL, IT'S BEEN
AN INTERESTING COUPLE OF MONTHS.
ONE OF THE FOLKS I SPOKE TO
FOR THIS STORY, BRICE SOPHER,
HE'S AN UBER EATS
FOOD COURIER IN TORONTO.
AND HE SAID AS SOON AS
THE PANDEMIC HIT,
LIKE MANY PEOPLE,
EVERYTHING WAS SHUT DOWN.
THERE WERE DELIVERIES
TO BE MADE,
BUT HE DECIDED NOT TO WORK.
AND THEN AS THE TIME PROGRESSED,
HE GOT BACK ON HIS BIKE
AND HE SAID IN THE EARLY DAYS
IT WAS, YOU KNOW,
PRETTY SURREAL,
LIKE GOING THROUGH
A POST-APOCALYPTIC SCENE.
DRIVING ON EMPTY STREETS AND
DROPPING OFF FOOD
AT PEOPLE HE WOULD RARELY SEE
BECAUSE PEOPLE DIDN'T WANT TO,
YOU KNOW, MAKE CONTACT,
PERSONAL CONTACT THERE.
AND THEN,
HE'S BEEN BACK ON HIS BIKE.
HE FIGURES HE'S GOING
ABOUT FOUR TO FIVE DAYS A WEEK,
AS HIS OTHER EMPLOYMENT,
HIS OTHER SOURCES OF INCOME,
HAVE DRIED UP.
IT'S ACTUALLY BECOME...
HE'S RELYING ON IT NOW
BASICALLY TO PAY HIS RENT.
BUT SOME OF THE CHANGES THAT
THEY'VE GONE THROUGH,
UBER IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE HAD
SENT OUT A POLICY
TO ITS WORKERS,
INCLUDING THINGS LIKE
HAVING TO WEAR MASKS.
AND IN ORDER TO PROVE THAT
THEY'VE WORN A MASK,
EVERY DAY BEFORE HE GOES OUT
ON HIS BIKE,
HE NEEDS TO TAKE A SELFIE WITH
THE UBER APP AND SEND IT TO THEM
TO SHOW THAT HE'S AT LEAST
STARTING HIS DAY WITH A MASK.
SO THAT'S ONE BIG, ONE BIG WAY
THAT THINGS HAVE CHANGED
FOR FOOD COURIERS IN ONTARIO.

Jeyan says I WANT TO TALK ABOUT HOW
COVID-19 HAS SHED LIGHT
ON SOME OF THE BROADER
LABOUR ISSUES
AND EMPLOYMENT ISSUES
IN THE GIG ECONOMY.

The caption changes to "David Rockne Corrigan, @rocknecorrigan."

David says SURE, SO, ONE OF THE FOLKS
I SPOKE TO
WAS A REGIONAL DIRECTOR
FOR THE UFCW,
THE UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL
WORKERS UNION.
AND THEY ARE PART OF A UNION
DRIVE FOR UBER DRIVERS.
AND THIS MAN, PABLO, TELLS ME
THAT SOME OF THE ISSUES,
MANY OF THE ISSUES THAT WERE
THERE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC
ARE STILL THERE
AND THEY'VE JUST SORT OF,
BECOME EXACERBATED OR
HIGHLIGHTED BECAUSE OF
THE PANDEMIC.
SO, ONE OF THOSE IS WAGES.
AND YOU KNOW, A LOT OF THESE
DRIVERS ARE ON THE ROAD FOR,
YOU KNOW, MORE THAN 40 HOURS A
WEEK, WE'LL SAY.
AND OFTEN, YOU KNOW,
IT'LL END UP BEING
LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE THAT
THEY'RE PAYING.
SO, A LOT OF THESE ISSUES,
A LOT OF THEM, HAVE ACTUALLY
JUST BEEN SORT OF TURNED UP
FOR THESE DRIVERS OVER THE LAST
THREE MONTHS.

Jeyan says I'M CURIOUS, WHAT ARE
THE OPTIONS, YOU KNOW,
FOR THESE WORKERS, IF THEY FEEL
THEIR RIGHTS ARE VIOLATED?

David says SURE, THERE... I MEAN, THERE'S A
COUPLE OF INTERESTING THINGS
HAPPENING RIGHT HERE
IN EASTERN ONTARIO.
ONE OF WHICH IS THE OTTAWA PRO
BONO LEGAL CLINIC.
THIS IS SOME LAW STUDENTS
AT THE U OF O,
OFFERING LEGAL SERVICES FOR
PEOPLE WHO THINK
THAT THEY MAY HAVE AN EMPLOYMENT
OR LABOUR CASE.
BUT EVEN MORE INTERESTING,
IS OUT OF QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY,
HERE IN KINGSTON, WE'VE GOT
THE CONFLICT ANALYTICS LAB
WHICH IS USING TROVES OF DATA IN
ORDER TO DETERMINE
WHETHER SOMEBODY MAY HAVE
A LABOUR LAW CASE.
SO, IF PEOPLE WANTED TO GO
AND THEY THINK THAT
MAYBE THEIR RIGHTS ARE BEING
VIOLATED OR EXPLOITED
BY THEIR EMPLOYER, THAT THEY
COULD GO ONTO THIS WEBSITE:
MYOPENCOURT.ORG TO SEE IF MAYBE
THEY'VE GOT A CASE.
AND THEN, IT WILL SEARCH THROUGH
DATA, USING AI,
AND THEN WILL CONNECT THESE
FOLKS WITH A LAWYER,
IF THEY'VE GOT A CASE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Jeyan says DAVID, ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO HAVE
YOU ON THE SHOW.
OF COURSE, OUR VIEWERS CAN READ
YOUR ARTICLE ON TVO.ORG
IT'S DAVID ROCKNE CORRIGAN OUR
ONTARIO HUB JOURNALIST
COVERING EASTERN ONTARIO.
THANKS AGAIN.

David says THANKS, JEYAN.

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs. Ontario Hubs are made possible by The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust and Goldie Feldman."

Watch: The Gig Economy Amid COVID-19