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‘Worn out’: Housing crisis pushes more B.C. workers to add side hustles

Extra income also comes with exhaustion as people try to stay on the right side of shelter costs

Tanara Oliveira/Black Press Media

When the COVID-19 pandemic was at its worst, Kevin Evans moved to Victoria and relied on Door Dash deliveries to supplement his income and keep his bank account in the black.

“I can’t just rely on my traditional job to cover all expenses at the end of the month because of rising rents and prices,” Evans said. “We are trying to move to a larger place, paying $3,100 for a two-bedroom house with two kids and a pregnant wife, but our current salaries make it impossible. I now work night shifts and rely on government assistance to make ends meet.”

Bruno Oliveira, a student who immigrated to Canada, also needed to look into new career options.

“My wife works as a freelance senior caregiver during the day while I work in a construction company at night,” said Oliveira, who is brutally honest about the impact of working multiple jobs on their quality of life. “It’s challenging to achieve the desired quality of life in light of the current situation. In many places, we work so much that when we have free time, we are frequently worn out and want to rest.

“We truly value the city’s beauty and its cultural offerings, so it’s unfortunate that this prevents us from fully appreciating them.”

Evans and Oliveira are not alone as the housing crisis pushes people to add what some call “side hustles” to their already busy lives.

According to a recent study by the Direct Sellers Association, 60% of Canadians are actively exploring side hustles to supplement their income.

The research, which was carried out with a representative cross-section of Canadians, sheds light on the driving forces behind the recent uptick in enthusiasm for side gigs. People looking for extra sources of income report the key motivating factors as rising inflation rates, the necessity to supplement income and the financial burden caused by the ongoing pandemic.

Canadians are drawn to side hustles in large part due to the variety and adaptability of the alternatives available to them. People in Canada are turning to a variety of different opportunities, such as freelancing, gig work and direct selling in order to capitalize on their talents and interests while also generating supplemental income in their leisure time.

Due to the pandemic, Yasmin Madeiro lost her job. Since 2021, she has only worked as a food delivery driver. She had a work-related accident last year that required her to take a two-month leave of absence. Significant obstacles were created by the lack of benefits and the nature of informal employment.

What you make is all you have when you only rely on the black market, according to Madeiro.

“Once you get the hang of it, you can make a respectable living, but never enough to pay for a private health plan or get paid time off for illness. Any unforeseen event can put you in a difficult situation if your finances are not well-managed.”

Madeiro had always saved money for unforeseen expenses, which came in handy during her unpaid leave.

“Without that foresight, I’m sure I would have had trouble recovering from the accident. Always setting aside money for unforeseen circumstances is crucial because they can and do occur.”

According to the survey, 31% of Canadians actively sought out ways to increase their income during the COVID-19 pandemic. This sizeable portion of the population took advantage of these opportunities for a variety of factors, including layoffs, underemployment and a re-evaluation of their personal and financial goals.

In addition, as the economy improves, three out of five survey participants plan to look for ways to increase their income over the course of the next 12 months. With 83 per cent of students and 75 per cent of young Canadians aged 18 to 29 planning to look for such opportunities, this intention is particularly strong among youth.

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