The Hub of Social Services on the Coast

An Economic Snapshot

For a much more detailed summary, please read our Needs Assessment Report (PDF file).

Sales assistant with customer in clothing storeThere are relatively few full time jobs on the Sunshine Coast, especially well paid, stable jobs for women. Jobs in pulp and paper, forestry, mining (gravel extraction) and construction are largely held by men. Many other private sector jobs cluster in low paid service occupations that are overwhelmingly female, such as grocery clerks, bank clerks, and care aides. The coast also has many tourism jobs, which tend to be low paid and seasonal. Many people, particularly women, rely on a mix of part-time employment and self-employment.

Residents of the Sunshine Coast are more than twice as likely to be self employed as Canadians in general. According to Statistics Canada, 27% of the local labour force (3,868 people) is self-employed. The rate is 33% for men and 21% for women. These figures only include those earning at least $30,000 from their self-employment. When lower earners are included, the numbers are much higher.

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Sunshine Coast housing prices and rents (both residential and commercial) are very high relative to local earning potential, creating an increasing affordability squeeze for working aged adults, families and low income earners. In talking to women about work, the following themes arise repeatedly: limited employment opportunities, low local wages, and high housing costs.

Challenges

These are some of the challenges women face in business and self-employment on the coast:

  • got-questions-call-the-resource-centreIncome: Self-employed women surveyed by the Progress Plan reported that they are struggling to earn adequate income, and are also experiencing an erosion of income over time.
  • Transportation: Anyone who does not own a car on the Sunshine Coast faces serious transportation challenges, since bus service is infrequent and entirely unavailable in many rural areas.
  • Caregiving: Many women are family caregivers, struggling to manage children, seniors, or both.
  • A Small Market: With a population of under 30,000 people, the coast is a very small market in which to offer goods and services. The economy is also very seasonal. Capturing offcoast markets is the key to success for many local businesses.
  • Pink Ghetto: Women owned businesses are small and clustered in retail and the services sector which have a high degree of competition and low profit margins.
  • Awareness: A lot of women are simply unaware of existing programs and services that may be able to assist them.
  • Financing: Women are, on average, less likely than men to be comfortable taking on debt and may also have more difficulty accessing traditional financing.
  • Family Businesses – Couple-run businesses (which are very common) tend to carry gender inequality from marriages into business, and couples often fail to do legal and business planning that they would do if their business partner was not their spouse.