Falling through the cracks -- gig workers talk about money during COVID-19

The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $5 per month!

Image: Alyssa Wright by Scott Cooper. Used with permission.

Those of us who are gig workers and small business owners were relieved to hear the announcement yesterday that there will be some support for people like us in this time of COVID-19. But, we're not out of the woods yet. We don't know how it’s all going to work. And if it works like employment insurance does, 55 per cent of already marginal incomes isn't much money.

On today's rabble radio, Victoria Fenner talks to three vulnerable workers. They're sharing their questions, their fears and some of the unique dynamics of their occupation in the place where they live. 

1.) Alyssa Wright is a cellist, singer/songwriter, author, advocate, activist and occasionally, an actor living in Barrie, Ontario. She talks about the idiosyncracies of life as a musician, and what she hopes the government realizes about how artists work as it puts together the financial package to help them out.

2.) Hannah McIlveen is an artist, animal rights advocate and owner-operator of Open Arms Dog Daycare and Boarding in River Ryan, Nova Scotia. She lives in Cape Breton with her husband, Kevin Kiosis, a paramedic, and a veritable zoo of pets!

3.) Karen Burson has worked in a variety of food-related occupations ... everything from owning an artisan small batch ice cream shop, to municipal food policy work and to her current role as cook and food security coordinator at St. Matthew's House in North Hamilton.

And music by Alyssa Wright. 

This podcast topic was partly inspired by an article written by Karl Nerenberg on Tuesday this week called "Government Must extend EI to Low-Income and Gig Workers. It's an excellent article and it was good news to hear news of financial assistance yesterday from Ottawa. Though the actions of the government will help, it's only a partial solution. You'll hear some more reasons why on today's show.

Image: Alyssa Wright by Scott Cooper. Used with permission.

Music: Alyssa Wright. My Cup. Used with permission.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.