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Our Voices

LiisBeth & Have Merged

Photo of two cats, one driving with paws on the wheel, both looking concerned about the road ahead!
The road ahead! Collage by pk mutch/Canva

Word doesn’t always get around evenly, so in case you missed it, here’s the scoop!

In April 2023, LiisBeth Media, a leading feminist media publication focused on feminist enterprise practice merged with, Canada’s longest running (founded, on April 18, 2001) online, award-winning, lefty, independent, community-driven news outlet.

Since then, we have been on quite a journey. But lovin’ every minute! Mergers, or in this case, mind-melds between two indie, under-capitalized entities with long to-do lists is like travelling on a cow path versus a super highway.  We are diligently taking it one kilometre at a time. 


Cofounded by Tonya Surman (Centre for Social Innovation), Mark Surman (Executive Director, Mozilla Foundation) and Judy Rebick (Canadian feminist activist, journalist) in 2001, is one of the first digital journalism organizations in Canada, and the first to incorporate as non-profit. has been at the forefront of reporting on national politics with a credible progressive lens that centres on issues of social movements, labour, and grassroots activism. Feminist journalism has always been part of the editorial focus. With LiisBeth in the house, their coverage of the feminist economy will increase. 

On LiisBeth

LiisBeth was launched in 2015 by pk mutch and grew to serve and inform over 30,000 unique annual readers and 2700 newsletter subscribers. The media enterprise also co-launched the Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum, the Feminist City Walk and sponsored feminist initiatives like VenusFest and The Don’t You Want Me Campaign.  The goal of the feminist media upstart was to raise awareness and interest in the feminist enterprise space, support feminist enterprises in whatever form, and connect feminist entrepreneurs globally. 

LiisBeth and began working together in 2021. It was soon clear that coming together would benefit both readership communities. 

On the Merger

pk mutch, founder and publisher of LiisBeth is excited about how this “exit in community” will evolve. 

“The LiisBeth board and team are all super proud of this merger which took a lot of care, thought and planning for a year to bring to a close.”

photo of two drag queens performing in a backyard.
LiisBeth's Love and Liberation Fest held Aug 26th celebrating our transition. Drag Performers: Gay Jesus (left) and Diana (rigth).

The overarching goal? Continue to invest in great feminist economy reporting and bring these ideas and stories to a larger, all gender audience. Plus, bring more feminist enterprise content, to more people; strengthening and amplifying our collective culture making work.”

Mutch adds “To be clear. We did not “sell” LiisBeth.  LiisBeth is a community and a living system. You can’t sell a living community. But you can successfully bring communities together when everyone involved cares about the same things.  It’s an exit in the community–versus an exit of economic extraction.”

To find out more, and meet the team, we invite you to watch the two-minute video (above) which explains how it will all work. 

What’s Next for pk?

This is the third time mutch has transitioned an enterprise she created with friends and aligned supporters.

“My relationship with LiisBeth was a loving one. And it’s hard to put your lover into the arms of another. But like sci-fi writer  Octavia Butler says, “What you change, changes you. Change is the only constant. God is Change.”  When it’s clear there is a new and better path forward for your enterprise and the ecosystem connected to it, you have to get out of the way. Liisbeth needed a bigger mother tree to nourish and grow it from here.”

pk mutch plans to focus on teaching, writing and nourishing her other enterprise, Highwire Collective, which has been starving for attention in the last two years.

“I can’t help but seed and build out ventures. I love creating. I believe revolutionary feminist and post-capitalist enterprise work is what all entrepreneurs should be learning about today. It’s a niche form of political and economic norm-busting form of activism. It’s also a deeply creative, transformative craft. I am thinking of going super dark for a year to open up more blank space. I want to plunge into Mariana Trench of post-capitalist economics and new socialism conversation and learn how to put theory into practice at an enterprise level.”

What’s Next for All of Us?

Over the next several months, pk mutch, Kim Elliot, publisher of and the team will continue to work behind the scenes to develop and launch a new editorial plan and strategy to lift up and amplify feminist economy writing and reporting.  

One of the first initiatives executed right out of the gate is the integration of a weekly  LiisBeth fieldnote into’s weekly roundup. 

image of's newsletter format with LiisBeth dispatch included's weekly newsletter with new section for LiisBeth's dispatch.

In the meantime, as work behind the scenes continues, all of LiisBeth’s seven years of content and archives will remain live on this site.  There are over 480 articles here to explore. 

You will begin to see more changes on our home pages over time.  

Meanwhile, note that our monthly newsletter has ceased production. 

All queries are now being reviewed by’s editorial team. 

Updates to the site and posting of new content will be sporadic until the new plan is in place. 

We appreciate your patience as we go through a bit of a bumpy period as we continue to evolve the plan in the coming months. 

That said, to make sure you don’t miss a beat, we invite you to sign up to today (it’s open access) for updates. 

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Our Voices

Is Coalition Building a Lost Art?

an orange, brown yellow ai generated illustration showing women playing chess.
Image was generated by DALLE-2. LiisBeth Media donated $50.0 to Art Starts (art charity) to compensate artists (About what we would pay for illustration single use on other platforms).

Over my 50-year experience as an activist, I have found that the most effective way to win a battle is by making connections across differences. We are doing that less and less these days in a time of polarized, denunciating politics but we have never needed it more.

One of the most successful coalitions that I was part of was the National Action Committee (NAC) on the Status of Women, the largest feminist group in Canada from 1972 til the early 21st century. I was the President of NAC for three years in the 1990’s during which we elected a diverse executive, with Indigenous, Black, immigrant, 2SLGBTQIA+ and disabled representatives probably the first in the country. But NAC began in 1972 with a politically diverse coalition. Young women, like me at the time, wanted revolutionary change and looked with disdain at older more conservative women like Laura Sabia, who was a Conservative councillor in a Toronto suburb. We may have recognized how rare it was to have a woman in this position but honestly we didn’t care, we wanted a revolution and to be completely equal with men. It was Grace Hartman, then a rare female President of a union, CUPE and Madeleine Parent, a working-class hero from Quebec who was charged by the neo-fascist Duplessis with treason for her union organizing, who convinced us to make an alliance with Conservative women who wanted an independent women’s group against Liberal women arguing that it be advisory to the government.  NAC became the most effective women’s group in the country and perhaps in the world. It was a cross class, cross political party organization.

Another example of an effective coalition was the pro-choice movement that won abortion rights in 1988, making abortion a medical procedure like any other. A group of birth control providers and feminist activists in Toronto decided to try and set up an illegal abortion clinic like Dr. Henry Morgentaler did in Quebec. It’s a long story but the part of it I want to tell here was the coalition we built. From the group we contemptuously called the Rosedale Ladies, who raised money for the defense fund, to the labour movement, who taught us how to defend the clinic from anti-choice protesters to the church women who made sure we debated abortion issues on many Sundays, we built a very broad coalition.

The toughest challenge was the alliance between the Canadian Association for Repeal of the Abortion Law (CARAL), mostly middle-aged, middle of the road women who had been lobbying the government for decades to repeal the restrictive abortion law passed in 1969 and the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics (OCAC), a younger, more radical group. They thought we were crazy and thought we would ruin everything with our more radical tactics. Nevertheless, we worked together even if we didn’t like each other so much. It came to head when the Catholic Church called out their troops, including Catholic schools, to protest in front of the clinic every day for a week. Up until that point the church had been doing their lobbying behind closed doors. They had a 1,000 people a day in front of the clinic on Harbord St.,  Monday to Thursday. The OCAC decided to organize a counter demonstration at Queen’s Park in front of the legislature on the Friday. CARAL opposed it.  “We can never out mobilize the church,” they argued. “It will show our weakness.”

We considered their opinion, and we weren’t sure if we could out mobilize the church but what we did know was that it would demoralize all the people who had worked so hard to keep the clinic open on the streets and by building support in their workplaces and neighbourhoods. We decided to go ahead but then I learned something very important about coalitions. CARAL was furious with us, but they decided to do everything possible to build the biggest demonstration we could. They didn’t go off in a huff and denounce us. The movement is what mattered, and they did everything to build that demo even if it proved them wrong.

The media reported the Church demo’s every day. At the end of their report they said “and on Friday the pro-choice groups will be organizing a counter demo at Queen’s Park.” I will never forget standing on the steps of the Legislature, you could do that back then, and watching the waves of people emerging from the subway. It was huge. At least 15,000 people covered the grounds around Queen’s Park. It was a turning point.

Another example of an extraordinarily broad coalition was the Action Canada Network that formed to fight the free trade deal with the U.S, basically to fight neo-liberalism. The co-chairs were Maude Barlow, the leader of the Council of Canadians and a former Liberal and Tony Clarke who  at the time was a senior staff person with the Conference of Catholic Bishops.  This was during the pro-choice struggle and yet we managed to build a coalition against free trade at the same time as we were fighting each other in the streets over abortion rights. It must be said that Tony himself was pro-choice and later was fired by the Conference of Catholic Bishops for his activism. We won a majority of votes against the Free Trade Agreement but the free trade Tories won because of our undemocratic electoral system. By the time the Liberals came to power, they supported neo-liberalism even though they opposed it in 1988.

Publishers Note: This article was initially published in  

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Our Voices

Wealth Planning for the Not Wealthy

Collage of blue/green background with money floating around and black and white head/shoulder photo of a woman with blonde hair mid length. wearing glasses.
CEO and co-founder, Kristine Beese, Untangle Money | Photo Supplied

Women don’t make as much money as men. Full stop.

That’s true in a very short-term, dollars-to-donuts way– in Canada, as of 2021, a woman makes 89 cents for every one dollar a man makes. In real world terms, this means that if a man has to work 1,000 hours to make enough money to pay for something–a car, a piece of clothing, rent–a woman has to work 1,110 hours to purchase the same item, an amount that comes out to an extra 2.75 40 hour work weeks. 

The matter only compounds when you account for other intersections: as a racialized woman makes approximately 59 percent of what a white man makes, only 16 percent of women with a disability report being paid fairly compared to their peers and trans women make, on average, one-third less after transition than they did prior. 

The larger problem however, is that the buck, as they say, doesn’t stop there–these upfront short falls, along with social expectations and responsibilities around motherhood, caretaking and the culture of wealth and investing itself all conspire to create a situation where women not only earn less on the dollar than their male counterparts, they take longer to catch up and longer to accrue wealth, and are less likely to take “aggressive” investment options to maximize returns,  says says Kristine Beese, founder and CEO of Untangle Money. 

All this, says Beese, not only contributes to the wealth gap between men and women, but can have big impacts on women–who tend to outlive their male partners by a significant margin–on their quality of life and financial stability when it comes time to retire. 

Untangle Money, Beese says, strives to correct for this imbalance by creating “financial plans specifically designed for women and their lived experiences.” 

Cool–so what does that actually mean

Beese, who got her start in more classical financial management working for Bay Street firms in wealth management and investing, says it means looking at the actual culture of financial planning, which isn’t geared towards real, everyday women, but to wealthy, largely white and cis, men–the exact demographic that makes that 11 percent more on the dollar, and makes it earlier on, for longer, than women. You can’t take that tool, she says, and just try to slam women–especially women of colour, or women with disabilities, or working class women–into it and expect it to work for them. 

“The first step is to define your financial goals–but you have to remember that a traditional financial plan is geared towards people who already have money,” Beese says. “When you have money, it’s great to define what goals you have for yourself…but when we start with clients and they define their goals, they (say) things like ‘well, I’d like to have a car, I’d like to go back to school,’ things like property, education–things which, for the middle class, are actually very (financially) tight.” 

When you look at these goals and the income of the average woman and put it into the usual investment and financial planning strategies, it often looks like they not only can’t afford to meet these goals, they “can’t afford to retire,” says Beese. “I think that really shows what happens when you inadvertently take a tool that was designed for really wealthy people and try to apply it to the average person,” she says. 

Instead, Beese asks clients to create realistic portraits of their “now money” and set expectations around that. 

“So, we (Untangle Money) says ‘okay, here’s what you’ve told us about your money, here’s where we envision you’re going to be able to go with that, and here are the drivers that go into that picture–and so we’re trying to get your money to work harder to you,” she says. 

One facet of this is understanding that women have consumer needs and spending that men don’t have, and pay more for basic consumer goods–women’s clothes, for example, cost an average of 8 percent more than men’s clothes, and toiletries like deodorant or razors cost an average of 13 percent more, even when they’re chemically and practically the same product. This is important to think about, because that markup had to be adjusted to account for the lower earning power women have in the first place–that dress shirt that costs 108% instead of $100 was already 11 per cent more expensive for a woman even we account for gender-based inflation, because is only making 89 cents on the dollar in the first place. 

Moreover, “women’s spending is often seen as frivolous,” Beese says; both scotch and manicures–for which Beese herself has been “lambasted for getting” in the past– are consumer goods with social cache, but while scotch is seen as serious purchases, manicures are seen as silly. There are also social ramifications, Beese notes, for not being able to engage in certain kind of spending for women–’attractive’ people make between 10 and 15 percent more than people perceived to be ‘unattractive’ in the same position. While this is true for both men and women, to meet this standard, women have to put in more time–and spend more money–in order to avoid the ‘beauty gap’ standard, which makes these purchases, to a point, personal investments, as opposed to consumer luxuries. 

“There’s nothing more discerning about getting your nails done than buying a fancy bottle of scotch,” Beese says. 

“One can actually (see nails) as an investment, but when I talk to a financial advisor, they see that as a discretionary spend.”

This is more true of some industries, such as customer service or sales, than in others, adding that, for example, when she was a server she actually had a contract that said she was required to meet a certain standard of grooming in order to keep her job. This is especially true for racialized women, who–in some unfair, racist, and biased workplaces–are often expected to meet a white-centric “standard” of beauty around their hair for example, which has additional social, economic and temporal costs. 

“When we talk to black women, for instance, and they talk about all their hair maintenance, that is not discretionary (spending),” says Beese. “And so (Untangle Money) includes recurring hair maintenance as part of the cost of living that you incur (in your financial plan).”

Lower earning power and higher costs of living aside, women have another big problem when it comes to their financial and retirement goals, which is the culture of investment and finance itself. Women, says Beese, are culturally perceived to be less successful with money and investment than men–but we aren’t talking about anecdotal evidence, we’re talking about numbers, and the numbers say that not only is that not true, but that women are, overall, better with their money than men in the long terms, says Beese. In fact, when men and women invest at a similar level of risk, women’s investment portfolios outperform men’s by 1 percent; essentially, at a certain risk level, if a stock is expected to give a 4 percent return on investment in a man’s portfolio, women are seeing 5 percent–which is a bigger deal than it sounds, because that 1 percent return is compounded annually. 

What does that mean, in real world terms? Imagine you have 100 cows and your friend has 100 cows. After selling calves to meet your costs, you have four cows extra in your herd to start off next year, but your friend has five cows–a four and five percent increase for each of you, respectively. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but after five years you have 117 cows and your friend has 121; after 10 years, you have 142 cows, and your friend has 156. 

This one percent overperformance is so significant that, for a professional investor like Beese, it would be “career defining.” 

“If we consistently outperform the market by one percent, that makes you an incredible investor,” she says. 

Women, however, tend to be attracted to–and steered towards–lower risk, lower reward investment strategies, says Beese. On the surface, this seems like a safer bet–and one which might offer a cash-first safety net, even if it comes at the cost of paying off interest heavy debt–but have long term repercussions, especially when you consider that women make less, start generating investable wealth much later, and will live longer than their male counterparts. Part of what Untangle money does, Beese says, is take these things into account and give women all the information they need, including options that might look riskier up front, but have higher payoffs to help generate the cash needed to close that gender pay gap and shore up funds for the future–investment strategies women may have been taught to consider to “aggressive” for their own portfolios, but which men are encouraged to make. 

Upfront, women-focused financial planning aside, Untangle Money has a social, as well as economic focus, says Beese. For one thing, the company only creates financial plans – it doesn’t sell you any stocks or other investments, because that creates situations Beese feels can lead to “conflicts of interest.” For another, the company–acknowledging that their primary clientele is middle to upper middle class women at the moment–has several tiers of access in order to try to make their services more widely available to a broader set of income brackets, although only one of them is up and running at this time. 

Untangle Mini ($500+HST), the entry level program currently available, offers the “basics” for middle-class women looking to take control of their finances, plan for the future and get grounded in the basics of investing. Untangle Maxi ($2,500+HST) is a more advanced program with greater focus on investing and long term planning; it’s not currently available, but should be ready for purchase soon. Untangle Auto is an app that will provide all the same tools as Mini and Maxi, but with more capacity for the user to proceed at their own pace, checking in annually to observe their progress and set up notifications to make sure they are meeting their goals. 

Beese says she hopes to have Untangle Auto up and available by next International Women’s Day. At $50, the app is geared to a more lower-middle or working class bracket–the group of women Beese says she most wants to reach and help take control of their finances. Beese says she recognizes that the Maxi and Mini programs aren’t really useful to these groups, because in order to invest money, you need to have money to invest, and the Auto program is designed to make that easier and more realistic for a broader set of women. 

“Our goal is to get a financial plan into the hands of every woman in the world,” says Beese. 

Publishers Note:  Untangle Money participated in the Fifth Wave  Initiative, a year-round program offered by CFC Media Lab and its partners to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in the digital media and commerce sector in southern Ontario. All enterprise founders in the Fifth Wave community are selected for both their potential and commitment toward weaving intersectional feminist ideals of equity and fairness into sustainable and scalable business growth strategies. Fifth Wave Initiative is committed to a minimum of 50% participation per cohort by members of underrepresented groups. The Fifth Wave is a LiisBeth ally sponsor at the Lighthouse level

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Allied Arts & Media Our Voices

Women Entrepreneurs “Never Going Back”

Large white woman in reording studio singing into a mic with hands outstretched.
Singer/Songwriter Kritty Uranowski recording "Never Going Back" for International Women's Day, 2023. Click image to hear now!

LiisBeth Media has been a supporter of the women’s entrepreneur StrikeUP conference since the start. Why? Because we are both all about elevating the work of not only feminist founders but also women, queer, trans enterprise crafters everywhere. 

Our assignment from the Strike Up team? Come up with a creative way of both honouring International Women’s Day 2023 and encapsulating the year’s event; Over 4000 women across Canada and around the world participated. 

In the first year, 2021, we invited Katie Chappell, a graphic illustrator from the UK, to attend the event, summarize learnings in a graphic illustration, and also write about her experience. You can read about her takeaways here.

In 2022, we contracted Timaj Girard, a spoken word artist to attend and write plus perform a poem that captured the essence of the event for her. Her brilliant work can be found here

In 2023, in response to women’s rights rollbacks around the world, we wanted to send a message: We are never going back.  The medium? Music. 

We started looking for someone who embodied feminism, entrepreneurial spirit and the term “powerhouse” and found her!

Kritty Uranowski is an established feminist, experimental music performer, band leader and multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter who has also works with well-known bands like U.S. Girls, and Queen of Swords.  Uranowski works as a performance coach at Girls Rock Camp Toronto and Baby Pineapple Studio. Uranowski was also the producer of the 2018 Polaris Prize gala closing ceremony  She currently leads Lavender Bruisers, an experimental music project.  

Creating a song that celebrates the work and progress of women entrepreneurs was an opportunity Uranowski could not say no to. 

Learn more about Uranowski in the video interview below. 

pk mutch:  Kritty, what was your first thought when we invited you to consider the gig?

pk mutch: The current Canadian federal government has invested over $6B in levelling the playing field for women entrepreneurs since 2018 via the Women’s Entrepreneurship StrategyThe goal? To unleash $160B in untapped GDP growth over the next five years. The recently released State of Women’s Entrepreneurship Report 2023 notes that the number of incorporated, women majority-owned enterprises has increased from approx. 15% to 18% in 2023. What has been the felt impact of this initiative in your life as a musician entrepreneur?

pk mutch:  As a successful woman entrepreneur in a tough industry-music-What advice do you have for other women entrepreneurs especially those in the arts?

pk mutch: Thank you so very much Kritty! 

Kritty: My pleasure. 

pk mutch: Ok. Let’s listen to the final cut!

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Our Voices

Emphasizing Empathy Pays Off

Image of two women working on a computer with a colourful art background/collage style image.
Ruth Wylie (left) and Melanie Grad (right), cofounders, Perspective Squared.

When she was head of production at Variprix, Grad says she tried to lead with flexibility, because caregiving extends to many people.

“There was a man who lived in Newmarket (ON) who would drive downtown to Liberty Village everyday,” she says. “He had basketball with his boys twice a week and I said, ‘You better get your ass up there. Those are the important things.’

“Men and women – we all have other priorities. That opportunity really taught me that’s not something to compromise on when we’re running our business.”


Although they are at different places in their life, Grad says she’s learning a lot from Wylie, who, at 52, brings a “menopausal lens” to their partnership and business.


“For so long, for so many decades, no one spoke about it,” says Wylie. “Yes, you see women in later stages of their lives change their careers and do different things and that’s amazing. But how many of those women made those changes because they couldn’t navigate their current career path feeling the way they were feeling?”

“(Menopause) ebbs and flows – particularly (for me in) the last three months, I’m ebbing in the most challenging of ways. I adapt, sometimes daily, to my energy and focus levels, taking breaks and shifting tasks/priorities when possible,” she says. “ It most definitely makes me more aware of other people’s energy and trying to make a space for people to share feelings, ask for help, or to just be if that is what they need.”

Like the flexibility that Grad has sought out as a single parent, Wylie says she now finds herself adjusting her work schedule to prioritize her well-being as she goes through menopause.

“I grew up with the notion that to succeed you need to work harder and longer and keep your emotions in check. Success was intrinsically linked to performance, how much I did and how well it was received. I am working on reframing that notion, and today my success is more about being self-satisfied with the work I produce, how it is done and in the environment I help create for others to work within.”

The lack of these important conversations about their lived experiences have encouraged Grad and Wylie to open up space for more human conversations with their partners and colleagues. One area they strive to invest their time and energy in is through mentorship. As Wylie puts it, they, “want to make the time to be able to give back to the next generation of super producers and female entrepreneurs.”

“For example, we just wrapped up six days on set with a really lovely crew,” says Grad. “The conversation at the end was: we really loved working with you, but let’s have a coffee to talk about what you like to do so that we’re putting you in the right position next time. Just because you came on as an associate producer or camera assistant, we realize you have other skills and other interests. We can definitely put you in the same role the next time, but if we know what you like to do and we have opportunities to provide that, then let’s make that happen. Those conversations are important to us.”

“I feel very strongly about our efforts to create a business where we work collaboratively with others, creating a space that supports our team learning and growing and contributing to our shared success,” adds Wylie. “Growing the business and being profitable is unquestionably a goal, but the first priority is always the people and community we develop and grow the business with.”

Grad and Wylie emphasize the empathy and generosity that they aspire to bring to all aspects of their work. As Grad says, “It’s important for us to take what works and share it with other people. If you like our process, take it. If you like the way we structured our call sheets, take it. If you like the way we build, take it. Our success is not the ultimate goal. We want to see everybody’s success.

“Let’s all rise together. If we figured it out the hard way, take the easy way.”

Publishers Note: Perspective Squared participated in the Fifth Wave  Initiative, a year-round program offered by CFC Media Lab and its partners to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in the digital media and commerce sector in southern Ontario. All enterprise founders in the Fifth Wave community are selected for both their potential and commitment toward weaving intersectional feminist ideals of equity and fairness into sustainable and scalable business growth strategies. Fifth Wave Initiative is committed to a minimum of 50% participation per cohort by members of underrepresented groups. The Fifth Wave is a LiisBeth ally sponsor at the Lighthouse level

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Feminist Practices Our Voices

Unionizing Freelancers

Image of a woman, sitting in basement under construction holding a paint roller brush looking weary.

The number of freelancers is growing. But are freelance unions growing? If not, why not? And what would happen if freelance unions worked together?

Freelance writer Toni Main (not their real name) landed a new $6,000 gig. There was no formal contract–just a series of emails and mutual trust about what was expected, what they would deliver and how much they would make. Several months later, Main remained unpaid. As a last resort, they turned to the Canadian Freelance Union for help. 

“And that’s why we’re here, says” Nora Loreto, new President of the Canadian Freelance Union (CFU), a local of Unifor, founded in 2006 by the Communications, Energy, Paperworkers Union (CEP). “It’s also what I like most about what we do. When someone has a grievance, been harassed, or strung along by a contractor, we get involved. We use a variety of tactics to get justice for our members. And we have not failed yet.”

CFU, like other unions in the media and communication space also provide members with health care insurance options, training opportunities, contract negotiation support and press cards.

Yet, despite the benefits of joining a union and increased number of freelancers due to ongoing tsunami waves of layoffs in the media sector, including Postmedia’s recent move to cut 11 per cent of its editorial staff, CFU freelance union membership numbers (200) seem surprisingly low.

Loreto says part of the reason is that there many freelance media/communication professionals unions out there, like the Canadian Writer’s Union (1,600 members), The Canadian Freelance Guild (340 members), the  Communications Workers of Canada (6,000 members due largely to CBC worker memberships)  and CFU’s parent union, Unifor Media Council (8,000) to name a few.

Ultimately, this fragments both membership and power. There is also the out of pocket cost issue ($125-150 per year per union) and member churn; if someone gets a job, they leave.

Other reasons include the fact that the majority of Canada’s 2.8 million (15 per cent of the labour force) contractor workers and self-employed founders, are largely under informed about the existence and benefits of freelance unions and the value of collective bargaining.

However, Loreto is optimistic that will change.

Recently, Loreto co-organized a hybrid freelancer summit in Toronto at Metropolitan University. Approximately 20+ people representing a variety of organizations—or themselves—attended the event, which took place February 3. 

One of them was Chris Katsarov Luna, freelance photojournalist and founding member of the freelance union United Photojournalists of Canada. Luna says many photojournalists have recently found themselves pink-slipped due to tight budgets and then re-hired on contract terms, an arrangement that saves the company up to 25 per cent per person in staff costs. 

“Some (people) think freelancing is great, but most of us are not in the least bit interested in being self-employed and would prefer a regular, waged position with benefits,” says Luna. 

This includes soft benefits too, like corporate discounts for gym memberships, and other “soft” benefits not extended to contractors. 

Luna felt the freelance summit meeting was very productive and believes collaboration can power up and bring more negotiating power to their members.

Freelancers growing in number

Contract workers, solopreneurs and self-employed founders (freelancers) remain the fastest growing segment of the Canadian labour force. Surveys done by Statistics Canada shows the top reason for going freelance was freedom, followed by the inability to find suitable employment.  Women freelancers also cite escaping workplace discrimination, harassment and corporate glass cages as key reasons for exiting traditional employment. Although the number of people employed as freelancers dipped slightly in 2021Upwork, a U.S. based, global freelance platform with more than 14 million users, anticipates freelancers will represent over 50 per cent of the U.S. workforce in the U.S. by 2027. A 2023 study by MBO Partners, a U.S. based  independent worker management company,  shows the number of American freelancers increased by 26 per cent in 2022Experts predict similar growth trends in Canada, especially as companies begin to insist on a return to the office, a condition some workers now balk at.

The pay gap

Freelancing is tough for all, but especially women and other marginalized groups.

While income data varies by industry, age and province, the majority of freelancer workers are barely keeping their heads above water. In 2020, Canadian male freelancers earned on average $45,600, while women working in the same field made just  $34, 400–a 24 per cent gender-based wage gap. Thus, average freelancer incomes barely exceed Canada’s current poverty line ( $37, 542). When we further compare the gender pay gap in the freelance space to the waged employment space, recent OECD data shows the pay gap for women freelancers is a  whopping 40 percent higher than that experienced by women in the waged sector. The more intersectionalities you add in, the wider this income gap gets– available studies also show racialized people, single parents, and recent immigrants are over represented in the freelance and self-employment space, and even more likely to struggle financially than their white counterparts, and black freelancers often face discrimination in online hiring platforms.

Being a freelancer is clearly a tough hustle at the best of times, but with rampant inflation, no paid leave or access to subsidized health or dental plans, and chronically late pay cheques– studies show 29 per cent of freelance invoices are paid late– it’s getting harder and harder for freelancers to make ends meet. This is again, especially true if you’re a woman– while male freelancers are paid late 24 per cent of the time, female freelancers are waiting on a payment that’s “in the mail” 31 per cent of the time. 

Are Entrepreneurs Freelancers too?

Anyone who works independently, without a formal salary, according to Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) essentially self-employed aka a freelancer—and this includes consultants, contractors, and includes self-employed entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are commonly viewed as people building the next Facebook. But the fact is, 55 per cent of all incorporated businesses are enterprises with just 1-4 employees. micro enterprises–the vast majority of which solopreneur enterprises. However, a search of start-up and growth programs (such as Startup Canada and Futurpreneur) shows no mention of unions and how solopreneurs founders might benefit by joining. Instead, solopreneurs default lawyers to help with contract disputes or harassment claims.

Given that even a simple “cease and desist letter” or taking legal action to get paid can run into the thousands, many solopreneurs across industries increasingly realize they have a lot in common with freelancers when it comes to living with precarity, vulnerability and accessing basic worker rights. Nancy Wilson, founder and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce, says their members, many of whom were hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic, are increasingly looking to the government for answers to systemic self-employment related exploitation issues felt more acutely now than ever before.  

“Anyone fighting to change the system can learn a lot from the labour movement. We deliberately reached out to the Canadian Freelance Union and the Canadian Labour Congress to join our advocacy alliance for self-employed individuals,” Wilson says.

Image of women, men participating in International Women's Day rally in Toronto. Holding red and white signs. Reads Women will never be safe under capitalism.
International Women's Day March and Rally ,Toronto, 2023 |Photo by Greg English.


Loreto says the February Freelancer Summit meeting was the first in a series of meetings planned for cities across Canada over the next year.

We would like to have a national forum or roundtable for freelance advocacy groups—not creating a new organization—just bringing people together in the organizations they are already in,”Loreto says. 

“There is a growing realization that “Everything about the economy is networked, and if we want to build a new economy, then the networks that we build have to be different,” she adds.,

In the meantime, Loreto says contractors and solopreneurs would be wise to research and consider a union card.

“We can help make visible (the) invisible work and highlight the challenges we face to governments to ensure freelancers, the so-called ‘precariat’, are not left behind for long,”she says. 

For more information about upcoming meetings, visit All are welcome, and women solopreneurs and micro enterprise founders are encouraged to participate.

Publishers Note: This article was  cross-published by our partner,

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