TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mounting evidence of the challenges facing women in Canada’s economic recovery demand immediate action, says United Steelworkers (USW) National Director Ken Neumann.
“The gender gap existed before the pandemic. In the crisis, women lost more jobs than men, and those jobs are slower to return. Federal and provincial governments must step in now to stop the erosion of women’s economic security, or women will lose hard-won gains and our entire economy will be weakened,” said Neumann.
The latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada shows women’s job numbers are not pacing men’s in the recovery so far.
An RBC economic study released last week notes that “the COVID-19 pandemic knocked women’s participation in the labour force down from a historic high to its lowest level in over 30 years.”
Economists are reporting the reasons: schools are still out; child-care centres are at reduced capacity; sex-role stereotypes and gender inequalities persist; women are over-represented in sectors that are taking longer to reopen or reach capacity, such as hospitality, child care and the service sector.
“The closure of schools and child-care centres added a huge additional workload – and added stress – to women in all family structures, since women still bear the primary responsibility for home and family work,” said Neumann.
If schools and child-care centres are not fully open by the fall, families will face tough decisions, and too often it’s the women who stay home to care for children instead of returning to full employment in the face of heavy child-care responsibilities.
“In developing the programs for an economic recovery, the government must rely on measures that focus on women’s employment, including investing in the caring economy,” said Neumann.
“We know that being in a union helps close the gender gap. One solution the USW has already called for is for governments to make it easier for workers to join unions,” he added.
Another policy unions have long fought for is a universal, national child-care program that would help women return to their jobs, while also creating needed employment.
“Women have fought hard for decades to gain more economic security. We will not sit by while the pandemic and poor policy-making force women out of the economy again. We can do better,” said Neumann.