Gender Equality

Canada’s unions call for recognition of the importance of domestic workers

June 16, 2020

Canada’s unions are marking International Domestic Workers Day by calling on the federal government to work with the provinces and territories to ratify ILO Convention 189 and ensure labour legislation recognizes and protects domestic workers.

“It is important that we recognize the significant economic contribution of domestic work  – work performed in or for a household or households – as valuable work, and acknowledge the effect that the current pandemic has had on these vulnerable workers,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Many have lost work because employers are following public health guidelines on physical distancing or because their employers have lost income and can no longer afford these services.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant loss or reduction of income for many domestic workers, leaving them unable to support themselves and their families.

According to UN Women, 83 per cent of domestic workers worldwide are women, and a majority of those are racialized women. Wages are low and working conditions can be challenging – even abusive. The pandemic’s impacts are not gender neutral. There are increased demands on workloads with children at home from school, child care centres closed and more demands on household responsibilities in general.

Internationally, many domestic workers are migrants or part of the informal economy. In Canada, the pandemic has exacerbated the precarity of their situation, making them ineligible for government income supports. Moreover, migrant care workers should be granted fair and accessible pathways to citizenship in Canada.

“The pandemic has laid bare just how essential the labour of domestic workers is – cleaning, cooking, caring for children, the elderly and people with disabilities. All of this work is necessary to sustain our economy,” said Yussuff. “It is time we cared for those who care for us.”

Read more about Domestic Workers and COVID-19: https://idwfed.org/en/covid-19

Resources for Domestic Workers on COVID-19: https://idwfed.org/en/covid-19/the-idwf/educational-awareness/stay-safe-what-do-you-need-to-know-about-covid-19

Recommendations for employers, governments, and others: https://idwfed.org/en/covid-19/advocacy-to-the-target-groups

Read more on the campaign to Ratify C189: https://idwfed.org/en/campaigns/ratify-c189

Caregivers Action Centre: http://www.caregiversactioncentre.org/

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