Canada’s unions are marking International Women’s Day by calling on the federal government to focus on women’s economic justice in their pandemic recovery plans, which must include a national, universal childcare program.
“It’s no secret that the gendered impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have hurt women the most, especially those who also face other forms of discrimination and marginalization,” said Marie Clarke Walker, CLC Secretary-Treasurer. “Black, Indigenous and racialized women, newcomers, women with disabilities, and queer and trans communities have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1.5 million women lost their jobs. Many others saw their hours and income reduced in order to care for children or other family members. Unsurprisingly, women took on the lion’s share of paid and unpaid care work keeping homes, schools and communities afloat over the past year.
Of those women fortunate enough to keep their jobs, many have been on the front lines of this health crisis. They are doing the work that keeps our communities healthy, safe, fed and supported while facing increased risk of exposure to the virus, higher exposure to violence and harassment, and inadequate access to PPE and paid sick days.
“Canada hasn’t seen women’s labour force participation this low since the mid 80s,” said Clarke Walker. “Without immediate and concrete investments to ensure a safe and accessible national system for child care, as well as a concerted effort to address the low wages and poor working conditions across the care sector, we risk losing 30 years of gains in women’s economic participation.”
The federal government’s plan for Canada’s economic recovery must address the precarity faced by workers in the care economy, must invest in a universal childcare program, and must ensure that women who have been pushed out of the workforce get back to work in good jobs.
Since launching the #DoneWaiting campaign in 2018, the CLC has called on the federal government to value women’s work, end violence and harassment, fix the child care crisis and make work fair for women. Three years later, it’s taken a pandemic to underscore how essential women’s labour is to the wellbeing of our communities and of our economic well-being.
Supporters are invited to mark International Women’s Day 2021 by texting IWD2021 to 5525 to join the movement for women’s economic justice.