With women bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal officials are trying to figure out how recovery efforts can help get women back to work, earning more money and securing more stable jobs.
Women have seen proportionately steeper job losses than men, and are more often in part-time work, as well as in sectors that were affected early on in the pandemic. Statistics Canada reported this month that 1.5 million women lost jobs over March and April, a 17 per cent drop in employment from February levels.
The actions that Ottawa takes could offer an opportunity to address some of the social inequities COVID-19 has exposed: that women are more often employed in marginal jobs; tend to make less money than men do; and represent the vast majority of health care, child care and elder care workers.
Child care is being flagged by many as the most pressing need to help women get back to work.
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Jennifer Robson, a social policy expert from Carleton University whose advice has been sought by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in recent weeks, says temporary layoffs and reduced hours could quickly turn into permanent layoffs if businesses are ready to reopen but parents who don’t have child care can’t go back.