A group of female Mayors in Ontario have joined with me to release a statement calling on all levels of government to recognize COVID-19 unequally impacts women – we’re facing a “she-cession” – and support women who are also key to the economic “she-covery.”
Read our joint statement below.
November 12, 2020
As female mayors from several municipalities in Ontario we keenly understand the unique challenges women face in full participation in jobs and our economy. In our sector, only 20% of mayors across this country are women, well below our percentage of the population.
We also know that the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have unequally affected women.
The first two months of the pandemic dramatically impacted women. Only 55.5% of women participated in Canada’s labour force in April 2020, a drop from 61.2% in February 2020. Women are more likely than men to fall out of the workforce as a result of the pandemic.
Women also still bear the majority of caregiving and unpaid domestic responsibilities, spending on average 3 hours, 44 minutes per day on unpaid work, compared with 2 hours, 28 minutes for men. With school or child care closures due to COVID-19 they’ve taken on more of these duties, negatively impacting their ability to work. This leads to greater economic uncertainty for women and their children.
More isolation during the pandemic has increased women’s vulnerability to violence in the home.
Women are also on the front lines of fighting COVID-19, but many of them work in sectors that have not been eligible for increased pandemic pay.
As a result of the unequal impact of COVID-19 on women, some have called this pandemic a “She-cession.”
Recently, women mayors in Ontario had an opportunity to hear directly from Armine Yalnizyan to discuss impacts of COVID-19 on women in particular. We discussed Yalnizyan’s recent memorandum on Investing in Early Learning and Child Care: A Framework for Federal Financing, done in cooperation with the Atkinson Foundation.
Her research concludes that early learning and childcare are key to an economic recovery from the pandemic, our future potential for growth and our collective wellbeing. It is not enough to throw more money at the problem; merely adding more child care spaces won’t induce parents to enroll their children, in the face of rising COVID-19 cases. More child care spaces won’t entice educators into under resourced classrooms for low pay.
Fifty years ago, the report on the Royal Commission on the Status of Women noted workers who provide childcare get paid less than zookeepers. Sadly, this is still the case.
Yalnizyan calls for a national plan in partnership with the provinces for regulated early learning and childcare, supported by a qualified and appropriately paid workforce, with funding tied to learning outcomes, not per capita and not conditional on cost sharing.
Just as women are facing a she-cession, women are also key partners in delivering a she-covery. Throughout our communities, we have stories of women opening or expanding businesses, providing hope and inspiration to us all and leading a COVID-19 economic She-covery.
In light of this evidence:
- we call on all levels of government to recognize women are harder hit during any economic downturn, including this one, and are also key to a successful economic recovery;
- we applaud recent initiatives to begin to address these challenges;
- we call on the federal and provincial governments to treat investment in women and their children through a national early learning and childcare strategy as an investment in national economic recovery and prosperity beyond COVID-19; and
- we call on both levels of government to ensure that small & local businesses, often led by women, are supported with well-conceived programs that help to create the conditions for their survival in our communities.
Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor, City of Burlington
Betty Disero, Lord Mayor, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Cathy Burghardt-Jesson, Mayor, Lucan Biddulph
Alison Warwick, Mayor, Thames Centre
Kelly Elliott, Deputy Mayor, Thames Centre
June Caul, Mayor, Fort Frances
Carol Moffatt, Mayor, Algonquin Highlands
Libby Clarke, Mayor, Tudor and Cashel
Ann MacDiarmid, Mayor, Seguin
Gisèle Pageau, Mayor, French River
Aina DeViet, Mayor, Middlesex Centre
Lynn Dollin, Mayor, Innisfil
Bernadette Clement, Mayor, Cornwall
Nancy Peckford, Mayor, North Grenville
Sue Paterson, Mayor, Hanover
cc. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario