Canadian Business Calls for Urgent Measures to Help Women Workers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is being urged to move quickly with efforts to bring more women back into the labor force following pandemic-related disruptions.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce called on the government to deliver immediate help to women struggling to return to work with two measures: increased rapid testing for the virus and more money for childcare, sent directly to families and providers.

“The reality on the ground is daycare and schools need to remain open to keep women in the workforce,” Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies at the chamber, said in a statement. “All daycare is local, as are schools, and that’s where the federal government must deliver the help it has promised for working women.”

The call for action comes as the country is experiencing a second wave of virus cases that is threatening new lockdowns that could include school closures. Canadian women left the labor force at a faster pace than men after Covid-19 disrupted daycare and education, forcing kids to stay home. Schools in some parts of the country were closed from March until September.

Trudeau’s government may provide details of new funding for daycare in coming weeks when it releases a fiscal update. In September’s Throne Speech, Trudeau pledged to establish a national daycare plan. Officials have cited the need to reverse damage from the pandemic.

“There will be no full recovery for Canada unless we are able to support women in getting into and getting back to the workforce,” Maryam Monsef, minister for women and rural development, said in an interview Nov. 9. “We have an opportunity and an obligation to ensure that we don’t lose the hard-won gains of previous decades.”

Canadian Business Calls for Urgent Measures to Help Women Workers

Economists at some of Canada’s six largest banks, including Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia, have also called on the government to establish policies to keep women in the labor force. Childcare is a key part of that.

The chamber urged the Trudeau government to sidestep provincial and local governments with childcare money. “Any funding mechanisms need to go directly to working mothers and childcare providers for them to be meaningful, and more important, timely,” Nord said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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