COVID-19 has fundamentally changed Canada.
“There is no question – the COVID-19 pandemic is going to hit women and their families the hardest. During times of crisis, it’s important to bolster support for Canada’s most vulnerable communities.” – Maya Roy, CEO, YWCA Canada
Globally, women, girls and gender-diverse people will be disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, and that will be the case in Canada as well. In times of uncertainty, existing inequality will be amplified. We are already seeing an increased need to address gender-based violence, improve access to economic security and invest in essential services.
If left unchecked, the COVID-19 pandemic will exacerbate gender inequities and make it difficult for women, girls and gender-diverse people to survive, let alone thrive in society. To heal our nation from this current crisis and alleviate existing economic and social ills, we must take a feminist approach to our recovery.
A Feminist Approach to COVID-19 Needs to:
- Establish Paid Sick Leave for All Workers
- Fund Emergency Child Care for Essential Workers
- Create a $10 Billion Emergency Fund for Charities and Non-Profits
Expand Paid Sick Leave for All Workers
We know that approximately half of Canada’s cases of COVID-19 are acquired due to community transmission. There are many reasons for this, but one of the ways to reduce the spread of infectious disease is to establish paid sick leave for all workers. Research shows that this an effective intervention. Canadian workers are less likely to have paid sick leave if they are precarious, part-time, temporary, and low-income workers. They are also disproportionately women and more likely to be essential workers such as cleaners, grocery store workers, health care workers and social service providers. We call on the government to immediately establish 21 days of paid job-protected sick leave for all federally regulated workers. In addition, the Federal government should leverage its leadership role and influence all provincial and territorial partners to follow suit.
Fund Emergency Child Care for Essential Workers
YWCA Canada is one of the largest providers of child care in the country. Some of our YWCAs continue to operate child care services so essential workers can address our national state of emergency. However, there is so much capacity that is currently being underutilized. We join Child Care Now and call on the government to provide federal funding to pay for emergency child care programs for children 0 to 12 and work with provinces and territories to sustain licensed child care programs.
Establish an $8 Billion Emergency Charitable and Non-Profit Sector Stabilization Fund
The government needs to backstop the sector and support community-based organizations such as local YWCAs to sustain operations, preserve infrastructure, enable essential service delivery and keep people employed during this pandemic. Based on financial modelling forecasts by IMAGINE Canada, we need to establish an $8-billion-dollar stabilization fund immediately. Over 70% of the charitable and non-profit sector is made up of women so safeguarding the sector will also protect women and gender equity.