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Action Plan on Women in the Economy Taskforce Letter

December 4, 2020

November 17, 2020

 

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON

K1A 0A6

 

Re: Action Plan on Women in the Economy Taskforce

 

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Freeland,

The economic downturn caused by this pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women. The underlying conditions of economic inequality such as low wages, precarious employment, and a lack of labour protections in women-majority fields (retail and service roles, the care sector, and the nonprofit sector) have contributed to challenging employment conditions for women concentrated in essential occupations on the frontlines of the pandemic. It is no coincidence that Black, Indigenous and racialized women, including recent (im)migrants, women living with disabilities, senior women, and members of the 2SLGBQTI+ community are overrepresented in these jobs. Throughout the pandemic school closures and inaccessible child care has made it difficult for women to participate in the paid workforce, even for those working from home as women spend almost double the time than men on unpaid care work. As a result, women’s labour force participation has dropped to the lowest in 30 years, and the pandemic-induced recession has been labeled a she-cession by economic experts.

Given these circumstances, we welcomed the recent commitment in the Throne Speech to address women’s economic inequality through the creation of a taskforce to guide an Action Plan on Women in the Economy. The taskforce has tremendous potential to steer Canada towards a feminist economic recovery that lays the foundation for a more equal, inclusive and sustainable economy. However, the success of this taskforce will be contingent on its composition and mandate, where it is housed in government, the financial resources it is given, and the ongoing commitment of the government to take up the taskforce’s recommendations.

We recommend that the taskforce include women’s rights and gender equality organizations– specifically those taking an intersectional approach and working in service of Black, Indigenous, and racialized women to meaningfully address the intersecting impacts of systemic racism, sexism, and economic inequality. Centering the voices of women in all of their diversity, no matter what their immigration status or country of birth, will be critical to ensuring the action plan uplifts the most marginalized. This includes women with precarious immigration status (migrant workers, international students, refugee claimants, women without or with “lapsed” immigration status) who are typically excluded or do not qualify from protection policies (such as CERB/CRB, and tax-based benefits tied to residency requirement).

Ensuring that women’s rights organizations support the development, implementation, and monitoring of the Action Plan will inform economic recovery plans that support all women. A critical component of the recovery must be a progressive vision of a care economy that values women’s paid and unpaid work and expands and protects the care sector. Solely focusing on “business, boards, entrepreneurship, and STEM” as a pathway to women’s economic empowerment is ignoring the immediate needs of women workers marginalized by the pandemic and the centrality of care to the well-being of society and the economy. As a result, we call on the taskforce to be representative of experts on care and members of civil society who work on economic justice – not just members of the business community.

Women’s economic inequality is so far reaching that a feminist economic recovery plan needs to take a “whole of government” approach. The taskforce should be housed centrally under the Office of the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister involving all relevant departments. It must be adequately resourced, and its mandate should be defined in consultation with feminist civil society organizations and feminist economists. This will ensure the taskforce can truly address the interconnected and deeply rooted nature of women’s economic inequality while developing targeted and innovative solutions.

COVID-19 has highlighted the need and opened up possibilities for this government to take bold, inclusive and historic actions to address women’s economic inequality. The only way we will overcome the crisis is to make the economy work for women, and a feminist and intersectional approach to economic transformation is critical to realizing that potential. The experience and expertise of diverse women’s rights organizations committed to economic justice across the country will be invaluable to your government’s taskforce to act upon lived experiences of women from all walks of life.

Sincerely,

 

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights

Afghan Women's Organization (AWO)

Amnesty International Canada

Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Canadian Community Economic Development Network

Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU)

Canadian Federation of University Women - BC Council

Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW)

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action

Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW)

CARE Canada

Centre ontarien de prévention des agressions (COPA)

Chatham-Kent Sexual Assault Crisis Centre

Child Care Now (Canadian Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada)

Childcare Resource and Research Unit

Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC

Coalition Pour L’Equite Salariale du Nouveau-Brunswick Inc.

DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada

Durham Rape Crisis Centre

Ending Violence Association of Canada

FCJ REFUGEE CENTRE

Focus for Ethnic Women Waterloo Region Inc.

Immigrant Women Services Ottawa

Interim Place

KCWA Family and Social Services

Keepers of the Circle

Lady Ballers Camp

Maison d'hébergement pour femmes francophones - La Maison

Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services

National Association of Women and the Law / L'Association nationale Femmes et Droit

National Congress of Black Women Foundation

Newcomer Women's Services, Toronto

North York Women's Centre

Oasis Centre des femmes

OCASI-Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants

Ontario Nonprofit Network

Oxfam Canada

Platform

Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick

Rexdale Women's Centre

Sistering - A Woman's Place

South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario

South Asian Women’s Centre

South Asian Women's Rights Organization Inc.

The Canadian Partnership for Women and Children's Health (CanWaCH)

The Redwood

The Windsor Women Working With Immigrant Women

The Women's Centre of Halton

The Women's Legal Education and Action Fund Inc. (LEAF)

Times Change Women's Employment Service

Unifor

WMRCC of Durham

Women Transforming Cities International Society

Women's Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor Inc.

Women's Health in Women's Hands CHC

Women's National Housing and Homelessness Network

Women's Shelters Canada - Hébergement femmes Canada

Women's Support Network of York Region

Working Women Community Centre

YWCA Canada

YWCA Toronto

 

Click here to download the letter in PDF.


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