Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19 will only happen if women can fully participate in the workforce, says the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canada’s largest business association, representing 200,000 businesses. Canada’s business leaders have put together a list of 10 action items they want to see addressed in the government’s Speech from the Throne to support women and facilitate their full participation in the workforce as employers and employees.
“As Canada begins planning its recovery from COVID-19, widespread job creation and sustained economic growth will require nothing less than the full participation of women in the workforce. This is not a women’s issue; it is an economic issue,” said Penny Wise, President, 3M Canada Company, and Co-chair of the Canadian Chamber’s Council for Women’s Advocacy (CWA).
Right now, women everywhere in Canada are facing many pandemic-related unknowns about their working lives. How do they keep working if their child is home from school amid an outbreak? How do they afford childcare when many jobs are in a precarious state? For those who are business owners, how do they keep their businesses open? These are the questions the CWA has argued need to be resolved immediately. The CWA has outlined 10 things the federal government needs to do now, grouped under three areas of focus:
Ensuring safe, reliable and affordable childcare and back to school:
- Provide funding to provinces and territories to help ensure kids across the country can go back to school safely (note: this funding was provided August 26, 2020)
- Establish a National Secretariat for Childcare, which includes business and parent representatives, to consider and develop recommendations for tax incentives that benefit parents, guardians and daycare owners.
- Ensure there is an ample and diverse workforce of childcare providers across the country by enabling remote learning for potential childcare provider certification in rural areas, providing more money to increase access to early childhood education programs and facilitating labour mobility and certification recognition across domestic and international borders.
Tailoring supports for women business owners and entrepreneurs:
- Provide emergency support for childcare costs by extending eligibility for the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy to include hiring in-home childcare so business owners can return to work.
- Track and break down data for federal funding and programming for female-owned business and entrepreneurs.
- Address the tax code to support women-owned businesses. For example, allow business owners to claim childcare as a business expense.
- Provide enhanced opportunities for women-owned businesses to meaningfully access public procurement contracts.
Facilitating upskilling, reskilling and job pivots for women:
- Earmark recovery funding for upskilling and re-skilling, specifically for women.
- Prioritize funding and programming that supports women’s access to traditionally male-dominated jobs and sectors where there is high growth potential, such as the trades, IT and manufacturing.
- Reinforce a focus on women in leadership, including women on boards and in executive positions, in order to build support for female talent all along their professional journeys.
“Support for these recommendations and meaningful action is needed now to minimize the barriers disproportionately impacting women in the workforce,” said Kevin McCreadie, CEO and Chief Investment Officer, AGF Management Limited, and CWA Co-chair. “By addressing access to childcare and schools, supporting business owners and entrepreneurs, and helping women pivot in their careers, we have the opportunity to maximize Canada’s recovery and long-term economic growth.”
The CWA will continue to explore recommendations the federal government can implement to support women through the recovery period, along with looking at best practices and guidance for the business community. To learn more, please click here.
About the Council for Women’s Advocacy
The CWA is a by-business, for-business advocacy group that focuses on women business leaders, entrepreneurs and employees from all sectors and all parts of the country. The CWA was established to bring the voice and perspectives of women to national business policies, inform the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s initiatives in advancing the gender equality agenda and drive meaningful action to address the identified issues and barriers.