NDP Calls on Government to Address She-cession on International Women’s Day

March 8, 2021

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg, MB – Standing at the Legislature with working women, the female and non-binary members of the NDP Caucus called on the PC government to acknowledge and address the ‘she-cession’ in Manitoba.

NDP Critic for the Status of Women, Malaya Marcelino, detailed how Manitoban women have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic as core services like child care, school, and long term care were compromised.

“Not only are women working in some of the highest-risk jobs, women-dominated industries have seen the most job losses. As COVID-19 created challenges for families, it fell to women to fill the gaps, often putting their careers aside to do it,” said Marcelino. “Yet the Pallister government has refused to create targeted supports for women—in fact their cuts have made women's lives harder. Today, we’re calling on the PCs to address Manitoba’s she-cession and invest in an equitable recovery.”

Throughout the pandemic labour force data has shown Manitoban women have had higher rates of unemployment. In January of this year, the gap between unemployed men and women continued to widen. A new RBC report points out that women make up the majority of the workforce in sectors that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic like hospitality, retail and food. The report argues that training and reskilling female workers will be essential for an equitable recovery.

In Manitoba, the PC government has made life worse for women by raising childcare fees and cutting funding for kids with additional needs. They dragged their heels on paid sick leave, leaving many mothers, who earn less than their partners, to leave their jobs to care for children who had to miss school days because of illness. The PCs refused to invest in safe schools and remote learning – forcing mothers sacrifice their careers to supervise their child’s learning. And they refused to increase wages for all caregivers, many of whom are women.

Marcelino has working with multi-sector stakeholders to identify ways to improve economic outcomes for women. Today she put forward three proposals the Pallister government could employ to combat the ‘she-cession’:

1. Invest in affordable, universal, public child care so that women can return to work and education;

2. Invest in women working in the “Care Economy” by implementing a living wage and hiring more nurses, health care aides, disability supports workers and other caretaking professionals; and

3. Implement comprehensive paid sick leave for all workers so that women do not have to sacrifice their careers because their family is self-isolating.

“This government has a choice: they can let women fall farther behind or they can build real gender equity in Manitoba,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “An economic recovery cannot happen without valuing the work women do and creating more opportunities to foster their success. Women deserve a government that aims higher than the status quo.”