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Women in Canada’s changing post-pandemic labour market
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May 8, 2024
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The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out 35 years of women’s economic gains in two short months. At the height of the lockdown, women were working 27 per cent fewer hours, in the aggregate, than in February 2020. In total, 2.8 million women lost their job or were working less than half of their regular hours because of the March 2020 economic lockdowns.

This report examines what’s happened to women in the workforce since. It finds mixed reviews: many women in higher-paying jobs are now doing better than before the pandemic. However, women in low-paying, pandemic-vulnerable jobs and in the care economy are still having a rough time of things.

The COVID-19 crisis illustrated both the shortcomings of existing policies and institutions and what’s possible with strong public leadership. The imperative now is to apply the lessons of COVID-19 in service of a more resilient and inclusive labour market and gender-just future. Institutional reforms and greater awareness of the damaging impacts of gender disparities may yet create opportunities for systemic change.

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