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LGBTQ people more likely to see negative job impacts due to COVID-19: study

Click to play video: 'Members of LGBTQ community impacted by job losses during COVID-19' Members of LGBTQ community impacted by job losses during COVID-19
WATCH: Calgary agencies say they’re supporting more members of the LGBTQ community with job supports, as COVID-19 disproportionately impacts this demographic. Jessie Weisner explains – Sep 3, 2020

A new study conducted by Egale Canada, the African-Canadian Civic Engagement Council, and INNOVATIVE say members of the LGBTQ community have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

One specific finding from the report says 52 per cent of LGBTQ households have been affected by layoffs and reduced hours, as opposed to 43 per cent of overall Canadian households.

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Karen Cepuran, a program director with Aspen/Boys & Girls Club of Calgary, said demand for employment support programs has sky-rocketed during the pandemic.

“The global pandemic is affecting all of us, but for people with limited resources, it has a different level of impact,” Cepuran said.

It’s the same situation at Calgary Outlink, which specifically helps members of the LGBTQ community.

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“Lots of the opportunities that people had for work no longer exist, and a lot of these people working in circumstances, don’t qualify for government benefits,” said project manager Emma Ladouceur.

Click to play video: 'Thousands of Alberta small businesses struggling: CFIB' Thousands of Alberta small businesses struggling: CFIB
Thousands of Alberta small businesses struggling: CFIB – Sep 3, 2020

Cepuran said this stems from a mixture of issues, one being systemic discrimination.

“In general, discrimination affects anyone’s ability to be successful, as well as historical and current trauma related to being a part of a marginalized group,” Cepuran said.

“It really impacts the periphery factors that lead to successful and meaningful employment or housing, such as access to systems like health care, transportation and having a network of supports in their personal life to help them find employment or support them when things are challenging.”

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According to Ladouceur, the numbers could also be the result of the economic impact of the pandemic on specific job sectors.

“Some of the layoffs might not have been discrimination based so much as the nature of the type of employment that people are in,” said Ladouceur. “If you’re in food service you’re in retail, [some of] those businesses closed.”

The report shows more LGBTQ people are employed in the arts, entertainment, cultural and retail sectors, which were largely affected by COVID-19.

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It also says seven per cent of LGBTQ people work on their own business within their home, compared to six per cent of the national average.

“Lots of people also are self-employed or working in the arts, in sex work, in circumstances that don’t exist in the same way that they do anymore, so we’ve seen a lot for sure,” said Ladouceur.

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Despite the challenges, support groups and members of the community are rallying around those in need.

“We’re not just personal crowdfunding, but larger-scale emergency funds are being pulled together for people that don’t have access to government benefits who need things that aren’t covered,” said Ladouceur.

“So that’s been really beautiful and inspiring to see and it’s a real testament to the strength of this community.”

Outlink Calgary has also partnered with other agencies to create a Queer Compass, an online source that links LGBTQ people to community and government resources.

Other key findings in the report found members of the LGBTQ community are less confident in their ability to bounce back after losing their job and are slightly more concerned about rent stability.

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