A new report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce says affordable childcare offerings, flexible work arrangements and support for job training are all key to helping women recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The provincial business organization says the health crisis is having an oversized impact on women and is creating what it calls a “she-cession,” with women’s participation in the labour force falling to its lowest level in three decades.
To reverse the trend, the Chamber suggests measures that include a rapid increase in childcare spaces that allow for physical distancing, earmarked funding for a potential second wave of COVID-19 and enhanced resources for parents to support their children with remote learning.
“The economic impacts of the pandemic were direct and immediate for women in Ontario,” said Claudia Dessanti, senior policy analyst with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in a press release.
“Restrictions on schools and paid child care facilities have shifted additional hours of unpaid family care onto parents, and this work has largely been taken up by mothers.”
The organization is also calling for the long-term affordability and accessibility of childcare to be addressed through investments, tackling the shortage of early childhood educators and exploring workplace-based childcare.
The report says women should be given more flexible work opportunities and chances to train in areas where labour market data suggests there are shortages.
The report recommends Ontario partner with colleges and employers to offer loans, scholarships and childcare subsidies for women upgrading their skills, and for mentorships and other programs that help advance women in their careers.