Canada gender equality: Trudeau unveils women-only task force

Justin Trudeau’s government unveiled an all-women task force to address gender inequality issues laid bare by COVID-19.

The task force announced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government suggests it is taking steps to address the uneven impacts the coronavirus pandemic has had on the labour market [File: Blair Gable/Reuters]

Justin Trudeau’s government unveiled a women-only task force that will help advise policymakers on the economic recovery ahead of the spring budget.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Middle Class Prosperity Mona Fortier said Monday the group will harness expert voices across the country to help the government with a plan to address gender equality issues laid bare by the Covid-19 pandemic. The announcement was made on International Women’s Day.

Frances Donald, global chief economist and head of macro strategy at Manulife Investment Management, Hydro-Quebec Chief Executive Officer Sophie Brochu, former British Columbia Finance Minister Carole James and Atkinson Foundation fellow Armine Yalnizyanare among the group’s 18 members. The task force will hold its first meetings in early March, in the lead-up to the budget, according the new release.

“Their diverse perspectives will help our government make smart, targeted investments through Budget 2021 and beyond to advance gender equity and address the systemic barriers and inequities faced by women, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color – so that Canada’s economic recovery leaves no one behind,” Fortier said in the news release.

The task force’s creation suggests the Trudeau government is taking steps to address the uneven impacts the pandemic has had on the labor market. Women have been hit particularly hard because they disproportionately work in service-sector jobs where physical distancing is difficult.

Mothers have also had a hard time navigating school and daycare closures, sometimes having to sacrifice work to stay home with the kids. In the past 12 months, more than 80,000 women aged 15 and older have left the labor force versus 25,000 men, according to the release.

“The government recognizes that a robust and inclusive recovery is necessarily also a feminist recovery,” it said in the release.

Source: Bloomberg