Alberta women are still fighting for gender equality this IWD – paid sick days are an important step forward
From wages at work to the amount of unpaid care work they do in their formal jobs and at home, COVID-19 has only made the struggles for women in Alberta worse
Edmonton – The past year has been challenging for everyone, but many women have faced even greater challenges. Many women are frontline workers who are risking their safety and lives to ensure we all have access to the services and necessities we need to live. Furthermore, women are experiencing more job losses due to the significant increasing burden of unpaid care work they have had to take on.
“On this International Women’s Day, we need to recognize that for women in Alberta, COVID-19 has meant they are being left behind because of existing gender inequalities,” said Siobhan Vipond, secretary treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “This is also true for other equity seeking groups, such non-binary people, people with disabilities, people of colour and Indigenous folks, as well as new immigrants, who all have social characteristics that intersect to greater experience the inequities caused by the structures of our society.“
A key measure that the provincial government could immediately take is to offer paid sick days for workers to quarantine or recover from any illness, but also to seek preventative and follow up care such as the vaccine for COVID-19, and for the time we know they need to help provide care for family and others when they are ill.
“The Kenney government’s complete lack of an intersectional gender lens when addressing COVID-19 has only made things worse,” said Vipond. “Paid sick days would be an important step to addressing the immediate inequalities women and gender diverse folks are facing in this pandemic, but beyond that it is long past time for pay equity and providing universal child care to become real priorities of our provincial government.”
The provincial government should be working together with the federal government to finally create a high-quality universal child care system that helps lift up all children, women, their families and communities and our economy. The provincial government should also implement proactive pay equity legislation for all sectors in Alberta to finally address the large pay gap women in Alberta still face.
“COVID-19 has laid bare the real-life impacts of existing inequalities in our society. We must demand more for our future and ensure that no one is left behind again. We must build up our society and our formal economy to better than it was before. Creating a better and more fair society and economy is good for women and gender diverse folks. It is good for everyone,” concluded Vipond.