A new report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce says affordable child-care 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 child-care 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 organization is also calling for the long-term affordability and accessibility of child care to be addressed through investments, tackling the shortage of early childhood educators and exploring workplace-based child care.
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 child-care subsidies for women upgrading their skills, and for mentorships and other programs that help advance women in their careers.