Gender Disparities in the Labour Market? Examining the COVID-19 Pandemic in Alberta
The initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic generated large labour market disparities between men and women; however, in Alberta these differences did not persist beyond summer 2020. Instead, the pandemic continues to persistently and negatively affect the labour market patterns of parents with young children, regardless of the parent’s gender. This finding should guide policy-makers when planning for the province’s economic recovery.
Using data from Alberta up to and including the December 2020 release of the Labour Force Survey, we do not find evidence that the “she-cession” continued into Alberta’s second round of health restriction measures. Instead, we find that school transitions to virtual learning, daycare closures, and parents opting for online learning resulted in profound and persistent effects on workers with young children compared to workers without children.
Recovery plans focusing solely on gender may be therefore insufficient for addressing the effects that different groups have experienced during the pandemic. Policy-makers should target policies towards both mothers and fathers with young children. Moreover, new policies should be aimed at supporting parents so that they do not face additional stress over how they will pay their bills and feed their families if they lose their jobs or must reduce their hours to stay home to care for their children.
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) should remain in place until all threats of school and child-care facility closures are past. Alberta has received approximately $144 million in direct CRCB subsidies, but the weekly amount of $500 per recipient is less than minimum wage in a full-time job, meaning parents still may be unable to pay bills and meet their families’ needs. The province should top up the CRCB for lower- or single-income parents.
Employment Insurance benefits should be made available to parents who quit their jobs to take care of their children as a direct result of public health measures. As well, those parents with young children who receive welfare payments should not be required to search for jobs while public health measures remain in place.
The Alberta government needs to work together with the federal government to provide adequate support to daycare centres and schools to cover the added pandemic-related costs. Alberta received $87 million in federal funding to help with those costs and has itself contributed $17.8 million to extra health and safety measures in daycare centres. This is money well spent, for when parents feel their children are in a safe place, they will not keep them at home and jeopardize or lose their own employment.
However, the end of the pandemic will not mean an abrupt end to its effects on the labour market. Even though this paper finds no differences in the situations of employed men and women, the latter may experience more labour market friction in the long run, due to missed opportunities for on-the-job training and work experience. One benefit that can come out of the labour market disruptions caused by the pandemic is a renewed focus on addressing pre-pandemic inequities between men and women with children. From this perspective, Alberta should celebrate and embrace the recent federal commitment to a Canada-wide early learning and child care plan.
The following is the copyright statement of SPPP.
Copyright © <Author name> <year>. This is an open-access paper distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons license CC BY-NC 4.0, which allows non-commercial sharing and redistribution so long as the original author and publisher are credited.
Publication Copyright and Licensing
The following guidelines and information, provided in six sections, are intended for authors (the “Author”) who are invited to write a paper (the “Work”) for The School of Public Policy Publications (the “Publisher”). The rights and responsibilities conveyed in the SPP Author Agreement will only apply once your paper is accepted for publication. At that point in the publication process, you will be asked to download the form and return a signed copy via e-mail to email@example.com. Please review the below information to ensure agreement with SPPP policies.
Section 1: Author’s Grant of Rights
In consideration of the Publisher’s agreeing to publish the Work in The School of Public Policy Publications, the Author hereby grants to the Publisher the following:
1.1 The irrevocable, royalty-free right to publish, reproduce, publicly display, publicly perform and distribute the Work in perpetuity throughout the world in all means of expression by any method or media now known or hereafter developed, including electronic format;
1.2 The irrevocable, royalty-free right to use the Author’s name and likeness in association with the Work in published form and in advertising and promotional materials related to the Work; and
1.3 The irrevocable, royalty-free right to license others to do any or all of the above.
Section 2: Prior Publication & Publication by Others
2.1 The Author agrees not to publish the Work, or authorize any third party to publish the Work, either in print or electronically, prior to publication of the Work by the Publisher.
2.2 The Author agrees not to publish the Work in any publication outlet which is substantially similar to The School of Public Policy Publications for a period of six (6) months after publication of the Work in The School of Public Policy Publications. Substantially similar is defined as a non-subscription, open-access publication outlet with a similar mandate/vision and intended audience.
2.3 Should the Author publish or distribute the Work elsewhere at any time or in any alternate format, the Author agrees to contact The School of Public Policy Publications to inform them of the subsequent publication.
2.4 Should the Author publish or distribute the Work elsewhere at any time or in any alternate format, the Author agrees to make reasonable efforts to ensure that any such additional publication cites the publication in The School of Public Policy Publications by author, title, and publisher, through a tagline, author bibliography, or similar means. A sample acknowledgement would be:
“Reprinted with permission from the author. Originally published in the The School of Public Policy Publications, http://www.policyschool.ca/publications/.”
Section 3: Editing and Formatting
The Author authorizes the Publisher to edit the Work and to make such modifications as are technically necessary or desirable to exercise the rights in Section 1 in differing media and formats. The Publisher will make no material modification to the content of the Work without the Author’s consent.
Section 4: Author’s Ownership of Copyright and Reservation of Rights
4.1 Nothing in this agreement constitutes a transfer of the copyright by the Author, and the copyright in the Work is subject to the rights granted by this agreement.
4.2 The Author retains the following rights, including but not limited to, the right:
4.2.1 To reproduce and distribute the Work, and to authorize others to reproduce and distribute the Work, in any format;
4.2.2 To post a version of the Work in an institutional repository or the Author’s personal or departmental web page so long as The School of Public Policy Publications is cited as the source of first publication of the Work (see sample acknowledgement above).
4.2.3 To include the Work, in whole or in part, in another work, subject to Section 2 above and provided that The School of Public Policy Publications is cited as the source of first publication of the Work (see sample acknowledgement above).
4.3 The Editors and Editorial Board of The School of Public Policy Publications requires authors to publish the Work under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC 4.0). This license allows others to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the Work for noncommercial purposes, and ensures the Author is credited for the original creation. This onward licensing is subject to section 2.4 of this agreement, which further ensures that the original publisher is credited.
Section 5: Author’s Warranties and Undertakings
The Author warrants that:
5.1 The Author is the sole author of the Work, or if a joint author, the Author has identified within the Work the other authors, and holds the copyright, either solely or jointly, and has the power to convey the rights granted in this agreement.
5.2 The Work has not previously been published, in whole or in part, except as follows:
5.3 Any textual, graphic or multimedia material included in the Work that is the property or work of another is either explicitly identified by source and cited in the Work or is otherwise identified as follows:
5.4 To the best of the Author’s knowledge, the Work does not contain matter that is obscene, libelous, or defamatory; it does not violate another’s civil right, right of privacy, right of publicity, or other legal right; and it is otherwise not unlawful.
5.5 To the best of the Author’s knowledge, the Work does not infringe the copyright or other intellectual property or literary rights of another.
5.6 The Author will indemnify and hold Publisher harmless against loss, damages, expenses, awards, and judgments arising from breach of any such warranties.
Section 6: The Reuse of Third-Party Works
The Publisher requires that the Author determine, prior to publication, whether it is necessary to obtain permissions from any third party who holds rights with respect to any photographs, illustrations, drawings, text, or any other material (“third-party work”) to be published with or in connection with your Work. Copyright permission will not be necessary if the use is determined to be fair dealing, if the work is in the public domain, or if the rights-holder has granted a Creative Commons or other licence. If either the Author or Publisher determines for any reason that permission is required to include any thirdparty work, the Author will obtain written permission from the rightsholder.