Canada takes steps to make 'feminist' budget addressing women's post-pandemic challenges

Julie Gordon
·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Canada's Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks to news media in Ottawa

By Julie Gordon

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada on Monday took a step to ensure that its upcoming spring budget, which will also outline a promised post-pandemic stimulus package, includes measures to get women working and address gender inequality.

The finance department set up the Task Force on Women in the Economy to advise the government on actions to address gender imbalances exacerbated by COVID-19, a statement said. It will be co-chaired by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

"Canada's future prosperity and competitiveness depend on the ability of women to participate equally – and fully – in our workforce," Freeland said in a statement.

Since being named finance minister in August, Freeland has repeatedly spoken about having a "feminist agenda," and has promised a national childcare plan will be part of a stimulus package worth up to C$100 billion ($79 billion) over three years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the stimulus - to be detailed in the spring budget - is needed to jump-start Canada's post-pandemic recovery.

"This crisis has created a she-cession and has threatened to roll back the hard-fought social and economic progress of all women," Trudeau said in a statement in honor of International Women's Day.

"To build a fairer and more equal Canada, we must ensure a feminist, intersectional recovery from this crisis."

Canadian women are more likely than men to have lost jobs in the pandemic, and three times more women than men have left the labor force entirely since February 2020. Mothers, racialized women and young women have all been disproportionately affected.

"There is definitely plenty of runway to help shape the budget," a government source said of the panel, which is made up of a diverse group of women from across Canada, including politicians, academics, social advocates, economists and business leaders.

($1 = 1.2657 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; editing by Jonathan Oatis)