Canada needs tax justice to fulfill women’s rights, address gender inequality

Ottawa (15 March 2021) — Canadians for Tax Fairness has joined with tax justice groups around the world to call for progressive tax reforms to tackle gender inequalities.

Women bear the brunt of harmful tax practices and policies, such as tax dodging and regressive tax cuts. Lost tax revenues in Canada and developed countries draw government resources away from public services that especially support women, such as education and childcare. In poorer countries, foregone revenues can mean a matter of life or death for millions of women.

Women have paid a higher price during the pandemic

The pandemic has exacerbated gender inequality.  COVID-19’s health, economic and social effects have been disproportionately felt by women, even more so among lower-income households and communities of color.

As the Global Alliance for Tax Justice points out, women make up about 70% of the healthcare workforce, exposing them to greater risk of infection. Women have also been more likely to lose their jobs and income in the pandemic/ They have faced increased risks of violence at home, and have shouldered most of the care burden due to school and child care closures.

Even as some segments of the economy rebound, women workers —especially those with lower-incomes and visible minorities — are being left behind.

“She-cession” requires “she-covery”

Canadian economist Armine Yalnizyan has aptly dubbed this effect the “she-cession” and pointed out that there can be “no recovery without ‘she-covery’ and no ‘she-covery’ without childcare”

Government recovery plans need to address the virus’s unequal impact by creating and strengthening social programs to help more women return to work. Studies have shown that investments such as childcare pay off in increased labour participation, government revenues, and economic activity.

Other programs such as affordable housing and national pharmacare would also directly benefit women, particularly from lower-income households, while helping to regenerate the economy.

Fairer taxes could raise over $60 billion a year to support recovery

Canada can afford these investments by making the tax system more progressive. The Fair Tax Recovery Plan produced by Canadians for Tax Fairness recently estimated the government could raise over $60 billion annually by eliminating a number of regressive tax loopholes and by making the tax system more progressive—and less sexist.

Canadians for Tax Fairness listed a number of ways that the government can support women by making the tax system fairer:
•    Combat international tax haven use
•    Close regressive—and sexist—tax loopholes
•    Target the extreme concentration of wealth at the top
•    Improve how the tax system works for women

These are just some of the tax measures they have suggested to reduce inequality and promote a more inclusive recovery.  

Global Days of Action Campaign calling for fairer taxes

In the coming days, Canadians for Tax Fairness will be joining with the Global Days of Action campaign, which calls on governments around the world to introduce progressive tax reforms for women. The campaign runs from March 15–26 to coincide with the 65th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the International Monetary Fund/World Bank virtual Civil Society Policy Forum. 

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE