Polling confirms gendered impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

The proportion of Canadians who are “very worried” (32%) about losing their income is higher among women (36%).

Ottawa (7 April 2020) ― The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has been monitoring with concern the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable and marginalized groups. That concern includes the multifaceted impacts on women, especially those of marginalized communities.

The results of a new poll, commissioned by NUPGE, its Component, BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE), and North99, reveal that women are concerned about financial stress as a result of COVID-19.

Numerous gender-based impacts

We are beginning to see accounts and analyses of the gendered impacts of the crisis.

A majority of the workers on the frontlines of the crisis ― in primary health care, long-term care, early learning and child care, community social services, retail, accommodation and food services, and cleaning services ― are women. And those who are most precariously positioned ― low-paid and part-time workers ― are predominantly women.

On top of that, women are faced with growing demands of informal caregiving, as children are home, loved ones may be ill, and vulnerable family members and friends might need extra help.

It has also become clear that too many women will face a higher risk of violence during, or as a result of, the current crisis.

Strong majority of Canadians support further measures to mitigate financial impact

In this context, it's no surprise that people are stressed.

New polling shows that Canadians are worried about the economic impacts of the pandemic, and they want to see their government adopt further measures to protect them financially. The poll, commissioned by NUPGE, BCGEU, and North99 and released on April 1, underlines the need for greater support when it comes to housing costs.

It also revealed some noteworthy gender differences.

Women are more likely to be concerned about their income, expenses

The results showed:

  • 64% of Canadians are worried about losing their income. The proportion of Canadians who are “very worried” (32%) about losing their income is higher among women (36%).
  • 69% of Canadians expect to lose some income due to COVID-19. The proportion of Canadians who “definitely” (37%) expect to lose some income is higher among women (40%).
  • 26%, or over 1/4, of Canadians express “not much confidence” or “no confidence at all” that they will be able to pay all their expenses, such as mortgage, rent, or bills, in the next 2 months. 30% of women are more likely to express limited confidence.

Strong support for additional protections

NUPGE has called on governments to keep all workers safe and supported, including specific supports for homeowners, renters, and people experiencing homelessness

According to the poll, a strong majority (72%) of Canadians think the federal government should halt rent, mortgage, and utility payments. Women also show a high level of support (69%) for prohibiting banks and financial institutions from charging interest on mortgage deferrals due to COVID-19, compared to 64% of all Canadians.

These additional measures, coupled with the commendable government initiatives to date, could play an important role in helping Canadians to weather this storm and to guard against its unequal effects.

NUPGE Components
Issues and Campaigns


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