Child poverty seems to win political points but Canadian governments are ignoring the very real and private struggle of women on their own.
Ottawa (3 Sept. 2009) - Canada still has shockingly high rates of women’s poverty but the recession seems to have sidelined anti-poverty policies, says a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
Entitled Women’s Poverty and the Recession, the study reveals that even after taking into account government transfers and tax credits, almost one-quarter (24%) of Canadian women raising children on their own and 14% of single older women are poor. This compares with a 9% poverty rate among children.
“Child poverty seems to win political points but Canadian governments are ignoring the very real and private struggle of women on their own who are living in poverty at shockingly high levels,” says CCPA Research Associate Monica Townson.
Among the study’s findings:
- Women raising children on their own are almost five times more likely to be poor than two-parent families with children.
- The poverty rate of older women on their own is almost 13 times higher than seniors living in families.
- Women who work full-time, year-round earn only 71 cents for every dollar earned by men.
- About 40% of employed women work in precarious jobs that are generally poorly paid with little or no job security and no benefits such as pensions.
- Only 39% of unemployed women compared with 45% of unemployed men are receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
- Women account for 60% of minimum wage workers, and minimum wage rates in all provinces are less than $10 an hour.
The study is critical of recent federal government policies that have helped contribute to women’s poverty.
“Since coming to power in 2006, the Harper government has seriously undermined progress towards reducing women’s poverty in Canada,” Townson says. “Among a long list of policies, Harper has restricted pay equity, refuses to fix EI to prevent more unemployed women from falling into poverty, and cut funding for early learning and child care.”
Provincially, the study notes new poverty reduction strategies are underway but, to date, they fail to address the pressing problem of women’s poverty.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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
Download CCPA study: Women's Poverty and the Recession - pdf