Media Releases Nov 18, 2020

Business leaders sound alarm, say working women need help now: Canadian Chamber of Commerce


(OTTAWA) – November 18, 2020 – Business leaders from across the country are increasingly concerned about the critical impact COVID-19 continues to have upon working women, and the resulting productivity loss within businesses owned by them or employing them.  

The sentiment has been a stubbornly recurrent theme when business leaders meet, as over more than 900 of them did during last month’s Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The Canadian Chamber’s Council for Women’s Advocacy (CWA) has been more aggressively sounding the alarm bell.

“Business leaders view keeping women in the workforce as an economic issue, and one that can significantly impact Canada’s ability to recover from COVID-19. We call on the federal government to act swiftly to deliver help directly to working women in days, not months,” said Kevin McCreadie, CEO and Chief Investment Officer, AGF Management Limited, and CWA co-chair. “Now is the time to put the ‘emergency’ back into the notion of emergency support programs.”

“The Council for Women’s Advocacy has reiterated five steps the federal government can take right now to address this critical gap supporting women, working parents, business owners and transitioning employees across the country through the continued crisis. We have shared these plans with the government, they have acknowledged the need to act and supported our policy proposals. Now we need them to act, with urgency,” said Penny Wise, President, 3M Canada Company, and CWA co-chair.

The business community sees two key issues that must be resolved immediately to ensure women remain engaged in the workforce.

First, Canada as a whole must urgently and significantly improve rapid testing across the country, which will help ensure that schools and daycares can remain open.

Second, Canada needs a coordinated solution on childcare funding so women sidelined from the workforce can re-enter it.  This must focus on immediate and direct paths of support to parents, and community-level solutions at local levels.

“The reality on the ground is daycare and schools need to remain open to keep women in the workforce. All daycare is local, as are schools, and that’s where the federal government must deliver the help it has promised for working women. Any funding mechanisms need to go directly to working mothers and childcare providers for them to be meaningful, and more important, timely,” said Leah Nord, Senior Director, Workforce Strategies and Inclusive Growth at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The CWA is a cornerstone of the Canadian Chamber’s diversity and inclusion initiative, established to bring the voice and perspectives of women to national policies, inform the Canadian Chamber’s initiatives in advancing the gender equality agenda, and drive meaningful action to address the identified issues and barriers. The CWA will continue to explore recommendations that the federal government can implement to support women through the recovery period, alongside looking at best practices and guidance for the business community.

Members of the Council of Women’s Advocacy and its Working Group can be found here.

About the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Because Business Matters

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce helps build the businesses that support our families, our communities and our country. We do this by influencing government policy, by providing essential business services and by connecting businesses to information they can use, to opportunities for growth and to a network of local chambers, businesses, decision-makers and peers from across the country, in every sector of the economy and at all levels of government, as well as internationally. We are unapologetic in our support for business and the vital role it plays in building and sustaining our great nation.

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For more information, please contact:
Phil Taylor
ptaylor@chamber.ca