Media Releases May 06, 2022

Working women are not OK: Job numbers commentary from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce

(OTTAWA) – May 6, 2022 – The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Director of Workforce Strategies and Inclusive Growth, Leah Nord, issued the following statement today on the state of Canada’s labour market.

“As Canada’s workforce rebounds to pre-pandemic levels, there’s a self-congratulatory consensus that since labour force numbers have recovered, Canadians have as well. As we head into Mother’s Day amid Mental Health Week, try asking working women, particularly working mothers, if they are feeling good and doing okay. They are very far from okay.

By the headline numbers, women are seemingly back to where they were in 2019. Under the numbers, however, are a lot of unknowns that need answers. How many mothers have weighed the personal and the economic before dropping out of the workforce on a long-term basis to care for children during the pandemic and hence no longer captured by the survey?  How many women have left a career track to take on part-time work in order to care for children, parents or other family members? What are the longer-term physical and mental impacts on working mothers, and does this affect workforce participation and productivity rates going forward?

Across social media and among social circles, working mothers are ringing the alarm bells about their well-being. The data we need to address where they really are in the workforce is more qualitative than what we currently have, which is not easy or straightforward. But we need these answers to drive analysis that helps shape programs and policies facilitating an inclusive recovery. 

Why does this matter? For a labour force that now has a structural gap near 900,000 jobs, we need every single working-age Canadian, and massive amounts of skilled immigration, to have any chance of meeting the needs of businesses across the country. The idea that half of the workforce is at risk of dropping out, opting out or burning out is apocalyptic from an economic perspective. If even 10% per cent of women fall into that category, it is catastrophic.

If Canadian businesses can’t find the talent they need to sustain or grow their operations, our economy risks stagnation at a time when growth is a necessity. If we have learned anything from COVID-19, it’s that half-measures make things worse. Canada needs a labour market that can help fuel growth, and we can’t do it without working mothers. We are well past the time to measure and address this looming crisis.”

About the Canadian Chamber of Commerce — The Future of Business Success

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is Canada’s largest and most activated business network — representing 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade and more than 200,000 businesses of all sizes, from all sectors of the economy and from every part of the country — to create the conditions for our collective success. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the undisputed champion and catalyst for the future of business success. From working with government on economy-friendly policy to providing services that inform commerce and enable trade, we give each of our members more of what they need to succeed: insight into markets, competitors and trends, influence over the decisions and policies that drive business success and impact on business and economic performance. 

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Phil Taylor
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
E-mail: (fastest response time)