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Effects of COVID-19 on Newcomer Women

Canada has historically taken ground-breaking steps towards employment equality, however the COVID-19 pandemic has presented novel and unique challenges. Many provinces have seen a significant collapse of their labour market. Ontario has had the biggest shock, with a decline of 66 million aggregate weekly hours worked in the first month of the COVID-19 crisis alone (Lemieux, Milligan, Schirle, & Skuterud, 2020).

Newcomer women in particular have been disproportionately affected. 

Quick Facts
  • 81% of the Canada’s healthcare workforce is made up of women

  • Young women experienced the most dramatic change in employment rates and hours worked since the beginning of the pandemic (Milligan et al., 2020)

  • The burden on women with children under the age of 12  has increased significantly, with schools and daycare centres closed and outside family members discouraged from taking on childcare duties (Qian & Fuller, 2020)

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Covid-19 Effects on Newcomer Women
  • Minority and newcomer women are overrepresented  in essential occupations (Ravanera & Sultana, 2020).

  • Racialized workers make up 42% of the personal support labour force, which is nearly double the 23% rate of racialized communities in Ontario (Government of Canada, Statistics Canada, 2020)

  • Quarantines and social distancing hit the female employee-dominated service sectors (like hospitality and restaurants) hardest (Alon et al., 2020)

  • 44.9 percent of immigrant women are unemployed compared to 40.1 percent of their Canadian counterparts (Atputharajah et al., 2020)

  • Many minority and immigrant workers have been excluded from the federal pandemic response (Ravanera & Sultana, 2020)

Some sectors highly represented by women, such as health care, saw an increase in hours worked and pay during COVID-19, while exposing workers to additional health risks (Avdiu & Nayyar, 2020).
Working more hours may 
increase fear, stress, depression, anger, and worry (North & Pfeerbaum, 2020). Visible minorities are at an especially high risk due to lower levels of mental health prior to the pandemic (Hudon, 2016). 
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Newcomer women faced unique challenges and barriers prior to the pandemic.
  • Newcomer women are overrepresented in part time, casual, dead end and low paying jobs (Premji et al., 2014)

  • Recent newcomer women are also far less likely to regain employment than newcomer men (Hudon, 2015)

  • Newcomer women  face more frequent devaluation of credentials, leading them to take 'survival jobs' (Fuller & Martin, 2012)

Other Resources

To learn more about the impacts of COVID-19 on women and newcomer women, check out the following resources: 

YWCA Canada & The Institute for Gender and the Economy's Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for Canada

Women, Work and COVID-19: Priorities for Supporting Women and the Economy

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