Whether it’s health care, child care, long-term care, or community and social services, care sectors across Canada are experiencing severe staffing shortages and wage discrimination. At the root of this crisis is the stark reality that care work is unrecognized and undervalued. On International Equal Pay Day, Canada’s unions are calling for increased wages for care workers and a Care Economy Commission to develop a comprehensive, integrated strategy to address the care workforce crisis in the long term.
In Canada, an estimated 3 million workers are employed in paid care occupations, amounting to nearly 1 in 5 workers. Most of these workers are women, and are often racialized and newcomer women.
“Our jobs, our families and our economy depend on having our care needs met. We know how crucial these services and caregivers are; from supporting our seniors and our children, to ensuring people living with disabilities can live dignified lives, and more,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). “For too long, political leaders and Canadian society have taken both paid and unpaid care work for granted. As a result, much of this work—largely performed by women—remains precarious and undervalued, while those who perform it are at constant risk of violence and harassment.”
“Care workers have shared countless stories of overwork and burnout, low wages, and inadequate working conditions. It’s pushing people out of these sectors, and as more workers leave these problems will only deepen. We must confront this crisis now by boosting wages as a first step, and by developing an integrated care workforce strategy for the long term,” said Siobhán Vipond, CLC Executive Vice-President.
“Care workers deserve better, and so do the people they care for,” said Bruske. “Care work should be rewarded appropriately—with better pay that reflects the value of their work; with good, stable jobs; and with safe and healthy working conditions. Building a better care workforce will ensure that everyone has access to care if or when they need it.”