Public Values

Women's poverty takes back burner in recession

Government policies contribute to poverty among women.

Cover of CCPA report on women and povertyby Monica Townson, CCPA

OTTAWA, September 1, 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).

Women's Poverty and the Recession reveals even after taking into account government transfers and tax credits, almost one-quarter (24 percent) of Canadian women raising children on their own and 14 percent of single older women are poor, compared to 9 percent of 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 percent 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 percent of unemployed women compared with 45 percent of unemployed men are receiving EI benefits.

• Women account for 60 percent of minimum wage workers, but minimum wages 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.

Related individuals, organizations and significant events
For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer at (613) 563-1341 x 306.

Links and sources
  WomenÂ’s Poverty and the Recession, by Monica Townson, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, September 2009 (.pdf)
  Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives website

Posted: September 07, 2009

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