The Quebec Model: :
A Bulwark Against Inequality During the Pandemic?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, education professionals have had to adapt their daily lives according to the health guidelines and measures, both at work and at home.
Telework, school closures, loss of support during lockdowns, care for loved ones, the increasingly blurred line between work and personal life, and reduced opportunities for outdoor activities have made it difficult for many members to balance family, work, and school in the past two years.
These situations compounded existing gender inequalities, including wage gaps [in French only] and the inequitable distribution [in French only] of household responsibilities. Over the past two years, several reports and studies [in French only] have documented the differentiated impacts of the pandemic on Quebec women.
Recent data from the Labour Force Survey, produced by Statistics Canada, nevertheless show a positive decline in the gender wage gap. In particular, the female labour force has increased in occupational categories, and the number of women has increased more than that of men. According to the Conseil du statut de la femme, however, the data masks substantial differences across economic sectors, so that not all women win.
Indeed, withdrawal from the labour market or the reduction of hours worked has affected many women, particularly those with low wages.
The OECD concluded that globally, it is mostly women who have had to choose between continuing to work and caring for their children at home. American and European women have also been particularly hard hit by these blatant setbacks.
The role played by the Quebec model of educational childcare services
According to the OECD, nations with well-designed family leave systems and flexible job retention schemes have been more successful in avoiding a sharp decline in women’s labour force participation. With its affordable and high-quality early childhood education services and its Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), which provides leave for both parents, the Quebec model has been a bulwark against gender inequalities that were exacerbated by the pandemic.
The challenges and changes in the labour environment [in French only] will, of course, continue to engage women. However, it is plausible to conclude that the Quebec model, which remains to be adjusted and defended [in French only], has encouraged the participation of mothers in the labour market as well as the economic autonomy of women, and has created the conditions to protect Quebec women from the increased impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Action Professionnelle Consultant