AFL Calls for Comprehensive Action Plan to Address COVID-19’s Disproportionate Impact on Women

This year’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women reminds us that without addressing gender equality we will never see a world without gender-based violence

Edmonton – It has been 31 years since the tragic mass shooting at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal (December 6, 1989) that saw the promising lives of 14 young women cut violently short. This senseless act of targeted violence shook our country and led Parliament to designate December 6 as The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.

“Every year, on December 6th, we take the time to stop and remember the tragic events at l'École Polytechnique, and all of those we’ve lost due to violence against women,” said Siobhan Vipond, secretary treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “We gather and re-commit to building a world free from gender-based violence.”

Economic security is crucial for tackling domestic violence. Increases in unemployment like we are seeing now, particularly when women are unemployed, leads to greater incidents of domestic violence. Greater unemployment for women also means they are constrained by their financial position, limiting their ability to seek help or leave a domestic violence situation.

“Women, two spirit and gender diverse people in Canada continue to face violence and harassment every day in their homes, their communities, and their workplaces,” said Vipond. “The events of the past year have demonstrated how easily the gains women have made in terms of equality and safety can be wiped out.“

Close to a year into this global pandemic, women’s ability to participate in the formal economy continues to suffer. Women in Canada are falling behind. The Royal Bank of Canada recently stated that “in a matter of months, the COVID 19 pandemic knocked women’s participation in the labour force down from a historic high to its lowest level in over 30 years”. For those that have been able to maintain their jobs, they are often employed in industries that often put women at higher risk, such as healthcare, hospitality, retail, or other public-facing positions. 

“Now is the time that we need to see leadership in Alberta. The UCP need to create a strong recovery plan that ensures no Albertan is left behind,” said Vipond. “Specifically, this means a plan that includes a feminist, gender-based lens. This plan must include robust measures that help ensure women can participate in the formal economy, such as a comprehensive child care system and an economic plan that addresses the unique challenges that women, two spirit and gender diverse people face. 

“The UCP must stop spending its time fighting with workers in Alberta and stop gutting important workplace legislation. Instead they need to start focusing on fighting COVID-19 and the effects it is having on women in our communities,” concluded Vipond.

The AFL’s Annual Commemorative Event will be online on December 6 from 1:00 p.m until 2:00 p.m. All are invited to join. Registration is available here .  


Ramona Franson
Communications Director, AFL
[email protected]



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