WGS 1607- INTRODUCTION TO WOMEN AND GENDER STUDIES
UNPAID WORK CENSUS
BY: GILLIAN FOX
TA. ANJANA KASHYOP For years Statistics Canada has collected data on unpaid labour providing important information
about how much time is spent working for no profit outside the work force. These data have been used
as a basis for policies allowing us to compare past and current figures that give us accurate depictions to
come to decisions that represent the entire population. But, this once mandatory survey has been
altered and many are concerned about the effects that this change will have on people, in particularly
the people in the care economy.
Federal Industry Minister, Tony Clement has made a decision that will have disastrous effects on
women, elders, aboriginals, children and minority groups across the country. Tony Clement has chosen
to remove the once mandatory survey on unpaid labour and replace it with the National Household
Survey. This new assessment is not nearly as thorough as it used to be in the past, leaving out question
33 that gives us important information on how Canadians use their time outside of the paid labour force
and how much time they spend doing unpaid work. This means that time spent giving child care, taking
care of elders, cleaning and taking care of the home are not taken into account. Without this
information, policies will ignore the needs of women and other people in the care economy and
excluding them from policies and other forms of legislation. How can we strive towards equality without
the data needed to make accurate and fair policies that benefit all?
Predominately women will be negatively affected by this new policy change due to the
gendered division of labour that remains prevalent in our society. The construction of gender has caused
us to stereotypically divide what is thought of to be men and women’s work. Work that is done at home;
consisting of housework, childcare and other forms of home maintenance and caregiving are considered
to be the women’s responsibility. While women’s work is assumed to be in the home, in society men are
often considered to be the breadwinners of the family. Questions about the amount of time that is
spent taking care of children and doing housework were removed from the survey, placing women at yet another disadvantage when it comes to governmental decisions. The gendered division of labour
places more women in the care sector than men. The fact is that women are doing more unpaid labour
than men even when women have paying job outside the home, this is what is referred to as the second
shift. In the 21 century many believe that men and women are treated equally but the fact remains
that 2/3 of unpaid work is still done by women. Women are not being offered the proper support by the
government and without data addressing how much work women are doing outside the home, gender
equality will never be accomplished.
Women spend more time than men caring for their parents. Another area that the new National
Household Survey hurts is the aging population in our society. The old survey asked question about how
much time was spent looking after seniors, while the new survey does not include these questions.
Caregiving is becoming more and more important as our elders are becoming older and require more
care. Without proper data collection, we will lack the knowledge that will help us provide appropriate
care for the aging population.
The fact that the new survey is now voluntary affects the validity of the information being
delivered. The information will no longer correctly reflect the population because only a certain
demographic may answer. Also, comparing past and curr