The headlines were rampant.
Women were leaving the workforce in droves.
Women were forced out of the workforce.
But for most working mothers leaving the workforce was never an option. Single parents, front-line workers (the majority of whom were women), and those whose income their families relied on - never left.
They kept showing up, covering other sick workers, working long hours, and doing all the things they always did with the addition of the crippling stress of a pandemic.
Some women took a leave of absence if that option was available but for the majority, they kept going. They have kept going for the past three years. Caring for sick children, figuring out school closures, working with children underfoot, and relying on care from grandparents and teenage children.
These are women who have been rewarded with not even a cost of living increase (nurses, teachers, allied health professionals, government employees).
The people you celebrated at the beginning of the pandemic by banging pots and pans will become the biggest mental health crisis we have seen in our lifetime. Their children will suffer, they will suffer because as a society, we have chosen to devalue women's work, their unpaid labor, and their mental health.
"Working moms were 28 percent more likely to experience exhaustion than fathers, with Black, Asian, and Latinx mothers the most affected" but how many more women can we survey without DOING anything?
We have the information, the statistics and the outrage, but what is the solution?
1) Access to free mental health services for both mothers and children. The key here is access. Access that has been stripped away by Ontario's current Conservative government at almost every level of our healthcare system. Returning funding to this system will reduce wait times. And yes, this should include refunding all the lost autism services that were demolished.
2) Repeal Bill 124. This bill caps wage increases of our healthcare workers, allied health professionals, teachers, and government workers at 1% per year while Statistics Canada says the annual rate of inflation hit 6.7 per cent in March 2022.
3) Bring back rent controls. Allowing rents to increase unchecked will be devastating to families who are looking for safety and security. They want to stay in their neighbourhoods and be able to afford to do that.
We have talked about all the women who left the workforce but we are not talking about all the caregivers who stayed.