Thank you so much for the invitation. It's tremendous. I've never done a presentation like this to a parliamentary committee. I'm in new territory here, as certainly the country is on new, uncharted grounds.
I'm from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. We're a research shop, with offices across the country. I'm based in the national office here in Ottawa. We've been spending a considerable amount of time and resources lately trying to wrap our collective heads around the scope of this public health crisis, which has precipitated, obviously, an economic crisis.
What I'd like to talk to you today about is the impact of the economic crisis, certainly for women and girls in Canada. We can be under no illusion; this is having a devastating and profound impact in communities across the country, and my presentation will stress the impact on women and girls.
I was able to distribute a few research slides in advance. I'm not sure whether members of the committee got those slides. I want to focus on a few key messages from our research and analysis of the labour force survey in the last couple of months and what that would suggest for, I would hope, a feminist recovery plan or when we pivot and start to think long-term. Hopefully we can take up some of that in the questions.
Certainly the first message I'd like to deliver today is that women are at the forefront of this economic crisis. Over half of all female workers currently are employed in the five Cs: caring, clerical, catering, cashiering and cleaning. These are precisely the types of jobs that are directly involved in containing the pandemic and extending needed support and care to those affected.
Again, I'm not sure whether you have the chart, but it reveals and looks at the disproportionate representation of women in many of these categories. That includes, for instance, the fact that 90% of all nurses in Canada are women, 90% of PSWs working in long-term care homes are women, and two-thirds of all those who clean and disinfect our hospitals are women. These are the same women who go home to their families to start the double shift with the worry that they're bringing the virus home with them. Of course, other women work in sectors such as food and accommodation, financial services and retail, all of which have been profoundly affected by the government-mandated shutdown of service.
As the chart shows, many of these same occupations have a high representation of racialized workers, whether that's long-term care homes populated by migrant and racialized workers, or whether it's caregivers, cleaning professions and the like. When we're thinking about the impact on workers, it's critically important to understand the diversity and certainly the concentration of racialized workers.
The other piece or the second message I'd like to stress is that many of the jobs, of course, as we said, are at high risk of exposure to the infection. These are precisely the same jobs that tend to have fewer protections in the form of paid sickness leave or other health benefits. In fact, our research at the CCPA has shown that, for instance, last year, in 2019, only 19% of workers in accommodation and food and only 30% of workers in the retail sector had access to paid leave.
As I said, these are high-risk jobs, especially for those who make the least amount of money. According to our research, 43% of all workers who earn less than $14 per hour were in high-risk jobs, as compared to only 11% of the wealthiest workers. A majority, fully one-third, of all women workers are in these high-risk jobs. Women are at the forefront of this crisis, both in the care and in their paid work, and they are the ones going into the labour force every day and being exposed to the pandemic.
The economic crisis that's unfolding, of course, is rolling out and impacting communities across the country, and women were significantly hit. With the first labour force survey, we saw that 70% of all job losses in the month of March were experienced by women, as retail, accommodation and the like shut down. We're expecting the next labour force survey on Friday, but the April numbers showed hugely that there were now three million Canadians out of work, and another two and a half million who had lost the majority of their hours. All in, as of April, that represented 32% of all female workers and 29% of male workers.
Obviously, generationally we've never seen this type of precipitous drop in such a short period of time, but what was most shocking about these statistics was that over half of the workers earning $14 an hour or less were laid off or lost the majority of their hours, as compared to only 1% of jobs of the richest 10% of workers.
This is very much a pandemic and an economic emergency that's impacting the lowest-waged among us, and this group is overwhelmingly female and racialized. In the chart that I included in my package, you can see that well over half of all women in the lowest-earning decile lost their jobs. Fifty-eight per cent of all women earning less than $14 an hour lost their jobs or the majority of their hours between February and April.
With that in mind, the other piece of what's unfolding, of course, is not only the scale of job loss but that the unemployment data doesn't actually capture the number of people who are leaving the labour market altogether. We now know that there has been an increase in the number of women who are now formally outside the labour market altogether, an increase of 34%. These are women who have left to take care of responsibilities or obligations—to care for people who are ill, members of their family, or to take care of their children with schools and child cares now closed—but who have no immediate prospect of return to the labour market. This is a really important number to watch. We're already seeing the drop in the employment rate. We're seeing a widening of the gap between men and women in this regard, so the number of women who are being pushed out of the labour market portends a rollback of economic security among women and certainly of gender equality for decades to come.
A good piece of this, of course, are the moms with kids under 12. Fully one-quarter of all moms with kids under 12 lost their jobs or the majority of their hours between February and April. This is critically important. The other three-quarters of them are still employed, but they are at home with children, without the support of child care, doing 24-7 child care. You know, you have to think: What about single parents? As of April, there were over 200,000 single moms who were still working—God knows with what kind of support or child care arrangement—and there were another 122,000 who were laid off and wondering if they could possibly ever go back to work, as the majority of child cares and schools are closed.
Certainly, the question is now in front of us. Will the women who've been laid off from work be able to go back or increase their hours without child care? This really is a critical dimension of the recovery, and it's one thing I can stress to you today. There's no recovery without child care. It simply and mathematically does not work. A survey that's being currently fielded by child care advocates suggests that only 60% of the centres that were surveyed are actually planning to reopen, and those that are planning to reopen, of course, will open with fewer spaces in order to accommodate physical distancing. Without child care, will women be able to go back, and what does that mean by way of setting back the project of gender equality? It will all have a devastating impact on household incomes, and we can't fool ourselves. As women withdraw from or are unable to go to work as we're seeing there—that's, on average, 40% of any household's income—we're going to see a precipitous drop in household spending, dragging the Canadian economy down in the process.
Really, the impact and positioning of women in this stress session is unique. My colleague Armine Yalnizyan has talked about the she-session, and we will not have a recovery without a she-recovery. Certainly, that's an important....
I see that my time is up. I have talked about things that we could do by way of a recovery plan, and perhaps we can take that up in the questions.
Thank you so much.