By Elissa Morris and Alanna Hendren
DDA has been providing support and care to people living with developmental disabilities since 1952. Throughout our history, the majority of our staff have been women, and in honor of International Women’s Day, we want to acknowledge and celebrate the work that they have done and continue to do.
As a care provider for both adults and children, DDA employs many women in traditionally female positions, such as caregiving and early childhood education. These traditionally female jobs are often undervalued and underpaid, despite the important work they do.[i] It has taken centuries for us to appreciate and acknowledge the work these women did. At DDA, we are constantly advocating for acknowledgment of the difficult but rewarding work that these caregivers do, especially when it comes to providing crucial care to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
The provincial government recently approved funding for a collective agreement that significantly increased the wages of community support workers in B.C., impacting the lives of our female staff. Despite these changes, however, wage disparity in Canada between men and women remains prominent. According to Stats Canada, in 2019 women made just 79% of what men earned, which was down from 82% in 2018. DDA will continue to advocate for wage increases for all our support workers and being aware of gender disparity in wages.
DDA’s impact is not only seen in our caregiving work but with our child care centres as well. Women’s ability to participate in the workforce is often directly impacted by their ability to access affordable child care. Employment rates among women are consistently lower in areas with higher cost child care, such as Toronto and Vancouver.[ii] DDA is dedicated to providing inclusive child care centres and working with the local and provincial governments to provide child care. We currently provide 377 child care spaces in eight child development centres. This summer DDA is also opening a new child care centre at Sir Sandford Fleming School. By providing such crucial care, DDA is supporting a women’s ability to enter or re-enter the workforce.
DDA’s vision is a diverse and welcoming community where people see the possibilities and where everyone belongs. That means we support social ideals and policies where equal pay for equal work is present. That means we support parental obligation falling to both parents instead of predominantly upon women. It means lobbying governments for more child care space for families and increased wages for caregivers. Only then can we help open the door for mothers to continue to be part of the workforce so they can build towards personal financial independence.
[i] McInturdd, Kate and Lambert, Brittany. 2019. “Making Women Count: The Unequal Economics of Women’s Work.” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/making-women-count-0
[ii] Baker, Michael, Johnathan Gruber and Kevin Milligan. 2008. “Universal childcare, maternal labor supply, and family well‑being.” Journal of Political Economy 116 (4): 709‑745.