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How the pandemic threatens decades of women's labour force gains 

September 23, 2020, 4:30PM - 5:30PM

Ddesjardins Event

How the pandemic threatens decades of women's labour force gains 
With Dawn Desjardins
Vice President, Deputy Chief Economist, RBC Economics

The pandemic has pushed women’s participation in the labour force down to its lowest level in three decades, with 1.5 million women losing their jobs in the first two months of the recession. Join us as we speak to Dawn Desjardins and discuss how:

  • women are more likely to “fall out” of the workforce. Nearly half of newly unemployed women who lost their jobs between February and May (and one third who lost jobs between February and June) were terminated and did not seek work– putting them at higher risk of long term job-separation and future wage penalties.
  • this represents a huge cost on society. The benefits of women participating in the labour market equally with men would provide a lift to economic output of about $100 billion per year. COVID-19 has created a hole which will take a long time to fill – ensuring that women return to the labour market is critical to Canada’s recovery and ongoing success.
  • in the near term, policies to address childcare will be crucial to keeping women engaged in the workforce. Financial supports for childcare could provide some relief if they are coupled with increased availability. More flexible working arrangements across the board may also alleviate pressure on families forced to divvy up work and home responsibilities and promote more equitable sharing of childcare between men and women.

BIO: Dawn Desjardins joined the RBC Economics team in January 2006. She is a key contributor to the macroeconomic forecasts for Canada and the U.S. and is part of a team that is responsible for the interest rate forecasts for both countries. Dawn delivers economic analysis to RBC’s clients through a variety of publications and presentations. She is often interviewed by media from across North America to discuss developments in the economy and financial markets.
Prior to joining RBC, Dawn worked as a reporter for Bloomberg Financial News in Toronto covering the Canadian bond and currency markets and was the Canadian bond market strategist for a major U.S. bank for ten years. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto.



  • Tags:
  • Jana Seijts
  • Leadership
  • Kimberley Milani
  • Women's Leadership
  • LAMP