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Lets challenge carelessness on International Women’s Day

Carelessness has led Canada and the world down a dangerous path. Committing to a caring society, one that’s equitable, inclusive, and peaceful, must become our rallying cry

March 8, 2022

2-minute read

“Our world is one in which carelessness reigns”

This is the opening line of The Care Manifesto, authored by a group of activists concerned about the various crises of care. On this International Women’s Day, it’s more relevant than ever.

The ongoing pandemic, increasing polarization epitomized by the “freedom” convoy’s siege of Ottawa and Wellington, New Zealand, and, of course, Russia’s war on Ukraine are a part of the mounting stress and burden that many women—here and abroad—are dealing with right now.

The world needs more caring. Committing to a caring economy must become our rallying cry in these worst of times if we are ever to ensure better days ahead.

The authors of The Care Manifesto are not just talking about the labour of caring for others—still the largely invisible and devalued domain of women. They are also talking about the act of caring about others, caring with others, and nurturing all that is necessary for the flourishing of life in our interdependent world.

This must be our call to action. And action must come swiftly, with strong federal leadership in Canada.

Envisioning a care-full society

The federal budget is around the corner. Progressives will be watching for the government to make good on its promises to act on the Calls to Justice from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry, create a National Action Plan against Gender-based Violence, undertake the speedy reform of Employment Insurance, and introduce of a robust Canada Disability Benefit.

We will also be looking for the government’s commitment to long-term care reform by bringing the sector fully into the public system, introducing enforceable national standards of care, and expanding quality institutional and home care services.

The government has a vital role to play in elevating the quality of employment in Canada's care economy through sector-specific labour force strategies that ensure the appropriate valuing of caring labour and support for equitable, decent working conditions.

This has proven to be a challenging task within the current federal-provincial child care negotiations. Governments have agreed on wage grids but not on minimum salaries or benefits. The new $30 billion child care program is a historic win, but even in victory, we risk a care-less result if we fail to ensure the workers, predominantly women, who are delivering care services aren’t properly compensated for their labour.

The world needs more caring. Committing to a caring economy must become our rallying cry in these worst of times if we are ever to ensure better days ahead.

A plan to create a caring society must be built upon reconciliation with and equity for Indigenous Peoples and other historically marginalized communities. It must be founded on generous international aid.

And, especially in this era of mis/disinformation, it must include renewed investment in our systems of public education.

We have borne witness to decades of government carelessness, at all jurisdictional levels, in their failure to adequately prepare for and deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic. The politics of austerity and tax cuts fed into this carelessness. It prioritized the individual over the collective.

Women—especially women from marginalized communities—have borne the brunt.

And as if a global pandemic and the spectre of a third world war isn’t enough to grapple with on this International Women’s Day, there remains yet another existential threat: the climate emergency.

We have been careless in our stewardship of this planet and that carelessness has created a climate crisis that demands immediate action to wind down new fossil fuel extraction and to phase out coal, oil and natural gas production by 2040. A new just transition benefit will be needed to support workers in the move to a sustainable and equitable green economy.

We have seen what the path to carelessness has wrought. We need a more care-full approach to policy making and budget making, at every jurisdictional level: internationally, nationally, provincially, territorially, and municipally. Neighbourhood by neighbourhood. It’s the only way forward.

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