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Alberta's YWCAs ask provincial government for inclusive COVID-19 recovery plan

"The best social and financial recovery plan for our province will come from a balance of perspectives, experience and leadership that includes an equal contingent of women and gender-diverse people."

BANFF – As the province begins to reopen with Stage Two launched last Friday, the YWCA's of Alberta are asking officials to include women and girls in the economic recovery plan.

"Recently, as a result of COVID-19, [the YWCA's across Alberta] have come together to amplify our concerns and provide recommendations for a long-term economic recovery plan," Connie MacDonald, YWCA Banff CEO said in a press release.

Highlighting the disproportional impacts facing women, girls and families during the pandemic, MacDonald touched on the escalation of gender-based violence; job loss or reduced hours; increased unpaid labour; lack of wage parity; low wages for high-risk frontline essential positions; and limited childcare options.

"The best social and financial recovery plan for our Province will come from a balance of perspectives, experience and leadership that includes an equal contingent of women and gender-diverse people," MacDonald wrote.

In a June 11 letter sent to the Alberta Economic Recovery Council, the YWCA CEO's from Calgary, Banff, Edmonton and Lethbridge outlined six recommendations to remove barriers to inclusive participation in the workforce.

The recommendations include:

• Establish a Childcare Task Force

• Develop a strategy to attract and retain more women and gender-diverse people into Science, Technology, Engineer and Mathematics (STEM) jobs

• Provide top-up pay for frontline workers

• Provide financing for Municipal Governments; address the rise in racialized and gender-based violence

• Communications that promote a safe and inclusive Alberta, and

• Support the sustainability for the civil society sector

"What underlies all of our following recommendation is our hope that at all decision-making tables that women and gender diverse persons are represented equally – so they to can lead and participate in Alberta’s economic recovery," the YWCA CEO's wrote.

"Ensuring women and gender diverse persons are actively contributing to our economic recovery strategies will result in effective solutions that have a higher chance of being impactful and achieving long-term prosperity for all Albertans."

Alberta has been slowly re-opening since May 14 when Stage One launched, allowing some businesses including retail, farmers' markets, hairstyling, cafes, restaurants and pubs – to name a few ­– to reopen with the new public health guidelines in place, such as practicing physical distancing, keeping two metres apart, from people outside your household.

Stage Two, which includes the re-opening of libraries, indoor recreations centres, movie theatres, esthetics services, bingo halls and VLTs, started June 12.

"As we get out and enjoy stage two, I want everyone to be proud of how far we’ve come and to continue following COVID-19 guidance. Wearing a mask when out in public, washing your hands regularly, and staying home when sick are the best ways to protect yourself and everyone around you," Alberta's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a press conference last week.

Touching on past experience with the 1919 Spanish flu, the YWCA CEOs said they are seeing "eerie parallels" with the past pandemic in relation to the difficult economy rebound and how women and children have been made more vulnerable by the public health crisis.

"That is why Alberta’s swift response to COVID-19 has been so critical. It has been diligent and deliberate with many Albertans working to flatten the curve, allowing us to weather this storm effectively. As we move through the phases of relaunch, we can now look to longer-term economic recovery efforts ... We want to see the livelihoods of Alberta’s women, children and their families be sustainable and successful for the long-term," the CEOs wrote in the statement.

"Our hope is to see an Alberta resilient, strong and inclusive for many years to come."

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