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How looming Ontario cuts will spark a ‘she-cession’

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Woolley, Frances
Publication Date: 
21 Feb 2012



Men were hit hard by the 2008-9 economic downturn, with losses of
construction jobs (98 per cent male), transport jobs (90 per cent male),
and manufacturing jobs (70 per cent male). Male unemployment rose so
quickly that people began to talk about a “he-cession.”

Three years on, a tenuous “he-covery” seems to be under way – male
unemployment rates fell last year, and the percentage of men with jobs

Now it’s the ladies’ turn. Ontario’s Drummond Report
calls for deep cuts to financial, administrative and secretarial jobs
throughout the public service. Strictly speaking, the report recommends
cutting costs; automating, streamlining and consolidating the delivery
of services. Yet administrative costs equal administrative jobs – jobs
that are, 8 times out of 10, held by women.

The bulk of Ontario government spending goes to MUSH – Municipalities,
Universities, Schools and Hospitals. Overall spending cannot be reduced
substantially without making cuts in these areas. There are about
280,000 teachers and professors in Ontario, and 65 per cent of them are
female. The Drummond report recommends larger class sizes for elementary
and secondary school teachers, and “flexible” teaching loads for
university professors. Yet more students per teacher mean fewer teaching
jobs. Just as a downturn in the construction sector leads to male
unemployment, a downturn in the teaching sector leads to female

The recommended changes to health care delivery will also affect many
Ontarians. The Drummond Report recommends “Where feasible, services
should be shifted to lower – cost caregivers.” The lowest-cost
caregivers of all are wives and husbands, mothers and daughters, sons
and fathers, friends and neighbours. The Drummond Report recommends that
Ontario “increase the use of home-based care where appropriate to
reduce costs without compromising excellent care.”

Who is this excellent care going to be provided by? Over half of
Canadians are single, divorced or widowed – there might not be someone
waiting at home to provide care. Even if there is – what are the costs
to caregivers?

In the aftermath of the he-cession, Ontario families are relying on
women’s incomes to pay the mortgage. The wife is the main breadwinner,
earning more than her husband, in almost a third of Ontario households.
Even in families where Dad is the main breadwinner, Mom’s job is often
the one providing a steady income, along with dental or health benefits.

The he-cession has been tough. The upcoming she-cession will be another
rough ride for the tens of thousands of workers whose jobs will be
eliminated, and the hundreds of thousands of people who rely upon those

-reprinted from the Globe and Mail