In Canada, probably the most harmful occupations — from logging and fishing to farming and building — have all the time been, and stay, male-dominated.
Female roofers, truck drivers, ironworkers and miners exist, in fact, however they’re nonetheless uncommon. Women are over-represented in indoor jobs that are usually significantly safer.
In 2018 — the final yr for which we have now full statistics — 1,027 Canadians died on the job. All however 30 of them had been males.
But because of a pandemic that has made many female-dominated jobs and professions rather more harmful, the outside is out of the blue the safer place to work.
Service-oriented trades that are inclined to make use of a variety of ladies — equivalent to well being care, training and retail — additionally contain a variety of interplay with the general public.
That means a heightened danger of publicity to the virus that causes COVID-19. That heightened danger could also be displaying up within the caseload statistics now.
In all ages demographic however one (60 to 69 years), the variety of ladies being identified with COVID-19 barely exceeds the variety of male victims.
The demographic with the most important variety of COVID diagnoses in Canada is ladies aged 20-29 — 15,177 instances, or 51.Three per cent of the overall. And though the illness is mostly regarded as extra extreme in males, greater than half of these below the age of 40 being hospitalized with COVID-19 in Canada are ladies.
But it is nonetheless not clear — and it might by no means be — what number of of these infections got here from work.
No subject of labor is extra uncovered to the chance of an infection than the well being care sector, which is about 80 per cent feminine.
Women make up over half of all household docs and basic practitioners and 90 per cent of all nurses in Canada. Six out of each ten pharmacists, seven of ten psychologists and eight out of ten physiotherapists in Canada are ladies.
Not solely is the well being care sector dominated by ladies, it is also the solely subject of labor the place ladies run a better danger of office harm than their male colleagues, based on the federal authorities’s Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
Health care staff in danger
A research launched this week by the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions (CFNU) revealed that 13,000 office harm claims regarding COVID-19 publicity have been filed already by Canadian well being care staff.
“Nationally, health care workers comprise almost 20 per cent of all COVID‐19 infections in Canada, about double the global health care worker infection rate,” says the report.
The report describes what it calls a sequence of over-confident and misguided assumptions by senior medical employees and directors that led to well being care staff decrease down the chain being left under-protected.
The irony is clear — particularly while you recall that Linda Silas, president of the CFNU, questioned early on the belief being made by many well being officers that COVID-19 spreads via droplets however not aerosolized particles.
“When we do not know, we have to go for the best precautions for workers,” she mentioned in mid-February. It could be months later earlier than all well being care staff started to obtain the non-public protecting tools (PPE) they wanted.
Who will get outlined as a well being employee?
Canada’s official rely of well being care staff who’ve died of the novel coronavirus stands at 12, though unions place the quantity at 16.
COVID fatality charges for well being staff is likely to be greater “if we had a better definition of who they are,” mentioned Ivy Bourgeault, a analysis chair in Gender, Work and Health Human Resources on the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management.
“I think when you look at exposed workers in housekeeping, I think of them as health workers because they’re helping to keep those places clean and healthy,” she mentioned. “But the data typically don’t capture people in sanitary and dietary roles.”
The pandemic additionally has hit different sectors that make use of a variety of ladies, equivalent to retail, eating places and hospitality and training.
Ontario, which has seen a steep rise in new instances in current weeks, has simply imposed stricter measures in three areas that ban indoor eating at eating places and bars and shut gyms, film theatres and casinos.
Health measures have improved at supermarkets and grocery shops because the early days of the pandemic, when many employers — following authorities recommendation on the time — advised their staff to not put on masks at work.
Canada-specific knowledge is missing however the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents 1.Three million staff within the U.S. and Canada, mentioned that 82 of its members who labored in U.S. grocery shops and supermarkets died throughout the primary 100 days of the pandemic, whereas greater than 11,000 had been sickened over that point.
But the union, which additionally represents staff within the meals processing business, reported much more deaths and infections amongst members who did not work in grocery shops or supermarkets.
It’s a reminder that COVID-19 has no gender choice — solely vectors.
“Some of the deaths are in industries where males predominate,” mentioned Bourgeault. “Meat-packing plants and migrant farm workers, for example. Those outbreaks disproportionately affect men rather than women.”
So on steadiness, mentioned Bourgeault, “I don’t think we’re going to see a massive increase in deaths that would cause a shift in the gender-based trends that we see in work-related deaths.”
In truth, COVID sometimes hits males more durable than it does ladies — which helps to clarify why males outnumber ladies within the variety of COVID fatalities in each decade of working life. In the 60 to 69 age demographic, for instance, 427 males and 259 ladies had died of COVID in Canada as of Oct. 8.
It’s solely within the over-80 age demographic that you simply begin to see the variety of ladies dying outstrip the variety of male victims — 3,995 ladies and 2,723 males. (Most of those that have died of COVID-19 in Canada have been properly previous working age; fewer than 1,000 Canadians aged 20 to 70 have died.)
To strategy the variety of males who die on the job in even a traditional yr, all of COVID’s working-age victims of 2020 must be feminine and all of their infections must be acquired at work.
Bourgeault mentioned she does anticipate COVID to alter the connection some feminine staff have with their employers.
Workers who take dangers anticipate to be compensated for them. Many Canadian grocery and retail chains launched small pay premiums (sometimes $2 per hour) within the early days of the pandemic.
‘We have an opportunity to repair this’
In June, the Loblaws, Walmart and Metro grocery chains halted these pay hikes. Jerry Dias, president of the Unifor union, condemned the transfer.
“The fact is, the pandemic did not make these workers essential and did not create the inequities in retail,” Dias mentioned. “It simply exposed them.
“We have an opportunity to repair this. We cannot let this chance cross.”
Bourgeault said unions are now taking an interest in the plight of the underpaid workers (most of them female) facing a heightened workplace threat due to COVID-19 — workers those unions don’t always represent.
“I see that there was a variety of solidarity amongst unions that do not essentially cowl private assist staff or have them as members,” she said.
“Unions develop into rather more related to staff once they really feel they don’t seem to be revered, saved secure, and remunerated appropriately. And all three of these issues are occurring now.”
She said she’s encouraged to see governments support pay increases for personal support workers that would raise the status of a traditionally female-led occupation.
“If this type of work is ‘important,’ then it must be significantly better remunerated.”