Status of Women Canada
News Releases

March 17, 1998

SECRETARY OF STATE FRY SAYS 1996 CENSUS CONFIRMS WOMEN'S HIDDEN CONTRIBUTION TO THE ECONOMY


OTTAWA --Women, whether they are in the paid labour force or not, are doing more unpaid work than men, especially in the area of child care, according to the 1996 Census released today by Statistics Canada. In responding to today's announcement, the Honourable Hedy Fry, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women) noted that the diversity of women's realities which is reflected in the data is a critical step in our efforts to develop a range of strategies that ensure that caregiving is valued, supported and more equitably shared.

The 1996 Census was the first to collect information on unpaid work, with questions dedicated to time spent on housework, childcare and elder care. "Certainly we were well aware that women perform a disproportionate amount of unpaid work compared to men, but the documentation of this reality by Statistics Canada makes it visible, and it gives us the information we need to develop informed policy options," Dr. Fry said.

Dr. Fry noted the significance of this Census data and continued data collection on unpaid work in enabling policy makers to respond to trends in the performance of unpaid work, particularly in different population groups and family compositions. From health and social service reforms to a renewed retirement income system; from changing paid labour force conditions to tax reform; Dr. Fry underscored the policy implications of this information for all levels of government and the private sector, as well as the voluntary sector.

Researchers, non-government organizations and other experts have identified dependent care as the most critical and urgent unpaid work issue of public policy interest. Dr. Fry pointed to the tax credit for unpaid work by caregivers in last month's Federal Budget as an indication that this government is listening and responding.

"The Census data is available by provinces, territories and small geographic areas, which makes it useful for policy-makers at all levels of government, in business and in community organizations," said Dr. Fry. "We hope it will also be useful to women and men making personal decisions about their future and that of their family."

Status of Women Canada has been a key partner with Statistics Canada on the issue of data on unpaid work. Canada is recognized as a leader in the measurement and valuation of unpaid work and now our focus is shifting to the policy implications of this data. Dr. Fry will co-host an International Symposium on Gender Equality Indicators: Public Concerns and Public Policies, to be held on March 26 and 27, 1998 in Ottawa with her colleagues from Statistics Canada, Human Resources Development Canada and Health Canada.

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For further information, please contact:

Cathy McRae
Status of Women Canada
(613) 995-7835

Artur Wilczynski
Office of Honourable Hedy Fry
(819) 997-9900



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Last updated: mar 18 1998