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Editorial: Labour Day thoughts during a pandemic

Low wage jobs, women's unpaid work, teachers on the front line.

Monday September 7, 2020 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC

Editorial by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends

COVID has provided many socioeconomic wake-up calls, here are some for reflection on Labour Day.

  • Some small businesses have said it’s been tough to get employees to return to work while they were on CERB safety-net support. One example is a local restaurant where they had been paying an employee $800/month, but CERB has been $2,000/month. The employee was deemed to be at fault or uncaring or lazy in opting for CERB. Big picture: this is a reflection of how underpaid some people are in the service industry in what are commonly called low-wage jobs, which often do not provide a livable income.
  • Women provide oodles of unpaid labour. They do most of the upkeep of the homes they live in (that they may not own). They do the lion’s share of the child rearing (and their own lioness’ share) as well as often carrying the load of disabled or elderly people in their homes. With the big hit against availability of child care during the pandemic, women have been setback 30 years in terms of access to economic self-sufficiency.
  • Teachers are front-line soldiers of society at any time, but particularly so during this pandemic. As part of their commitment (and contract) to educate our children, they are now heading into a period of actively engaging with at least one member of most of our families. Stepping openly into harm’s way, for the social good of all. Some teachers, however, have had a wake-up call as to being a tool of the government. They’ve known it, but now they feel it.