Covid-19 It’s More Than Childcare!

Current Articles of Interest to WIFT members

March 29, 2021
By Susan Brinton

It’s More Than Childcare! 

In October of 2020, WIFT Canada received funding from the Canada Media Fund for a small research project to explore the impact of COVID 19 on women working in our industry in relation to family and child care issues.

What struck me during this research was that there was something else going on at a deeper systemic level. More than just childcare, these issues are ultimately about how our country and society value our future citizens – our children – and those who care for them.

The COVID-19 pandemic over the past year has starkly illustrated how much unpaid work women do in our country that allows our society and economy to function. This includes, by default, primary responsibility for the feeding, housing, schooling, caring and raising of the country’s children.

We don’t have a national daycare program in Canada despite decades of government promises, even though we face some of the highest daycare costs in the world, and parents are lucky if they can even find a space. Even though they have successfully modeled a subsidized childcare program in the province of Quebec for 20 years, which is always over-subscribed.

It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child (although it does!), it takes a country too!

Our industry also gets a failing grade when it comes to accommodating women and childcare. In our cross-Canada family care survey in January, 2021, we received almost 400 responses, predominantly from women working in the film and TV production industry who were union members. It turns out that these women do not feel well-protected or represented by their unions regarding childcare needs, that there is very little flexibility on production sets to accommodate pregnant or breast-feeding women, and in fact women are less favoured for positions if it is known they have children.

Furthermore, there were no clear pathways for joining or advancing in the unions for women and mothers, with even less opportunity or accommodation for Indigenous, Black and women of colour or those with disabilities.

In the motion picture industry, union membership has been majority white and male, and motions to enhance child care or sick leave or job flexibility rarely make it to the union floor, let alone get the majority of votes needed to pass. And yet these are the same unions whose leaders have recently mouthed the words that “none of us is equal until all of us are equal”.

Are they really that naïve about the issues surrounding women in the unions? Or are they really just part of the problem?

So far in Canada, we haven’t seen the unions or the politicians become part of the solution.

But hopefully that will change soon enough. Stranger things have happened!


WIFT Canada 2021 Survey Highlights

Parents Are Struggling with the Cost and Availability of Childcare

•       More than 78% of respondents said they struggle to find affordable childcare

•       Almost 64% of respondents have lost work because of childcare challenges

Work-Life Balance

•       Respondents gave the film and TV industry a failing grade of less than 4 out of 10 for being an industry welcoming to parents and ‘carers’

•       Similarly, respondents gave the industry a less than 4 out of 10 rating for work-life balance

Union Members Do Not Have Confidence in Their Unions to Protect Them

•       Unions received less than a 4 out of 10 rating when it came to respondents having confidence their union or guild would support them in the face of parental discrimination

•       More than 30% gave their union a 1 out of 10 rating

•       27% reported being fired for being pregnant!

Lack of Family Care Results in Inability to Participate and Advance

•       More than 52% of respondents have missed networking events

•       Almost 43% of respondents have missed out on festivals

•       More than 38% have had to turn down higher paying positions

•       More than 37% have missed out on training due to lack of childcare