Transcript: Are We in a COVID-19 'She-Cession?' | May 19, 2020

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew and one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a white shirt and a gray shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Are we in a COVID-19 she-cession? @spaiking, @theagenda."

Steve says THE 2008 RECESSION WAS DUBBED A "HE-CESSION," BECAUSE THE JOB LOSSES WERE DISPROPORTIONATELY IN MALE-DOMINATED SECTORS. DURING THIS CRISIS, HOWEVER, IT'S BEEN SERVICE SECTOR JOBS, SUCH AS CHILD CARE, RETAIL, AND RESTAURANTS, WHICH TEND TO HAVE MORE FEMALE WORKERS. WITH US NOW ON WHETHER THAT MEANS WE'RE FACING A "SHE-CESSION" AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT, WE'RE JOINED: IN LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA BY: KEN BOESSENKOOL, HE'S AN INDEPENDENT PUBLIC POLICY ECONOMIST AND FORMER ADVISOR TO PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER...

Ken is in his forties, with short salt-and-pepper hair and a trimmed goatee. He's wearing glasses and a floral print shirt.

Steve continues AND IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL: ARMINE YALNIZYAN, ECONOMIST AND ATKINSON FELLOW ON THE FUTURE OF WORKERS...

Armine is in her fifties, with long wavy gray hair. She's wearing glasses and a floral print blouse.

Steve continues ARMINE, IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. YOU ARE A MULTI-TIME GUEST ON THIS PROGRAM. AND, KEN, I DON'T KNOW HOW IT'S POSSIBLE WE'VE BEEN ON THE AIR AS LONG AS WE HAVE AND HAVEN'T HAD YOU YET, BUT IT'S NICE TO HAVE YOU ON FOR THE FIRST TIME. LET US LOOK AT... I WANT TO SHOW A GRAPH HERE. FOR THOSE LISTENING ON PODCAST, I GUESS I'LL DESCRIBE THIS IN A LITTLE BIT MORE DETAIL SO YOU CAN SEE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PAST RECESSIONS AND THIS ONE.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Employment decline by recession in thousands of people."

A bar chart comparing the last 4 recessions shows that the COVID-19 downturn is by far the worst both for the goods-producing sector and the not goods-producing sector.

Steve reads data from the slate and says
IF WE GO BACK TO 1981-82, THIS IS PIERRE TRUDEAU WAS PRIME MINISTER. THIS IS BILL DAVIS AS PREMIER OF ONTARIO. YOU CAN SEE WE'VE SEPARATED THE JOBS HERE INTO THE RED BARS, WHICH ARE THE GOODS-PRODUCING SECTOR, AND THEN THE BLUE BARS, WHICH ARE THE NON-GOODS-PRODUCING SECTORS. AND THE GOODS-PRODUCING SECTORS OBVIOUSLY ARE MUCH MORE DAMAGING, MUCH MORE DEVASTATING IN TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT DECLINE. LET'S GO TO THE NEXT RECESSION. THIS IS 1990. BRIAN MULRONEY, BOB RAE AS PRIME MINISTER AND PREMIER. AGAIN, SIGNIFICANT LOSSES IN THE GOODS-PRODUCING SECTOR. ACTUALLY A BIT OF JOB CREATION IN THE NON-GOODS-PRODUCING SECTOR. THEN WE GO TO THE GREAT RECESSION, 2008-2009. DALTON McGUINTY IS THE PREMIER OF ONTARIO; STEPHEN HARPER THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA. KEN'S OLD BOSS. WE HAVE THE GOODS-PRODUCING SECTOR WITH ALMOST A THREE-TO-ONE, ALMOST A THREE-TO-ONE, WELL, YOU WOULDN'T WANT TO CALL THIS AN EDGE, BUT IN TERMS OF WHO SUFFERED THE MOST. BUT THEN LOOK AT THE NUMBERS NOW. LOOK AT THE COVID-19 DOWNTURN, WHERE WE HAVE JUST A DRAMATICALLY WORSE, ALMOST FOUR TIMES AS MANY JOBS LOST IN THE NON-GOODS-PRODUCING SECTOR AS WE DO IN THE GOODS-PRODUCING SECTOR. SO THE OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS ECONOMIC DOWNTURN AND THE PREVIOUS ONES IS THIS ONE IS BEING OVERWHELMINGLY FELT IN THE NON-GOODS-PRODUCING SECTOR, ARMINE, AND THEREFORE, WHAT CONCLUSION DO WE COME TO AS A RESULT OF THAT?

The caption changes to "Armine Yalnizyan. Atkinson Foundation."

Armine says WELL, FIRST OF ALL, THIS IS NOT LIKE ANY OTHER RECESSION BECAUSE IT WAS NOT THE RESULT OF A FINANCIAL SHOCK, A NATURAL DISASTER, AS WE NORMALLY SEE THEM, OR ANY KIND OF END OF A BUSINESS CYCLE WHERE YOU DO SEE GOODS PRODUCTION BEING THE FIRST THING THAT IS HIT AND CONSEQUENTLY THAT'S A MALE-DOMINATED SECTOR WITH BETTER PAID JOBS. IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH OF EVERY SHE-CESSION SINCE THE SECOND WORLD WAR, WOMEN HAVE BEEN THE FIRST PART OF THE RECOVERY, A SHE-COVERY IF YOU WILL. MEN HAVE A HIGHER WAGE. THEY DON'T WANT TO ACCEPT THE CRAPPY LOWER PAID JOB IN THE SERVICE SECTOR BUT THEY SAY, HONEY, WE NEED GROCERIES AND THEY GO BACK TO WORK AND THEY DON'T GO BACK WHEN THEIR PARTNER GETS A JOB. I'M BEING STEREOTYPICAL HERE BUT THAT HAS BEEN THE PATTERN. THIS TIME WE HAVE A SERVICE-LED RECESSION BECAUSE WE ARE TRYING TO STOP THE ECONOMY TO EVERYTHING THAT IS NON-ESSENTIAL. AND BY THE TIME WE GET TO 2019, 71 percent OF ALL [indiscernible] AND 80 percent OF ALL JOBS IS IN THE SERVICE SECTOR, AND THE NON-ESSENTIAL PART OF IT... I MEAN, YOU'LL NOTICE IN YOUR CHART, EVEN THE NUMBER OF GOODS-PRODUCING JOBS WERE BIGGER THAN ANYTHING WE'VE SEEN BECAUSE WE'RE STOPPING EVERYTHING THAT IS NOT ESSENTIAL. WHAT WILL BE FASCINATING IS TO SEE WHAT IS THE PATH OF THE SHE-CESSION, THE SHE-COVERY, OR WILL IT BE, AS WE HAVE SEEN IN THE INITIAL REOPENING WEEKS, A HE-COVERY. LITERALLY TURNING OUR HISTORIC PATTERN ON ITS HEAD, IN TERMS OF HOW WE ENTER A DOWNTURN IN THE JOB MARKET AND HOW WE RECOVER FROM IT. FRANKLY I HAVE TO SAY MATHEMATICALLY, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET TO PRE-COVID LEVELS WITHOUT THE GIRLS GETTING THEIR JOBS BACK. AND, REALLY, I CAN'T SEE THE PATH THERE FROM HERE AT THE MOMENT.

Steve says KEN, IF THAT'S THE CASE, THEN IF YOU'RE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING A PUBLIC POLICY RESPONSE TO THE SHE-CESSION THAT WE'RE IN THE MIDST OF RIGHT NOW, WHAT DOES THAT REQUIRE?

The caption changes to "Ken Boessenkool. Independent Public Policy Economist."

Ken says WELL, I THINK THE OTHER THING THAT'S HUGELY DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS IS THERE'S A PUBLIC CONFIDENCE ISSUE HERE. A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD OPEN UP THE ECONOMY, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO THIS, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO THAT. IT'S CLEAR WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE DATA THE SERVICE SECTOR STARTED DECLINING LONG BEFORE GOVERNMENTS DID ANYTHING. AND I BELIEVE THE SERVICE SECTOR, EVEN IF THE GOVERNMENTS START OPENING UP THE ECONOMY, WILL TAKE A LONG TIME TO RECOVER BECAUSE PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN PHYSICAL INTERACTIONS WILL TAKE TIME TO BUILD. PEOPLE WILL BE ANXIOUS. THE POLLING TELLS US THAT. THE FIRST THING WE SHOULD DO IS LOOK AT PUBLIC CONFIDENCE. A LOT OF MY FRIENDS WHO ARE CLAMOURING FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO OPEN THINGS UP. I HONESTLY THINK IF THE GOVERNMENT OPENED EVERYTHING UP TOMORROW, WE WOULDN'T BOUNCE BACK. BECAUSE IT'S PUBLIC CONFIDENCE. SO I THINK INSTILLING PUBLIC CONFIDENCE THAT THE PANDEMIC IS BEING DEALT WITH AND IS ADDRESSED IS PROBABLY THE FIRST AND MOST DIFFICULT ORDER OF BUSINESS. AND THEN BEYOND THAT, I THINK THERE ARE... LOOK, THE PLAYBOOK FOR A MALE-LED RECESSION AND A MALE-LED RECOVERY, EVERY DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE IN CANADA HAS THAT PLAYBOOK. THEY INVEST IN INFRASTRUCTURE. THEY INVEST IN... ESPECIALLY INFRASTRUCTURE. WE DON'T HAVE A PLAYBOOK FOR A WOMAN-LED RECOVERY. AND SO IT'S GOING TO REQUIRE, JUST AS IT REQUIRED AS WE WENT INTO THIS, DIFFERENT KINDS OF THINKING FROM DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE. I THINK THE DEPARTMENTS OF FINANCE ARE GOING TO BE CHALLENGED TO SAY, THIS IS NOT A NORMAL RECESSION AND IT'S NOT GOING TO BE A NORMAL RECOVERY AND IT'S GOING TO REQUIRE DIFFERENT KINDS OF THINKING. AND I THINK AT THE TOP OF THAT LIST IS ISSUES AROUND CHILD CARE, BECAUSE CHILD CARE, NOT ONLY IS IT GOING TO BE NEEDED TO GET A LOT OF THESE WOMEN BACK IN THE LABOUR FORCE, BUT CHILD CARE ALSO IS GOING TO BE CONSTRAINED BY PUBLIC CONFIDENCE AND PHYSICAL DISTANCING... ONGOING PHYSICAL DISTANCING ISSUES. SO THE SUPPLY OF HEALTH CARE IS GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE AND THE DEMAND FOR HEALTH CARE IS GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE.

Steve says ARMINE, CAN WE, AT THE VERY LEAST, INFER FROM KEN'S COMMENTS, THEN, THAT IF WOMEN AREN'T FEELING ECONOMICALLY SECURE GOING FORWARD, THE ECONOMY IS GOING TO HAVE A DEVIL OF A TIME TRYING TO COME BACK?

Armine says IT ISN'T JUST WOMEN FEELING INSECURE ABOUT WHAT'S GOING FORWARD, IT'S MEN AND WOMEN BEING NERVOUS ABOUT SHOPPING, BEING NERVOUS ABOUT SENDING THEIR KIDS BACK INTO SCHOOLS AND CHILD CARE CENTRES WITHOUT VERY CLEAR RULES ABOUT PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE'S AN OUTBREAK AGAIN, BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, WHENEVER YOU'RE IN A CLOSE QUARTER THING IS WHERE YOU GET THE VECTORS OF TRANSMISSION, AND CHILD CARE AND SCHOOLS ARE, BY DEFINITION, CLOSE QUARTERS. IF YOU'VE EVER RAISED KIDS, YOU KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO PHYSICALLY DISTANCE KIDS THAT HAVEN'T SEEN EACH OTHER PARTICULARLY FOR TWO MONTHS...

Steve says LET ME JUMP IN HERE FOR A SECOND, ARMINE. BECAUSE THE THINGS THAT YOU JUST MENTIONED, AND, AGAIN, MAYBE I'LL DO THE STEREOTYPING HERE. THE THINGS YOU JUST MENTIONED TEND TO BE THINGS WHERE WOMEN MAY HAVE A GREATER SAY THAN THE MEN OVER HOW MUCH ENGAGEMENT THERE ARE ON THOSE THINGS. SO I WONDER IF IT DOES GET BACK TO THE ORIGINAL QUESTION, WHICH IS, WOMEN HAVE GOT TO FEEL MORE SECURE ABOUT THINGS GOING FORWARD IF WE'RE ECONOMICALLY GOING TO COME OUT OF THIS THING.

Armine says OKAY, SO THAT'S... YOU'RE RIGHT. IT'S A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT QUESTION THAN I WAS ANSWERING. IT IS STEREOTYPICAL IN THE SENSE THAT WOMEN GENERALLY ARE PAID LESS THAN MEN. SO IF SOMEBODY'S GOT TO STAY HOME TO TAKE CARE OF THE KIDS BECAUSE THE HOUSEHOLD DOESN'T FEEL LIKE THE SCHOOL OR THE CHILD CARE CENTRE IS THE BEST CHOICE FOR THAT FAMILY, IT IS MORE LIKELY TO BE THE LOWER PAID WORKER. AND THAT IS IN ITSELF A KIND OF VIRTUOUS... LIKE, A TERRIBLE CIRCLE, WHERE THE LOWER THE HOUSEHOLD INCOME, THE LESS MONEY THERE IS TO PAY FOR USER FEES FOR CHILD CARE, SO FAMILIES OPT NOT TO PAY USER FEES FOR CHILD CARE BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT USING THEM AND THEN THE CHILD CARE CENTRE CAN'T STAY OPEN. SO SOME MEASURABLE PART OF THE ECOSYSTEM OF CHILD CARE WILL BE SHUT DOWN BECAUSE OF THIS PHENOMENON, WHICH MEANS THERE'S NOTHING TO GO TO OR DROP YOUR KIDS AT. EVEN IF YOUR JOBS WERE TO COME UP. BUT THERE'S A SECOND VECTOR OF PROBLEM FOR THE SHE-COVERY. A LOT OF THE JOBS THAT SHUT DOWN DURING COVID THAT WERE DEEMED NON-ESSENTIAL WERE MARGINAL TO BEGIN WITH. HAIR SALONS. YOU KNOW, NAIL PARLOURS. YOGA CLASSES. SOME TYPE... RESTAURANTS THAT WERE ALREADY OPERATING VERY MARGINALLY. ANYTHING IN HOSPITALITY OR ACCOMMODATION THAT WAS ON THE EDGE IS NOT GOING TO DO WELL ON THE OTHER SIDE NOTWITHSTANDING 75 percent WAGE SUBSIDIES AND 40,000 dollar LINES OF CREDIT. IF THE VOLUME OF BUSINESS IS SUBSTANTIALLY LOWER, SOME OF THOSE PLACES ARE GOING TO SHUTTER PERMANENTLY. AND THAT'S WHERE A LOT OF WOMEN WORK. AND SO, YOU KNOW, THE MALLS, THE RETAIL MALLS, ARE THE LAST TO OPEN UP, FOR GOOD REASON, AND THAT'S WHERE A LOT OF PEOPLE WORK. SO WE DON'T KNOW WHETHER THE JOBS WILL BE THERE AND WHETHER THE CHILD CARE WILL BE THERE IF THE JOBS RETURN. THOSE ARE TWO... BOTH HAVE A SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUE AS WELL AS AN ECONOMIC... WHAT'S THE ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE ISSUE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF COVID? AND WE DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER TO EITHER OF THOSE THINGS AT THE MOMENT. SO WE COULD BE PRESERVING MORE JOBS IN CHILD CARE.

Steve says KEN, DO YOU WANT TO COME IN ON THAT?

Ken says I WANT TO LAYER SOMETHING ON TOP OF THAT, WHICH IS, WE'RE ALREADY SEEING UNIVERSITIES MAKING THE DECISION TO GO DIGITAL IN THE FALL, AND WE DON'T KNOW ABOUT KIDS IN SCHOOL. SO IT'S NOT JUST CHILD CARE. OUR SCHOOLS MAY NOT COME BACK VERY QUICKLY. AND CERTAINLY UNTIL THE END OF JUNE, OUR SCHOOLS AREN'T GOING TO COME BACK. QUEBEC HAS MADE NOISES LIKE THEY WERE GOING TO DO IT AND PARENTS REVOLTED AND I DON'T THINK MANY PARENTS WOULD HAVE SENT THEIR CHILDREN. THAT'S UNTIL THE END OF JUNE. SUMMER CAMPS HAVE MOSTLY BEEN CANCELLED. WE DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN SEPTEMBER. I LIKE TO USE THE TERM "PRIMARY CAREGIVER," BECAUSE MOST OF THEM HAPPEN TO BE WOMEN. IT'S THE PRIMARY CARE-GIVER IN FAMILIES THAT'S GOING TO HAVE THE TRIPLE CHALLENGES OF LACK OF CHILD CARE, DIFFICULT JOBS TO GO BACK TO, AND SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN AT HOME, ALL THREE OF THOSE THINGS ARE THINGS WE'VE NEVER REALLY EXPERIENCED IN A RECESSION BEFORE...

Steve says KEN, I'VE GOT TO... HOLD THAT THOUGHT BECAUSE I'M GOING TO WANT YOU TO SPEAK TO THE CHART. THIS IS PERFECT TIMING HERE. TONY BURKE, WHO IS DIRECTING TODAY, DO YOU WANT TO BRING THIS CHART UP? THANKS.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Hours lost for family/personal reasons as a percentage of usual hours worked at main job."

A line chart comparing males and females shoes that between 2015 and present time shows that men have consistently lost less than 1 percent of the time whereas women have oscillated around 4 percent, with a spike in recent times.

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THIS IS A CHART, AND I'LL DESCRIBE IT FOR THOSE LISTENING ON PODCAST, THIS IS HOURS LOST FOR FAMILY OR PERSONAL REASONS AS A PERCENTAGE OF USUAL HOURS WORKED AT THE MAIN JOB. IF WE GO TO THE BOTTOM LINE FIRST, THERE'S THE MEN, THE RED LINE AT THE BOTTOM, WHICH KIND OF SORT OF TICKS ALONG AT A FAIRLY LOW RATE AND IS A PRETTY STRAIGHT LINE. BUT THEN IF YOU GO MUCH HIGHER, TO THE BLUE LINE, WHICH IS THE WOMEN, AND THAT LINE GOES UP AND DOWN FAIRLY REGULARLY OVER THE LAST FIVE, SIX YEARS, AND THEN LOOK AT THE HOCKEY STICK AT THE END. AS SOON AS THIS PANDEMIC HIT, THAT LINE WENT THROUGH THE ROOF. IT BASICALLY ILLUSTRATES, KEN, HOW, YOU KNOW, EVEN IN THIS MODERN ERA WHERE EVERYBODY IS ALLEGEDLY DOING EVERYTHING 50-50, IT'S WOMEN WHO ARE STILL LOSING 400 percent MORE TIME AT WORK TO DEAL WITH FAMILY OR PERSONAL REASONS. SO, AGAIN, I SORT OF INTERRUPTED YOU TO SHOW THOSE NUMBERS. BUT HELP US UNDERSTAND HOW THAT'S GOING TO HAVE AN IMPACT AS WE TRY TO FIGURE OUR WAY OUT OF THIS.

Ken says YEAH. LIKE I SAID, IT'S THE PRIMARY CAREGIVER, WHICH IS MOST OFTEN WOMEN, WHO ARE GOING TO BE STRUCK BY THOSE THREE CHALLENGES THAT I JUST SPOKE ABOUT. AND I THINK THE GRAPH JUST ILLUSTRATES THAT. I THINK, JUST TO MOVE A STEP FORWARD, WE DON'T HAVE THE PUBLIC POLICY TOOLS WELL IN HAND TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO RECOVER FROM THIS. I'VE WRITTEN A FEW PIECES IN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS WITH SOME SUGGESTIONS ABOUT HOW TO MOVE FORWARD. BUT THIS IS UNCHARTED... LIKE THE WHOLE THING ITSELF, LIKE THE WHOLE COVID RECESSION ITSELF, THIS IS UNCHARTED TERRITORY. WE HAVE NOT HAD THIS KIND OF A RECESSION EVER BEFORE, AS YOU SHOWED IN YOUR INITIAL CHART, AND WE CERTAINLY HAVEN'T HAD THE KIND OF LEAVING WORK FOR PERSONAL REASONS. I WAS AT A GROCERY STORE THE OTHER DAY AND THE MANAGER WALKED UP TO THE WOMAN... NOT OF COURSE, BUT THE WOMAN WHO WAS PACKING MY GROCERIES AND THE MANAGER SAID: IF YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO RUN THESE MACHINES, CAN YOU PLEASE HAVE THEM COME IN? WE'LL HIRE JUST ABOUT ANYONE. I'M LIKE, WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? A THIRD OF OUR EMPLOYEES ARE STAYING HOME TO WATCH THEIR SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN. SO THEY HAVE WORK BUT THEY CAN'T GO TO WORK. RIGHT? SO THESE ARE JUST, LIKE, LAYER UPON LAYER UPON LAYER OF CHALLENGES THAT WE'RE FACING GOING FORWARD.

Steve says ARMINE, THIS NEXT QUESTION FOR YOU COMES UNDER THE CATEGORY OF PLEASE DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER, OKAY? THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, THAT BELIEVE THAT IT'S NATURAL FOR WOMEN TO STAY HOME WITH THEIR CHILDREN AND THAT THIS GRAPH IS A NORMAL CONSEQUENCE OF THE WAY THE WORLD OUGHT TO WORK. WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?

Armine says IT'S NORMAL WHEN ONE OF TWO PARTNERS MAKES A LOT LESS MONEY, AND IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO KEEP THE ONE THAT MAKES MORE MONEY AT HOME. SO THAT'S A NORMAL ECONOMIC DECISION. IT'S ALSO NORMAL THAT WOMEN ARE MORE NERVOUS, BY AND LARGE, ABOUT THE... THEY UNDERTAKE UNPAID CARE FOR BOTH ELDERLY... PEOPLE TOO OLD, TOO YOUNG, TOO SICK TO WORK OFTEN, MORE OFTEN THAN MEN. THAT'S WHAT YOUR CHART SHOWED. WHETHER THAT'S SOCIALIZATION OR SOMETHING ELSE, I DON'T KNOW. BUT IT'S PRETTY TYPICAL. AND WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED FROM ECONOMIC STUDIES IS THAT THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHO MAKES HOW MUCH IN THE WORKPLACE IS NOT THE OCCUPATION YOU HAVE OR EVEN, YOU KNOW, SYSTEMIC PAY RAISE AT THE GET-GO, IT'S THE MOMMY EFFECT. WE'VE SEEN THIS EVEN IN COUNTRIES AS DRAMATICALLY MORE EGALITARIAN AS DENMARK AND SWEDEN, THAT THE MINUTE A WOMAN HAS A CHILD, THE MAN'S INCOME DOES NOT FALL, BUT THE WOMAN'S LIFETIME TRAJECTORY OF EARNINGS DOES FALL. AND ONE WAY THAT YOU GET ACTUALLY MORE EQUALITY IN PAY IS IF THE CARE-GIVING IS MORE BALANCED BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN, AND WE STARTED TO SEE THAT WITH SOME PUBLIC POLICIES AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL WHICH PERMITTED PARENTAL CARE AND PAID TIME OFF FOR MEN AS A RIGHT OF PASSAGE, WHICH LOOKS, AT FIRST BLUSH, OF NOT BEING MUCH OF ANYTHING. BUT IF YOU NORMALIZE MEN BEING ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF PEOPLE TOO OLD, TOO YOUNG, AND TOO SICK TO WORK, IF THAT BECOMES A NORMAL FEATURE, YOU GET LESS OF A WAGE GAP. BUT IT ALL COMES BACK TO WHO IS MAKING WHAT. BUT THAT LEADS TO A BIGGER QUESTION, WHICH IS, WE HAVE NORMALIZED WOMEN, WHO USED TO BE TOLD THAT IF THEY'RE WORKING, THEY'RE WORKING FOR PIN MONEY, AND NOW WE HAVE NORMALIZED IN ANY HOUSEHOLD WITH CHILDREN, THE MOST NORMAL THING IS THAT BOTH PARENTS ARE WORKING AND WORKING FULL TIME. AND NOW WE'VE GOT A SITUATION IN WHICH ONE OF THE PARENTS ISN'T GOING TO BE WORKING AS MUCH AND THAT IS GOING TO IMPEDE HOUSEHOLD INCOME AND THAT WILL IMPEDE HOUSEHOLD SPENDING AND HOUSEHOLD SPENDING IS THE MAIN DRIVER OF GDP. SO WE HAVE GOT A REAL BIG PROBLEM, HOUSTON.

Steve says LET ME GO THROUGH... I WAS GOING TO SAY WHAT'S ANCIENT HISTORY NOW. IT'S NOT SO ANCIENT HISTORY, ACTUALLY. WE'RE GOING BACK ABOUT 15 YEARS. PAUL MARTIN WAS THE PRIME MINISTER. I THINK KEN DRYDEN WAS HIS MINISTER RESPONSIBLE FOR SIGNING CHILD CARE AGREEMENTS WITH EVERY PROVINCE ACROSS THE COUNTRY, AND IT WAS A... I GUESS IT WAS THE FIRST MAKINGS REALLY IN CANADIAN HISTORY OF A NATIONAL CHILD CARE PROGRAM. THE HARPER CONSERVATIVES CAME IN AFTER THAT. THEY HAD A DIFFERENT VIEW ABOUT CHILD CARE. THEY REPLACED IT WITH A UNIVERSAL CHILD CARE BENEFIT THAT WAS, SHALL WE SAY, DIFFERENT AND SMALLER? MAYBE THAT'S THE CHARITABLE WAY TO PUT IT.

Ken says NOT SMALLER.

Steve says OKAY, KEN. THAT'S WHY YOU'RE HERE. COME ON IN HERE AND TELL US WHETHER WE NEED THE MARTIN VISION, THE HARPER VISION, OR SOMETHING NEW GIVEN THE TIMES IN WHICH WE'RE IN?

Ken says YEAH. OUR COUNTRY HAD A GREAT DEBATE IN 2006. THERE WAS A LOT OF OTHER THINGS GOING ON. BUT IN 2006 WE HAD A GREAT DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER WE WANTED TO HAVE INSTITUTIONAL-BASED CHILD CARE, CENTRALIZED AND RUN OUT OF OTTAWA, BUILDING BUILDINGS FOR OUR CHILDREN, OR WHETHER WE WANTED TO GIVE PARENTS MORE MONEY TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS THEMSELVES. AND AT THE END OF THE DAY THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH MONEY ON THE TABLE AND THE PLAN THE MARTIN GOVERNMENT PUT FORWARD AND ACTUALLY STARTED TO IMPLEMENT ACROSS A NUMBER OF PROVINCES SAID, WE WILL GIVE PROVINCES MONEY CONDITIONAL ON THEM BUILDING CHILD CARE. AND THE HARPER GOVERNMENT HAD A DIFFERENT VISION. THEY SAID WE SHOULD GIVE PARENTS MONEY AND LET THEM CHOOSE. AND THAT DECISION LED TO ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS IN THAT ELECTION CAMPAIGN FOR ME PERSONALLY, BECAUSE I WROTE THAT... I WAS INVOLVED IN WRITING THAT PLATFORM, WHICH WAS SOMEONE SAYING... SOMEONE SAYING, SOMEONE NAMED SCOTT REID SAYING THIS MONEY WOULD BE SPENT ON BEER AND POPCORN. AND THAT REALLY TURNED THE DEBATE BECAUSE PEOPLE... AND STEPHEN HARPER SORT OF SAYING, WE'VE CONSULTED THE EXPERTS AND THEY'RE MOM AND DAD. SO THAT DEBATE ENDED AND THEN FAST-FORWARD TO THE LAST ELECTION AND, YOU KNOW, TRUDEAU, RATHER THAN CANCELLING ALL OF THOSE CHILD BENEFITS THAT HARPER CREATED OVER THE YEARS, REJIGGED THEM A BIT, FOCUSED THEM A BIT MORE ON LOWER INCOME, AND DIDN'T HAVE A NATIONAL CHILD CARE PROGRAM. SO FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, WE HAD A GREAT DEBATE ON WHETHER CASH TO PARENTS IS SUPERIOR TO THE IDEA OF GOVERNMENTS BUILDING AND DESIGNING AND BUILDING A CHILD CARE SYSTEM AND THE DEBATE WAS WON BY THE SIDE THAT SAID CASH TO PARENTS IS A BETTER WAY TO GO. AND I CONTINUE TO BELIEVE THAT. I'VE BEEN SAYING IN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS THERE'S WAYS WE CAN ENHANCE THAT IN THE CHILD CARE AREA. BUT THAT WAS A VERY IMPORTANT, VERY BIG DEBATE THAT WE HAD, AND ALL PARTIES... IN FACT, THE NDP IN THE SUBSEQUENT ELECTION CAMPAIGNED ON INCREASING BENEFITS TO FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN AS OPPOSED TO A NATIONAL CHILD CARE PLAN. SO THAT DEBATE WAS PRETTY SOUNDLY WON AND WE'RE ON A PATH NOW WHERE CASH TO PARENTS IS A VERY, VERY SIGNIFICANT PART OF OUR SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE.

Steve says WELL, YOU'RE QUITE RIGHT. IT WAS A BIG DEBATE. AND THE CONSERVATIVE SIDE CERTAINLY WON THAT... MR. HARPER WON A MAJORITY GOVERNMENT. BUT WE ARE 15 YEARS AND ONE GLOBAL PANDEMIC LATER, AND I JUST ASK THE QUESTION VERY NEUTRALLY. ARMINE, DO WE REQUIRE A DIFFERENT RESPONSE GIVEN THE TIMES IN WHICH WE LIVE?

Armine says THE PANDEMIC HAS REALLY LIFTED THE HOOD ON WHAT IS ESSENTIAL ABOUT AN ECONOMY, AND PART OF WHAT IS ESSENTIAL IS CARE AND GOOD QUALITY CARE. CARE THAT IS NOT HOSTAGE TO THE NEED TO RUN A PROFIT AT THE SAME TIME THAT YOU ARE DELIVERING CARE. WE'VE SEEN THAT IN SPADES IN THE LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES. SO PEOPLE THAT ARE TOO OLD AND TOO YOUNG TO WORK NEED CARE. IF WE'RE ASKING THE WORKING AGE POPULATION TO LIFT THEM BOTH UP THROUGH THEIR TAXES THAT PAY FOR THE SERVICES FOR EVERYBODY. AND GOING FORWARD, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PANDEMIC, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A SMALLER WORKING AGE COHORT AS A SHARE OF THE TOTAL POPULATION. IN OTHER WORDS, FEWER PEOPLE LIFTING UP MORE PEOPLE WITH THEIR WORK TO BE ABLE TO PAY THE TAXES FOR THE INCOME DISTRIBUTION AND REDISTRIBUTION, LIKE THE SUPPORTS THAT KEN JUST TALKED ABOUT. AS WELL AS THE ACTUAL CARE THAT IS REQUIRED IN THE SERVICE SECTOR. THEY'RE PAYING FOR IT ALL. AND THEY CAN'T DO IT IF THEY'RE BEING ASKED TO PAY USER FEES THAT HAVE GOT NO LIMITS AND NO QUALITY CONTROLS ON CHILD CARE. WE ARE GOING TO NEED EVERY SINGLE CHILD LEARNING READY WHEN THEY ENTER SCHOOL, WHICH THEY ARE NOT RIGHT NOW. WE'RE GOING TO NEED EVERY LIVING CHILD TO LIVE UP TO THEIR MAXIMUM LIMIT PRESCHOOL AND DURING SCHOOL. WE DON'T HAVE SUCH A SYSTEM RIGHT NOW. IT ISN'T ABOUT THE CENTRAL LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT DESIGNING AND DELIVERING PROGRAMS, IT'S SETTING TARGETS FOR A NATION THAT IS FACING THE PRESSURES OF POPULATION AGING THAT COVID-19 POURED ACCELERANT ON. WE SAW IT IN REAL TIME WHAT WE ARE GOING TO BE FACING FOR DECADES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS, AND WHAT WE HAVE SEEN IS, WE NEED HELP WITH CARING FOR THE PEOPLE THAT ARE TOO OLD, TOO YOUNG, AND TOO SICK, AND THAT IS HIGH QUALITY CARE THAT HAS GOT ENFORCEABLE STANDARDS AND UNIFORM STANDARDS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, FOR WHICH WE ARE NOT PAYING USER FEES AT THE GET-GO, JUST LIKE WE DON'T WITH MEDICARE. WE PAY FOR IT. WE PAY FOR IT THROUGH TAXES. BUT WE DON'T PAY FOR IT ON POINT OF CONTACT. EARLY LEARNING AND CHILD CARE HAS GOT TO BE CONSIDERED PART OF THE CONTINUUM OF HUMAN SKILLS DEVELOPMENT OVER THE COURSE OF ONE'S LIFE AND NEEDS TO BE PART OF THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM. HAVING USER FEES ATTACHED TO THEM FOR QUALITY OF CARE... YOU CAN PUT AS MUCH MONEY AS YOU WANT IN MY POCKET. I CAN'T BUY ANOTHER QUALITY CHILD CARE SPACE IF IT DOESN'T EXIST. I CAN ONLY BUY WHAT'S OUT THERE. AND THE MORE I PAY, THE LESS I HAVE TO SPEND ON OTHER THINGS. WE NEED TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE, THAT MORE MONEY IN ONE POCKET WILL SIMPLY COME OUT OF THE OTHER POCKET UNLESS WE ARE PUTTING INTO PLACE QUALITY CONTROLS, AND BASICALLY A GUARANTEE OF BASIC SERVICES THAT EVERYBODY NEEDS, PARTICULARLY THE WORKING AGE POPULATION WHO IS TRYING TO JUGGLE WORKING, PAYING TAXES, AND TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE THAT ARE TOO OLD AND TOO YOUNG AND TOO SICK TO WORK. THAT'S JUST TOO MUCH OF A DEMAND.

Steve says WE HAVE A COUPLE OF MINUTES LEFT HERE AND I WANT TO SHOW TWO MORE CHARTS BECAUSE WE'RE ALL ABOUT THE CHARTS HERE. THIS IS THE CHANGE IN EMPLOYMENT BY PEOPLE OF PEOPLE BY AGE.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Change in employed people, by age. Percentage change from February to April."

A bar chart shows that both in men and women the worst-hit age-group is 15 to 24 years.

Steve reads data from the slate and says
IT MAY SURPRISE OUR VIEWERS TO KNOW... AGAIN, A LITTLE DESCRIPTION FOR THOSE LISTENING... THE PEOPLE WHO ARE REALLY FEELING THIS THE MOST ARE YOUNG MEN AND YOUNG WOMEN, AGES 15 TO 24. THEY ARE SUFFERING THE JOB LOSSES IN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT WAY. AND WOMEN MORE THAN MEN. AND LET'S DO ONE MORE HERE. THIS IS A SECOND GRAPH THAT SHOWS HOW MANY TEMPORARY WORKERS HAVE BEEN LAID OFF.

Another line chart shows that the number of people on temporary layoffs remained stable under 200 thousand from 2000 to 2020, when it has peaked to well over 1200000.

Steve says AND, AGAIN, THE LINE JUST SORT OF NUDGES ALONG UP UNTIL THIS PANDEMIC, AND THEN LITERALLY SHOOTS RIGHT UP TO THE SKY. THIS IS PEOPLE ON TEMPORARY LAYOFF IN THE THOUSANDS. THAT RISE IS JUST METEORIC. NOW, KEN, IN LIGHT OF THE FACTS REFLECTED IN THOSE TWO CHARTS, AGAIN, WHAT DOES IT CALL FOR IN TERMS OF A GOVERNMENT RESPONSE IN THIS GLOBAL PANDEMIC?

Ken says I THINK THE SECOND CHART IS GOOD NEWS BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE STILL FEELING A CONNECTION TO THEIR FORMER JOB, AND WE TALKED OFF THE TOP ABOUT MANUFACTURING JOBS THAT CAN RESTART REALLY QUICKLY, AND I THINK THERE'S A BUNCH OF THOSE IN THAT LAST CHART THAT YOU SHOWED, AND IF PEOPLE STILL FEEL A CONNECTION TO THEIR FORMER JOB AND IF WE CAN GET THOSE JOBS BACK UP AND RUNNING, THEN THAT'S A GOOD NEWS CHART. THE OTHER ONE IS PRETTY... I MEAN, THE PEOPLE WITH THE MOST FLEXIBLE AND DIFFICULT AND EARLY CAREER JOBS, THE LEAST ATTACHMENT TO THEIR JOBS ARE YOUNG PEOPLE, SO IT'S NOT ENTIRELY SURPRISING. I THINK THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN THAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT EARLIER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT GRAPH. THE YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE... THAT'S NOT THAT DIFFERENT THAN PREVIOUS RECESSIONS, THE AGE GAPS. BUT I THINK THE MEN AND WOMEN ARE A BIG GAP. CAN I JUST QUICKLY COMMENT ON SOMETHING ARMINE SAID...

Steve says WE'VE GOT 30 SECONDS LEFT. GO AHEAD.

Ken says CHILD BENEFITS THAT HARPER BROUGHT IN AND THAT TRUDEAU CAPPED HAVE DONE MORE TO REDUCE CHILD POVERTY IN CANADA THAN ANYTHING WE'VE DONE FOR 40 YEARS. SO I UNDERSTAND THE DESIRE TO BUILD CHILD CARE AND HAVE HIGH QUALITY CHILD CARE. BUT THESE CHILD BENEFITS HAVE REALLY MADE A MATERIAL DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF MANY, MANY CHILDREN IN CANADA.

Steve says THIS REQUIRES A FOLLOW-UP CONVERSATION. WE SHOULD GET YOU TWO BACK. ARMINE YALNIZYAN AND...

Armine says CAN I SAY ONE QUICK THING WITH THAT? I COULDN'T AGREE MORE WITH KEN BOESSENKOOL ABOUT WHAT THE IMPACT WAS ON POVERTY. BUT NO RECOVERY WITHOUT A SHE-RECOVERY.

The caption changes to "Producer: Meredith Martin, @MeredithMartin."

Steve says I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD HEAR ARMINE YALNIZYAN AGREE WITH KEN BOESSENKOOL. GOOD TO HAVE YOU TWO ON TVO TONIGHT AND I HOPE WE'LL SEE YOU BOTH AGAIN SOON.

Ken says GREAT FUN.

Watch: Are We in a COVID-19 'She-Cession?'