Labour Studies Index

Unemployed women in neo-liberal Canada: an intersectional analysis of social well-being

Document type Thesis
Author Nichols, Leslie J.
Degree Ph.D., Policy Studies
Publisher Ryerson University; Toronto
Date 2014
Pages 294
URL http://digital.library.ryerson.ca/islandora/object/RULA%3A3413

Abstract

This study explores the lived experiences of unemployed women in neo-liberal Canada, through interviews with a diverse sample of participants between the ages of 25 and 40 from the cities of Toronto and Halifax. The results were analyzed using intersectional and grounded theory. The study resulted in four main findings. First, the study builds on intersectional methodology by McCall (2005) and Hancock (2007) to indicate the significance of context-specify and fluidity of identities. The significance of intersectionality theory is that there is not one salient identity; rather the impacts of identities are context dependent. Second, the neo-liberal erosion of the state infrastructure is manifested in a paucity of supports for unemployed workers. The unemployed woman workers do not only have to face a lack of adequate support when they become unemployed but they also do not have adequate support in other aspects of their lives including child care, retraining, health care and labour market supports while employed. Thus, many women do not have access to adequate living conditions without reliance on a male partner. Third, the health of the women was negatively affected, whether precariously employed or unemployed. They have insecurity around not being able to plan their future, and living on limited money and poor health care benefits. Finally, regional economic differences may be disappearing while all EI measures are brought towards the lowest common denominator. Thus, neo-liberal labour market policies put women, and particularly women with intersectional identities, in jeopardy. This study makes four policy recommendations: (1) to create social policies that address intersectional identities to allow women a real choice in facing competing demands of wage work and dependent care; (2) to create policies to curb the impacts of precarious employment; (3) to create EI policies not bound by regions but to the needs of the labour market including the growth of precarity; and (4) in the interim, to introduce extended health benefits to improve the situation of unemployed and precariously employed workers.