Centre For Family Equity

Justice at Work for Lone Mothers in BC

Investigating the impacts of COVID-19 on low-waged lone mother workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted marginalized communities and workers around the world. Women working in precarious, often front-line sectors, many of whom are racialized, were hit particularly hard. We conducted community engagement with our members on the impact of the pandemic on their incomes, jobs, and careers. What we had heard was devastating.  

In 2021, the federal government released a $100 million Feminist Response and Recovery Fund through Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) to respond to the impact of the pandemic on women. Our organization submitted a project proposal and was granted funding for Justice at Work for Lone Mothers in BC. 

Engaging Lone Mother Workers Across the Province

Justice at Work is a multi-year project with the first phase consisting of participatory action research partnered with the University of British Columbia and Dr. Lea Caragata, UBC School of Social Work. Led by a team of peer researcher lone mothers with lived experience of the issue, the project has now completed data collection on the impact of the pandemic on lone-mother workers in BC, including those who accessed income and disability assistance throughout the pandemic. Our northern and rural BC outreach and engagement liaison supported by the project in Prince George built our northern and rural outreach network to ensure geographical diversity and northern reach. 

The project assesses the expansion of key public policy including reforms and measures to safeguard marginalized lone mother workers in future disasters and address their pre-existing marginality as precarious workers. 

Before the pandemic I was hanging on by a thread, but I was proud that I was hanging on, and finding way to make it work as a single mom struggling after years of severe and controlling IPV [intimate partner violence]. Each year since 2020 has compounded the hardship with the price of everything still increasing, while my income and ability to safely earn a living stagnated.

– Lone-mother member on the impact of the pandemic on her well-being and livelihood

Moving to Action

Six focus groups, a pan-provincial survey, many one-on-one interviews, and one productive in-person research summit later, the research team is now rolling up its sleeves with data analysis and the preparation of a forthcoming research report due in spring 2023. 

Through the first fifteen months, the project has built partnerships, networks, and alliances with stakeholders in urban centers and rural and remote areas with a particular focus on northern British Columbia. The next phase will focus on developing and implementing action and advocacy plans, and mobilizing knowledge gathered in the project through lone-mothers’ summits, academic conferences, and policy dialogues. 

We continue to work with key project partners including the University of British Columbia, UNITE HERE! Local 40, and the Worker Solidarity Network as well as new allies through the knowledge mobilization and action phases of the project to April 2024. 

For more information on Justice at Work, please contact Zeynya S. Alemayehu, Research & Policy Lead: [email protected]. 

This project has been funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada.