UPDATE 1-Canada takes steps to make 'feminist' budget addressing women's post-pandemic challenges

(New throughout, updates with budget)

OTTAWA, March 8 (Reuters) - Canada on Monday unveiled an all-woman task force to ensure that its upcoming budget, set to include billions in post-pandemic stimulus spending, includes measures to get women working and address gender inequality.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will not present that budget this month, but it will come later "this spring," her spokeswoman said Monday. It will be the first full budget since before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Freeland's first as finance minister.

The Task Force on Women in the Economy will also advise the federal government on actions to address gender imbalances exacerbated by COVID-19. It will be co-chaired by Freeland and Associate Minister of Finance Mona Fortier.

"Canada's future prosperity and competitiveness depend on the ability of women to participate equally – and fully – in our workforce," Freeland said in a statement earlier. The panel was officially launched on International Women's Day.

Since being named finance minister in August, Freeland has repeatedly spoken about a "feminist agenda," and has said a national childcare plan will be part of a stimulus package worth up to C$100 billion ($79 billion) over three years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the stimulus - to be detailed in the spring budget - is needed to jump-start Canada's post-pandemic recovery.

"This crisis has created a she-cession and has threatened to roll back the hard-fought social and economic progress of all women," Trudeau said in a statement.

"To build a fairer and more equal Canada, we must ensure a feminist, intersectional recovery from this crisis."

Canadian women are more likely than men to have lost jobs in the pandemic, and three times more women than men have left the labor force entirely since February 2020. Mothers, racialized women and young women have all been disproportionately affected.

The task force is made up of a diverse group of women from across Canada, including politicians, academics, social advocates, economists and business leaders.

($1 = 1.2657 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio)

03/08/2021 18:22

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