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Lightman is undertaking this study after receiving the Thelma Margaret Horte Memorial Fellowship in Women and Society, a $10,000 grant awarded to UCalgary faculty members pursuing research related to women’s issues and equality in the workplace.
She said the current health crisis has highlighted these existing issues as COVID-19 ravages long-term care sites but few are seeking to hear directly from women in these roles, who are facing consequences to their overall health and financial security.
“It’s only now, with the pandemic, that people suddenly seem to care about care,” said Lightman.
“I think we don’t give them a lot of value and credit, generally, in terms of the really essential work they are doing for our own family members and jobs that we don’t want to do — and by we, I’m speaking about Canadians in general.”
Health care aides provide direct care to patients who are ill, elderly or disabled.
There are currently 19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities in the Calgary zone, as of Thursday, according to government data. Hundreds of COVID-19 infections have been contracted at these sites, and dozens of residents have died as a result.
Four healthcare workers have died in Alberta from the novel coronavirus, three of which were health care aides.
Canada’s federal caregiver program, which is devoted to bringing in care workers from other countries, is part of the reason immigrant women are overrepresented in this type of work, explained Lightman, who has been researching care work and migration for seven years.