Edmonton nursing professor among experts advising federal government on 'she-cession'

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Carlo Hilario, an assistant professor in the faculty of nursing at the University of Alberta,  is part of the federal government's Task Force on Women in the Economy. The new group is advising the government on gender equity issues resulting from the COVID-19 recession. (Submitted by Carla Hilario - image credit)
Carlo Hilario, an assistant professor in the faculty of nursing at the University of Alberta, is part of the federal government's Task Force on Women in the Economy. The new group is advising the government on gender equity issues resulting from the COVID-19 recession. (Submitted by Carla Hilario - image credit)

When Carla Hilario received an email invitation to join the federal government's Task Force on Women in the Economy, she thought it was a mistake.

"I actually thought they had the wrong person and said that during my first meeting with Minister [Chrystia] Freeland's policy team," she said Thursday in an interview with CBC Edmonton's Radio Active.

Hilario may not be an economist, but the registered nurse and assistant professor in the faculty of nursing at the University of Alberta has a history of researching health inequities, particularly for immigrant and refugee youth.

Having moved to Canada from the Philippines as a child, she sometimes jokes she has been an ethnographer since she was four years old.

And as a mother to a 15-month-old daughter, she has also experienced first-hand some of the challenges associated with parenting during the pandemic.

Hilario is one of 18 experts advising federal cabinet ministers on addressing pandemic-related gender inequities.

According to a recent report published by the Labour Market Information Council, women are overrepresented in low-income earning occupations and have suffered a larger loss of employment during the pandemic than their male counterparts.

"When the COVID-19 lockdown started, the first job losses were seen in women-dominated service sectors," Hilario said.

"Women accounted for 62 per cent of the job losses at the beginning of the pandemic, and so the goal of this task force is really about identifying the unique barriers and inequities women face and how these can be addressed through policy intervention."

Lindsay Tedds, an associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary, and Raylene Whitford, the founder of Canative Energy and a PhD student in Indigenous Studies at the U of A, are also serving on the federal task force.

The task force started meeting virtually last month and is expected to run for a year.