The Mixed Impact of Care Work on the Finances of Low-income Canadians: Insights from the Canadian Financial Diaries Research Project

By Jerry Buckland, Wendy Nur, and Jodi Dueck-Read

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Family and community care work – mentoring, feeding, and nurturing – is a critical activity in any society. It is, and it enables, productive and reproductive acts that hold society together and enable economies to function. Its importance is magnified for people with low income in that their economic options, outside the home, are more limited than for people with higher incomes. We conducted a year-long financial diaries project with twenty-eight mainly low-income Canadians and found that care work was critically important for them and their families and communities. However, we found that this work was often stigmatised: it is not well paid (if at all;, it involves costs to the provider; and it can lead people to become dependent on predatory loans. We argue that Canadian social policy must broaden its conception of care work and expand support for persons, particularly women, who have older children, and community commitments.

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