The historical gendering of Canadian (un)employment insurance, a feminist-institutional critique of the changing nature of work and family/maternity policy

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DeRiviere, Linda
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This thesis examines the Canadian (Un)Employment Insurance program and it specifically evaluates the historical treatment of women within the scheme. It reviews the legislative history of UI/EI from a gender perspective with a focus on developments in the accessibility to the program and entitlements to women, such as maternity benefits provisions. It also examines developments in the labour market and the changing nature of work which has influenced program policy decisions. Empirical data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, Historical Labour Force and (Un)Employment Insurance statistics, as well as the Absence from Work Survey (AWS), are used to evaluate and analyze gendered work patterns and maternity compensations following the latest phase of restrictive changes to the program in 1996. The results provide support for the central argument in this thesis, which is that the revised policy framework in the form of 'Employment Insurance' has undermined the entitlements and accessibility of benefits for women by not considering their realities in the labour market. Specifically, many women are excluded on the basis of not fitting into the male ideal of a full-time and full-year work pattern. The conclusion is that the government has failed to integrate gender issues in its provision of protective labour market policies, which has resulted in unequal opportunities within the income security scheme. However, gender outcomes often reflect political biases and/or the ideology and acceptance of female dependence.