Trouble on the home front, perspectives on working mothers in Winnipeg, 1939-1945
The Second World War created a shortage of labour in Canada, and by 1942 mothers were encouraged by the National Selective Service to accept opportunities for paid employment. The federal government responded to the need for child care by initiating a cost-shared program with interested provinces. The Dominion-Provincial Day Nursery Agreement was enacted in Ontario and Quebec cities, but despite significant need for quality child care, Winnipeg did not take advantage of the day nursery program. What factors lead to this uneven acceptance of social patriarchy? Many levels of Winnipeg society were uneasy about the rapid increase of women a d mothers in the workforce. Evidence suggests that many citizens shared paternalistic views of women in society, and were reluctant to sacrifice traditional ideals of family even during the wartime labour emergency. As well, professional social workers in Winnipeg's Council of Social Agencies compromised their commitment to modern methodology and instead relied on conservative assumptions of mothers' responsibility to the home. The Council's decision whether to implement the day nursery scheme coincided with a period of jitters Winnipeg had over a perceived rise in delinquency by adolescents. Since delinquency was considered a sign of social instability, this moral panic did little to ease concerns that the absence of mothers from the home would cause problems. In all, these factors created little enthusiasm to fund and create a day ursery that would entice more mothers away from their family duty.