Women spend 50% more time doing unpaid work than men: Statistics Canada

Canadian men are doing more chores around the house than they did in the past, but the bulk of unpaid work still falls to women — especially on the Prairies — according to new data from Statistics Canada.

Gender gaps have been narrowing over time but still persist, especially on the Prairies, less so in B.C.

Canadian women spent 50% more time doing unpaid work than men in 2015, according to Statistics Canada, while men spent 37% more time doing income-generating activities. (iStock)

Canadian men are doing more chores around the house than they did in the past, but the bulk of unpaid work still falls to women — especially on the Prairies — according to new data from Statistics Canada.

The numbers come from the federal agency's Time Use Survey, which it carries out every five years, and they reveal a shrinking but persistent gender imbalance in the types of work Canadians do.

Women spent an average of 3.6 hours per day doing unpaid household work in 2015.

That's 50 per cent more than the 2.4 hours men spent doing the same tasks, which include chores, household shopping and caring for children or adult family members.

The gender gap was smallest in British Columbia, where women did 36 per cent more unpaid work than men, and highest on the Prairies, at 52 per cent.

Calgary resident Janet Tecklenborg said she wasn't surprised by the regional differences.

"I've found since we moved from B.C. to Alberta, I see there's a lot of women who don't work and then I think the expectations are higher in terms of what they need to do," she said.

"It's more traditional here, I would say, in terms of pink and blue jobs."

Those traditions are changing, as men — particularly fathers — have been picking up a greater share of the household tasks over time.

Back in 1986, Canadian mothers did 200 per cent more unpaid work than fathers, according to the survey conducted at that time.

Parents sharing duties

Fathers have since taken on an increased role in meal preparation, laundry and household cleaning, although mothers still spend more time on those duties.

Again, there were regional variations.

Fathers in B.C. were most involved in meal preparation, for example, with 66 per cent reporting it as a daily task in 2015.

Fathers in the Atlantic provinces, by contrast, were least involved in daily meal prep, at 53 per cent.

Quebec fathers were most likely to do daily cleaning, laundry or other types of housework, while fathers on the Prairies were least involved in those chores.

Aly Bandali seems to buck that trend.

"It's not seen as a his or her thing in our house," the Calgary resident said. "My hands were made for dishes too."

When it comes to paid work, the gender imbalance went the other way.

Canadian men spent an average of 3.7 hours per day doing work for which they were compensated, or other income-generating activities in 2015.

That's 37 per cent more than women.

Similar differences existed across the regions, with the gap being widest on the Prairies, where men did 56 per cent more paid work than women.

The narrowest gap was again in B.C., at 26 per cent.

Women with children are also doing more paid work than they used to, according to Statistics Canada,

In 2015, mothers accounted for 38 per cent of the total hours of paid work done by parents, up from 29 per cent in 1986.

All this data was gathered through telephone interviews and self-response electronic questionnaires between April 7, 2015 and April 6, 2016.

"A 24-hour diary was used to retrospectively collect all the activities a respondent did on a designated day starting at 4 a.m. and ending at 4 a.m. the next day," Statistics Canada explained.

"All activities lasting at least 10 minutes were recorded. For each activity, additional information was also gathered to provide a better picture of how long the activity lasted, where it happened and who was present during the activity."

The same methodology was used in the previous Time Use Survey in 2010 and similar but non-identical methods were used in 1986.

About the Author

Robson Fletcher

Reporter / Editor

Robson Fletcher joined the CBC Calgary digital team in 2015 after spending the previous decade working as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba.

With files from Allison Dempster