WINNIPEG -- The Institute for International Women’s Rights – Manitoba (IIWR-MB) has launched a new campaign calling on the government to create a ‘feminist response to COVID-19.’

Micaela Crighton, co-chair of advocacy for IIWR-MB, said they created the initiative after seeing movements from other organizations and determining how they can be applied in Manitoba.

“We had seen a large mobilization of feminist organizations, both nationally and internationally, start coming together to realize that the most marginalized people in this crisis have often been women,” said Crighton.

“Women make up over 70 per cent of front-line, healthcare workers around the world," she said. "And oftentimes, they’re also working in precarious places, they don’t have access to the same kinds of benefits and salaries to be able to make it through such a precarious time, especially economically.”

Crighton noted support for domestic violence shelters is also needed.

“Across the country, we saw Minister (Maryam) Monsef call for increased supports to shelters because they were seeing increases in the need for supports for those who are suffering from domestic violence,” she said.

In light of the pandemic and economic shutdown, the institute has issued six calls to action for the Manitoba government:

  •  Apply a gender-based analysis to the COVID-19 response;
  •  Stop funding cuts to public services, Crown corporations and non-profits;
  •  Implement universal childcare in the province;
  •  Implement a living wage for all Manitoba;
  •  Increase EIA by $300; and
  •  Establish paid sick leave for all workers.

Crighton said the institute is hopeful that it will make some progress with the agenda.

“As with most things it’s about always trying to work to make everything better one step at a time,” she said, noting they are arranging a meeting with Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew.

The institute also wrote a letter to Premier Brian Pallister and Cathy Cox, Minister responsible for Status of Women, which was co-signed by 120 people and organizations.

In a statement to CTV News, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox said she received a copy of the letter on Monday.

"COVID-19 does not discriminate, but its impacts do affect certain groups disproportionately and can magnify gender and other inequalities.

To date, we have invested more than $1.2 billion in the COVID-19 response, including investing nearly $50 million in child care, including over $30 million in operating grants for child care centres and $18 million to provide start-up grants to new home-based providers. We have established an online system where parents can look up open child care centres online and contact them directly at

Employment and Income Assistance clients will continue to receive benefits at this time without necessarily having to meet employment and other conditions for eligibility. We have joined Ontario and are treating the Canada Emergency Response Benefit like employment income for existing EIA clients. EIA will not consider the first $200 of the CERB payment against EIA benefits and 30% of the remaining $1,800 will also be exempt. If an EIA file closes due to CERB payments, the family will continue to be eligible for their prescription drug, dental and optical coverage under EIA.

Our government has suspended all rent increases, and the Residential Tenancies Commission has halted evictions with the exception of issues involving the health and safety of tenants.

Our government recently launched a public awareness campaign to inform Manitobans about supports for those experiencing family violence. The campaign includes radio ads, an updated brochure, and a poster available in 10 languages. In addition, as we know talking on the phone may not be safe during periods of isolation, these awareness efforts focus on the newly available crisis text service, with the goal of increasing accessibility to more Manitobans in times of need."