More daycare in Eastern Canada, combined with higher education, is leading to more women entering the workforce out east, while more women in Western Canada are staying home.
Traditionally women in the West have been more likely to have jobs than women in the East. However, since 1989, women in the East have made huge gains, according to a new Statistics Canada study.
"The convergence in trends between Quebec and Alberta is particularly striking,” wrote the study's author Francine Roy, a Statistics Canada senior economist.
The difference is most noticeable for women with children under six years old. In Alberta, the participation rate for this group dropped a full percentage point in 2005, to 64.9 per cent — 10 points lower than in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
And that's not because the fathers are rich from Alberta's oil and the mothers choose not to work, said Roy. Family income levels made a difference for only a small percentage of women who choose to stay home.
Rather, the study found the availability of daycare is driving women out of work. Alberta has fewer than 48,000 spots for 163,400 mothers of pre-schoolers.