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March 1, 2021

In Brief: COVID-19 IMPACTS on Distribution of Household Tasks

Vanier Institute’s In Brief Series: Mobilizing Research on Families in Canada

Diana Gerasimov

March 1, 2021

STUDY: Zossou, C. “Sharing household tasks: Teaming Up During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” StatCan COVID-19: Data to Insights for a Better Canada, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 45-28-0001 (February 15, 2021). Link:


Since the start of the pandemic, public health measures in response to COVID-19 have impacted families across Canada and how they navigate responsibilities related to work, school and everyday life. Factors that include mobility restrictions, daycare closures and cancelled extracurricular activities, coupled with a rapid transition to remote work and online learning, have shifted family routines, roles and relationships, such as how domestic tasks are divided in the household.

During the early months of the pandemic, 68% of Canadians reported being satisfied with the way their household tasks were divided with their spouse or partner. However, the proportion of satisfaction varied greatly based on the age and sex of respondents.

  • A higher proportion of individuals 55 years of age and older (74%) reported being satisfied with the division of domestic tasks compared with those younger than 55 (63%). This difference was more apparent in women: 57% of women younger than 55 reported satisfaction with the division of household tasks compared with the 72% of women aged 55 and up.
  • 16% of women were dissatisfied with task distribution during the pandemic compared with 9% of men.
  • Women were more satisfied when they shared the tasks equally (80%) or when their partner took full responsibility (82%), compared with when they had to take care of it themselves (50%), regardless of the nature of the task.
  • 86% of individuals in partnerships reported the same level of satisfaction with the division of household tasks as before the pandemic.
  • 8% of Canadians reported being more satisfied with the division of domestic chores during the pandemic than before.

Types of household tasks

  • 56% of Canadians living as a couple reported that the laundry was primarily completed by the woman, compared with 16%, who said the man mostly undertook the task.
  • 48% reported that the woman prepared the meals, while 16% said this task was mostly undertaken by the man.
  • 30% of men did the grocery shopping during the pandemic, doubling from 15% in 2017.
  • When there was at least one child younger than 6 in the household, the proportion of men doing the grocery shopping increased from 30% to 42%.

Despite women balancing work and family life more than ever, they do most of the household chores. Although women are less likely to be mainly in charge of laundry and meals during the pandemic compared with 2017, no notable changes were observed in their participation in other household chores.

Diana Gerasimov holds a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in Communication and Cultural Studies.