Podcast, Social Justice

Women, Work, More: Senior Women & Economic Insecurity — with Sheila Block & Jo-Ann Hannah

November 25, 2021
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For this final episode of Women, Work, More, host Alyha Bardi speaks with Sheila Block, a senior economist from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Jo-Ann Hannah, retired Director of the Pensions and Benefits at Unifor, and board member at the BC Financial Services Authority.

Sheila and Jo-Ann speak in conversation about retirement incomes with a gender and racial equity lens, and explore how pay gaps and gendered life-patterns influence income security for senior women. They speak to the flaws in existing public and private pension systems, discuss the benefits and downfalls of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and explore solutions in the realms of structural changes, public services and healthcare, and pooled retirement pensions systems.

Throughout the episode we hear from four senior women, as they speak about their life-work trajectories, and the resulting money struggles, worries, or “lucks” they have now — while expressing a dissatisfaction with lacking assistance from government systems.

About Our Guest(s)

Sheila Block

Sheila Block is a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Sheila’s research focuses on Canada's labour markets, public finance, and inequality.

She has worked as both a political advisor and a public servant in the Ontario government and as an economist in the labour movement.

Sheila has an Honours B.A. in Economics from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Toronto.

Jo-Ann Hannah

Jo-Ann Hannah is currently on the board of directors on the BC Financial Services Authority, which regulates pensions, credit unions, mortgage brokers, and trust companies.

In 2016, Jo-Ann retired as Director of the Pensions and Benefits Department at Unifor, one of Canada’s largest private sector unions. She worked with Unifor for over 25 years and bargained with many of Canada’s major corporations: CN Rail, Air Canada, Rio Tinto Alcan. She was invited to speak on pension issues in Canada as well as Europe and the United States.

She also represented the union in international work in various countries including Swaziland, Bolivia, and South Africa. Her education includes an MA (Psychology, UBC), LLM (Osgoode Hall Law School), and PhD (Education, University of Toronto).


Host & Producer - Alyha Bardi

Audio Editor - Paige Smith

Cover Artist & Secondary Editor - Kathy Feng

Transcriber & Copywriter - Melissa Roach

SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement Director - Am Johal


“Words” by Jason Shaw is licensed under CC BY 3.0
“Drive” by Scanglobe is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
“Industrial Sunrise” by Scanglobe is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
“Transit” by Scanglobe is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


Experiences of gendered work are multifaceted. Common concepts like the glass ceiling or the gender wage gap, don’t even come close to scratching the surface of the varying barriers and experiences that women and gender diverse people face within their working lives. From dealing with sexualized work environments, to juggling work and home lives near and far, to retirement — these experiences not only vastly differ from men’s, but also vastly differ for feminized workers across differing social intersections such as age, race, nationality, and more.

To gain a more nuanced perspective, this series, hosted by SFU Labour Studies student Alyha Bardi, documents the lived experiences of women and their relationships with work across varying life stages & social intersections. Each episode features a snapshot-esque look into the lives of a specific group of women workers — starting with young women restaurant workers, then working mothers, then migrant women, with the series culminating on its final episode on senior women. Alongside self-told stories of women workers’ lived experiences, we hear from professors, labour organizers and policy critics as they share their expertise and findings.

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