Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Monday, March 2, 2009

equal shmequal

Saturday is International Women's Day. Here is what our government has to say about this year's IWD on the Status of Women page:

Canada's theme for International Women's Day/Week 2009 is Strong Leadership. Strong Women. Strong World: Equality.

The theme reflects the government's firm belief that increasing women's participation and access to leadership roles and opportunities will help women and girls thrive, reach their full potential and fulfill their dreams, and help build a more prosperous Canada.

For Canadians, equality means women and men sharing in the responsibilities and obligations, as well as in the opportunities and rewards, of life and work. In Canada, leadership is key across society - from the private sector, to governments, to the general public - for people of all origins, generations and backgrounds to participate fully in our country's economic, social and democratic life, and ultimately, in improving the state of the world.

Now more bad news. For all those, including Bev Oda, our federal Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women* from February 6, 2006 until August 14, 2007, who think this 'fight' has been won...

The current Canadian government’s budget Bill C-10, tabled by the Conservative party and supported by the Liberal party, contains the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act which threatens women’s right to pay equity. Some people question why this bill is included in the stimulus package as it does nothing to save money, help the economy, or save jobs.

When this legislation passes:

  • Some federal public sector workers will no longer have the right to file complaints for pay equity with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
  • Pay equity will be called "equitable compensation issues," and will become something negotiable with employers rather than a recognized human right. This means that a woman's right to equal pay is now an item on the bargaining table and could be traded away for additional coffee breaks.
  • Employers will, for the first time, be able to use "market forces" as a factor in determining whether pay equity will be addressed. Pay equity was originally designed to correct a failure in the market that permits systemic wage discrimination against women.
  • The affected federal public sector workers will have the right to file complaints with the Public Service Labour Relations Board, but unions will be fined $50,000 if they are found to be helping or encouraging women to fight a pay equity complaint.

And on and on...

This legislation has gone through second reading in Parliament, with third reading and a vote coming up in early March.

If you would like to contact your Member of Parliament to ask them to vote NO to Bill C-10, you can click on this link to send a letter to your MP: http://petition.web.net/psac/node/26

(In the letter, you need to fill out your MP's name, and type your name at the bottom of the letter. If you don't know who your MP is, his or her (still mostly his :P) name will appear near the bottom of the petition once you fill in your postal code).

Here are some links to news and information on this issue:

* The Status of Women portfolio was transferred to to a Minister of State (junior cabinet minister) on October 30, 2008. The first and current Minister of State (Status of Women) is Helena Guergis.


Anonymous said...

The CCPA (a non partisan group concerned with justice)produced an e-book called the Harper Record. Check out the section on women's equality and human rights http://tinyurl.com/cluwnu:

"Yes, I'm ready to support women's human rights and I agree that Canada has more to do to meet it's international obligations to women's equality. If elected, I will make concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the United Nations, to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women in Canada."
-Stephen Harper, January 18th, 2006

In 2006 "the government announced significant cuts and changes to the Women's Program of Status of Women Canada. The budget was cut by 43%, 12 of the 16 regional offices of SWC were closed, funding for women's equality research and advocacy was eliminated, and the word "equality" was removed from the Programs' mandate. Funding to the Court Challenges Program, which had supported many women's equality legal challenges, was also eliminated."

The status of women website tell us funding is now up 42% under Harper, or is the truth that they reversed the cut due to ongoing public pressure and education? Status of Women seem to more concerned PR for our PM than representing the women of Canada right now.

I appreciate that Ignatieff says he supports child care funding, the very thing Harper was quick to terminate on his first day in office in 2006 despite the high economic returns and great need. Real world programs show a return of up to 17 dollars for every dollar invested on behalf of the poorest children (http://tinyurl.com/bsw3hp pdf) , and should make it a win win. Instead when funding put in place by liberals shortly runs out women will have far fewer choices. More will be forced on welfare or work extra jobs. Families and the economy will be hurt.

Yesterday noting the question from the UN, a liberal mp asked why government has been so silent on the things that matter most to women, equality and day care, and the defense given was "but we have so many female mps, more than ever before". Doesn't this really mean they have less of an excuse?

Why Canada can't work without good child care and how it supports the economy: http://tinyurl.com/bsw3hp (important pdf)"Obama has identified early childhood education and care as required for an economic recovery."

http://tinyurl.com/cxhnae "Canada's failing grade on equality at the UN"

"pay equity/women's rights is not negotiable". http://www.psac-afpc.com/home-e.sht ml


Anonymous said...

"No nation rises higher than its women."- Nellie McClung

From the facebook group: "What would Nellie McClung say to Stephen Harper" (http://tinyurl.com/d8t3uf)

"When conservative prime minister Roblin suggested "nice" women did not want the vote, Nellie McClung said "By nice women...you probably mean selfish women who have no more thought for the underprivileged, overworked women than a pussycat in a sunny window for the starving kitten in the street. Now in that sense I am not a nice woman for I do care."

Nellie passed away in 1951 after a life time of fighting on the behalf of all the people of Canada.

Today in the United States President Obama tells us how proud he was to sign The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act which focuses on pay equity for women, and makes it easier for them to fight discrimination.

Meanwhile here in Canada Prime Minister Harper has done the opposite, and has restricted women's access to the court despite public uproar. Some describe the language in the current budget as Orwellian.

We are told it is to put pay equity back in the hands of the unions where it belongs, but not every woman is in a union. We are also told there is a problem with long waits for trials. If so this should be addressed, but two wrongs do not make a right. It also misses the point.

The wage gap only hurts the economy. With equal pay for work of equal value the top goal of the women's rights movement this is not only a symbolically terrible thing to do, and a horrible message to send the women of Canada, but it is also economically senseless.

"If women received the same salary as men who work the same number of hours, have the same education or union status, are the same age, and live in the same region of the country, then these women’s annual family income would rise by $4,000, and poverty rates would be cut in half." - National American Organization of Women, “Facts about Pay Equity,” 2002.

Feel free to visit http://www.wageproject.org to see the cost of the wage gap to an economy over the lives of women, and have a look at the Minnesota model (http://tinyurl.com/cejvgo) to see how it is a reality.

The CCPA (an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice) produced an e-book called the Harper Record. (http://www.policyalternatives.ca/reports/2008/09/reportsstudies1960/) The lengthy section on 'Women's Equality and Human Rights' concludes:

"Under Stephen Harper's Conservative government, women in Canada are witnessing a steady encroachment on the hard-won and still fragile equality rights for which they have fought long and hard."

Can anyone explain why the word "equality" was removed from the mandate for the Status of Women's Council, and why this erosion of women's rights in Canada?

What would Nellie McClung say about this?

What would she say about national child care being blocked by the conservatives? Estimates show it could return as much as seven dollars for every dollar invested in our children and have other benefits such as reduced crime and poverty for future generations."

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