Evidence of meeting #27 for Status of Women in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was women.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Tracy Redies  President and Chief Executive Officer, Coast Capital Savings Credit Union
  • Ellen Moore  Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chubb Insurance Company of Canada
  • Jocelyne Michelle Coulibaly  Representative for the Ottawa Region, Board of Representatives, Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne
  • Geneviève Latour  Programming Manager, Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Wai Young Vancouver South, BC

That's great. That's good to know.

The other thing I want to ask about is urban versus rural. You provide services throughout the whole province of Ontario, so have you noticed any differences between the needs of urban girls versus rural girls in this area? Because we're also talking about minority groups and Jocelyne is here, have you noticed any differences? What recommendations can you give us around providing programs and services for that target group as well?

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Irene Mathyssen

Be very quick.

5:20 p.m.

Programming Manager, Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne

Geneviève Latour

Yes, we hear about the different situations in rural communities and urban communities. The rural francophone community often feels isolated. So it is important to be active and to offer opportunities for experiences.

We were talking about networking. In the cities, it is often possible to meet with other girls. In rural communities, we need to be active and offer them opportunities to come in contact with other people.

In terms of diversity, I do not know whether you want to talk about how it is different.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Irene Mathyssen

Could we come back to that? I'm sorry, but I have to stop you. I keep doing this and I feel terrible, but we must go over to Madame Freeman for five minutes.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

If you want to answer the question, I am open to the idea of you taking 30 seconds to do that.

5:20 p.m.

Representative for the Ottawa Region, Board of Representatives, Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne

Jocelyne Michelle Coulibaly

For my part, I think that diversity has an effect in the community. For example, when my mother came to Canada, she was not really informed about how it worked in the community and she did not have the information she needed in order to contribute to the community more. So I recognize that we have to provide more information so that cultural minorities are also able to make their contribution to society.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

I think you are right. It is really important to do that.

I am pleased that you are here with us. I grew up as a francophone in Ontario and I remember the FESFO, the involvement and encouragement and leadership role it plays in bringing francophones in Ontario together to work together. Every time we took part in activities that brought francophones from all over this enormous province together, it must really have been a lot of work. I do not think I appreciated that for what it was really worth at the time. It really did provide a feeling of solidarity.

That is why I also recognize the barriers associated with being a minority language community. I grew up in the area around Toronto. I did not live in a francophone community; I had to travel a long way to go to school. At that time, and this is no longer the case now, the school was annexed to an anglophone school. So there was discrimination based on language.

Could you talk to us about specific barriers that girls in the francophone community in Ontario face, in terms of discrimination based on language?

5:20 p.m.

Programming Manager, Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne

Geneviève Latour

I spoke earlier about resources. It often happens that francophone women do not have information or have access to a very limited quantity of resources. Barriers to economic prosperity are a subject that generates emotional responses, and when people talk about it, they want to do it in their language. When there is no service that allows them to talk about it in their language, that is definitely an additional barrier to girls' economic prosperity. The fact that many francophone communities are isolated is also a factor. You mentioned Toronto, but in the north, isolated communities have very little or no access to resources. This is another obstacle that women may have to deal with.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Franco-Ontarians live either in very isolated communities, relatively francophone communities where they can function entirely in French, or in an anglophone community, as in my case. I am francophone by birth, but sometimes I have trouble expressing myself in French. In the past, for example, if I called the telephone company, I spoke English. That causes problems relating to language and belonging. The FESFO has done a lot of work on this and that has given some people the motivation they need to continue to live in their language, which is very important.

On the other hand, I have a lot of friends whose parents decided to move to the Toronto area for work reasons. My friends later wanted to move back to the community where they were born, for example to Sudbury or Timmins, to work there. They all became teachers. It was as if, to be able to go back home and live in the community where they were comfortable, they really had no other choice.

Do you see the lack of economic opportunities that the francophone regions of Ontario suffer from as a barrier?

5:20 p.m.

Programming Manager, Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne

Geneviève Latour

I think it is important to promote community involvement among young people. You are talking about the exodus, and that is often associated with the fact that young women do not feel there is anything for them in those places. And yet the community organization sector is very active and full of ideas. They just have to be recognized.

For example, the sexual assault crisis centres have published a study entitled "Faire autant avec si peu...". That is often the situation that community organizations find themselves in. These people want to welcome new people, but they do not have the resources they need. I think we also have to make use of the expertise that exists on the ground. When you want to have a good life and have some money, going back to your little community often isn't possible. That is really sad, because you lose a unique style. It is important to recognize the role and importance of small communities.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

I agree entirely.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Irene Mathyssen

Thank you very much.

We will go over to Madam James for the time remaining.

April 2nd, 2012 / 5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you especially to our two guests today. It has certainly been a pleasure to listen to both of you.

I'm going to refer to the previous two witnesses and then tie it in to a very specific question to both of you.

One of the previous witnesses indicated that in many cases women who succeed do so because they are driven to succeed or have a desire to succeed. In the same conversation, the witnesses also mentioned—I have the quote here—that in many cases women may feel the effort or sacrifice to succeed is too much, and they simply opt out.

I'm going to relate this to my personal life example. I ran three times for my political party, the Conservative Party, through three elections. I campaigned for six years straight. I made huge sacrifices. Basically, in the last 10 years, I have given up most of my time and holidays with my previous employer and devoted it to politicking. Some might say I'm driven in that particular case.

Looking at the two of you and hearing your speeches today as witnesses before this committee, it's obvious that both of you are driven young women. I'm a little bit older, but I think we have that same desire to succeed and to make a real difference in the lives of Canadian women.

My question is this. The focus of this study is economic prosperity and empowering young girls to succeed in leadership roles. What makes some women want to succeed while others simply opt out? What do you think it is? What is the message that Status of Women Canada can deliver through Status of Women Canada projects, etc., to young girls to make more of them want to succeed like us?

5:25 p.m.

Representative for the Ottawa Region, Board of Representatives, Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne

Jocelyne Michelle Coulibaly

I think that everyone has a desire to succeed. That desire is important. All that is needed is to have the resources that are necessary, to overcome the obstacles. To succeed, there have to be resources and the support of the community.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you. That's leading to the second part of my question.

The previous witness also talked about having a supportive career or mentioned that the company she worked with was very supportive. In my particular case, I'm tied in to something you said about bringing boys and men into the equation. I was in a very fortunate situation in that I had a very supportive family. My husband, to put it bluntly, has been more or less a single father for the past six years during numerous points in my drive to succeed as a politician.

There are certain different ethnic groups or religious beliefs, etc., in Canada that may not put women at the same equality level as men. What message can Status of Women, through empowering young girls and bringing boys into the equation, deliver to children at a very young age so that women are treated as equals and end up being in supportive roles while the man or spouse is also supportive of them?