Evidence of meeting #28 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

  • Bonnie Brayton  National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada
  • Peggy Taillon  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council on Social Development
  • Jocelyne Wasacase-Merasty  Regional Manager, Prairie Region, National Centre for First Nations Governance
  • Paige Isaac  Coordinator, First Peoples' House

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you.

Again, your focus is on young girls with disabilities or women with disabilities. But you actually mentioned just a moment ago that it goes right across, regardless of disability or gender. Those who stay in school obviously have greater opportunities for economic prosperity. If we're trying to keep young girls, and young boys, in school to at least get a high school diploma, what is it we can do at a very early age? What is it Status of Women can do to really promote to young girls staying in school and taking that first step towards getting their high school diplomas?

3:55 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada

Bonnie Brayton

In the instance of girls with disabilities, it's ensuring that inclusive education is identified by Status of Women as an important priority. As I said before, it's understanding that the work Minister Ambrose has identified as a priority, which is gender analysis across ministries and an intersectional approach, which is linked very much to gender analysis, will make a significant difference. Because if policies and programs, going forward, reflect an understanding of gender analysis and an understanding of what it can bring to any issue, they will result in important changes.

These are systemic changes that will take time. We recognize that this is something that parliamentarians need to look at from a long view, which is why we really appreciate the fact that you're doing this as a study and are not just looking at immediate solutions, but at long-term solutions.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Scarborough Centre, ON

Can I just ask the chair how much longer I have?

3:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Irene Mathyssen

You have about a minute and a half.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Scarborough Centre, ON

Okay, I'll try to speak very quickly, which shouldn't be difficult.

I ask this question quite frequently. Obviously, there are differences between families of different income classes, but there are also issues with regard to ethnicity or religious background that may prevent young girls from having the same opportunities as those who may come from a different family background, heritage, or ethnicity. I'm just wondering, and I'll ask both of you the same question and touch base, whether you would agree with that statement.

What can we do as a society, as a government, as the Status of Women, to reach out and speak to both the girls and the boys in these community-based groups about how we really need to promote women as being equals and provide them the same opportunities. What can we do at the Status of Women to achieve that?

3:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Irene Mathyssen

Please answer very quickly.

3:55 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada

Bonnie Brayton

You go ahead first, Peggy. I've been talking my face off here.

3:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council on Social Development

Peggy Taillon

Young women need to see themselves in their environment. They need to see that there are opportunities, not by our telling them but by seeing them. So they need to see that their mothers are successful and not isolated.

That's why I focus so much on the early years because imagine a new Canadian mom who comes to Canada, and English is not her first language. She is isolated at home with her kids because she can't afford child care or they don't have a full-day kindergarten program. They become that much more isolated and less integrated into the community.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Scarborough Centre, ON

How do we reach out to them—

3:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Irene Mathyssen

That's it. I'm sorry. No, we're done. Sorry.

Now, Madame Brosseau and Ms. Freeman, you have seven minutes.

April 4th, 2012 / 3:55 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I'd like to thank you both for the work you've done and for taking the time with us today.

I have seven minutes. I'm going to be as fast as possible and I'm going to share my time with Mylène.

I think what's really important is that we need to address the root problems. Actions do speak louder than words. We have undertaken this study. I think we need to identify root problems and find solutions, and I hope this comes out as a good report.

Poverty is really big. When the moms aren't doing well and the moms are poor, the children are poor. Education is very important.

Ms. Peggy Taillon, I wonder if you could expand on your experience? And I'd like to commend you for the work you've done and the research with the group.

3:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council on Social Development

Peggy Taillon

Thanks.

Poverty is a big issue. We have to create opportunities for kids, and if I had to give a hit list of things I would tackle, education is a biggie.

In Kenya, there are so many things that we could do, and we're doing a number of different things through my foundation. But the one thing that we know is a game-changer in our villages is access to education. So getting as many kids in a generation as possible a good quality education will increase the opportunities they have in front of them.

As DAWN said, you can get through the education system but if there are no meaningful, good quality jobs, what's the point? We know that youth unemployment is at its highest in the country in 10 years, so that is an issue.

When I talk about education, I'm also talking about financial literacy. I look at our demographics, our aging. I look at my parents and their generation. They were not given financial literacy, the fundamentals about planning for a future, building a cushion, etc. It's not found in our curriculum in a way that speaks to kids and gets kids excited about those opportunities. There is this sense that at some point somebody is always going to take care of them—that there is some program. So we need to create an awareness and some responsibility around some of those issues.

A big thing for girls is self-esteem. As I was saying to the previous member, you need to see yourself. If you believe there are opportunities for you in the community, you need to see that for yourself. If you've witnessed your mother and your grandmother isolated without any opportunities, living in cyclical poverty, sick because they've had poor living conditions, living in an abusive relationship, you don't see very many options for yourself.

So this is about community building. You cannot deal with kids without dealing with their families. You cannot deal with kids without supporting their parents, so dealing with poverty is a big one.

4 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

So if the federal government had a national child care strategy that would help moms pay for child care for their children, that would help.

If education wasn't so expensive.... Women earn 71 cents for every dollar a man does and if we fixed that also.... These are the steps I think we should be taking.

4 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council on Social Development

Peggy Taillon

Yes, early learning and child care, housing, and making sure that people have the best start because they're living in a safe and affordable environment. Nutrition, getting the—

4 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

A national food strategy.