Evidence of meeting #34 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 young.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Coline Camier  Assistant Coordinator, Action travail des femmes
  • Marilyn Ouellet  Responsible for Equal Access Services, Action travail des femmes
  • Siham Chakrouni  Provincial Coordinator, Community Services, Ontario Movement for Francophone Immigrant Women
  • Regine Cirondeye  Board Member, Ontario Movement for Francophone Immigrant Women
  • Shellie Bird  Board of Directors Member, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
  • Katie Arnup  Board of Directors Member, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
  • Linda Hasenfratz  Chief Executive Officer, Linamar Corporation

May 14th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Thank you very much.

Thank you to all the witnesses for your presentations today.

I'd like to direct my questions today to both Ms. Bird and Ms. Arnup.

I'll start off with you, Ms. Bird.

Many of us have had a chance to hear about the educational benefits of early childhood education, a topic that you have alluded to. But I wonder if you could tell us a bit about the economic benefit of early childhood education, both with respect to many of the women who work in the child care sector and to what it could mean to have a national child care program, not just for Canadian women but Canadians in general.

4:55 p.m.

Board of Directors Member, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada

Shellie Bird

Thank you.

A number of national and provincial studies have been undertaken around the economic benefits of government investment in early learning and child care. It Is very clear that for every dollar invested in a system of public and non-profit high quality early learning and child care, there is a $2 to $6 return. This has been demonstrated in three separate studies by three separate economic researchers, so we do know.

We need only look to Quebec to see that in that province, investment in $7 per day child care has actually brought the poverty rate down by 40%. In particular—as I also know from my own experience—women who are trying to get off social assistance and trying to get into the labour force really find the costs of child care exorbitant and a barrier to their involvement in the paid labour force. If you bring down the costs of early learning and child care and make them affordable, more women will end up in the paid labour force.

We know there are economic benefits in the tax revenue that comes from women's earnings in the paid labour force, which does benefit Canada and the provinces.

I want to go to a comment that was made a little earlier about the men who drop out of high school ending up in trades or construction and women or young girls who do the same ending up in the caring professions like home child care. To go back to Linda's comments, I think valuing the work that women have historically done in their homes—the caring work, the care that goes into education, the care that goes into help—really valuing those kinds of things that women have historically done in society and valuing them through economic compensation will also improve Canada's economy. I think that instead of trying to trying to get women into non-traditional jobs simply as an economic strategy, it's time that our country valued the work that women do.

Thank you.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Thank you, Ms. Bird.

Ms. Arnup, you referenced the work of your organization in terms of advocacy and how challenging it has been. You did reference more broadly the cuts to advocacy. I'm wondering if you could tell us how women in Canada lose out when advocacy and research organizations are being cut, as they have been, in an extreme way certainly by this government?

4:55 p.m.

Board of Directors Member, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada

Katie Arnup

Sure.

There was a time when my organization had funding at both the federal and provincial levels. Through that we were able to connect directly with communities. We have that capacity. We work directly with centres and, therefore, we have staff and connections with parents.

Through that we were able to create networks across our province, and I know that other organizations were doing similar work. That's the only way we can have a really close connection with families, to know what their needs are and where the gaps are, and to go beyond just the people who have access. We know that 80% of families don't have access to a space. How do we start having those conversations and being able to be a voice for them?

We don't have federal or provincial funding any more. Our members invest in our organization because they are child care centres and they need that collective voice. If we lose capacity and we aren't able to speak on behalf of those centres, no one will be hearing about child cares closing.

In Ontario we're going through a child care crisis right now. We are seeing centres close. I got a call today about a very high-quality centre in Belleville that represents about 100 families and that will be closing. That would never end up in a paper unless a parent called me, and called my co-worker, and we started trying to build some capacity around that.

The other thing is that there is no support for those families when that child care closes. Unless there is support out there to build awareness about what happens when a centre closes, what happens to those staff, what happens to those families and that community when there is no longer that hub? I think without organizations to speak up and do the work, it's frightening what the future of women will be.

It's very difficult for us to get families out when we have media events and so on. Parents are working. Parents are running from job to job, from event to event with their kids. They can't constantly be demanding more child care. They need people to represent them.

So that's what I do. I speak to parents when they have the time.

5 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

I have one more question, and we'll see if we have more time after this.

A recurring theme throughout the study so far has been talk of mentorship and how important mentoring and role modelling is for young women. As a young woman myself, nobody can say that this isn't the case. However, what many of us wonder is what are we doing to change the socio-economic conditions that young women face?

You spoke a bit about the challenges facing young women in Canada today. I'm wondering how you would respond to the emphasis on mentorship rather than shifting the socio-economic reality of young women.

5 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Marie-Claude Morin

Be very, very quick.

5 p.m.

Board of Directors Member, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada

Katie Arnup

Just to clarify that, were you asking how I would emphasize the importance of mentorship?

5 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Sure. Do you think—

5 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Marie-Claude Morin

Unfortunately, your time is up. That was why I said you had to wrap up very quickly. Ms. Arnup may have a chance to answer that question later. I apologize, but we have to stay within the time limits.

It is now over to Ms. O'Neill Gordon.

You have seven minutes.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

Thank you, Madam Chair.

First of all, I want to thank all of the witnesses and the contributors here today. It certainly was interesting listening to your presentations.

To Linda Hasenfratz, you certainly need to be congratulated on your achievement in your company. There is no doubt in my mind that you certainly would have experienced and seen lots of economic prosperity and economic leadership.

I also was a primary teacher, and I'm glad to hear you say that we need to introduce the ideas in the primary area. You certainly also have a great goal for the education system, and there is no doubt in my mind that the education system is where it all starts. As you say, they are certainly open to these ideas. I know that for a fact.

I would like to ask you, first, are girls entering non-traditional industries at an increasing rate? Do you see that in your jobs?

5 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Linamar Corporation

Linda Hasenfratz

I wouldn't say there has been a dramatic increase at all. There are a few more young women in skilled trades than you would have seen 10 or 15 years ago, so a little movement is happening there. On the engineering side, I don't think there has been much change. We're still sitting at only about 20%. It's been stuck there for a while, so I don't think a lot of movement is happening there; hence, that's why I'm trying to encourage some interest, get young women interested in these areas, and paint a picture of the kind of career you could have. It could be very fulfilling and exciting and interesting in a variety of areas. That might not have been the first thing that popped into their heads.

There are plenty of examples for women out there. For instance, there are hugely successful women in the engineering area within the ranks of the automakers, some at the very highest levels, who can be a great inspiration for young women. This can be a really interesting, exciting career that can lead to a lot of opportunity for them.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

What impact do role models have on girls? With your experience, you would probably see that. You're saying that lots of girls need to see women in these fields, and that would probably encourage them to join. I'm wondering how girls can be empowered to make these choices and what role models can give to girls in this situation.

5:05 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Linamar Corporation

Linda Hasenfratz

I completely agree: Role models are really important. That's why we should try to highlight the achievements of some of these women in these non-traditional fields, and show how they have been able to choose some very prominent positions and do so while balancing work and home life. These women are not fully career women. We all have families, and we've found a way to balance and make it work.

Role models are really important, and I've heard that from young women who've said that they had seen what I or other women have done and been inspired to go into those types of careers.

Mentors are important for the same reason, people who will work actively with young women to help mould them and help teach them.

Lastly, I think the idea of the champion is really important too. It's not enough to have a mentor, but having somebody within your own organization who is actively promoting you as a woman to get that opportunity is very powerful as well.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

You certainly would have experienced lots of challenges on the way and certainly would make a great role model yourself.

Madam Chair, I know we're moving on to committee business, and I want to move that we go in camera at that time. I don't know how much time I have left.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Marie-Claude Morin

You have three minutes left, but we have to move on to committee business, scheduled for 5:10 p.m. So the few remaining minutes were to go to Ms. Sgro. There you have it.