Evidence of meeting #35 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

  • Andrée Côté  Women's and Human Rights Officer, National Programs Section, Public Service Alliance of Canada
  • Ellen Dubé  Educational Counsellor, Rosalie-Jetté School
  • Stefanie Lomatski  Executive Director, Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women
  • Bailey Reid  Chair, Public Engagement Committee, Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe London North Centre, ON

Thank you.

I wasn't actually referring to Status of Women Canada studying men and boys; I was referring to their being engaged, so that when girls are young they also understand that it's not right to do things to girls and that girls should have a better life than what they have—not necessarily that they would now be one of our studies, for example.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Marie-Claude Morin

Ms. Côté has 30 seconds to answer.

4:05 p.m.

Women's and Human Rights Officer, National Programs Section, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Andrée Côté

Of course, education programs directed towards human rights and non-discrimination in schools would be very helpful, so that the boys themselves find it normal that girls start integrating in non-traditional jobs, so that we actually stop using the expression “non-traditional” and they just become jobs for all.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Marie-Claude Morin

Thank you very much.

We will now move on to the official opposition.

Ms. Ashton, you have seven minutes.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Thank you very much.

I'd like to thank both of our witnesses here today for your excellent presentations. My first questions are directed to Ms. Côté.

I want to thank you for providing us with such a comprehensive analysis of the kind of work we need to be doing across the board when it comes to truly realizing economic opportunities for girls.

One thing, as we go forward, is that we should realize the extensive cuts not just in this budget but in previous budgets relating to research around women and girls; in this last budget, the cutting of the National Aboriginal Health Organization, women's health research, the National Council of Welfare, the First Nations Statistical Institute.... The list goes on. We can reach back to the elimination of the long-form census and broader cuts.

Could you speak a bit about how girls in Canada will lose out as a result of this government's cutting of research?

4:05 p.m.

Women's and Human Rights Officer, National Programs Section, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Andrée Côté

Thank you for the question.

This is a really important issue. It has impacts in many ways. The cuts in the long-form census will have a huge impact on our capacity to implement employment equity, because employment equity is based on the market availability of women and the other equity groups—aboriginal people, racialized people, and people with disabilities. We look at their availability in the labour market.

So a lot of the information we need to have informed social policy in the workplace, at schools, and in society will be affected by our loss of knowledge of our social and economic reality.

The cuts in research also have an impact on our capacity to identify where the social policy gaps are, where the problems that are lived by different groups of women in society are, and then to develop policy options for how we can deal with them.

We have basically lost the Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Women in the last few years. I know they're struggling to survive. They used to do research and offer information sheets that would be very useful in the labour movement and in the women's groups and I'm sure in the academic setting.

We've also lost funding for advocacy. The National Association of Women and the Law has shut its doors, and they used to do a lot of research and make law reform proposals concerning how to improve our laws and policies in Canada to ensure that we respect and promote women's equality rights.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

That's a point I was going to pick up on. One of the struggles we have, beyond not having research, is that there are few voices to call on to actually speak to the reality that girls and women face.

You mentioned in your speech some of the challenges that first nations in Manitoba live with. Those are first nations that I represent. We see immense neglect on the part of the federal government, and yet the organizations that speak out on behalf of these communities and that I have had the chance to work with have often now been silenced.

Just quickly, so that I can have time to speak with Madame Dubé as well, could you let us know how the loss of advocacy capacity in Canada will negatively impact the future of girls in our country?

4:10 p.m.

Women's and Human Rights Officer, National Programs Section, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Andrée Côté

We've lost dozens and dozens of advocacy organizations. Really, the changes that have come about in Canadian society and in the provinces have been the result of advocacy by women's groups. It is feminist advocacy that brought forward the need for maternity benefits and explained the existence of sexual harassment and the problems around violence against women and so on.

By losing this feminist advocacy, we're losing the voice of women and the capacity to critically assess the existing policies and to propose relevant law reform initiatives.

This has been recognized by the United Nations. In the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, for example, we recognized the need of the states to work with and to support independent women-based research and advocacy.

So we're losing a voice, we're losing a capacity to address and identify the remedies, and really we're weakening the Canadian democracy, because we're losing a big part of our picture here.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Thank you, Madame Côté.

Ms. Dubé, in your experience at your school and with the essential work that you do, I would like you to say a few words about whether socio-economic conditions such as reducing or even eliminating poverty, access to affordable housing and universal child care across Canada—of course Quebec already has such a system—would allow girls or young women to benefit from positive economic opportunities.

4:10 p.m.

Educational Counsellor, Rosalie-Jetté School

Ellen Dubé

Of course, all the hassles that go along with school, a lack of income, and trying to raise a child at 14 years old when they have no idea how to go about it prevent young girls from positioning themselves in society, determining their real worth and finding a job that corresponds with what they like doing in life. I am saying this but, at that age, people do not really know yet what they like to do in life.

Young people have to grow up very quickly. We push them a bit to finish their studies at around the same time as the other students their age. However, I think that is a mistake. We should let them extend their high school studies over a longer period of time without forcing them into the adult education system. They could then stay at the same school and get the same general education as their peers to help them to get into CEGEP or university, while still having access to all the services for mothers, for example, daycare.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Marie-Claude Morin

Thank you Ms. Dubé. I am sorry to have to interrupt you, but this round of questioning is now complete.

We go now to the Conservative side.

Mr. Albas, you have seven minutes.

May 16th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Thank you to our guests for being here today and for providing testimony.

I'd like to start with Madam Dubé.

My colleague, Madam Truppe, asked a very interesting question to Madam Côté that I'd like to hear your thoughts on. This is in regard to both men and boys and how Status of Women Canada can improve the economic prosperity prospects for Canadian girls.

How do we engage younger men and boys, from your perspective and experience, so that we help the economic condition of girls?

4:15 p.m.

Educational Counsellor, Rosalie-Jetté School

Ellen Dubé

I believe that, when you have a child, it is easier to achieve financial health as a couple. I am in favour of inviting the partner whenever possible, as long as the mother agrees, obviously. There are many reasons why the mother may or may not wish for her partner to be present. When a father comes to pick up his child at daycare, it is easy to see the tie that binds the child to him. We see that a unit has been created and that life is a little bit easier.

I was speaking about training to help young people manage their finances. Obviously, the fact that a couple is willing to participate in that training is positive. I believe that to achieve financial health at that age, these young people need all the help they can get. If the partner can help, then that is a good thing.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

I appreciate hearing about financial education. That is the same theme we've heard before.

What kinds of programs do you see, and what kinds of organizations do you think would work to provide these kinds of programs? What forms do you think they should take? You raised earlier issues of how to deal with credit cards responsibly, how to look at bank statements, how you understand how much money you have at the end of the month.

What kinds of structures do you think would fit into your situation at your school?

4:15 p.m.

Educational Counsellor, Rosalie-Jetté School

Ellen Dubé

We would have to start from scratch because we do not have any trainers who use that kind of approach. There would need to be funding to train people, implement a program, create evaluation methods, conduct a pilot project and then implement this training.