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 school.

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

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Some would call it silencing dissent.

I think everybody in the room is interested in a positive forward movement for the economic progress of girls, but in any of these areas of public policy there are going to be organizations that are advocating and will be criticizing a government, whatever the stripe of the government.

4:25 p.m.

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

Andrée Côté

That's right.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

What is the outcome if organizations that are advocating for what they see is in the public interest are no longer able to raise issues that may be seen as critical of a government policy?

4:25 p.m.

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

Andrée Côté

The outcome will be less good public policy, and policy that is more often influenced by the market, by business, and by private interests that have their own profit at heart, or possibly by other actors. But certainly it is not in the public interest to weaken the advocacy voice of the not-for-profit sector.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

You've talked about advocacy, you're—

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Marie-Claude Morin

Ms. Murray, you have just 10 seconds. Sorry.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Okay.

The question is, how does one define advocacy that should be shut down, or advocacy that is the raison d'être of an organization to improve Canadian life and the future? Where is that line?

4:30 p.m.

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

Andrée Côté

We would hope that the constitutional right to freedom of expression be extended to organizations such as those, and that we recognize the need in a democracy for informed dialogue.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Marie-Claude Morin

I am sorry to have to interrupt you, Ms. Côté.

We will once again go to the Conservative side.

Ms. Ambler, you have five minutes.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I would like to continue along the same lines as MP Murray, with regard to some of the information we're getting from statistics.

At the beginning of our study we were all given the book, the sixth edition of “Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report”. Every year the Government of Canada publishes this report, so we received this big thick stack. I wish I had it with me here today, but I have a couple of quotations from it and a few statistics I'd like to ask our witnesses about.

Maybe I missed it because I was chatting, but MP Murray mentioned some statistics on charities. I'm not sure where they came from. Perhaps they came from the same book, but if you could let us know at some point when it's your turn, I would appreciate that.

As for this sixth edition, let me just read to you a couple of sentences about labour market statistics. I quote:

Women in nearly all age groups were affected by the recent downturn in the labour market. Women aged 15 to 24 were particularly hard hit: their employment rate fell from 60.3% in 2008 to 57.1% in 2009. Even with this decline, they fared better than young men, whose employment rate dropped from 58.9% to 53.6% over the same period....

Certainly it’s a pattern of concern.

Madam Côté, is this the type of data that would be helpful to you when looking at these issues?

4:30 p.m.

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

Andrée Côté

Obviously we rely on that kind of data, and more. We need that kind of labour market information to address unemployment policies, and so on.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

We'd certainly be happy to give you a copy of this report, “Women in Canada”. I think it might be helpful to you, because I know you mentioned you were looking for this kind of information.

Also according to the sixth edition of “Women in Canada”:

The majority of employed women continue to work in occupations in which they have been traditionally concentrated.

You know, those jobs we tend to think of as female jobs: nursing, teaching....

But the numbers of women entering the non-traditional fields, which has been touched on a few times today, are increasing as well, and the report gives us some good statistics on that on page 127.

Do you think it's just a matter of time before these gaps close? The report shows we are moving in the right direction, which I find encouraging. That's question number one. Do you think it's just a matter of time, and that at least we're moving in the right direction?

As well, I have a question for both of you. Have you been able to identify reasons why girls are growing up to enter non-traditional industries? What are the factors that would drive them toward a non-traditional field of work?

4:30 p.m.

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

Andrée Côté

Thanks for the question.

One of the factors that would drive the young girls, obviously, is good pay, because these are jobs that really pay much more than doing hair and selling things in a store.

There has been a slight increase. We've been working hard, as a women's movement, to ensure that increase over the last 40 years, actually. So the increase is slow, and the increase is the result of policies, of funding groups such as Action travail des femmes in Montreal, which someone mentioned earlier, and the CIAFT, Conseil d' intervention pour l'accès des femmes au travail. Those kinds of groups have helped train women, mentor them in access. But I think what's also really important in having access to those jobs, in what studies I've seen, is whether or not you have child care. Often those are jobs that don't necessarily have the regular nine to five hours, that have a lot of overtime obligations to them, so you need to have access to child care.

For them to be attractive, you also need—

4:35 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Marie-Claude Morin

I am sorry, but I must stop you there, Ms. Côté.

Ms. Freeman, you have five minutes.

May 16th, 2012 / 4:35 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to thank our witnesses here today. Their presence is very much appreciated.

Ms. Côté, with Bill C-38 on budget implementation, which is currently under review by Parliament, the government is amending the Employment Equity Act so that it no longer would apply to federal contractors.

Given your expertise in wage discrimination, can you explain to this committee how eliminating this employment equity protection will affect Canadian women?