Evidence of meeting #19 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 43rd 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

Paulette Senior  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation
Angela Bonfanti  Senior Vice-President, Foundation Programs, Canadian National Institute for the Blind
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Marie-France Lafleur
Elizabeth Cahill  Committee Researcher

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

I call this meeting to order.

Welcome to meeting 19 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. Pursuant to the orders of reference of April 11 and May 26, 2020, the committee is resuming its study of the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today's meeting is taking place by video conference and the proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. The webcast will always show the person speaking rather than the entire committee.

Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. When you are ready to speak, please click on the microphone icon to activate your mike.

Before we get started, I would like to remind everyone, especially the witnesses, to please use the language channel of the language you are speaking. If you're switching between Canada's two official languages, you also need to switch the channel before you do that. It will greatly aid with interpretation.

I would now like to thank the witnesses for coming back today to answer questions. The committee was quite interested in hearing more after hearing your opening statements, and we're glad that you have accepted our invitation to reappear.

We have, from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Angela Bonfanti, senior vice-president, foundation programs, and, from the Canadian Women's Foundation, Paulette Senior, president and CEO.

As you have already given your opening statements on June 4, we're going to begin right away with rounds of questions, starting with the Conservatives and Ms. Vecchio for six minutes.

Ms. Vecchio, you have the floor.

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Thank you very much.

Once again, thank you to the witnesses for returning. I was really looking forward to speaking to you, especially after hearing your testimony.

Paulette, I'm going to focus on a lot of the work you've done because I recognize that you have been part of one of the organizations that has received funding from the federal government. Can you share with me how you received the funding, how you rolled it out to these organizations and the time frame? If you could, just give me a short idea on how that happened.

2:05 p.m.

Paulette Senior President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Sure, I'd be happy to do that. Thank you for the question. It's great to see you again.

We have been one of the organizations working closely with Women and Gender Equality to provide funding to the sector. Back in April, we were able to secure $3 million that we provided specifically to sexual assault centres.

As you've probably heard, the increase in gender-based violence and violence against women, not just in Canada but certainly globally, has been documented far and wide. Women in Canada are similarly impacted. We've been able to distribute $3 million to 93 sexual assault centres across the country.

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Ninety-three? Okay.

2:05 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

That was completed over a two-week period.

Then, most recently, we were able to again work with Women and Gender Equality to start distributing, as of last week, $10 million specifically to non-sexual-assault centres, non-shelter, but GVB organizations. In total, we identified, together with WAGE, about 450, and we'll be distributing funds to them over the next week or two.

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Thanks very much.

Specifically on the 93 sexual assault centres—because I know that the money absolutely needs to go there—how were they eligible? How were they chosen to get this funding? I recognize that there wasn't a normal application or anything of that sort. I have heard from many sexual assault centres that were not eligible. Trust me, I know what a tremendous job you do there, but what does that mean? Were they not part of a network?

How did it work that those centres may have been chosen in places, but some organizations, such as the London Abused Women's Centre, would not have been able to receive funding like that? Can you share a little information on eligibility?

2:05 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

We distributed funding to sexual assault centres throughout the country, those that were identified by us, but also through WAGE, so if there are those that we have missed that are not connected to hospitals, for example—

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

They have to be connected to hospitals...?

2:05 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

Yes. If they're connected with hospitals, they were not on the list.

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Okay.

2:05 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

I think it's important to note that.

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Absolutely.

2:05 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

Women's College Hospital would be a good example of that, right? They did not make the list.

These were stand-alone sexual assault centres. However, we do have a bit of contingency, so if there are those that we have missed for some reason, we can actually turn around and make sure they get that funding.

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Absolutely. I just want to go on to that. Like I said, I've done a few different calls. The money had to get out, and I know that. Your organization as well as Women's Shelters Canada do fantastic jobs here in Canada, but not everybody's part of that network. I have spoken to many, many organizations that were not able to get this funding.

You're saying there's a $10-million contingency fund. How do people apply? How did they get their names into it? Places like the London Abused Women's Centre and others around the country, how do they now become eligible for it if they were not picked in the first place?

2:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

First of all, let me say that shelters across the country, gender-based shelters or those dealing with violence against women, would have gotten funding through the national women's shelter, Women's Shelters Canada. That's not within our purview at this time.

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Yes, there was that money, and I note there were 400-some-odd that did, but there were about 500 that didn't.

2:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

That's right.

June 15th, 2020 / 2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Yours is specifically with assault centres, then.

2:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

Yes, and that was the $3 million. This $10 million is for organizations that are not sexual assault centres. We've been working with WAGE to develop that list. We have worked for weeks to refine the list. We even got information from all the provinces and territories to work on the list. The full list was 450 GBV organizations across the country. The intent is for these organizations to receive $25,000 each. If you do the math, you'll know that's more than $10 million. I believe that work is still being done at WAGE and other government departments to make sure that we can fund the full 450.

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

In looking at this, then, specifically, I just want to fill in those gaps. The people who received funding from March 13 onward were only that initial group that would have received the money from Shelters, Indigenous Services, as well as the Women's Shelters Canada, the Women's Foundation and indigenous....

2:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

That's right.

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

All of those other ones have not received any funding yet.

2:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

Not as yet.

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

That's one of my concerns. How is money getting out the door? If they have not received it yet, they're been more than three months into a pandemic without these resources.

As you indicated, we have seen sexual assault go up 400 times in some communities. It's hard; we have seen increases of between 45% and 400%, so those are huge things. What can we do? I mean, I recognize it takes time, but we're getting these lists done. How much longer can organizations wait? That's my question.

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Give a short answer, please, Ms. Senior. We're out of time, but go ahead and answer it briefly, please.