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

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

All right.

The additional dollars that went to the homeless shelter system, which also supports women who are victims of violence that is not committed by a domestic partner but is rather non-intimate or public violence, also weren't handled by your department. Is that right?

2:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

No, they weren't, but I do sit on one of the committees, which is helping to determine how those dollars are spent.

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Right. We need to increase services to women through the homeless sector as we move forward with doubling the funding.

2:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

The other question I have for you is about the support that was afforded to the non-profit charitable sector, the $350 million that was sent through the Red Cross, the United Way—Centraide, in Quebec—and Community Foundations of Canada. Those dollars are also available, in particular, to organizations that serve more marginalized communities within the women's movement, around supporting housing needs, nutritional needs and front-line services to check in on people who are vulnerable.

Your organization provided advice on that, but you're not handling that $350 million either, are you?

2:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

No, we're not, but we do work closely with Community Foundations of Canada in terms of advising on that as well. I think it's also important to say that organizations that receive funds through the sexual assault pot, the shelter pot or even this $10 million are also eligible to apply for the $350 million.

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Right.

We have heard repeatedly that we need to hand over money to the provinces. For example, the $14 billion we pledged last week, which can also include services for women who need support during this time, we've been told to hand over with no rules or regulations that govern provinces, just to hand the dollars over and let the provinces fall where they may. You're in Ontario, and you recognize that the Conservative government in Ontario last year cut $17 million from the violence against women shelter system. They cut $1 million from the rape crisis centre, and they've undermined public health work in this area.

If we hand dollars over to provinces, should there be rules and regulations as to how those dollars are spent to make sure that dollars that are aimed at increasing services for women are actually added to the pool, as opposed to displacing provincial funding?

2:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

Well, that would certainly be a concern. One of the things that we have said to the federal government and that they have been focusing on is the importance of ensuring that all funding goes through a gender-based analysis plus intersectional review to ensure that we're actually providing those funds equitably across the board. That would be an important aspect to include in any sort of transfer of funds. Even if the funds aren't being transferred, if they're being handled by the federal government, that's always done, so I think that's an important lesson that we've all taken from the past that should be carried on in the future.

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

This is of course a concern in a place like Manitoba, where new dollars arrive for the social service sector, in particular around violence against women and particularly around the homeless. During the pandemic, the Conservative government of Manitoba actually cut funding to front-line services as a way of balancing the budget in advance of supporting people in vulnerable places.

From now on, that kind of transfer cannot be made without conditions if we're going to support women and grow services for women rather than simply change who's funding the programs.

2:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

I would agree that that's important. In fact, it's something that those of us working in the sector or even in the charitable sector have been saying for many years. It's critically important to ensure a gender-based lens, because that's been the cause of a lot of issues and of our not being able to access significant dollars in order to address a number of issues we're working on. I think government, whether federal or provincial, needs to consider the importance of the charitable sector as a partner in delivering critical programs and services.

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Thank you.

Ms. Bonfanti, when we topped up CERB, many people on disability pensions received CERB as part of a supplementary income model when they lost the funds that were their income, which they got from job sites. A number of provinces—B.C. at first, later Ontario and others—have since pulled back on that, but they clawed back the transfer to people on disability. When we put those programs in place, do we need to bind provinces into a support structure to make sure that vulnerable Canadians get the dollars they deserve and that we're not paying vulnerable Canadians to actually finance budget-balancing measures by other orders of government?

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Could you give us a short answer, please, Ms. Bonfanti? We're out of time.

2:55 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Foundation Programs, Canadian National Institute for the Blind

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Thank you. I'll leave it at that.

I just think it's why federal and provincial accord is so critical to making sure that new federal dollars add new services and new supports to individuals. If we don't have that, we lose that support if other governments claw it back to balance budgets, rather than support individuals or front-line groups.

2:55 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Foundation Programs, Canadian National Institute for the Blind

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thanks, Mr. Vaughan.

Ms. Larouche, you have the floor for two and a half minutes.

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will continue with Ms. Senior.

First, the Canada Social Transfer for social services in Quebec provides money directly, and Quebec is in the best position to know the needs of women in shelters. So we continue to have a lot of faith in these transfers.

With respect to gender inequality in the workplace, we know that it is often because opportunities for women are limited, as they need, or might prefer, to focus on motherhood. That can happen. It is therefore another reason why women face negative prejudice about their capabilities in the workplace.

How accurate are these explanations? What measures could remedy the issue? Would a good gender-based analysis provide an accurate measurement of inequality, especially during the economic recovery?

June 15th, 2020 / 2:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

I'm not quite sure I caught the question; I'm sorry. Are you asking how GBA+ can—

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Yes. In our post-crisis forecasts, it will be important to use it to enable women to take their rightful place, to overcome the negative effects and to combat the prejudice against them in the workplace.

2:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

I fully agree that it's important to include that. It would be great to see all provinces put this practice in place.

We know, for example, that in Quebec child care has been a long-held institution that's universally accessible. I think that's great. We'd love to see similar measures in all areas of GBA+ to ensure that it's intersectional across the board and to ensure that people with disabilities, vulnerable Canadians, women and everyone can have equitable access to these resources and to the spending of funds that are transferred from the federal government to the provinces.

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

We must be able to measure inequality. Every government economic response must take GBA+ into account. Everyone agrees that it is important, as it allows the various types of inequality to be properly measured.

I will come back quickly to a national action plan to fight gender-based violence. Money is good, but could other partners be included?

Elsewhere in the world, connections are being set up, cellular phones are being made available and other steps, including the involvement of pharmacists, are being used in prevention. So different measures are being adopted in communities to help women more.

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Give a short answer, please. We're well past time.

2:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women's Foundation

Paulette Senior

I've always said that, when we address issues of gender, it's for everyone; it's not just for women. It's the same with violence. It's also about children. We know that during this pandemic, and at all times, when children witness violence, it's a significant issue for the rest of their lives unless they get the kinds of supports they need.

I think it's important that, when we're thinking about a response and a plan to address gender-based violence, we look at all sectors of society, that we enrol different areas of society, whether it's the business sector or the corporate sector, to ensure we're protecting women. We know, for example, that there has been provincial legislation brought in in Ontario to ensure that workplaces have in place measures so that if a woman talks about her experience of violence, her employer has to be able to protect her and respond to that. I think that should be a national measure, so yes, I think it's important to bring in other partners to ensure this is across the board.

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you, Ms. Senior.

Thank you, Ms. Larouche.

Next we have Ms. Kwan, please, for two and a half minutes.

3 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to turn to Ms. Bonfanti to talk about disability support. In the ideal universe, the NDP would like to see a universal direct payment for all, yet the government decided not to do that, so we've had to push hard for it to come in with a disability program.

This program will allow for up to $600 for people with disabilities: $100 if you are somebody with a valid disability tax credit certificate eligible for both GIS and OAS; $300 if you are a person with a certificate and OAS; and $600 if you don't qualify for any program but have the certificate.

I wonder, Ms. Bonfanti, what your thoughts are with respect to the different kinds of support for people with disabilities.