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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

3:55 p.m.

Regine Cirondeye Board Member, Ontario Movement for Francophone Immigrant Women

Yes, as a matter of fact. The cuts affecting Status of Women Canada, which has always been by our side, will definitely have a strong impact on us. They will deeply affect us because we are required to cut our staff and, as a result, we are not going to be able to apply for more funding and get more money.

As you know, the difference between MOFIF and service organizations is that we are trying to turn women into real leaders. Leadership is our motto, and the cuts are a major setback for immigrant women. All immigrant women agree. At our meetings with them, they want to be leaders, they want to help themselves and they want us to help them help themselves.

4 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Thank you very much for your answer.

I have another question for you. You have told us about the socio-economic reality of immigrant women in Ontario, for example. If we had a national affordable housing program and a national daycare program, could their standard of living go up?

4 p.m.

Board Member, Ontario Movement for Francophone Immigrant Women

Regine Cirondeye

As my colleague said, we are focusing more on university, research, and leadership than on affordable housing and daycare. We really don't work in that area. It is true that people cannot come to our training unless they have housing and their basic needs are already met. That prevents immigrant girls, especially immigrant women, from becoming well integrated into Canadian society. Although we do not work in that area, we feel that those two factors prevent immigrant girls and women from getting ahead.

4 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

I will let my colleague have the floor.

4 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Good afternoon. Ladies, I would like to congratulate you on your victory over Gaz Métro in 2011. It really is a major victory that can give hope to women in terms of equal opportunity.

I have questions about something else. In your view, is the right of women to employment respected everywhere? Do all women have a right to employment, or are some discriminated against?

4 p.m.

Responsible for Equal Access Services, Action travail des femmes

Marilyn Ouellet

No. For example, it is extremely difficult to report cases of sexual, psychological or other harassment. The timelines are very short. For that reason alone, there should really be a reform of labour law. If we do a gender-based analysis, we can see that women are primarily affected. As discussed, it is still very difficult for women to have access to a wider range of sectors.

Those who use our services are often on welfare. It is very difficult for them to have access to employment because they are in extremely vulnerable situations. By getting non-standard, part-time or low-paying jobs, working 20 hours a week at $9.90 per hour, they cannot pay for rent and food. All those factors discourage women from rejoining the labour force.

4 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

I know and I understand...

4 p.m.

Responsible for Equal Access Services, Action travail des femmes

Marilyn Ouellet

The answer is no.

May 14th, 2012 / 4 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

I know and I understand how important it is for your group and many other organizations across Canada to get the infamous funding from Status of Women Canada to be able to provide services. Your services are particularly directed at women living in poverty. You have talked about holding multiple jobs and their efforts to enter a non-traditional world, where jobs are likely to be better paid. We are talking about women who are getting poorer by the day. That is what I see, but you deal with those women on a daily basis. In your view, are poor women getting even poorer?

4 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

You have 50 seconds left to answer.

4 p.m.

Assistant Coordinator, Action travail des femmes

Coline Camier

That is a major question.

Yes, there is a reason we talk about the feminization of poverty. I feel that even the poorest segments of the population are getting poorer, but women are even more affected, single mothers and immigrant women in particular. There are a lot of obstacles that make life increasingly tough, especially for women.

4 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Thank you.

4 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

We are now going to hear from a member on the government side.

Ms. James, you have seven minutes.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you to both of the organizations here today as witnesses before this committee.

I want to direct my first set of questions to the Ontario Movement for Francophone Immigrant Women. I heard in a previous answer that you were concerned about cuts to Status of Women and how they were going to affect immigrant women in Canada. I just wonder where you heard there were going to be cuts to Status of Women.

I ask that question because the minister appeared before this committee and confirmed that there were no cuts to Status of Women. In fact, Status of Women has had the most funding ever. So where did you hear that Status of Women was going to be cutting its budget?

4:05 p.m.

Board Member, Ontario Movement for Francophone Immigrant Women

Regine Cirondeye

No, no one told us that there would be budget cuts, but if that was the case, we would be affected.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you. Perhaps I didn't hear the word “if”. What I heard was that the Status of Women cuts would definitely hurt your community, so I just wanted to clarify that and get it on the record. Thank you very much.

I want to direct my next set of questions to ATF. In your opening remarks I believe you talked about high school dropouts and said that the average salary for a girl who's a high school dropout was $16,000. For a boy with the same level of education, a high school dropout, it was $24,000.

Why do you think that is?

4:05 p.m.

Responsible for Equal Access Services, Action travail des femmes

Marilyn Ouellet

Actually, it has to do with the job sectors where women and girls who drop out find themselves. For example, those women work in hair salons, spas and any home-care jobs, as well as beneficiary attendants. Those sectors are very poorly paid. By comparison, boys who drop out can get a vocational diploma in construction, mechanics and welding.

So those two job sectors are really underpaid. That is mainly why they earn less. It is also because they have children and often work part time.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

I think I got the answer. I wanted to confirm what you said, because when I think about the differences, a lot can be attributed to young boys having—though I don't want to say—“physical strength” that women don't have. But when we take a look at a lot of the jobs for people who do not have a high level of education, men can get into jobs such as warehouse work and so forth, where there's heavy lifting.

How would a woman who is a high school dropout get into those types of employment if they don't have the same physical strength that a young boy might have? What can be done to help them out in that area?

4:05 p.m.

Assistant Coordinator, Action travail des femmes

Coline Camier

Yes, when we say that women going into non-traditional occupations has considerably improved working conditions and workplace safety, it is because some tasks have been mechanized. For example, in the past, letter carriers had to carry the mail on their backs. But since there have been more and more women, mail is carried in a cart. So as a result, even male letter carriers have significantly fewer back problems.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Sorry, do mail carriers usually not have a high school education? You used that as an example. I was talking about people who have not finished high school. I'm just curious whether that's a fact or not.

4:05 p.m.

Assistant Coordinator, Action travail des femmes

Coline Camier

That was just an example to show how it can work. So jobs that are more manual do not necessarily prevent women from entering those fields. Even in dropout cases, young women could go into those sectors, but they don't because they run up against a series of obstacles standing in their way.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you.

The Girls Action Foundation appeared previously before our committee, and they mentioned a number of things that they believe are good initiatives. One of them I really want to focus on is educating boys and young men to think critically about gender expectations and to promote equality between the sexes.

How important do you think it is that we engage young men, boys, and older men and really get them to support and appreciate equality in both sexes? How important do you feel that is?

4:10 p.m.

Assistant Coordinator, Action travail des femmes

Coline Camier

It is important to get everyone involved in this type of process, since we are really talking about a change in the way of thinking. We cannot stop at raising awareness among women and girls when they are integrated. We have to raise awareness among all players, be they individuals or organizations. To that end, I feel that the participation of young men is vital.

I am not sure if my colleague wants to add something.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Sorry, but I'd like to add a second part to that question.

How do we get to different minority groups or cultures within Canada that traditionally may not see women as being equal? I know it's difficult, because we respect religious freedoms and cultural differences and so on. What can the Status of Women do to really get the message across to these young men that women need to be treated equally and deserve the same rights? What can the Status of Women do to really promote that? What is the message we need to deliver?

4:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Marie-Claude Morin

You have 30 seconds.