Evidence of meeting #103 for Status of Women in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was funding.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Lisa Smylie  Director, Research and Evaluation, Office of the Co-ordinator, Status of Women
Nancy Gardiner  Senior Director General, Women’s Program and Regional Operations, Office of the Co-ordinator, Status of Women
Anik Lapointe  Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director, Corporate Services, Office of the Co-ordinator, Status of Women

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Okay.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

—and I'm becoming a bit disgusted—

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

That's fine.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

—seeing how things are going.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Okay. Well I hope that—

4 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

So I would like you, Madam Chair—

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Excuse me, I hope that's not—

4 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Excuse me, Madam Chair, I would like you, Madam Chair, to take control of this situation and how the comments and the flow of questioning is going. Thank you.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

I really appreciate your time, but please do not question my chairship. I do not appreciate that, because I try to be extremely fair. As I've indicated before, I was put in the position by the Liberal government, not by my choice, and I will remind you of that once again.

The bottom line is, I will allow up to 30 seconds. If the minister does not begin to answer that question within 30 seconds, I will then allow the person to interrupt.

But once again, please do not question my chairship. Thank you.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Here's what I'm hearing from the minister: I'm hearing that no GBA+ was done, no consultations were done with these women and girls and how it might impact them to bring ISIS militants into Canada. This government has absolutely no understanding with regard to the trauma these women have faced being brutalized at the hands of these ISIS militants who are now being brought into Canada and so-called de-radicalized. I'm hearing that this government by choice is siding with ISIS militants who commit these grave atrocities instead of standing up and speaking out on behalf of these survivors. That, Minister, is an absolute shame.

Here's my next question. The immigration committee recently heard from officials with regard to the settlement of Yazidis and other victims of ISIS. It turns out that according to reports only five Yazidis survivors have accessed individualized trauma counselling in Canada. It turns out that they have little access to translation and interpretation services, and it turns out that almost no access has been given to them for medical treatment, specialized trauma care, or mental health services.

In contrast, the men who brutalized these women or women like them are being welcomed into Canada and put into a so-called de-radicalization program where they're given full access to everything Canadian society has to offer. In fact, according to Minister Goodale, they're receiving mental health services and trauma care as a part of this process.

Minister, why is it more important for your government to protect ISIS militants and make sure that they have access to such services rather than stand up for the victims of these brutalizers and make sure they have the basic care that they require in order to integrate into Canada and start a new life?

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Chair, I take issue with all of that. A GBA+ was conducted, as it is with all decisions our government makes. It's a GBA+ that should have been conducted when the previous government decided to cut health care to refugees like Yazidis women. We did support $14 million in funding for settlement, income support, and mental health services to address these most vulnerable refugees. Unfortunately, the member opposite voted against that. We are also working to ensure that ISIS fighters are brought to justice. The previous government brought in 60 of these folks. Zero were convicted or charged.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you very much.

We're now going to move on to Ms. Quach.

May 24th, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I thank the minister and the officials from her department for being here. Things are a bit unruly. This is my first time at this committee.

I've had talks with some of the local organizations in my riding, and some national organizations, to find out about their relationship with Status of Women Canada. Those organizations appreciate that the renewal period for grants has been extended from three to five years, because this allows them to plan their activities over a longer period of time. However, several organizations, such as Justice alternative du Suroît, say that applying for grants is very complicated, and that the wait before obtaining any can be very long, from six months to two years. They also stated that it takes a lot of concerted action and partnerships with other organizations in the field, and that they sometimes have to submit projects more than once, which can take up to two years and thus demobilize some organizations.

Can the minister guarantee that the changes that will be made to the Women's Program will decrease the administrative burden that is transferred to those organizations? They must receive funding for their basic operations or activities, and not just assistance for pilot projects or special projects, so that women's concerns may be taken into account at the decision-making level.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Thank you very much for your question, and for all the work you do to advance equality in the country and beyond.

You're right. The sustainability of the women's movement is critical to the sustainability of all our efforts to ensure that, long after our work as politicians is wrapped up, women's organizations have what they need to continue to move forward on our agendas.

You're right. We are making changes to the way we fund women's organizations. I'll use the example of the gender-based violence funding envelope we announced in January of this year. It's a $20-million envelope, and it is up to five years now. What we decided to do to ease the access of the application for these projects for the women's organizations, based on what they asked for, was to say, don't write the whole application right now. That takes time and resources. Instead, give us your idea. Give us a concept. If it's approved, we will give you up to $30,000 to further develop the project.

We're also more than doubling the funding for women's organizations so that there is actually more to support these important leaders across the country in their work. As you know, a significant part of our effort since we formed government is forming better relationships with provinces and territories. I met with my provincial and territorial counterparts last fall. I'll be meeting with them again this fall. This is an item on our agenda. It's a shared priority for all of us because—especially in the context of #MeToo, and every hashtag that increases the rate of survivors seeking support—we know that the demand on these organizations has also gone up. Part of the supplementary estimates includes further funding for these organizations, and ensuring that those who have willingness to be part of the solution...like unions, for example. They asked to be eligible for these funds, and now they are.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Thank you.

I am going to try again to obtain some clarifications about the time it takes to obtain grants. Some say that it takes a lot of concerted action. Since there has to be a lot of collaboration, and since Status of Women Canada wants to share in the vision involved, one gets the impression that the department already knows where the grants will be going, and that is problematic. In fact, it is often the same organizations in the field that receive grants. I am from a rural area that is somewhat remote, and that is the impression one gets. I'll ask my next question now, but you may also answer that one.

There is also a gap regarding organizations that provide services to girls and young women, particularly those that are transitioning to adulthood, those between 14 and 24. These are organizations such as Justice alternative du Suroît and its Ateliers créactions, in the Montérégie area. The purpose of this project is to identify women from disadvantaged areas who might commit crimes. Since it targets women between 14 and 24, from the outset, Status of Women Canada refused to fund them, because some of their clients were under 18. This led to a shortage of services. We don't know who those young women can turn to, because they have not yet reached the age of majority.

How will Status of Women Canada, which wants to fight violence against women, adjust?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

I want to clarify that we do not turn down projects supporting girls. We, in fact, encourage them. Part of the issue you've raised, around different organizations not having access to these dollars, is that the previous government cut down several regional shops representing Status of Women Canada on the ground. These organizations wouldn't otherwise have access to knowing that there is a funding application happening right now, how to apply for it, and what questions and answers they may want to consider in the writing. We've opened up regional offices to address that accessibility barrier.

The time spent on these projects is important. That is why, as I mentioned earlier, we were asking organizations to spend less time, and once their concept is approved we're giving them funds to be able to further develop their projects.

The gaps in services will continue unless we start to do business differently—and we are. I heard this from women's organizations, and we also did a review of the women's program and the way we fund projects. I just want to give you the three recommendations that came out of this review.

The first was that we continue to fund projects that foster systemic change. The second was to increase efforts in knowledge-sharing so that we're not just holding onto these best practices; we're sharing them with other communities. The third was to enhance supports to funding recipients through the project life cycle. These are all issues we have taken into account.

We also have a sustainability envelope in the recent budget. It's $100 million, focused on the sustainability of the organizations we speak of.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you very much.

We're now going to move on to Ms. Pam Damoff for seven minutes.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Chair, I'm curious; do you think will we get another round on this side?

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

I don't know.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

I'll probably share my time with Marc Serré.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Fantastic. Just let us know.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

With regard to my first question, Minister, I'm really proud that in my riding, Alvin Tedjo, who's a community activist and young father, has been advocating for years for a “use it or lose it” parental leave system. We know from testimony that we've heard, as well as the organization that he heads, the major positive impact that this has on families.

I'm wondering if you could share with us, from budget 2018, how that “use it or lose it” parental leave will help Canadian families.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

We know that in those early days of a new life, being part of a family is critical, for attachment reasons, for caregiving reasons, and for the family to transition to this new reality they find themselves in. I've heard from many fathers who weren't able to be part of those early days, and how they wish they had been. I also hear from fathers who are new parents, those who are able to spend that time together with their newborn, and how much they appreciate this important time.

In budget 2018, we introduced a new EI parental sharing benefit for new Canadian parents. The “use it or lose it” methodology does apply. The idea here is to help families grow into their new roles and new realities, and to provide those financial supports so that they can do that. It's also to ensure that the responsibility for care work, which is often borne by women, is shared more equally across genders and across parents.

This new parental sharing benefit is also intended to help address some of the wage gaps, so that parents can choose who stays and who goes out and works. Also, to go back to the role model conversations that I had, when fathers are seen to be providing that care work, that's a really important change in societal norms. It's required to further enhance gender equality, and it's one way that individuals can be part of the change.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Thank you.

I'm going to turn it over to Mr. Serré.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Serré Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Thank you, Ms. Damoff. Thank you, Chair.

Madam Minister, I thank you very much for your time, for your compassion for women, and for everything you do to support them.

As you are aware, our committee's next study will be on women in politics. In previous studies, we've heard several testimonies on the increasing cyber-violence on social media platforms especially targeting women in politics.

Madam Minister, can you comment on the main barriers that currently exist for women in politics?