Evidence of meeting #67 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 data.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jenny Greensmith  Executive Director, Pathways Health Centre for Children
Jennifer Howell  Parent Advisor, Pathways Health Centre for Children
Alex Wilson  Professor, University of Saskatchewan, As an Individual
Grace-Edward Galabuzi  Professor, Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University, As an Individual
Sheila Block  Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

10:25 a.m.

Prof. Grace-Edward Galabuzi

There is some other data, not in our report, that addresses this question of what people now refer to as social capital. The literature shows that people with “contacts” are more likely to get employed than those with limited contacts. That has an impact on some immigrant cohorts.

Part of what is happening there is that it is those who have contacts who tend to find out about opportunities. I think what we're talking about in terms of regulation is to allow for an opening up, so that it isn't just the people who have contacts who get access to those opportunities, which means that we simply reproduce the labour market as it is today, but that we allow for people who may have skills but do not necessarily have those contacts to also have access. Word of mouth seems to be one of the most effective ways of employers recruiting, and word of mouth tends to be limited to networks.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Okay.

Basically, networking activities with various cultural communities and the business community can have positive impacts on wage increases and the number of employed women.

10:25 a.m.

Prof. Grace-Edward Galabuzi

Yes, but I hope that all of us are familiar with the concept of an old boys' network and that there's a reason why that cohort—that village, that network—tends to have the highest levels of income and access to preferred jobs. Those networks are not easy to break into, and the question is whether, at a sort of regulatory level, we need to find some means by which we open up access to those opportunities so that they do not get stuck. The old boys' network process is very sticky. We need to open it up so that racialized women and other racialized populations can have access to the opportunities that get stuck in the old boys' networks.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

When it comes to job insecurity, is there any data on the situation of women before and after having children? Is it more difficult for women who left the workforce for a while to have children? Is it comparable to non-racialized women, or is there—

10:30 a.m.

Prof. Grace-Edward Galabuzi

We have just come out of a five-year study looking at southern Ontario and at precarious employment in that area.

The data show that women, especially single women with children, are some of the most disadvantaged in terms of the proportion of that population engaged in precarious forms of work. Part of the reason we argue for a comprehensive child care system is that it might help address some of the disadvantages arising from that status.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

That's great. That's all for me.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Marilyn Gladu

Mr. Serré, you have the floor for seven minutes.

No? In that case, Ms. Nassif, go ahead.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Eva Nassif Liberal Vimy, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to thank the witnesses for their presentation.

I would like to begin by talking about my own experience as a first-generation immigrant who arrived in Canada with a nursing degree. After my triplets started school, I decided to go back to school. When I was getting my bachelor's degree, most of my colleagues were visible—or racial, as you say—minority women. I completed my bachelor's degree and then took a master's. Most of my classmates—about 75% of them—were visible minority women. In my first PhD course, we were four or five women, and all of us belonged to a visible minority.

So it is not a matter of language barriers or a lack of degrees. I was shocked to learn that, in 2011, 16.2% of Ontario's minimum wage employees were members of a visible minority. The situation does not only affect women; you said that both women and men were affected. As for the labour market, you mentioned that the unemployment rate in 2006 was really high, and that 9.3% of unemployed women belonged to a visible minority. So the unemployment rate is high, and the employment rate is too low.

Here is my question. According to you, what obstacles are visible minority Canadians, especially women, facing while trying to achieve greater economic security by entering the workforce? I am not talking only about women who have more of an opportunity to earn a degree, but also about those who are overqualified. Why do those obstacles exist?

10:30 a.m.

Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Sheila Block

That's absolutely the question we're looking at here. It's when you are looking at people who have credentials who are facing this discrimination in the labour market. We're looking at systemic solutions. It's very important for those women who have had those opportunities, who are highly qualified or overqualified. We want to look at systemic solutions that have to do with affirmative action, employment equity, and other factors that have to do with recognition of international credentials as well.

We can look to the federal government and jurisdiction to provide leadership on this issue, push those policies further out into federally regulated labour markets, and raise the people at the top, the overqualified people. For those people who are at the bottom, what are the systemic issues we can address?

One of the things we haven't touched on as much is the fact that unionization very much reduces those pay gaps for racialized workers and women. Part of that has to do with the old boys' network that professor Galabuzi was referring to. When you have that transparency and a piece of paper where it's written that this is how much you earn if you're at this pay grade, it reduces a lot of those systemic discriminations. It doesn't reduce all of it, but makes big progress towards doing so.

10:35 a.m.

Prof. Grace-Edward Galabuzi

I will just add that underlying all of this is the undervaluation of both international qualifications and experience, and the overvaluation of Canadian experience and qualifications. This is really what we're talking about. We're talking about racialization, the association between a particular value of the human capital of people who are quote-unquote “racialized”, regardless of what their qualifications are, whether those qualifications are international or Canadian. Again, there is literature that shows that there are differences.

We talked about this earlier. The differences in terms of access to employment as well as compensation between racialized and non-racialized immigrants. Even at that level, there are disparities between racialized and non-racialized immigrants that relate to the undervaluation of racialized human capital.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Eva Nassif Liberal Vimy, QC

Thank you.

I have another question.

In the study you carried out in 2011, titled Canada's Colour Coded Labour Market: The gap for racialized workers, you say that racial minority women are 48% more likely to be unemployed than men who do not belong to a visible minority. The study also shows that they earn 55.6% of the annual income that men who are not members of a racial minority earn. That's really shocking! What factors do you think contribute to that gap?

We are not talking about equivalencies for degrees from foreign countries. As I just said, those are women who were educated here, like myself. Many women who belong to a visible minority were educated here, at Canadian universities. They don't always have only one degree; they sometimes have two or three university degrees. That gap exists not only when it comes to getting a job or entering the workforce. There is also a wage gap that is completely shocking.

10:35 a.m.

Prof. Grace-Edward Galabuzi

That's what I'm talking about in terms of this question. A key factor is the undervaluation of the human capital of racialized workers. When employers make decisions around whom they're going to hire and whom they're going to pay at what rate, they take into account who is in front of them. They tend to undervalue the human capital of racialized groups.

We've done research that shows that the proportion of Ph.D.'s among immigrants, who have qualities that are largely racialized, is actually higher than the proportion of those with Ph.D.'s among the rest of the Canadian population. However, that does not translate into equal access to opportunities, or even compensation.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Marilyn Gladu

Very good.

Now we'll go for five minutes to my colleague Ms. Harder.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thank you.

Can you help me out here? I'm just wondering if there are specific fields where you see more discrimination against racialized women than, let's say, other labour markets or professions.

10:35 a.m.

Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Sheila Block

Again, because this data is at a higher level of aggregation, it doesn't have that detailed breakdown by occupation that would provide us with that kind of information. We stepped back and said that we would look at the combination of these factors: the interaction of racism and sexism that happens in the educational system, the impact of racism and sexism that happens in the labour market, and the unequal division of domestic labour in the household. You take all of these factors together and you ask what the outcome is. The outcome, as your colleague said, was that racialized women earn 55.6% of what non-racialized men earn. While what you're asking is an important question, the data that we're using doesn't have the answer to that.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thank you.

You also stated in your presentation that all three groups experience labour market discrimination, but that racialized women have a different experience from non-racialized women and racialized men. I'm wondering if you can break down some of the specifics around that in terms of what the exact difference is with regard to racialized women. I guess I'm asking for anecdotes rather than numbers. I think we've explored the numbers. What does it look like when a woman goes in for an interview or when she is employed within a workplace? What does that difference in discrimination look like?

10:40 a.m.

Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Sheila Block

You're the qualitative person.

I will pass that to my qualitative research colleague.

10:40 a.m.

Prof. Grace-Edward Galabuzi

I think I talked about this earlier on. The experience, particularly of immigrant women, most of whom are racialized, is that they have the responsibility for sexual reproduction in their home, so they have the responsibility of looking after the children. That has a very direct impact on their access to the labour market when opportunities arise.

In one of the studies we were doing over the last five years, we interviewed women who came here. In one case a woman had a master's degree and her husband had an undergraduate degree. They had to determine which of them would seek employment and which would be primarily responsible for sexual reproduction. What was interesting is that they were using temp agencies to get access to employment. Every morning they had to figure out who would go out and who would stay home. More often than not, the man went to work and the woman stayed at home.

The fact that women have what has been referred to as a “double shift”, a responsibility both in the labour market outside and at home, has a direct impact on their ability to earn. It also has a direct impact on their ability to utilize opportunities that may arise. That applies to all women, in some regard. This certainly applies to women who are working class, but the added factor here is the fact of racialization. They are existing at an intersection where the impact of racialization and gendered experience has a compounding effect on their ability to work, to have access to opportunities, as well as to earn.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

What can employers do to make a difference?

10:40 a.m.

Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Sheila Block

I think employers can examine their hiring policies, they have to engage in training their HR staff, and they have to make sure they are taking positive measures. The problem is that employers have a lot of things to do. They have a lot of obligations. Really, what would be most effective in making sure that this happens across the board and has a bigger impact would be to have a regulatory environment that requires employers to do that.

10:40 a.m.

Prof. Grace-Edward Galabuzi

It allows for different employers to be subject to the same conditions, so that it is not just the conscientious employers who are doing this, but that all employers are held to the same standard.

I think the other thing to be said is that if employers who are operating in a sort of open environment, where the majority of the population is racialized, have 80% of their population drawn from non-racialized cohorts, you have to reflect on that. You're losing opportunity to get access to very talented people, a very talented cohort that exists out there, who could contribute to your workplace.

June 8th, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Marilyn Gladu

Very good.

Unfortunately, that's the end of our time for today, so I want to thank our witnesses for your excellent work and your help with the session today.

For committee members, I just want to remind you that next week we'll be looking at the draft of the letter for Bill C-337. It will be sent out to you and you can take a look at that. We'll also have an opportunity to do committee business on Tuesday. There's an order in council appointment to discuss, the coordinator for Status of Women, and we have to decide whether we want to interview them or not.

We will see you next week. Have a great weekend.

The meeting is adjourned.