Evidence of meeting #77 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 teachers.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Carolyn Van  Director, Youth Programming, Canada Learning Code
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Marie-Hélène Sauvé
Bonnie Brayton  National Executive Director, DAWN Canada, DisAbled Women's Network Canada
Michael Holden  Chief Economist, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
Elise Maheu  Board Member and Director, Government Affairs, 3M Canada, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
Justine Akman  Director General, Policy and External Relations, 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

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Would you be willing to share that survey with us?

12:20 p.m.

Chief Economist, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Michael Holden

Absolutely. In fact, if you go to the CME website, we have a larger version of this report there and the appendix has detailed survey results. If there is more information that you would like that is not in the survey results, I'd be happy to provide that as well.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Perfect. Thank you.

Ms. Gardiner and Ms. Akman, there has been, I believe, $18 million in funding for the 50 projects for empowering women. One of the things we heard from Ms. Brayton is the intersectionality and the challenges facing women with disabilities. Will that $18 million and 50 projects be able to help address some of the concerns that are there? I didn't hear you mention that when you were talking about the programs that you're looking for funding for.

12:20 p.m.

Nancy Gardiner Senior Director General, Women’s Program and Regional Operations, Office of the Co-ordinator, Status of Women

Thank you for the question. I just started with the organization about four weeks ago now. I had the privilege of meeting with Bonnie. There's definitely a need to understand the intersectionality of the issues that we work on. In terms of the projects that you mentioned, there were approximately 50 projects. The projects talk about how we're actually advancing the issues that we are addressing. Some of the projects focused on specific areas of interest, disabilities being one, indigenous women another, recent immigrants another. Overall, the projects look at the issue at large, and many of the projects have that dimension to them. But we agree with Bonnie that focus is required in certain areas of the population for sure.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Go ahead, Marc. I'm going to share.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Serré Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Well, thank you.

Carolyn, who are the private sector partners that you indicated for your program?

12:20 p.m.

Director, Youth Programming, Canada Learning Code

Carolyn Van

We have organizations representing all areas of innovation as it relates to tech. TELUS is one of our partners. Google is one of our partners. We have quite a few. We have GSC Game World, which is a game development company that is part of Electronic Arts Inc.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Serré Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, if you get an opportunity to look at the Canada Learning Code program, maybe you could promote it to your members. If you're looking at long-term engagement, women in manufacturing, and what they're doing with the partnerships they have, it would be fabulous to try to promote it so that they could better teach teachers in the schools by having that link with members of the manufacturers association, too.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Absolutely.

We're now going to Rachael Harder for seven minutes.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thanks so much for being with us today.

My first question is for Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.

You talked a lot about the culture of the workplace and trying to re-establish it so that it is more friendly to women in that environment. I have a few questions along those lines.

First, what advantages have you seen to hiring women? What positive attributes do they bring into the workplace?

12:20 p.m.

Chief Economist, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Michael Holden

When we did the main report of our...the one that this is based on, there were a number of issues—I should say benefits—that came up in the research related to that. One was the increase in innovation and productivity that comes from having women in the manufacturing workforce. A lot of that relates to new ideas and new perspectives that people bring to the table.

It's as clichéd as “out-of-the-box thinking” especially if you're used to having a number of people who are all men and are used to thinking, acting, and doing things in the same way. That's one of the main benefits. The other is just the social interaction that comes from having women and people from different cultures, different ethnicities, and different genders work together in a collaborative way.

I think those are the main benefits, in addition to just the straight-up labour supply needs.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

I find the question an interesting one, and here's why. I believe that if those in upper management understand the benefits of hiring women and are able to put language to those benefits and champion those women, then the men throughout the company will lay hold of those claims, and they too will join forces. However, if those at the top end of management cannot articulate that well, you don't have a hope of drawing other women into that company and being able to make them feel safe and included in that environment. That's a very important question for all industries to be able to answer.

My next question has to do with something else that you brought up, which is to help improve the work-life balance for women and to help create an environment where a woman would be able to manage both her home and the different demands on her, as well as to work within the company and advance its well-being.

To be able to accommodate that can come at a significant cost to the organization or the company. I'm just wondering how you're finding that and what that cost might be going forward, in order to meet some of those demands.

12:25 p.m.

Board Member and Director, Government Affairs, 3M Canada, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Elise Maheu

Actually, at 3M we have a program called flexibility. The organization is more efficient and effective when we have such a program in place than when we don't. That's one of the things that we've already established.

Our CEO was a Catalyst award winner last year because we have a program for women in leadership. Again, it has been established that the more diverse your workforce is, the more profitable your company actually is. He's been putting a program in place that every subsidiary in the world is working on.

I think it's a misconception that if you have flexibility you are actually going to be less profitable. It's true that in manufacturing there is a very significant issue, which is shift work. It's not the same as the office work that we have to deal with, and there's really no golden answer right now, but it's definitely something that companies will need to look at and try to find a solution for.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

That's true.

The other thing I want to tackle is the shifting culture within the workplace. This must take place at the management level, but it needs to make its way throughout the entire organization. I'm of the opinion that language around empowering women, championing women, coming onside with women is really important. Are you finding this in your organization? How are you moving that forward?

12:25 p.m.

Board Member and Director, Government Affairs, 3M Canada, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Elise Maheu

There are mentorship programs that are being done. When you have an overall objective of advancing women in your organization, you can see that some programs are being put in place. For example, our global head of manufacturing just toured the manufacturing sites in Canada, and he said that we should have more women in manufacturing. He's been setting targets for each of the plant managers to come forward with a plan.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

I had the opportunity to tour the Irving shipyard in Halifax.

12:25 p.m.

Board Member and Director, Government Affairs, 3M Canada, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

November 7th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

This is one of their initiatives as well. They're wanting to draw more women into the field, into the skilled trades and manufacturing. It's phenomenal, absolutely incredible. I had a tour of the facility and I got to see the work they're doing. The way that they talked about their female employees was incredibly visionary, positive, and empowering. I really appreciated that, and I think they're seeing a lot of success come out of it.

I grew up with a father who was a skilled tradesman and a mom who actually took the women in trades course and was an electrician. She had the opportunity to work in the field. We're talking about in the 1990s, and she was the only woman on most work sites back in her day. But she had a boss who was a man, and he took the opportunity to champion her whenever he could. In times when there were few jobs available, my mom was always employed. My mom always had an easy time finding a job because of the mentorship and the championing of those male colleagues of hers.

I think there is a lot to be said for that. My mom, being a woman, was very detail-oriented and did her job to a standard higher than that of many of her male colleagues.

I have one last question, and that is—

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

You have 15 seconds.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

All of 15 seconds. I don't have a question, then.

Thank you so much for coming.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you very much.

We're now going to Sheila Malcolmson.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Thank you, Chair, and my thanks to the witness from DAWN, DisAbled Women's Network.

We've heard testimony at this committee about the difficulties women face when they do part-time work. Unemployment insurance does not accommodate them. One specific example is a cashier. A full-time cashier typically works just 25 hours a week. A woman in that situation will never be able to apply for unemployment insurance, and this has collateral impacts on her life. Can you talk about women living with disabilities and how that affects them?

12:30 p.m.

National Executive Director, DAWN Canada, DisAbled Women's Network Canada

Bonnie Brayton

Thank you, Sheila, for bringing this forward.

It's an important situation to look at. Women with disabilities who are employed typically are in jobs that are hard to retain. Because they are in lower-paying jobs, if they are employed at all, they are likely to be challenged in accessing opportunities to move forward and just in obtaining the basic necessities of life. You're talking about the working poor at the most profound level when you're talking about people in these kinds of jobs. Women in these situations often have to choose between their disability supports and child care.

The other point I'd like to make is that many women with disabilities, because they do not have good prospects for employment, end up in unpaid caregiving roles. The number of women with disabilities in unpaid caregiving roles in the Canadian context is quite shocking. The data show that upwards of 60% of unpaid caregiving in Canada is done by women with disabilities.

To understand this problem requires a great deal of familiarity with the challenges these women are facing in their access to employment, the kind of employment they are being offered, and the opportunities available to them.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Can you talk more about what federal changes we could see that would bring more income stability during working life but also into retirement?

12:30 p.m.

National Executive Director, DAWN Canada, DisAbled Women's Network Canada

Bonnie Brayton

A couple of things are coming forward. Flexible work arrangements is one that I think is very important. The changes to EI from 15 weeks for sick leave would be a critical one. The best illustration of that—I don't know if you heard from anybody from the breast cancer community. Again, I spoke earlier about women with episodic and chronic illnesses. The example I would give is that 15 weeks of unemployment insurance against 30 weeks of treatment means you don't stay in the job market. That's a fairly high-level example.

Certainly when you talk about a woman with disabilities who may either have part-time or precarious employment, she's not getting unemployment insurance, which is the other point you're making. So basic income and basic income security are the other things that have to be addressed, both at the federal and at the provincial and territorial levels.

We don't have income support that recognizes some people. We have welfare or social assistance and then we have employment. We don't have anything that recognizes there is a community and a population for whom we need to provide a decent guaranteed minimum income.