Evidence of meeting #4 for Status of Women in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was care.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Marcie Hawranik  Founder and President, Canadian Equality Consulting
Megan Walker  Executive Director, London Abused Women's Centre
Ann Decter  Director, Community Initiatives, Canadian Women's Foundation
Morna Ballantyne  Executive Director, Child Care Now
Hélène Cornellier  Coordinator of Action Plan and Communications, Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale
Sara Wolfe  Director, Indigenous Innovation Initiatives, Grand Challenges Canada
Vicki Saunders  Founder, SheEO
Kaitlin Geiger-Bardswich  Communications and Development Manager, Women's Shelters Canada
Lorraine Whitman  President, Native Women's Association of Canada
Jill Earthy  Interim Chief Executive Officer, Women's Enterprise Centre
Linda Gavsie  Senior Vice President, Universal Learning Institute
Anita Khanna  National Director, Public Policy and Government Relations, United Way Centraide Canada
Rhonda Barnet  President and Chief Operating Officer, Avit Manufacturing
Armine Yalnizyan  Economist and Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers, As an Individual

6 p.m.

Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

That's no problem. I hope they are forthcoming, then, with that.

The reason I asked is that, as far as I'm aware, Manitoba has only received $2.6 million from this fund, which went to United Way Winnipeg. I think it was distributed through The Winnipeg Foundation. My concern is that Manitoba represents 3.5% of Canada's population, but this portion of funding from the Canada emergency community support fund is less than 1%.

I'm just wondering, with all the funding that you may have had for your national organization, if you would consider perhaps moving the proportional amount of funding to Manitoba, so we get proportionally what we need. Could you look into that and maybe commit to considering it?

6 p.m.

National Director, Public Policy and Government Relations, United Way Centraide Canada

Anita Khanna

I can answer that question more directly.

The portion of funding that we received from the emergency community support fund has been distributed provincially, based on population, actually. The proportional amount United Way received in Manitoba would follow that same logic. It's the same across the country.

You mentioned both of the community foundations, I believe, as well as United Way. We have two separate pockets of money, just to be clear on that.

6 p.m.

Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Okay.

How much in total has Manitoba received?

6 p.m.

National Director, Public Policy and Government Relations, United Way Centraide Canada

Anita Khanna

I don't know the answer to that question, unfortunately, given that I don't know what the allocations were to the other intermediaries. I know that our distribution through United Way was based on two factors: One was the population; the second was the consideration of need. If they were a highly rural community where it's more difficult to meet needs, we would have topped up, in a sense, funding allocations so that the money could make more of a difference.

We're fortunate in Manitoba that we have United Way Winnipeg and other United Ways that are able to serve beyond their traditional catchment areas in order to get into some of the more vulnerable communities, and more rural communities as well. I'll say there was a high demand for funding from the Winnipeg office, as you might have heard.

6 p.m.

Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Absolutely.

Particularly with our senior population, I know the United Way received the $9 million from the federal government to support vulnerable seniors.

Do you know how much of that specifically came to Manitoba?

6 p.m.

National Director, Public Policy and Government Relations, United Way Centraide Canada

Anita Khanna

Again, it would have been proportional to population. I should follow up with you. I can give you the exact figures on that. That would be no problem.

6 p.m.

Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Yes, perhaps you could. An email would be great, just encompassing what Manitoba got. We often have to punch above our weight to get noticed on the federal stage. I'm just doing my due diligence on that.

I have one more question. United Way has a vast network in Canada with thousands of employees and a great reputation as a leader in the charitable sector.

I'm just curious. Did the federal government approach United Way about administering the Canada student service grant? Were you considered at all for that?

6 p.m.

National Director, Public Policy and Government Relations, United Way Centraide Canada

Anita Khanna

I'm not aware of anything related to that.

6 p.m.

Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Okay. I'm just surprised, given that you have such a great reputation and given the capacity in your national network. Now that the WE Charity has pulled out, maybe they'll approach you.

That's all the time I have, I think. Thank you very much, Anita.

Thanks, Chair.

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you.

I'll now move over to Salma.

Salma, you have the floor for five minutes.

6 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you, Chair, for an amazing job today.

Thank you to all the witnesses for their important input as we try to navigate through this pandemic.

My first question is for Ms. Khanna. Thank you for all that you are doing at United Way. I represent the riding of Scarborough Centre, which is home to many immigrant women. I know the challenges they face every day, and now with this pandemic those have escalated for many of them. Have you worked to ensure that the unique challenges faced by immigrant women and women of colour are recognized and addressed by the projects that your organization has funded?

If you can, provide some details about what those challenges are and what you have done through United Way to make sure those challenges are addressed.

6 p.m.

National Director, Public Policy and Government Relations, United Way Centraide Canada

Anita Khanna

Certainly. Thank you for the question.

We're very happy to report that allocations in the greater Toronto area have been made through the emergency community support fund. There has been a really strong emphasis in the greater Toronto area, as well as across the country, on implementing decisions based on considerations of equity, to ensure that diverse women, racialized communities and other very vulnerable groups are receiving this money.

We've worked really hard to go beyond our regular funding relationships to reach the most vulnerable. So far, in our distribution of funding through our network, we've seen that 50% of programs or agencies receiving money are not currently funded by the United Way networks. We've really branched out in order to ensure that no one is left behind.

In the Toronto area—maybe not in your riding particularly—there has certainly been support through the new horizons for seniors program, for example, to the Afghan Women's Organization. There has also been support for the Massey Centre for young women, which also serves a lot of racialized and newcomer women, providing emergency mental health support for adolescent mothers, and children as well, who are impacted by the pandemic and facing some of the issues that I mentioned earlier related to violence within the home, homelessness issues and certainly cultural barriers to postpartum and other supports as well.

Certainly, we've been on the ground in communities, making decisions at community tables that have been informed by the experience of diverse women as well as other equity-seeking groups.

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you.

My next question is for Ms. Barnet. For many of your employees, working from home isn't an option. Are there any measures you are taking, as an employer, to address the child care issue your employees are facing? Have you thought of assisting businesses to have their own day care centres on site in your sector?

6:05 p.m.

President and Chief Operating Officer, Avit Manufacturing

Rhonda Barnet

Thank you for the question.

My specific facility is a smaller facility. With that, I provide a lot of flexibility. I actually have two new dads in my organization. Their families had babies in February, so I immediately put them on work from home so they could support the added stress in the home. Smaller facilities can provide a lot of flexibility.

A lot of large manufacturers are already involved in these programs. I know Toyota Canada and many other big manufacturers look at sponsored day care, day cares right at the facility, but it's a really challenging issue for small and medium-sized enterprises to provide that. The best we can do is provide flexibility, look at investing in digital tools, etc., to make jobs a little more flexible.

I have some people who come in a day or two a week, and they can do the bulk of what they need to do, maybe even off hours at home, to accommodate children who are in the home right now. It's often a problem in our sector with both young men and women. Young families today really do struggle with child care.

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Has there—

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

I'm sorry that I'm cutting you off, Salma.

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

It's no problem.

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you so much.

We're now going to Andréanne, for five minutes.

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Thank you.

We have really benefitted from a day in the presence of quality witnesses who have given us much food for thought.

The next question goes to Ms. Khanna.

The federal government has mandated the United Way to manage a number of the programs it has established. We are very familiar with your organization; it has a very good network and is fully qualified to fulfil that mandate. There is no question about that. However, by leaving the work in the hands of community organizations rather than adequately funding the healthcare and social services systems, and by transferring money to the provinces, including Quebec, is the federal government not in danger of becoming disengaged?

We can see the fatigue in the community. A lot of women are employed by community organizations. Their mental burden has become heavier during the pandemic.

Given all the fatigue, the exhaustion, do you believe that the community world that you have helped is ready for a second wave? Is the exhaustion too much?

6:05 p.m.

National Director, Public Policy and Government Relations, United Way Centraide Canada

Anita Khanna

Thank you for your concern about the health and well-being of our non-profit sector and the workers.

There are two pieces I would pull apart there. The first is the necessity to support the workers we've talked about and the flexibility to respond to a second wave and beyond. The second is to understand that, collectively in our sector, we work creatively across different networks, as you mentioned, and sectors. We work with the private sector, municipal governments and provincial governments, in addition to the federal government and other actors, to bolster and support communities.

That is why it has been so essential that we have been working at community tables to make allocations. It's so that if one community or one organization is stretched or cannot continue its services due to the lack of personal protective equipment, for example, or another challenge, another one can step up to ensure that the populations they intend to serve do not suffer because they have difficulty accessing PPE and maintaining service.

In our activities, our focus has been on service continuity and safety for the community, and we will continue to focus on that. We have seen real success in working across sectors and tables, as I mentioned, to get funding to where it's needed and where it can be used best to support the community.

I'll give an example from the Montreal area. It was quite astounding that our Centraide du Grand Montreal was approached by local government, I believe, to help with the procurement of PPE early in this crisis, given its strong connections to the private sector and the producers of PPE, to ensure that there could be equipment necessary to continue service, whether within food banks or in public health operations. Our sector, like many parents, mothers and others, feels the stretch, but it also steps up and steps into creative ways to get the job done.

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Thank you.

My next question goes to Ms. Yalnizyan.

In its response to the pandemic, the federal government implemented a number of financial measures to help families, such as the Canada Child Benefit, for example. Other measures have been considered inadequate in terms of guaranteeing equal opportunities for women. You have talked a lot about the importance of the childcare system. We have a great one in Quebec. I hope it will be looked at when the time comes to discuss a national policy.

In your opinion, which additional measures can be implemented to make the economic recovery into a feminist recovery and to help women succeed?

July 7th, 2020 / 6:10 p.m.

Economist and Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers, As an Individual

Armine Yalnizyan

That's an excellent question.

Almost everything else pales in comparison to making child care an accessible, affordable, high-quality reality for every family across Canada. It's true that Quebec leads the country in its expansion of access to affordable child care, but even Quebec, as I think you will acknowledge, has some room to improve its early learning education.

I think that what the system did was help parents get back to work without necessarily investing in children in a way that could maximize their potential. To do this requires a very strong commitment to a national vision of extending early learning as part of the public education system and making it accessible to people across the country just like we make school-age learning accessible. We should also make before- and after-school classes available.

I'm sorry, but am I being cut off?

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Yes, but it's all good. You have great testimony.

We're just going to move over to our last five minutes with Lindsay.

Lindsay, you have the floor for five minutes.

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Thank you.

Ms. Yalnizyan, how important is it to establish legislation to enshrine the right of high-quality child care by the federal government?

6:10 p.m.

Economist and Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers, As an Individual

Armine Yalnizyan

I don't know the answer to that. In some provinces we have the right to education enshrined. In Ontario it is a human right for a child to be educated.

I think we need a national strategy to safely reopen the schools and child care centres. We need to be really vigilant so that, in an era when it is possible that we will lose capacity, as they are warning in the United States, the capacity we are left with is not, primarily, for-profits that have deeper pockets. We saw it. The omen was there with the long-term care facilities.

The legislative approach is an interesting one, but it doesn't change anything if you don't have any funding, and there are no principles or norms with which you wish to make this a reality for people.

You know, maybe we do need a Canada child care act like we have a Canada health care act. Perhaps those principles should be enshrined. I hadn't thought about it. It's an excellent question.