Mr. Speaker, listening to the minister responsible for the status of women reminds me of an old expression “one step forward and two steps backward”.
I do not need to say how hopeful women were 20-25 years ago at the height of the women's movement. We were moving toward pay equity, dealing with violence against women, addressing the need for pensions and dealing with poverty. The list went on and on. Yet here we are today with thousands of women coming to Ottawa appealing to the government on the most basic demand, the most basic questions pertaining to economic and social security.
Today women are under stress more than ever before as they try to juggle work and family responsibilities. Women are finding it more and more difficult to meet all the demands on their time and to provide for themselves and their families.
My questions are threefold. The minister talks about the Prime Minister meeting with the organizers of the women's march. Is it better for the Prime Minister to meet and patronize women with words and spurn their concerns, or is it better not to meet at all?
Second, when it comes to the rhetoric of the minister around gender based analysis, why do we never see that translated into actual policies and programs? I can testify to the fact that when it comes to applying those words, as we had an opportunity to do in the health committee, it is Liberal members who stand and refuse to apply gender based analysis, refuse to even ensure parity on the governing councils for such basic areas as scientific and medical research.
On the most basic of matters where women are truly struggling, why does the government stand in the way each and every time? Whether we are talking about providing for national child care, national home care, national drug coverage or national housing programs, these issues really matter to women in terms of making a difference the government has done nothing. It has actually backpedalled and made the situation worse.
Will the government reverse the agenda of privatization and deregulation and start to work in the best interest of women to ensure we finally achieve equality in this millennium?