Mr. Speaker, I am most pleased to participate in the debate.
I would like to thank my colleague from Laval for her passion. She very clearly is a member who feels very strongly about how important it is to look out for the reality of women in this country, because in taking care of women, women can take care of their families, our communities are strengthened, and our nation is strengthened.
Canada's 1995 federal action plan for gender equality and the subsequent 2000 agenda for gender based equality in regard to the Beijing Declaration have had very little effect on advancing women's equality in Canada. In fact, the advancement of women's equality has been stalled for almost three decades.
I taught in the public school system for a number of years. I would make the point every year with my senior students to ask whether or not women and men had achieved equality in Canada. The answer invariably, strangely enough from female students, was yes, women have done very well; they can go to school and they have opportunities.
The reality is that the struggle for equality is most certainly not over. No matter what the government may say, women are still behind. The wage gap between men and women has remained at 30% for over 30 years. In 2008 women still earn only 70% of what men earn.
Our current tax policy as it is structured over and over again by government after government is basically to raise money. Very little analysis has ever been done in regard to the impact that tax policy has on women.
Women are still underrepresented in politics and in the life of this nation. They comprise only 6.7% of the corporate elite. Even though women outnumber their male counterparts in our universities--we have recently seen an increase in terms of the number of women participating--when they graduate, these educated young women still earn 20% less than men, and as they age, the gap grows.
There are some interesting statistics from Statistics Canada--