Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Mississauga—Lakeshore for bringing this incredibly important bill to the House. I had the privilege of sitting on the status of women committee when the bill came before our committee. I want to thank our colleagues on committee who worked hard on this as well.
When we talk about a gender equality week, what we are really talking about is bringing people together across the country, whether it is civil society, parliamentarians, researchers, or other groups to be able to multiply the conversation, to start a real engagement on gender equality in Canada.
We know from many studies that women and men in Canada are not equal today. We can see it here in the House where 27% of elected members are women. We see it in other kinds of leadership bodies and on corporate boards. I am very pleased at what our government is doing in Bill C-25 about women on corporate boards to make sure that companies have a comply or explain model. They have to have diversity policies.
I am particularly pleased at what the Minister of Science has done in the past week regarding women in research. Universities that do not have a diversity policy within the next two years and reach their targets will no longer get federal government research funding for Canada research chairs. We have tried many other ways. This is the kind of thing that is needed, because we have not seen significant increases in gender equality in Canada in several decades in many different fields.
We on the status of women committee right now are studying women's economic security. We have had a number of different groups come before us. We know that women in Canada today are not making the same amount of money as men do for the same kind of work.
I chaired the committee on pay equity. We came out with a very proactive report which calls for proactive pay equity legislation which recognizes that pay equity is a human right. I am very proud that our government has responded positively to our report and is going to be bringing in pay equity legislation. This is the kind of thing that will help in terms of people who are working in similar fields.
We also know that the wage gap includes a number of different factors that are not necessarily just about pay equity, for instance, precarious work. There are more women working in minimum wage jobs. There are more women working in part-time jobs. Today we heard in the status of women committee that in the bottom seven deciles, that is zero to $70,000, there are more women earning that amount and as soon as we get over $70,000 there are more men. It is clear that we have a long way to go, particularly when it comes to women in the STEM professions.
When it comes to the jobs that pay good money, when it comes to the kinds of good jobs that create Canadian prosperity, women are not choosing those jobs because of socialization or because of a lack of role models. There are a number of things we need to do to improve the situation for some of the young women in our communities.
I am very proud to have had the opportunity in my riding of Ottawa West—Nepean to meet with several girls in projects that allow girls to reach their full potential. I am speaking of projects like Girls World at the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre, or the Girl Guides, whom I met with. It was quite inspiring. These young girls are so articulate. They believe that they can be anything and do anything. This is something we need to make not just an aspiration for these young women, but an actual reality.
Later, one of the young girls, a 12-year-old, wrote to me and asked if I could create a junior youth council. Apparently, when she is playing with her dolls at home, she pretends the dolls are in Parliament. This is the kind of thing we need to promote. A young 12-year-old girl is dreaming of being in government, of being a member of Parliament, but at what point is that aspiration lost? At what point does that young girl think it is not something for her? We still do not see as many women winning nominations and being elected to this place as we ought to see.
I will use myself as an example. When I was in grade 10, I joined the science club. I decided I wanted to be an astrophysicist. I did an entire report on how to become an astrophysicist. I signed up for calculus and all of the science courses, but somehow between grade 10 and grade 12, I lost my interest in science. I received my highest mark in math, but I was telling people at that point “I hate math. I am terrible at math.” It is something that I continued to repeat over and over for decades, that I am terrible at math. I saw my report card. I had 93% in grade 12 math.
Somewhere along the way, young girls are socialized to think that science is not something they want to do. I am very pleased to have studied history and to now be in politics, but we need to create a world where young girls and young women have the same opportunities. We need to ensure that the barriers are no longer there so they can achieve the kinds of things they dream about when they are 12 years old and that somehow, along the way, we see that inequality end.
When I talk to young students and tell them that men make $1 for every 73¢ a woman makes, they gasp. They look and me and ask how that is fair. Even young children know that it is not fair.
I thank my hon. colleague for bringing this incredibly important bill before the House. I hope it will receive support across all party lines, because this is an opportunity for us to really make sure we are doing something about the gender gap in Canada.