Madam Speaker, I am following up on a discussion with the minister upon the announcement, with great pride, of the new parental leave provisions. My question, at least six months ago now, was when is the government going to implement legislative measures that would actually help women and families on the ground. This was a measure that appeared to be targeted more at wealthy parents needing extra parental leave. It was a disappointment that it did not actually put more money in the pockets of young families.
Today, I tabled an interim report arising from evidence we have been hearing throughout this year at the status of women committee on the imperative to close the legislative gap, for the federal government to do everything it can to remove barriers to women's economic success and bring economic justice for women.
We heard a lot of testimony at the committee that described a cycle that young families get into, and young women in particular. Not being able to find affordable child care, a family will have to make a decision about which parent will drop out of the workforce to accommodate that new family pressure, and because we still do not have federal pay equity legislation, it tends to be the female parent who is the one who earns the lower wage. Plus, women traditionally continue to do a disproportionate share of unpaid care. Therefore, it is the woman who drops out of the workforce, generally. When she re-enters the workforce, she is more likely to take on part-time and precarious work, for which there is no social safety net around employment insurance. We still do not have employment insurance that is designed for the shorter periods of work that part-time positions have. We certainly know in Canada, with the loss of good manufacturing jobs and full-time positions, there has been a real movement toward short-term contracts and precarious work. It particularly affects young women and young people generally.
Then we see later in life that, because they have been lower wage earners throughout their careers, women are more likely to retire with fewer savings. Especially if their marriage ends, they are particularly vulnerable to potentially retiring in poverty.
This is illustrated in my own riding. I heard this summer that at the Samaritan House, which is run by a wonderful group doing very hard work in Nanaimo, 50% of the homeless women at their shelter are now over the age of 50. These homeless shelters are designed around bunk beds. The women cannot climb into them.
In my own family, my sister Claire had to leave Toronto because, for her and her husband, child care was more expensive than their rent. We have heard these stories again and again.
I ask again to the government: what is it going to do with its legislative power in the House to remove those barriers to women's economic prosperity? If you are really a feminist government, please walk the talk.