May 4, 1972

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

STATUS OF WOMEN

LIB

Bryce Stuart Mackasey (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Hon. Bryce Mackasey (Minister of Manpower and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 41(2) I would like to table two documents, one in English and one in French, which in reality are progress reports on the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.

When the report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women was tabled in the House in 1970 there was much to be done in creating equal opportunities for and removing discrimination against women in Canadian society. The government set up an interdepartmental committee on the status of women to analyse the recommendations of the royal commission and to determine the best ways that the government should proceed with these recommendations. Mrs. Freda L. Paltiel was seconded from the Department of National Health and Welfare to be coordinator of the committee. This interdepartmental committee was composed of representatives from various departments and agencies. Its report was submitted to me in December, 1971. The report of the royal commission consisted of 167 recommendations, many of them falling under the jurisdiction of the federal government, some falling under the jurisdiction of the provincial governments, some joint federal and provincial and others under the jurisdiction of business and industry.

The federal government has taken significant action both administratively and legislatively with regard to the recommendations under its sole jurisdiction and in doing so has played a more important role in leadership. In the Status of Women in Canada 1972 booklet, reference is made to the work done by the federal government. But our work cannot stop with our many accomplishments. We must make more and more significant advances until every man and woman in this country will have equal opportunities in every field of endeavour. The booklet I am tabling is a signpost but not a resting place and we must continue to work together as Members of Parliament and as Canadians to ensure equality for all in our country.

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to draw your attention to some of the highlights of the report.

The Canada Labour (Standards) Code has attempted to remove discrimination in employment. The Women's Bureau of the Department of Labour has provided an invaluable service to women who work.

The Unemployment Insurance Act provided universality as well as better protection to women in the work force. The government has provided maternity leave under the Canada Labour (Standards) Code and maternity benefits under the Unemployment Insurance Act.

A new family planning division has been set up in the Department of National Health and Welfare to co-ordinate federal endeavours in the field of planned parenthood.

National Health and Welfare, Treasury Board, the Solicitor General and Manpower and Immigration have created senior positions for women in their departments to give advice on programs and activities with regard to women in their mandates.

The Local Initiatives Program, among other accomplishments, has established approximately 90 day-care centres across Canada. Child care allowances are now a deductible expense under the Income Tax Act.

The bill to amend the Adult Occupational Training Act which received first reading last week in the House of Commons will provide women who have worked one year at any time in their lives the opportunity to receive training as well as training allowances for the first time.

An equal employment opportunity office has been set up in the Public Service.

The cabinet has issued directive No. 44 directing deputy ministers to take steps to encourage the assignment and advancement of more women into middle and upper echelon positions.

The Family Income Security Plan, which has now passed second reading in the House of Commons, would provide increases in benefits to low-income families and assist sole support mothers.

The government has also paid special attention to the needs of native women in its supportive training programs and leadership development.

Major grants have been given to planned parenthood federation of Canada and Serena.

The federal government has also recently helped finance the Strategy for Change conference involving women's organizations from across Canada.

Women's groups across Canada, studying the report, have received, when needed, financial support.

The government actively continues to seek out competent women for appointments to boards, commissions, judgeships and other senior posts.

May 4, 1972

Status of Women

Finally, amendments have been introduced to the Criminal Code to include equal jury duty for men and women in criminal cases. These amendments propose also to remove the anachronistic vagrancy clause as well as whipping as a penalty, which is sex discrimination in reverse.

Mr. Speaker, I shall close my remarks by reiterating that the government does not intend to stand still. We shall strive to work towards elevating the status of women in Canada to the point where discrimination by reason of sex will be a thing of the past.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lincoln M. Alexander (Hamilton West):

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have this opportunity to reply to the minister's statement even though the statement is late. The report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women was tabled, I believe, in December, 1970, and for the life of me I cannot understand why it has taken the government until May, 1972, to give us some idea of their views on it.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

That is quick for them.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Alexander:

I say with the greatest of respect that this statement perhaps indicates that we are not too far from an election because the government has now said that it has some interest in women.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Alexander:

I also wonder, if the minister has had this report in his possession since December, 1971, why the Women's Liberal Association suddenly met with him yesterday and immediately after that meeting we have a statement by the government. I think more people are involved with the status of women than those in the Women's Liberal Association.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Alexander:

Mr. Speaker, I want to go on record as saying that among the women of Canada, and I have said this before, are women of skill. We have not drawn on their skills sufficiently. It has not been recognized that among our women there is a reservoir of skills which certainly can play a meaningful role in the development of our Canadian way of life.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Alexander:

May I say that for our people in 1972 Canada must not only be a land of opportunity but a land of equal opportunity, and that means equal opportunity for all individuals regardless of race, creed, colour or sex.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Alexander:

I do not know why, in a statement of such importance, the minister evaded one of the most important issues facing women today, the issue of abortion. It seems to me that for one reason or other the government is deliberately avoiding facing this issue. The abortion rate is going up continually. Women are in dire financial straits. As I understand it, the government has

indicated that it will set a date when abortion can be debated in the House. Why was this not mentioned in the minister's statement?

Another area I ought to mention is the LIP program. With all due respect, it seems to me that the LIP program serves the interests of women who have reached the secondary level of education. What happens to those women who have not reached that level of education and really need help but have not been helped by the LIP program since it affects those with a secondary level of education?

I am pleased to note that the government is moving in the area of fair employment practices. That is a step in the right direction. I understand that the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mackasey) intends to bring in amendments to remove bias in employment on grounds of age, sex and marriage. This step must be taken if we are to be consistent and give everyone an equal opportunity.

I am disturbed that the minister although he boasts of the family planning division which has been set up to co-ordinate federal endeavours in the field of planned parenthood, nowhere in his statement mentions co-ordination of plans with those provinces and municipalities in which competent but overworked birth control and family planning clinics already exist. One of the more important omissions is that abortion was not placed before the minister.

I should like to say a word about another area which I think deserves immediate consideration, that involving those women who belong to the group making up Canada's first citizens. They live in deplorable conditions. They seem to be the forgotten part of our culture. I hope the government will pay sufficient attention to the needs of native women and show leadership in the development of certain programs of benefit to them, particularly in the field of health care. That is an area into which we must move because there is great necessity for such programs.

I have not read the booklet the minister tabled. We shall see what is in it. I hope the statement he made was not made for political reasons. I hope the statement was made to show the government's genuine concern about the status of women.

May I pay tribute to the woman who, I think, has had a great deal to do with the thinking of the government in these matters, Miss Sylva M. Gelber, Director of the Women's Bureau, Department of Labour. She seems to have her finger on all these problems. I believe it is an extremely difficult job for her alone to bring significant points to the attention of not only members of the House of Commons but also of the people of Canada.

I believe that electoral reform must come in order that more women can be candidates for membership in this august House, not because they are women but because they have compassion, understanding, experience, wisdom and expertise that this House can certainly use.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Alexander:

I see that Your Honour is getting a little impatient. There is quite a bit more I could say. We will

May 4, 1972

keep our eyes on the government daily in order to see whether this is a genuine move. I will close by reading a portion of a speech by Miss Sylva M. Gelber on November 10, 1971, to the Canadian Federation of University Women. After having related in some detail the summary of progress that had been made in terms of women, women's rights and legislation affecting them, she closed her speech with this extremely significant paragraph:

From this short summary of the progress made in the enactment of legislation relating to working women, it will be seen that, at long last, the laws required to achieve the goal of equal and fair opportunity for women, are beginning to appear across the land. But the law is merely a tool; and a tool is of little value if it is not used. And even if the tool is used, it is only of value when it is properly used.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
NDP

Winona Grace MacInnis

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Grace Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kingsway):

Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to be able to respond on behalf of our party to the statement just made by the minister in charge of raising the status of women. I am glad the article in Chatelaine with the questionnaire appeared at this time. I cannot help feeling that it gave a little extra impetus to the production of this statement.

When the report of the royal commission was tabled it provided Canadian women at once with a bible of their rights and a blueprint as to some of the ways in which action must be taken for them to reach the promised land of equality. What does this statement disclose? It discloses that there have been several measures of real substance achieved. I have made reference to these before. The two most important have been under the aegis of the minister now in charge. They are maternity leave under the Canada Labour (Standards) Code and maternity benefits under the Unemployment Insurance Act. More recently there have been amendments to the Criminal Code with regard to women serving as jurors, the abolition of the vagrancy section and one or two other points. Within the Department of National Health and Welfare, there has been the establishment of grants for family planning across this country.

Some pious hopes have been expressed about how the government intends to encourage the appointment of more women to senior posts in the public service. However, apart from token positions where women have been so outstanding that they could not be ignored, these hopes have not been anything more than expressed. One of my colleagues has just made the rather regrettable suggestion that even at this stage there are many members-"MCPs", they might be called-not paying the attention they might at this time. On behalf of the women of Canada, I ask them to listen.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Explain "MCPs".

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink
PC

Donald MacInnis

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Maclnnis:

I will not compete with the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) in that department. As far as the major recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women are concerned, there has been no action or only microscopic action taken to this point. The major recommendation was for child care centres across the country. While this is obviously a shared responsibility with the provinces and municipalities, the federal government has a tremendous responsibility to fulfil.

Status of Women

Hon. members on my left could perhaps calm down a little so that I may be heard.

The only mention of this matter in the statement today is that under the LIP program the federal government has helped to establish 90 day-care centres across the country.

I would point out, however, that the LIP program is due to end on the 31st of the present month, and you know, Mr. Speaker, what will happen to most of these centres when the grants end. My other comment is that the Royal Commission on the Status of Women said that there is need for 130,000 day-care places immediately. So this is one big piece of unfinished business.

Reference was made to child care allowances. The recent legislation provided for only about half the amount of income tax deductions which is essential if children are to be looked after, and even this minimal concession is hedged about with demands for receipts, the keeping of employer records, and so on. There are many whose wages are not high enough to enable them to qualify for this tax deduction. The report of the royal commission calls for a guaranteed annual income for "single support" parents as the beginning of a guaranteed income across this country for all Canadians.

In regard to the Adult Occupational Training Act, I am glad to learn that women are to be allowed to qualify. The minister told us that women would be eligible provided they had worked for one year at any time in their lives. I should like to know how many women have not worked for one year at any time in their lives.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   STATUS OF WOMEN
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF PROGRESS REPORT ON ROYAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS-STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Permalink

May 4, 1972