March 7, 1979

LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Agreed.

Topic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Subtopic:   DEFENCE INDUSTRY PRODUCTIVITY PROGRAM
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MOTIONS FOR PAPERS

LIB

Yvon Pinard (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Yvon Pinard (Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and President of Privy Council):

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Topic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Subtopic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Permalink
LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Does the House agree?

Topic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Subtopic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Subtopic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Permalink
NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Les Benjamin (Regina-Lake Centre):

Mr. Speaker, my point of order is very brief. It has to do with amenities provided for members of parliament. I just wanted to draw the matter to your attention and to ask you, sir, if this is to continue, to check into getting facilities to dry out the fur of hon. members who jump off ships.

Topic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Subtopic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Permalink

POINT OF ORDER

PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Progressive Conservative Party Deputy House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ray Hnatyshyn (Saskatoon-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order in connection with a notice for the production of papers to which the parliamentary secretary has in fact referred but once again has not dealt with. I refer to motion No. 1 standing in my name. It deals with production of documents relating to the establishment of a uranium refinery in the province of Saskatchewan.

This motion is the first motion on that particular list. A number of subsequent motions have now been dealt with by the parliamentary secretary on behalf of the government. This is not the first occasion on which I have asked for the production of those particular documents. In fact, it has been a longstanding request and goes back to previous parliaments, but it has been refused.

Women's Right to Work

Saskatchewan is on the verge of very considerable expansion in terms of its uranium industry, and I think that it is absolutely essential in the dying days of this parliament that the government produce the documents so that the people of Saskatchewan will know what has been done with respect to the establishment of a uranium refinery and with respect to environmental studies in the areas of Saskatoon and Warman.

I would ask the parliamentary secretary to direct his mind to obtaining a response to those particular requests and that he ask for the appropriate documents so that they can be tabled in the interests of western Canada and the people of Saskatchewan in particular.

Topic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. HNATYSHYN-DELAY IN DEALING WITH MOTION FOR PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Permalink
LIB

Yvon Pinard (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Yvon Pinard (Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and President of Privy Council):

Mr. Speaker, if the papers involved can be tabled, they will be. If not, the motion can then be debated. I see the hon. member has already gone ahead and tried to debate his own motion even before a decision was reached on whether or not the papers would be tabled. As far as we are concerned, we shall follow the usual procedure.

Topic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. HNATYSHYN-DELAY IN DEALING WITH MOTION FOR PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Permalink
LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Shall the remaining notices of motions for documents be be allowed to stand?

Topic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. HNATYSHYN-DELAY IN DEALING WITH MOTION FOR PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Subtopic:   POINT OF ORDER
Sub-subtopic:   MR. HNATYSHYN-DELAY IN DEALING WITH MOTION FOR PRODUCTION OF PAPERS
Permalink

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

BUSINESS OF SUPPLY

PC

David Samuel Horne MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Mr. David MacDonald (Egmont) moved:

That this House recognizes the unqualified right of women to work in any and all fields of endeavour and that it urges the government to set an example for the private sector through:

(1) employment programs and practices based on the fundamental premise of the equality of women and of their right to work;

(2) economic planning that reflects the reality that women will continue to want to work and that the influx of women into the labour market is not a temporary aberration;

(3) thorough study of the pension situation of women with special emphasis on the relation between low wages and low pensions; and

(4) adoption of policies that will put an end to the serious exploitation of immigrant women in the Canadian labour force.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58-UNQUALIFIED RIGHT OF WOMEN TO WORK
Permalink
LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Members will recall that proceedings on this motion will expire in accordance with Standing Order 58(11) at the ordinary hour of adjournment this day.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58-UNQUALIFIED RIGHT OF WOMEN TO WORK
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PC

David Samuel Horne MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacDonald (Egmont):

Mr. Speaker, this is an important day in that it marks one year plus one day since we last debated the situation of women in this House. On that

3914

March 7, 1979

Women's Right to Work

instance the motion was moved by the hon. member for Oshawa-Whitby (Mr. Broadbent). It is perhaps symptomatic in the decline and disintegration of this government that we are forced again to debate today, by way of an opposition day motion, the unqualified right of women to work in the occupation of their choice, and that we must in fact urge the government to set an example in this regard to both the public and the private sectors.

One would have thought after almost a decade following the report of the royal commission on the status of women in 1970, the establishment of numerous advisory councils, both federal and provincial, and the enunciation since 1972 of equal opportunity programs for women in the public service along with a declaration of support from the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) on down for the equality of opportunities for women, that such a motion today would be both unnecessary and irrelevant.

The tragic facts are, however, that in the last few months we have seen a growing response on the part of concerned Canadians, and particularly those women's groups that try to reflect the current status of women, nationally and provincially, to the point where it is now a virtual outcry. It was perhaps most clearly focused in the statement issued by the chairman of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women at the most recent quarterly meetings on January 10, 1979. The opening paragraph of her statement stands as a sorry tribute to the government's present record with respect to women in the work force. Here is what Madame Yvette Rousseau had to say in her opening paragraph:

After considerable study, consultation and discussion I have come to a tragic conclusion: not only Canadian women are excluded from the employment strategy proposed by the Canadian government, but they are subtly evicted from the labour force. This conclusion is all the more bitter in that it questions women's right to work. After ten years of in-depth studies, conclusive research and multiple recommendations, such are the facts.

Madame Rousseau then goes on to state some of the collective experiences both of the advisory council and other bodies concerned with women's right to work. She mentions some of the historic developments which have taken place in the last decade, and goes on to say:

I will mention only a few documents and organizations which have clearly explained the realities of women's lives and their claims: the Bird Commission, Provincial and Federal Status of Women Councils, "Carrefour 75" in Quebec, and the latest Quebec Status of Women Council's report... Were those efforts in vain? Is the whole exercise considered a farce? Have those organizations been established in order to sugar-coat the "pill"-this time, a psychological and bitter one.

She continues:

But when we dissect official statements made in time of economic ill-health, we are appalled to see that women are consistently held responsible for the high rate of unemployment, though they fall victims to it more than other groups. Consequently, they are used as scape-goats and as a screen for a chronic inability to redress the economy.

In more specific terms-and I will come back to this matter in a few moments-she directly focuses on the employment strategy enunciated by the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Cullen) in September, 1978. She asks these two questions:

Before it was decided to exclude women from the employment strategy, why is it that the CACSW's advice was not asked? Is an advisory council a political ornament? Are there any women on the regional working groups advising Canada Employment and Immigration Commission's sector task forces?

I understand that the minister responsible for the status of women and for this particular body which Madame Rousseau chairs will be speaking this afternoon, and I for one will be most anxious to hear what the minister, who has been in his position responsible for the status of women since 1974, has to say to these serious allegations. We know only too well what his colleague the Prime Minister thinks of these allegations because he has told us so. I raised these statements with the Prime Minister on January 23, and I asked him what steps are being taken to reverse this situation. His reply was very short and direct. He said:

Mr. Speaker, I have had a report and I can state unequivocally that either the president was not directing her remarks at the government or else she was unequivocally wrong.

In case there is any doubt in the minds of the Prime Minister or any members of the government, it is useful to look at the letter which was sent to the Minister of Employment and Immigration on June 29. I simply want to read the first two paragraphs, which are as follows:

At a special meeting of the leaders of the Advisory Councils on the Status of Women of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan held in Toronto, January 26, 1979, there was unanimous endorsation of Yvette Rousseau's position that "not only are Canadian women excluded from the employment strategies proposed by the federal government, but they are subtly evicted from the labour force."

On behalf of my colleagues I wish to reaffirm to you our conviction that every person has the right to work. Women who make up 46 per cent of the work force in this country are not secondary nor marginal workers.

That letter has still to be answered. I know that the Minister of Employment and Immigration put some specifics in writing to the six provincial and one federal advisory councils some two or three weeks later. The essential thrust of that letter, the allegations put forward by Madame Rousseau on January 10, have neither been addressed, to my knowledge, publicly or privately, by the Prime Minister, who said they were false and not directed to the government, nor by the minister responsible for the status of women. We hear almost nothing from him these days with respect to developing and deepening women's issues. There was nothing either from the Minister of Employment and Immigration who seems to be the forward advance- or, should I say, retreat-with respect to adequate programs for the status of women, particularly as their employment and right to work is affected.

It might be useful, Mr. Speaker, to review the history briefly. Hon. members will recall that in 1967 at the time of the government of Lester Pearson, a royal commission on the status of women was appointed with the distinguished member of the other place, Senator Florence Bird, as chairman. It made its major report in December, 1970. Many of the recommendations were long overdue and were implemented within a short period of time.

March 7, 1979

Interestingly enough, I believe the first debate that took place as a result of this report was instigated by the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Brewin) in March, 1971. There was a valuable contribution on his part as well as contributions from our former colleague from Fundy-Royal, now the chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Gordon Fairweather, and others.

In March, 1971, the Prime Minister enunciated his perspective and concern with respect to the status of women-not in the House, as is so often the case,, but at a meeting of a number of Liberal faithful in Toronto.

By 1972 the cabinet had formulated directive no. 44, referred to as the status of women directive in Canada. The report of the interdepartmental committee over the hand of Mr. Gordon Robertson, then secretary to the cabinet, gave a very clear indication of what appeared to be the direction the government was taking. This directive was to ensure the implementation of recommendations from the royal commission on the status of women. In addition, it said that the Public Service Commission had embarked on an active program to promote equal opportunity for female public servants. Indeed, deputy heads of departments were directed by cabinet to take steps to encourage the assignment and advancement of more women into middle and upper echelon positions.

That was almost seven years ago. In 1974 the minister responsible for the status of women assumed his responsibilities and declared the great things that were in store for 1975, International Women's Year. In the concluding part of 1975 a more detailed cabinet document entitled "Equal Opportunities in the Public Service of Canada" was enunciated. It stated:

-the federal government as an employer actively supports the principle of equal access to employment, training and development, and career opportunities for all employees-

It went on to say:

-within a reasonable period of time representation of male and female employees in the Public Service would approximate the proportion of qualified and interested persons of both sexes available by department, by occupational group, and by level.

Program guidelines were established. Policy examination was to take place under the responsibility of Treasury Board- I will say more about this shortly-and the deputy heads of departments were expected to establish and publicize their own statements of policy consistent with the policy outlined in January, 1976. Indeed, the minister stated there was to be very active monitoring, reporting and action on the part of all levels of the federal government.

The minister himself made such statements and I should like to quote from a couple of the many speeches he made in 1975. The minister responsible for the status of women said on October 15, 1975:

We find a society that pays lip service to the principle of equality while continuing to support actions that reinforce the inequities in women's situations. Perhaps we suffer from a collective time lag between conviction and action.

Perhaps today the minister will tell us about his collective time lag between conviction and action in the past two or three years. In another instance the minister said:

Women's Right to Work

It would make a mockery of this international women's year, both in government and the private sector, if we were only to speak out against this enormous inequality without taking firm steps to end it.

Those firm steps have still been held in abeyance, Mr. Speaker. We wait to see what real action the minister is going to take.

The tragic fact is that the present government seems intent on undoing or undermining much of the rhetoric and programs that characterized the earlier years leading up to and including International Women's Year in 1975. Certainly one does not have to be a detailed student of events of the past half dozen years to realize that rising expectations and implementation of new programs were very much the order of the day, reaching a peak in International Women's Year.

If we follow the performance curve with respect to developments in employment in the public service, a kind of peak was achieved in a number of areas in terms of accelerated access for women into middle and upper levels and into training programs. The tragedy is that, as we follow that curve beyond 1975, and as the Advisory Council on the Status of Women pointed out so clearly, it has begun to go, in some cases, into rather sharp decline.

How tragic it is that in the last year or so the only time we seem to have heard from the minister responsible for the status of women is when members on this side either direct questions to him or introduce motions, as the hon. member for Oshawa-Whitby (Mr. Broadbent) did a year ago yesterday and as we are doing today, so as to create a situation by way of opposition day debates for the minister to issue some kind of defence. I sincerely hope that in his response today the minister is not going to recite, as he did last year, a catalogue that is somewhat out of date and in some ways irrelevant to the present difficult situation for women. I can understand the minister's distraction over the past two years with the current pressure of federal-provincial relations, but one must conclude either that he has not sufficient time for the present major issues confronting women in our society, or the government feels it is sufficiently unimportant to bother appointing someone who might effectively bear these important responsibilities.

There is far too much that one could recite about the present sorry performance of the government and concerning its attitude toward women in the work force. A notable example of the current direction of federal policy was the action of this government in introducing Bill C-14 last fall. As the chairman of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women pointed out, there was no advance consultation with that council or with the National Action Committee, the umbrella organization that represents 140 women's groups across the country. It was sprung on them, so to speak. Even after it went into direct correspondence with the minister about those specific areas of amendments which would do severe damage to women in the work force, in many instances the minister quoted statistics that bore no relationship to the facts. Inadvertently, the Minister of Employment and Immigration has indicated the difficulties he has created for women.

March 7, 1979

Women's Right to Work

It is interesting that in his communication to the Advisory Council on February 14, he indicated that women will suffer disproportionately from the establishment, for instance, of a 20-hour weekly minimum for insurability. He pointed out that a 2.4 per cent reduction of the total benefits would occur for women compared to a 0.7 per cent reduction for male claimants. That so disturbed the joint meeting of provincial and federal advisory councils that they appealed directly to the Canadian Human Rights Commission for a decision with respect to direct discrimination against women in this act.

I am only going to deal specifically with part time workers. The advisory council had five specific objections to Bill C-14 and the National Action Committee had three. In a letter to the Minister of Employment and Immigration on January 29, they pointed out that women make up 71 per cent of part-time workers in Canada. When they raised this with an official of the Employment and Immigration Commission, he replied:

We simply do not have the data base to do that study (of part-time workers, 71 per cent of whom are women). We are now trying to determine the impact of this particular change (20 hours per week) but I am afraid that that information will not be available to us early enough to make a judgment as to whether or not the impact will be as severe as you have claimed-

What kind of nonsense is that, Mr. Speaker. With a major change in federal policy respecting part time work, the officials from the Employment and Immigration Commission tell us they do not have the facts in terms of impact and the minister is left to give statistics which, by themselves, certainly indicate severe and deliberate discrimination.

The following was drawn to the attention of the minister responsible for the status of women, and to his colleague the Minister of Employment and Immigration, in a meeting of federal cabinet ministers which took place in Toronto on February 22. This statement is taken from the brief of the National Action Committee:

-the economic outlook for women now is less encouraging and more desperate than it was a year ago. Women have the highest unemployment rate of any group in the country and yet actions taken by your government in the intervening months have almost without exception tended to make matters worse for women.

In defence of this situation the government talks about growing participation rates creating higher unemployment situations for women, ignoring the historical reality that traditionally women have had lower unemployment rates, certainly during the 1940s and 1950s, than over the last year or so. This government not only fails to recognize the acute problem created for women because of the federal policy it is imposing, but it tries to make out that there is no particular problem.

In Toronto on February 21 I served on a panel with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Maine). This was a public forum concerning women and unemployment. When he was trying to defend the cancellation of the federal government's program with respect to the outreach program and training and re-training for women, he said, I suppose as a final act of desperation: "But women can in no way feel severely disadvantaged just because they are women". As I recall, he added the offhand

remark: "What is so special about women?" I do not know where that particular individual and his minister live, but they have not looked closely at the situation either in the private or the public sector.

I will say a few words shortly about the situation respecting the public sector particularly because that is an area of basic responsibility for this minister and the government. There are serious implications about the general trend of development of government policy. Members will recall when we were debating Bill C-10 in this House respecting changes in the family allowances and the new child tax credit that concern was raised by the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands (Miss MacDonald), myself and others about the very bad precedent that would be established in terms of lumping the husband's and wife's income together for the purposes of computing the child tax credit. As we pointed out on that occasion to the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Miss Begin), this could create a serious precedent in terms of future amendments to the Income Tax Act and to the unemployment insurance program.

I believe the minister at that time treated these comments as being wildly out of line compared to the possibilities that might occur. In case she has not heard, her colleague the Minister of Employment and Immigration made a speech on March 5. In it he referred to unemployment insurance and changes in the Unemployment Insurance Act. He said:

I am considering producing a "green paper", in which the problems of the program and alternatives to these problems could be spelled out. For example, there are some strong suggestions that the program ought to be restructured to take account of family income.

I trust he has shared that new development with his colleague the Minister of National Health and Welfare.

Perhaps one other comment is worth noting at this point. It concerns the government's attitude on its withdrawal from the important aspect of assisting women into the work force. One of the central issues over the past few months has been the cutback with respect to the women's Outreach program. The Minister of Employment and Immigration, in seeking to explain much of the criticism he was receiving, offered this one defence for the withdrawal of the Outreach program. It is indicative of this government. He said:

Many of the women's Outreach projects were started in 1975 during International Women's Year and, because the normal duration for funding is three and a half years, many of the projects are coming to the end of their funding period.

The secret is now out. We were prepared to do things in a particular year because it was the "in" thing. The button which the minister responsible for the status of women used to wear proudly in this House which said "Why Not?" was the fad of 1975. Now we have it in holy writ that three and a half years is as long as anyone will get for any particular funding program. That is the end of that exercise. It is now "on to other and more important things".

I want to speak briefly about the situation of immigrant women workers. Nowhere does the government's present policy toward women seem more harsh and shameful than its attitude with respect to immigrant women workers. Increas-

March 7, 1979

ingly over the last decade immigrant women, either as landed immigrants or as visitors, have been brought to Canada primarily for the purpose of employment in "sweat shops" or low income work. Not only does the federal government fail to act by taking appropriate measures to improve their situation, but it ensures that there will continue to be a sufficient supply of these low income people.

The situation is even worse than that. Under the new immigration act more barriers are put in the way of those who come here to offer low paid work in terms of attaining landed immigrant status. The most dramatic example is the recent decision of the Department of Employment and Immigration with respect to Jamaican women and the government's present unbelievable attempt through the courts to prevent the Human Rights Commission from investigating aspects of discrimination which might have existed in this case. The recent report to the Advisory Council on the Status of Women by Sheila Arnopoulos pointing out the problems of immigrant women in the Canadian labour force indicates how the government adds to the exploitation, if you like, of those who come here to do domestic work.

It is clear that the government in recent years has taken a new direction with respect to immigrant women. It should be pointed out, as Sheila Arnopoulos does in her paper, that the permanent use of foreigners on temporary permits to do jobs which Canadians find unacceptable is not in the tradition of Canadian immigration practice. It is clearly a case of the exploitation of any possibility of compensation at some present or future time.

As hon. members know, I have been particularly concerned about the situation with respect to the performance by the government in its own employment practices in the public service. I have asked the minister repeatedly in this House to give a clear accounting, department by department, of what is happening to women in the public service. I have asked him to tell us where in real terms we have made progress, what goals have been achieved, what structures have been in place and where progress still needs to be made. All we receive are occasional generalized remarks, self-serving ones at that, which do little to encourage confidence or give a clear report as to what has transpired.

The advisory council, almost on an annual basis, has published report after report indicating the difficulties for women in the public service. Its most recent report has indicated again that in spite of cabinet directives in 1972 and 1975 the government's own employment practices respecting women, to use the words of the advisory council, have been a failure. I hope that the minister will indicate today why this has been so. For instance, why has it been, in comparing two programs that have tried to end discrimination in the public service, that there has been such inequality of staff support? Hopefully the minister will tell us directly why, in Treasury Board, with respect to the official languages program we have a staff of around 45 people and a budget of something over $1,300,000 but with respect to the area of equal opportunity we have a staff of two with no budget. Why has it taken, I don't know

Women's Right to Work

exactly how many years because it depends where one starts to count, but at least three and perhaps six years to have one full time person per department managing and working on equal opportunities? Last year I think there were about 15 people. Now we are up to 20. That figure is still less than half the number of departments.

A few days ago the minister told me that we are making progress, that we have a full time person in the major departments and it is not really necessary to have a full time person for the smaller ones; but perhaps the minister could tell us if there is a kind of two department policy within his government. Does he believe some departments must be more responsible with respect to equal opportunities than others? This would appear to be the case.

It is clear that in the last few years we have seen a subtle but real shift in the government's over-all approach to women in the work force. It is one with disturbing dimensions for it is reminiscent of the situation that existed in the 1930s and following the Second World War when the gains that had been made during the previous period in terms of opportunities for women in the work force had been dramatically reversed. The royal commission on the status of women very clearly pointed this out in its report on page 54, if the minister would like to refresh his memory.

In both instances it is interesting to note that the government played a major role in leading that reversal. This is what we do not want to see happen at this time of economic difficulties for the country and for this government. This is why we, Mr. Speaker, are committed to the unqualified right of women to work in any and all fields of endeavour and believe that it is the right and the responsibility of the federal government, as the largest employer of women in the country, to set an example both for the private sector and for other elements of the public sector in this country.

The recent report of the advisory council on barriers to equal opportunity points out that the federal government has lagged behind the public sector, incredibly enough, in its own employment practices in respect to women. I note with interest that yesterday, in the Speech from the Throne at Queen's Park, there was included this paragraph:

In addition to the ongoing programs of the Women's Bureau and the Women's Crown Employees Office, the Ministry of Labour will establish an Equal Opportunities Advisory Committee composed of senior labour and management representatives.

We believe that employment programs, policies and practices should indeed be based on the fundamental premise of the equality of women and of their right to work. More than that, we believe that economic planning that is so important to a healthy and fully functioning economy should reflect the reality that women will continue to want to work and play a major role in the economy, contrary to what the Minister of Finance said to me the other day when I asked about his projection of declining members of women in the work force. He said:

March 7, 1979

Women's Right to Work

-it is obvious that the rate of increase has been very high in the last few years. We do not object to it.

We believe that the influx of women into the labour market is not only not a temporary aberration or a pathological problem to be managed and if possible reduced, but a new opportunity to expand and enlarge skills and opportunities for the whole of our economy. In more specific terms, and my colleague from Kingston and the Islands will deal with this, we believe that the present pension situation with respect to women and particularly elderly women is atrocious. Particular emphasis must be placed on the relationship of long periods of dependency, low wages and resulting low pensions.

We believe that the time is long past for us to have a clear set of publicly enunciated goals indicating how the federal government is going to put its own house in order with respect to equal opportunities for women. The directions that were set out in 1972 and 1975 should be clearly defined in a detailed manner.

There should be, as the minister has promised, a response and a public accounting of what has happened year by year with regard to the implementation of equal opportunity programs. The annual reports which apparently for the past two or three years have been made to Treasury Board and the evaluation, department by department, of the implementation of equal opportunity programs should now be made available to the general public. Structures must be firmly in place if any real progress is to be achieved on a cumulative basis.

There are a number of other measures we would take, measures which I think are becoming increasingly obvious. I am troubled by the fact that this is a year in which we are going to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of women being recognized as persons under the British North America Act. It could be an important year with respect to progress for women in the work force, something that is very much needed in our economy. However, the likelihood with the current drift and indecision of this government, and at times actual opposition to women in employment, is that we will have to move further motions like this and continue to raise questions until we can get some kind of appropriate action.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58-UNQUALIFIED RIGHT OF WOMEN TO WORK
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LIB

Marc Lalonde (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Minister responsible for the Status of Women)

Liberal

Hon. Marc Lalonde (Minister of Justice):

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that the opposition has decided to precede International Women's Day with a debate on women in employment. In spite of the strong words of the hon. member for Egmont (Mr. MacDonald), words that I suspect are not always shared by his colleagues, this new and quasi-annual commitment to women seems to be at variance with some of their other notions about economic policy.

I have said many times that women want to, need to and, most important, have a right to work. We recognized ten years ago that the government could and would make changes to legislation io improve the status of women.

Mr. Speaker, I can say that the present government has been committed for a long time to improving the status of women. I do not intend to review all its accomplishments in

[Mr. MacDonald (Egmont).J

this area. I need only remind the House that Canada was the first member of the United Nations to establish a Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Canada was among the first, if not the first, to create the function of minister responsible for the status of women, as well as an Advisory Council on the Status of women.

Moreover, we have translated our philosophy into action through major changes to our programs and through basic legislative amendments. Those are, of course, prerequisites to provide opportunities for women within the economy. I readily recognize that the measures already adopted might not be the final answer, but it is surely a step in the right direction.

Hon. members will remember the numerous measures that were taken since the early seventies, especially in 1971 following the report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. When that report was tabled, the government proceeded to amend many statutes in order to remove any form of discrimination in existing federal statutes. We did not stop there, since we acted not only at the legislative level but also at the executive level by promoting women from the economic point of view within the federal civil service and in areas coming under federal jurisdiction. I remind the previous speaker that only recently, in the past few years, in 1975, this government introduced in the House an omnibus bill on the status of women, a bill amending eleven federal statutes to ensure equal opportunities for women.

Similarly, in 1975 the federal government passed a law authorizing the payment of allowances to persons aged 60 to 65 whose spouses receive the old age pension or the guaranteed income supplement. Obviously those benefits went mostly to senior citizens of the female sex. In 1976 the Unemployment Insurance Act was amended to allow women to determine during which 15 weeks out of a 26-week period, they would receive the unemployment insurance maternity benefits. In 1977 a law was passed allowing credits accrued in the Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan to be shared upon dissolution of a marriage.

In 1977 the Bill of Rights was passed forbidding any discrimination based on sex and ensuring equal remuneration for equal work to every person working within federal jurisdiction. I must mention, in passing, that the federal parliament was the only government to pass such a law. No provincial legislature, at this time, has gone as far in that direction.

In 1978, very recently, a major amendment was passed to the Income Tax Act providing for a reimbursable tax credit to the mother or father of a single-parent family. That credit is based on the family income and can amount to as much as $200 a child. It is very clear that this measure will be of particular assistance to single-parent families and especially those whose head is a woman. The net benefits resulting from that act will clearly be advantageous to the underprivileged women in our society. Those are only a few of the measures which have been adopted. I have already indicated that other

March 7, 1979

legislation, for instance, dealing with sexual matters under the provisions of the Criminal Code will soon be introduced in the House, as well as other measures now being drafted.

What is important to remember is that we are acting not only in the legislative field but in the economic field, the social field and the cultural field. In these areas one cannot change history overnight or even in a decade. The demands on the economy and the expectations men and women have of their society reflect centuries of social and cultural attitudes which we are working to change.

Obviously, governments and political leaders have a major role to play in this respect but all other agencies in society also have a role to play. The federal government has a responsibility but the provinces also have a large responsibility which we should not ignore. As the House knows, the provinces have complete jurisdiction over education, health and social services, the administration of justice and a large proportion of the labour laws. In large measure they determine the availability of training through apprenticeship, particularly in the so-called non-traditional sectors.

As we developed during the years our programs for the improvement of the economic position of women, we were very surprised to find that most provincial governments and political leaders seemed unaware of their responsibility to women. We were even more surprised at the comment of the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath) recently that such steps would, and I quote, "create a terrible conflict" between a woman's natural instinct to stay at home and her natural instinct to provide for her financial well-being and for her pension. Frankly, we did not realize that women had such a "strong instinct to stay at home", to use the words of the hon. member.

Let us consider just one area of economic importance to working parents-day care. Let me remind hon. members how day care is financed. In 1974, the Department of National Health and Welfare introduced new day care policy guidelines under the Canada Assistance Plan. Under this plan it is up to the provinces to decide on priorities. If day care spending decreases, it is because provinces like Ontario and Manitoba, good Conservative provinces, have decided it is not important. The federal government matches what the provinces put in. We cannot match dollars which have not been spent.

Still in the area of services, the federal government has led the way in funding important demonstration projects such as the new Women's Centre in Montreal, the Ottawa-Hull Rape Crisis Centre and the Vancouver women's health project. Countless projects for women were initiated through job creation projects.

But let me remind the opposition that many of our provincial colleagues do not like this very much. As a matter of fact, we received continuous representation and objections from the provinces when the federal government was financing services of this nature over an extended period. We have led the way

Women's Right to Work

and we can do so through demonstration projects, but only for a relatively short period-three years, for instance. We do not have the jurisdiction to engage in the financing and supervision of social services of a permanent nature. That is a responsibility of the provinces and I am sorry to say that in general the provinces have not been quick to reallocate their resources to accommodate women's needs. Nonetheless, we do intend to continue to encourage the provinces in all possible ways to see that these essential changes do occur.

The opposition says it is concerned about pension benefits available to women. So are we, and we have done something about it. We increased the GIS by $20 this January. We are the ones who introduced the spouse's allowance and in future we shall be bringing forward more amendments for the improvement of pensions.

Again, though, we can act only on one part of the pension legislation. The Canada Pension Plan, for instance, can only be amended with the consent of two-thirds of the provinces with two-thirds of the population, and the whole area of private pensions lies overwhelmingly under provincial jurisdiction. Two years ago we agreed to amend the Canada Pension Plan to permit the splitting of pension credits on divorce. The provinces agreed and we were happy with it.

We wanted also to recognize the important contribution made by home makers through a special drop-out provision in the plan. What happened? Most provinces agreed with us but the biggest Conservative government of them all, the government of Ontario, would not accept that amendment. I was interested, almost amused, to hear the hon. member's reference to what was said in the Speech from the Throne delivered in Ontario yesterday. I would have been happier had Ontario lifted its veto on this very worth-while proposal which would benefit many thousands of women in Canada and which has received the support of all the other provinces along with that of the federal government.

The federal government is committed to recognizing the importance of the role of women in the economy. That is why, for example, women in Spence Bay in the Arctic have been receiving LEAP funding to make high-fashion coats and parkas that are marketed down south; that is why the northern pipeline agency has contracted with the Vancouver Women's Research Centre to examine the role of women in relation to that project. I could go on to quote hundreds of cases where funding has been made available through various federal departments.

We have expressed our support for the improvement of economic opportunities for women. This is shown not only by the direct actions we have taken but by what has happened in the economy. Notwithstanding what the hon. member for Egmont has said, in the last year 324,000 new jobs were created. Out of this number, 207,000, almost 64 per cent, were filled by women. We are pleased that more women are working. We are pleased that the broad economic policies of this government have not only created more jobs than ever in the history of this country but also that women have benefited from those policies more than ever in the past.

March 7, 1979

Women's Right to Work

I said a year ago in this debate, and it must be said again, that the federal government is not trying to hide the problems unemployment poses for women. Since 1966 the Canadian labour force has increased by 37 per cent due to population growth, immigration and rising participation rates generally. There has been a steady increase in the labour force participation rates of women of all ages, and adult women in particular. In the period between 1966 and 1976 the Canadian labour force participation rate of women rose from roughly 34 per cent to 45 per cent, with the greatest increase in that age group often termed primary age; that is, the age group between 25 and 44. The participation rate of adult women alone increased by 59 per cent over that same period. In aggregate terms the economy responded well to the demands of women for employment. Employment growth among adult women relative to their population compared with that among youth and adult males increased substantially over the last ten years.

As I pointed out, women have been entering the labour force, not just out of a need for self-fulfilment-which is valid in itself-but increasingly for economic reasons, to support themselves and their families, whereas in the past women tended to enter the labour force during good times and to drop out during bad times. Their persistently high participation rate suggests that women in the work force is a phenomenon here to say, and it is one which we welcome.

What is important to recall, however, is that this is not something which can be dealt with by the federal government alone. The federal parliament has authority over only about 10 per cent of the work force of this country. Only about 10 per cent of the work force comes under the federal jurisdiction. The other 90 per cent is controlled, regulated and legislated about by the provinces in this country. That implies that provincial governments have large responsibilities as well as the federal government. It also implies a large role for unions.

I would like to pay tribute here to women leaders of the labour movement such as Shirley Carr, Grace Hartman and Nadine Hunt. I know that in spite of considerable efforts the union movement has its problems too in focusing on women's issues. Some unions are just now getting around to hiring status of women co-ordinators. We began in 1971.

I would like now to say a few words about the public service.

[ Translation]

Early this year I was happy to receive from the Advisory Council their report entitled: "Women in the Public Service: Barriers to Equal Opportunity." We are aware of the need to multiply our efforts in that regard. Mr. Speaker, why do you think we have set up the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women in 1973? It was precisely to play that role of advisor and critic with the federal government and to inform the public. Finally, I am happy that after their occasional criticisms the opposition members realize at last the existence of that council and the valuable help they give to all of us.

[Mr. Lalonde.)

The latest directives from Treasury Board to the department restate the government's commitment and insist precisely on those same points raised and highlighted by the advisory council, namely increased involvement of management in the planning, implementation and control of the equal opportunity program for women.

We have established qualitative and quantitative objectives to ensure fairer representation and better distribution of women at the various levels of the public service, not to mention greater job diversification for women. Deputy ministers are accountable for the programs of their respective departments. From the beginning of next financial year, departmental plans on equal opportunity for women will be made public. Once again, we have established objectives and will concentrate our effort in order to achieve them. Had the opposition really wanted to gain an insight into the matter, they would certainly have insisted on inviting Public Service Commission Chairman Edgar Gallant to appear before a parliamentary committee. Unfortunately it is easier to have only half-truths, as was the case with statistics on surplus staff.

Hon. members opposite did not even try to check the facts because if they had, they would have seen that a good number of surplus employees are nurses who work in federal hospitals, which are now transferred to the provinces. Those nurses still appear in federal government statistics on surplus personnel so as to give them priority status if they want to find a job with the federal government. So, in fact they are now employed by the provincial governments in the hospitals which were transferred from the federal government to the provinces.

These are facts opposition members could easily have found if they had bothered to check. These are facts which they could have obtained from the Public Service Commission just by asking. These are facts they could have gone into extensively with the chairman of the Public Service Commission, if they had bothered to ask him to appear before a parliamentary committee to explain the policies of the Public Service Commission, which is an independent body answerable to this parliament. Opposition members could have asked the commission to explain what it was doing, where it was going and what problems it was facing, but no, the Conservatives prefer to stay at the level of generalities and half-truths. They assume things which are just not true.

We have direct leverage in order in council appointments, and it is where we have direct leverage that we feel we are making headway. I examined statistics regarding order in council appointments, and I was pleased to see that in that area we are proceeding at a faster rate than the rate at which the public service generally is proceeding. The public service is regulated by public service legislation and, obviously, by the Public Service Commission.

In the last few years we have roughly doubled the percentage of women being appointed by order in council; that is, by the cabinet. These appointments have not been purely to

March 7, 1979

honorary functions or to positions without responsibility. In my own area of responsibility the number of women appointed judges of superior and supreme courts has increased very substantially. There are women who are presidents of Crown corporations. The president of the Economic Council of Canada is a woman. The president of the National Gallery of Canada is a woman, the first in the world. Women sit on all kinds of boards in the various departments. These are things this government has done. We have led the public service and, I might add, we have led provincial Conservative governments by a very wide margin indeed.

Conservatives have made a great fuss about the size of the public service. Repeatedly they tell us that they do not want the public service to lead or to increase. As a matter of fact, they want to cut 60,000 jobs, according to the hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Clark). Does that mean they intend to cut out the progress we have made in equal opportunity? I heard the hon. member talk about equal opportunities officers in departments. If they cut 60,000 jobs in the public service, where will they find their equal opportunities officers? I am amazed that a party which wants to cut 60,000 public servants will appoint full time equal opportunities officers in small departments and councils that have only 30 or 40 employees. Is that the type of management the opposition is offering to the country?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58-UNQUALIFIED RIGHT OF WOMEN TO WORK
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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

It is called working both sides of the street.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58-UNQUALIFIED RIGHT OF WOMEN TO WORK
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LIB

Marc Lalonde (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Minister responsible for the Status of Women)

Liberal

Mr. Lalonde:

I am afraid the hon. member opposite is quite correct in that respect. We believe in comparability with the private sector, but not without catch-up for disadvantaged workers. The hon. member for Scarborough East, the Minister of Labour (Mr. O'Connell), made that clear when we received the National Action Committee brief two weeks ago.

We believe in ending job ghettos. That is why we have a federal Human Rights Act which indicates there shall be equal pay for work of equal value.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58-UNQUALIFIED RIGHT OF WOMEN TO WORK
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PC

David Samuel Horne MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacDonald (Egmont):

Job ghettos in the public service?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58-UNQUALIFIED RIGHT OF WOMEN TO WORK
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March 7, 1979