March 7, 1979

NDP

Lorne Edmund Nystrom (Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Nystrom;

It was very hot!

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

Joseph Adrien Henri Lambert

Social Credit

Mr. Lambert (Bellechasse):

Yes, indeed, it was very hot, but they were doing their utmost to contribute to the prosperi-

Womert's Right to Work

ty of their country which had just become independent. Independence had been granted to them, so they were going out to work precisely in order to earn a living and thereby contribute to the prosperity of the country as a whole.

Let us talk about women's right to work, Mr. Speaker. In this country we sometimes hire cleaning women to ease the burden of elderly people in the upkeep of their homes. Nowadays such women are hard to come by. Yet there is nothing degrading in their job.

Before 8 a.m. this morning on the radio in my office I heard that there was a young man 20 years of age who was offering his services to perform housework. He just wanted to earn a living. He said he was willing to perform housework in private homes. Mr. Speaker, I indeed found it a wonderful thing for a young man 20 years of age to be willing to do housework. I think that this motion is an invitation for us to appreciate the splendid job performed by women and to let them know it. Is it not nice to enter a house and get a feeling of cleanliness around the place! Poverty does not mean that it has to be dirty.

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

An hon. Member:

Even if there is no beauty!

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

Joseph Adrien Henri Lambert

Social Credit

Mr. Lambert (Bellechasse):

Even if there is no beauty? There is no such thing as a woman who is not beautiful and when the hon. member for Verdun tells us there is no beauty he is insulting women-

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

Pierre Raymond Savard

Liberal

Mr. Savard:

Even if the house is not beautiful.

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

Joseph Adrien Henri Lambert

Social Credit

Mr. Lambert (Bellechasse):

Oh, 1 see, he is talking about the house. But anyway for those who live in it the house is always beautiful.

Mr. Speaker, 1 would like to quote from a document used by the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lalonde) when he was still national health and welfare minister on April 4, 1974. In this document we can find statements which are still true today. I remember that one day I introduced a motion-I think it was last year-asking that women who want to stay at home get an income. But one female member of the House got up to say that it did not make sense. This is why I thought that quoting what the Minister of Justice and then minister of national health and welfare said just might help people think differently so that we could adopt as quickly as possible a formula for a guaranteed annual income. We could start with the mother who stays at home. For those who find this idea extraordinary or think it does not make sense, let us start with the case of the homemaker.

Here is what this document says.

The report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women gives all the relevant data about this problem and advocates a number of concrete solutions clearly defined which could be considered in the future. It is said in this report that apart from some rare exceptions, the homemaker has to rely on her husband to have some money.

March 7, 1979

Women's Right to Work

But as it happens often and we know that, as representatives we become almost confessors and we receive extraordinary confidences, but not to be specific, how many times have we heard a married woman say: "I feel embarrassed asking my husband for some money." And yet we all know she needs it. It is as necessary for her as for anybody else to have money to get what she fancies without having to ask her husband: "Give me a few dollars."

This is why we should correct this situation which is sometimes embarrassing for mothers and wives.

It says although they may be receiving family allowances, that money goes for the maintenance of the child and cannot be considered a payment. When Bill C-10 was being considered the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Miss Begin) said that the family allowance was not intended for the mother but for the child. Some mothers understand that, and the minister of national health and welfare of the day understood also-

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

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

Order, please. I regret to interrupt the hon. member but his allotted time has expired. He may continue only with unanimous consent. Does the hon. member have consent?

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

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

[ Translation]

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

Joseph Adrien Henri Lambert

Social Credit

Mr. Lambert (Bellechasse):

Mr. Speaker, time really flies. I had not even realized that my 20 minutes were already up. So I thank my colleagues for giving me a few minutes to conclude my speech. I know there are other members who have interesting things to say. So I will conclude in a few seconds by saying that I wholeheartedly support the motion before us and 1 hope that the debate will serve as a starting point, that it will be a new effort to try and do more to allow women to have rights that will be recognized and upheld better not only when working outside the home but also inside the home.

Mothers watching us now who are having difficulty making ends meet and think what we are saying might prompt the government to ensure better distribution of the gross national output to give them a supplementary income which would be added to the income the father gets from working at the plant, the yard or anywhere he can to earn money. Then mothers would be proud to say: Finally, we are in a very civilized country in Canada and the role of mothers, of all married or unmarried women contributing to society is being recognized in a tangible way.

Mr. Speaker, I remember where we went during the last war when we needed soldiers. We went to homes with children where there were boys and girls to take on the responsibility of defending our freedoms, of defending Christianity. That is where we went. If those women were able to provide our

country with the elements essential to our survival, let us be grateful enough to give them a recognition that will allow them to live honourably in this country on an equal basis with men.

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

Flora Isabel MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Miss Flora MacDonald (Kingston and the Islands):

Mr. Speaker, my first words must be addressed to the hon. member for Egmont (Mr. MacDonald) to compliment him on having introduced this motion today. I congratulate the hon. member for having done so just as on previous occasions I have congratulated the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) for bringing this important subject to the floor of the House. How else, Mr. Speaker, do we ever get this issue discussed here if it is not through the initiatives of members of opposition parties? It is never the government which brings it forward. The minister who spoke earlier, the minister responsible for the status of women, has held that responsibility for five years yet only once in that five years has he taken personal initiative to bring the question of women's rights to the floor of this chamber. That is a shocking indictment.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre said he admired the minister's gall for speaking as he did this afternoon. I do not know about that. I do not know whether I feel angered or saddened by the way the minister spoke. I say this because I find that with regard to women in the work force, with regard to their economic status, the government allows them to take one step forward and then forces them to take two steps backward in some kind of fancy gavotte.

The minister presented us with a public relations document, as it was called earlier. Mr. Speaker, if we had not initiated this debate today he would never have brought it into the House of Commons. He would have gone elsewhere, outside the chamber, to try to peddle his booklet. And what is it entitled? It is headed: "Towards Equality for Women". If he had only bothered to read the motion in the name of the hon. member for Egmont, he would have noticed that it states that we accept the fundamental premise of equality for women. We do not have to work toward it; we accept it as a fundamental premise in this country, whereas the government has said we are only moving toward equality for women, that this is not something which is accepted as one of the fundamental rights. That is what I mean by taking one step forward and two steps backward.

It is the attitude of the government on this whole question that forces us to bring this issue to the floor of the House of Commons time and time again. I am saddened by what the minister has said this afternoon because unfortunately he showed not the slightest glimmer of understanding the magnitude of this issue in all its perspectives and what it means to millions of people across this country. Nor has he recognized the role the federal government can play in providing leadership. All we got from him was a recital, once again, of short-term programs, ad hoc measures and stopgap procedures, all of which we have heard over and over again.

March 7, 1979

At the same time he lashed out at opposition parties, the provinces, the Public Service Commission and the trade unions. Why? Obviously because he feels a sense of remorse and guilt on this whole subject. I am staggered by the attitude of the minister. I have gone back over some of his speeches. I have looked at what he said to us in 1974 when International Women's Year was approaching. He said then:

I am honoured to be given the responsibility of guiding government policy in this area and I intend to devote a good deal of time and effort to bringing about the necessary changes in our laws and in our society so that women and men will be able to participate fully in all activities of life.

Five years later we get a document from him saying that women are going to be able to move toward equality. The minister was so honoured by his responsibility that since 1974 he has addressed this issue once in the House of Commons. When he is asked questions he always has some excuse to explain why he did not bring in a program, why he failed to secure a commitment on the part of the federal government to the full principle of equality for women.

Listening to the minister this afternoon I was reminded of a phrase from Macaulay. It goes like this:

From all the angelic ranks goes forth a groan, "How long, O Lord, how long?" The still small voice makes answer "Wait and see, O sons of glory, what the end shall be."

Mr. Speaker, it may stretch your imagination to see members of the opposition as the angelic ranks groaning "How long, O Lord, how long?" on this issue, but it takes less imagination to see the minister as the still small voice saying "wait and see, wait and see," particularly when he brings forward a document saying "Towards Equality". Yes, indeed, the tokenism of International Women's Year has been surpassed this afternoon. We no longer have just tokenism; we have empty words.

I do not lay the entire burden of this issue on the federal government, but I do expect the federal government to show leadership, and that is what has been lacking. I do not expect the government to be able to legislate attitudes or to move mountains, but I recall the words of a former colleague of mine who is now the chairman of the Human Rights Commission when he spoke on this subject some eight years ago. He said:

All that governments can really do is lead, that is their mandate. They can influence people because of the information they give and the leadership they exercise. They can lead people into changing attitudes and ways of thinking about problems.

What has this government done to lead people into changing attitudes and thinking about problems? I would say that in the five years the minister has been in his position, very little. Oh yes, we heard him this week. We heard him evade answers about what would happen when his colleague the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Cullen) moves to repeal the rights of immigrant women before the Human Rights Commission; he is moving to appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal. The minister responsible for the status of women evaded that question. He will not face up to it.

Women s Right to Work

When the President of the Treasury Board (Mr. Buchanan) announced a new policy this week about women, he said "Last hired, First Fired". The minister responsible for the status of women did not enlarge on that. He evaded the issue once again. Is that changing attitudes? Is that providing leadership?

I am interested in several areas where government thinking should be changing to keep up with changing realities, but instead where government policy reflects anything but a change. In these areas the government's thinking is as rigid, unbending and unchanging as the rock of Gibraltar. I am thinking, first, of labour market projections and the planning which must go with them, planning which must be done at the federal level. The government's planning in relation to the job market does not reflect any change in ways of thinking about problems. Rather, it shows that the same old thinking is at work in not responding to exciting possibilities or potential regarding women in the work force. There is not that kind of thinking. Instead, we are locked into the same old problems. We are locked into facing this situation in a way which will add to women's problems rather than solve them.

I would like to direct the attention of the House to the government's economic forecasters in the Department of Finance and others who have predicted a labour shortage in the 1980s based on the belief that the increase in the participation rate for women in the work force will subside.

Last February the Department of Finance published a study on medium term economic trends, and in it the department predicted that the women's participation rate would rise from 46 per cent of the working age population in 1976 to 47.4 per cent in 1981, to 48.9 per cent in 1986 and to 49.5 per cent in 1990. That is what the government is basing its employment policies on, participation of women in the work force of 49.5 per cent in 1990.

These predictions upon which the government has been basing its economic and employment policies could not be more wrong. Already, in 1979, women have reached the participation rate in the work force which the planners predicted for 1986. A recent publication of the C. D. Howe Institute put it this way:

Labour-market analysts have consistently underestimated the growth of the Canadian labour force in the 1970s, mainly because they assumed the female participation rate must be reaching its upper limit.

The government's analysts were wrong about the 1970s, and they will be wrong about the 1980s because of their belief that the participation rate of women has peaked and will subside. On what is this belief based? On what are these projections based? Certainly not on the fact that women have more education, which they have, are demanding greater economic independence, which they are, or are having smaller families or even no families. Yet that is the reality in Canada today. Women have more education, are more independent and many are choosing to have fewer family responsibilities, all factors which point to increased rather than decreased participation in the work force. Yet the government blindly assumes that the influx of women into the work force has reached its peak.

March 7, 1979

Women's Right to Work

Just recently the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development predicted an 85.8 per cent participation rate for women in Sweden by 1990. Closer to home, even in the United States the prediction is a 60.8 per cent participation rate for women by 1980. Yet the Minister of Finance (Mr. Chretien), clinging to the analysts' top rate of 49.5 per cent of Canadian women in the work force by 1980, says quite emphatically of the increased rate of participation of women in Canada, as reported by the Toronto Star of February 22: "We expect this rapid increase will taper off in the future". That is what the Minister of Finance says, and that is what the Minister of Employment and Immigration bases his employment policies on.

The Minister of Employment and Immigration says that we must look forward to a strategy which will help fill the employment gap over the next several years. How can he be so sure that there will be an employment gap? The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Employment and Immigration are attacking new problems with their old thinking. It has already been shown that that thinking is totally wrong. Why do they carry on with it? The reason they carry on with it is that they think and state that women wanting to work is just a passing phase. That is what they are thinking, and they base their planning on that. They think that this is an abberation which will pass.

Among other prestigious groups, the C. D. Howe Institute thinks otherwise. That institute looks at the situation realistically. Understanding that the factors contributing to the higher female participation rate-higher education, lower fertility and increased urbanization-are unlikely to change through the 1980s and 1990s, the institute says this:

There are strong reasons for arguing that the behaviour of women will continue to change.

That is the assumption on which predictions about the job market should be based. Women in the work force are here to stay. They will join the work force in increasing numbers, and not just in programs like LEAP at Spence Bay, which the minister cited as an example of what the government has done.

There are almost four million women in the Canadian work force now, and there is no reason why we should not think there might be five million in another few years. Perhaps an additional million women will be in the work force, perhaps more, at a time when the traditional occupational roles for women are already becoming more than saturated.

Those are the matters the government should address itself to. I did not hear one word about them today. We will see more and more women coming into the work force and finding the traditional roles they occupy are no longer open to them. This kind of situation calls for imaginative thinking and planning on the part of the government. It calls for positive and innovative thinking of a kind which says: "What can we do to best marshal the potential of this group of people?" It does not call for the negative and stale thinking of the government which says: "What can we do to cope with this problem

until things return to normal?" That is the kind of situation we have seen in government thinking over the years. It has brought about the situation we face today. It will not be diminished if we carry on with the lack of innovation which the government has shown in recent months and certainly prior to that.

If we take a positive and innovative approach to this situation, it could lead to new attitudes concerning work and training suitable for women. The new attitudes could have women filling the predicted shortages we hear so much about in the skilled trades. We have heard so much about shortages in sheet metal work, woodworking and a number of skilled trades such as electrical and plumbing. Skilled trades should be open to women far more than they are today. While it may be heartening to note that men are moving into the jobs of secretaries or bank clerks in a manner that they were not ten years ago, it is less heartening to note that women are not making much headway in the highly paid, skilled worker category. We need to break down the attitudinal barriers which keep women out of many occupations. The government can show the way to business, unions and the trade labour movement through its manpower training programs.

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

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

Order, please. I regret to inform the hon. member that her allotted time has expired. She may continue with unanimous consent? Is there unanimous consent?

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

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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

An hon. Member:

No.

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

Aideen Nicholson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs)

Liberal

Miss Aideen Nicholson (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, the motion of the hon. member for Egmont (Mr. MacDonald) contains many articles. To some extent it has sprung from the complaints of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women which indicated that its advice was not requested before amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act were introduced. It is understandable that the advisory committee would be unhappy about not being consulted, if indeed this was the case. However, the real answer to having policies which reflect the current needs of women is for every government department official to be aware of the impact of policies on women.

At the present time the major obstacles to the recruitment and promotion of women have been long since removed, but the difficulties which remain are more subtle and pervasive. Therefore, they require more vigilance and greater sophistication. Perhaps I might state my personal bias. I have always seen the struggle for women's rights as being very much in the context of human rights. Of course, this has been the tradition of the Canadian women's rights movement. The most effective measures to assist women in the labour force very often are ones which also have the effect of opening up certain jobs to young men or men with unusual qualifications.

A few moments ago I mentioned that most of the major obstacles to equality have been removed. I should like to list a few of these obstacles in so far as they affect federal govern-

March 7, 1979

ment employees. In 1971 the equal employment opportunities office in the Public Service Commission was set up. One must remember that it was established to ensure equal employment opportunities for women, native peoples and other traditionally disadvantaged groups. Also in 1971 there was the defence council direction that women be employed in the Canadian forces on the same basis as men in all classification except combatant, sea-going duties and isolated positions.

In 1971 the Unemployment Insurance Act included age, sex and marital status as prohibitive grounds for discrimination. Also in 1971 the Canada Labour Code prohibited discrimination on the grounds of sex and marital status.

In 1974 the Public Service Commission removed from its questionnaire and job application forms all mention of sex, age and numbers of dependants. Between 1971 and 1974 obvious discriminatory factors were removed, but we were left with matters which perhaps are more subtle and therefore require more vigilance.

In 1972 a cabinet direction required every government department to have a senior official whose duty was to consider the effects of policies on women. Of course, this official is quite separate from the equal opportunities for women employee. If the official concerned with policies at the Unemployment Insurance Commission had been as much concerned with style as with substance-and there are times when I think one must be-he or she would have moved earlier to get rid of the economists' jargon which refers to women as "secondary earners". It is economists' jargon but it offends. It offends for reasons concerned with the status of women at this time. Since women are just taking their places as permanent members of the labour force, it is offensive to apply the term "secondary earner" to someone who may work part time or may be required to take summers off to meet family responsibilities if there is no affordable child care available. The term "secondary earner" offends.

The comparable piece of economists' jargon which refers to men between the ages of 25 and 44 as "prime rate males" does not offend in the same way, because generally a 45-year old man is quite secure in his occupation or profession. He knows what his earnings are, what his pension plan is, and he is not upset by being categorized as non-prime rate.

It was more the style than what was done by the Unemployment Insurance Commission which raised a lot of distress. People have seen an unfortunate style as an indication of changing government policy. The essential change made in the act at that time was that part-time workers working less than 20 hours a week were no longer allowed to contribute to the unemployment insurance fund. This was the substantive change. Interestingly enough, the only complaint I received was from a male teacher in my constituency. He made the point that in the present state of things he cannot work more than 20 hours a week in one job, and that there is administrative rigidity in requiring people to work over 20 hours with one employer.

Women's Right to Work

If, indeed, this particular exclusion from eligibility for unemployment insurance for people who work 20 hours a week or less with one employer is causing a hardship, it certainly should be reviewed. But this is only one indication of the long neglect of part-time workers of this country, and this has been a neglect by the employer and by unions. Part-time workers generally have not had access to pension plans, sickness benefits or even to regular pay increases, and unions have not considered that they have the same responsibilities for their part-time workers as for their full-time workers.

Since women, very often by reason of family responsibility, have no choice but to work part time when the money is needed, I think it is high time that part-time workers received more attention. That attention should be directed not only toward a possible change in respect of unemployment insurance benefits, but should also be directed toward the benefits they have and the treatment they receive when they are employed.

I might just mention here something about the attitude of unions to family responsibility, and I do not mean in any way to single out unions for particular criticism because I think in this regard they have been reflecting society's values. Recently when I took up the cudgels for a woman working in a Crown corporation who needed a shift change because of family responsibility, I found that management was willing to accommodate her but the union insisted that changes in shifts be handled strictly on the basis of seniority. I can see why, because it perhaps builds in a certain equity. But I suggest that it also might be equally important for unions and management jointly, whether in the federal civil service, the provincial civil service or in private industry, to look again at the treatment of part-time workers, and also to look at the question of whether seniority must always be the overriding factor or whether there are other parameters which should be looked at too.

I remind hon. members, too, that when the equal pay for work of equal value provision was written into our human rights legislation a couple of years ago there were unions which were unhappy about that and were afraid this might interfere with some of their traditional seniority requirements.

The federal government only controls or can regulate something like 10 per cent of the labour force, but it is obviously important that the trend or the example set should be models where possible.

It is interesting to note-and the full potential in this regard has not been realized-the access women have in the Department of National Defence. In a peacetime army the emphasis on trade and technical training is tremendous. Since the military is so performance oriented, the increase in the number of women with skilled training is perhaps an indication of the fact that in the army the woman who can perform a job competently quickly gets recognition for this and then more jobs start to open up. The tasks they do in the army are measurable, but also they have very good measurement techniques, and we have women in the army able to get into technical training more easily than they can in certain commu-

March 7, 1979

Women's Right to Work

nity colleges in this country. In addition to their training they will also get experience that will stand them in good stead when they return to civilian life.

Another initiative of the federal government that has received rather less attention than it might, but which I think is having far-reaching benefits, is the voluntary compliance provision whereby firms doing business with the Government of Canada are expected to have, if not affirmative action programs, an awareness of the need to provide equal opportunities for women.

To return to what I said a little while ago about the need for subtlety and for better evaluation, we put a measure in place in the public service a long time ago which is not producing the results it should. This was a measure that includes on a classification form a space for voluntary experience. This has potential benefit for a woman who has been out of the labour force raising children but who in the course of that time may have gained tremendous administrative and organizational experience while working with voluntary organizations. The theory was that this would be recognized when a woman returned to work so that she might very well be able to enter at a position other than at the entry level.

This has not worked, and it has not worked because the techniques of evaluating that voluntary experience are not well developed. I think this is an important measure to develop. Again this is one which, in addition to benefiting women who have been out of the labour force, should also benefit the man who perhaps has not had very much formal education but who may have a tremendous commitment to his community, a lot of energy and ability that can be reflected in promotion if the system were able to evaluate it.

One of the other rigidities of the public service which sometimes limits the access of women to jobs is a built-in male bias that is not overt but occurs in terms of qualifications. For example, for a job as inspector under some of the regulatory authorities, if one of the job requirements is an absolute one of five years on a police force, the effect of that will be to exclude women. If the requirement is written with some equivalencies, then women who have had other kinds of experience in which they have developed an ability to assess conflicting facts and have shown an ability to evaluate conflicting evidence and produce factual reports, could qualify. Equally, men who do not have those rigid qualifications would be eligible.

Within the public service at this time we are at a stage for the most part of not needing new laws or regulations, but rather more subtle, more careful and more committed administration of what is in existence.

To return to the question of pensions, which I think has been addressed by almost every speaker, when middle and upper income people are pre-planning their retirement they usually have at least four planks; savings, the Canada Pension Plan or old age security, a pension plan from their work and perhaps some additional purchased retirement plan such as an RRSP. Low earners depend on the Canada Pension Plan and old age security or state provided plans. Women overwhelmingly find themselves in this position, partly because family responsibili-

ties have taken them in and out of the labour force and they have not been able to build up credits. Even with the Canada Pension Plan their credits may be lower than they might have been.

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

Flora Isabel MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Miss MacDonald:

Oh, oh!

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

Aideen Nicholson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs)

Liberal

Miss Nicholson:

The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands (Miss MacDonald) has had her time. If there is some particular reason why she would like the floor, perhaps she could advise me and I will sit down; otherwise I will continue.

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

Flora Isabel MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Miss MacDonald:

Very thin skinned.

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

Aideen Nicholson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs)

Liberal

Miss Nicholson:

As I was saying before I was interrupted by noise from the other side, the majority of women are absent from the labour force for long periods during which they contribute to society by raising children. This reduces their ability to build up pension benefits in their own right and as a result each is dependent on her husband's financial planning for retirement.

Even if the husband worked with a firm that had a good retirement plan, it does not necessarily mean that the wife will receive a pension after his death. As we know, women generally live longer than men, but only 45 per cent of all members of employers' sponsored plans in 1976 belonged to plans that paid a widow a pension, and in most cases that pension was only 50 per cent of the husband's entitlement. It is for reasons of this kind, with women not being able to build up pension credit themselves, that in 1975 more than two thirds of all women over the age of 65 had cash incomes below $3,500.

I raised this question of pensions when I first spoke in this House in 1974. I pointed out at that time that many firms have an earlier compulsory retirement age for women than for men, which results in lower contributions from both employee and employer and therefore lower benefits. Although this practice was changing at that time, almost one quarter of the women enrolled in pension plans were required to retire at an earlier age than men under the same plans.

If the earlier retirement age is combined with low earnings and late entry-because many plans also delay vesting for women-then the pension is doubly or triply depressed. The whole question of pensions is one which involves provincial governments and private industry at least as much as the federal government. It is a question to which we are hearing different solutions at the present time. The Toronto Star has been advocating that the Canada Pension Plan be increased and that the people be encouraged to reduce their dependence on private plans. Other people are saying that the insurance industry should be much more flexible. It needs to build up earlier vesting, easier portability and perhaps require permanent vesting at an earlier stage in a person's work career. Whatever the solution, I think it is urgent that this be addressed. I hope that the federal-provincial ministers' conference planned for next year on the economic position of women will devote considerable-

March 7, 1979

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

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

Order, please. I regret to interrupt the parliamentary secretary but her allotted time has expired. She may continue with unanimous consent. Does the parliamentary secretary have unanimous consent?

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

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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

March 7, 1979