Ms. Pauline Jewett (New Westminster-Coquitlam) moved:
That this House, recognizing the continuing economic inequality of Canadian Women, demands that the government incorporate into its forthcoming budget the following initiatives, the:
1. reform of the tax system rather than the introduction of further public spending cuts which impact most adversely on women;
2. provision of job creation and training programs targeted to women, and funding sufficient to enable the Canadian Human Rights Commission to enforce equal pay for work of equal value legislation, and develop an effective enforcement mechanism for affirmative action programs;
3. provision of more transition houses and services for women and children who are victims of family violence; and
4. provision of increased funding to ensure access to quality daycare to meet the urgent needs of Canadian parents and children.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that we should have this motion today because, quite coincidentally, today is the day of the annual general meeting of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Indeed, we in the New Democratic Party have just come from our meeting with representatives of the National Action Committee.
As Members of the House know, this is a voluntary umbrella organization of 370 women's groups representing over 3 million Canadian women. Their particular concern this year is the continuing economic inequality of women. Indeed, their weekend debates, although covering a number of subjects, did centre on this issue. They called their meeting a Canadian women's economic summit.
One would have hoped that after the Leaders' debates on women's issues, and above all on women's inequality, which were held last summer and after the commitment then made by the Progressive Conservative Party which now forms the Government to taking strong initiatives in removing the economic inequality of women and indeed all the other inequalities that women continue to face in Canadian society, we would have seen more action taken than has been taken. The Government can, however, redeem itself in the forthcoming
Budget and indeed it is in the context of the forthcoming Budget that this motion was moved.
Dealing with the specific area of economic inequality, we can look at job creation, job training and job security. In each of those three areas, we see that the Government has not in fact lived up to its promise of giving equal access to women. Dealing with job creation, for example, the Government has allowed for expenditures of $2.2 billion, only 5 per cent of which is targeted toward helping women and in fact toward helping women and youth. That is only $125 million out of $2.2 billion targeted to women and youth.
Regarding the Challenge '85 summer employment program for students, there is no affirmative action requirement that approximately half of that program's funds should go toward job creation for women students. Indeed, when my colleague, the Hon. Member for Vancouver East (Ms. Mitchell), questioned the Minister of State for Youth (Mrs. Champagne) on March 5 of this year regarding why a specific affirmative action plan for women was not embodied in the summer employment program, the Minister of State for Youth replied by saying the following:
-when we were working on "Challenge '85", that there was no need for a quota, that women, young Canadian women would themselves seek their due and take the necessary step to obtain their full share of available summer employment.
That is a revelation on the part of the Minister, and indeed on the part of the Government as I expect she does speak for the Government, indicating that there are no barriers to women seeking employment in either the Challenge '85 program or elsewhere and indicating that women started at the same starting gate as men. I had thought that the outcome of the Leaders' debate and other activities which took place last year would have told the Conservative Government that there is not equal opportunity for women and that women do not start at the same starting gate but start well behind. We have documented that time and time again. If, as the Minister was suggesting we do, we simply let nature take its course, women will not have anything like the same number of jobs from any job-creation program. In other words, there has to be affirmative action to ensure that they will be fairly and equally represented in job-creation programs.
The area of job training is the second area in my initial triad of areas of job creation, job training and job security. The Government did in fact end very arbitrarily the program called "Women Into Non-traditional Occupations". Perhaps it was not a very effective program but it was the beginning of the encouragement of women through apprenticeships in non-traditional occupations, and that program was cut last December. Is there going to be anything in the Budget which will once
May 13, 1985
again take that kind of affirmative action to enable women to get into non-traditional occupations? Or is the Government once again simply going to leave it to the market-place and to the employer, which have traditionally given and continue today to give men the advantage?
We have recommended that 50 per cent of all federal training places should be allocated to women. The House will recall that we also advocated that 42 per cent of job-creation funds should go to women, as women constitute 42 per cent of the labour force. As well, we advocate that 50 per cent of training programs and retraining programs should be allocated to women, because women constitute one-half of the population. The Government has done nothing to provide that kind of affirmative action for women in job training and retraining programs. Indeed, as I stated previously, the Government has cancelled the one program which existed. Therefore, we call upon the Government, in the coming Budget, to rectify the past and to consider job training and retraining for women in a serious and affirmative way.
The third matter with which I would like to deal is job security. Job security is incredibly relevant today. What is happening-and Air Canada, a Crown corporation, is an example of it-is that employers are cutting back on full-time jobs and the security which goes with those full-time jobs. That is what the CALEA strike is about. In that case a Crown corporation, Air Canada, is attempting to have more of its employees work on a part-time basis or on contract. That will only lead to lower wages, no benefits and, of course, no security.
Why is this particularly important for women? Because women constitute 72 per cent of the part-time workforce. Almost three-quarters of Canadian part-time workers are women. Women will be pushed in increasing numbers into part-time work if the present trend continues. Of course, this is happening in the private sector as well and the Government has shown no interest in taking the initiative which it could to reverse the trend.
In relation to job creation, training and security for women is the whole concept of affirmative action. We had thought, given the statements which were made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) last summer, that very strong federal action would have been taken to ensure the hiring and promotion of women to make up for the past disadvantages which women have suffered. I will concede that the Government has done one thing as a result of the Abella report. It has suggested to the private sector that those companies doing business of more than $200,000 a year with the Government establish a plan of action for the hiring and promotion of women. I agree that this is a first step, but they are given three years to work it out and there is no way yet provided by the Government to ensure that they will in fact work out a plan of affirmative action. There are no sanctions upon the companies if they do not work out a plan and no enforcement requiring them to do so. The Government is really basing its policy on blind trust and good luck, as
my colleague stated. There must be an enforcement mechanism and this is what we in the New Democratic Party have advocated. We hope that in the Budget itself the Government will recognize not only the principle of affirmative action but some of the costs in financial terms associated with it, and all of the reasons why only affirmative action will ensure women's equality in the work-place.
Equal pay for work of equal value is another concept which has been with us now for almost ten years or more. Again, much was said about it in the election compaign by the Conservatives and, indeed, by all Parties. Here again one small step has been taken, namely, that new guidelines have been established by the Human Rights Commission for enforcing equal pay for work of equal value. However, the onus is still on those who are not getting equal pay for work of equal value to raise cases. It does seem incredible that federal employees have to be the ones to take the initiative to get the federal Government to do something which the governing Party promised it would do on its own. And that remains the case. Employees must take action against their employer. There is no change there.
There is one step which might actually be retrogressive which seems to suggest, under the guidelines of the Human Rights Commission, that the rights of the individual to complain may be removed and only group rights will be recognized. I hope that the Government will take a very serious look at that implication, if that is in fact what is implied.
What is also needed, Mr. Speaker, is adequate funding for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which is why we have also included this in our motion. If it is going to be the enforcement agency for the provision of equal pay for work of equal value, it has to have sufficient funds, staff and resources to do the job.
There are other areas where the Government could have taken, and could still take in the Budget, steps which would remove some of the inequalities which women face. In small business, for example, everyone recognizes that women have proved to be in many instances successful entrepreneurs. It used to be one in ten successful small business entrepreneurs were women. It is now one in three. So more women are now becoming successful entrepreneurs, and we applaud and commend that development. Many women in small business do not have access to credit on the same grounds as do men. There is a discrimination against women, which has been well documented, in the provision of credit. Women are still seen as not being quite legitimate in the business world.
The Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) let the cat out of the bag on March 4 when he was asked by my colleague, the Hon. Member for Thunder Bay-Atikokan (Mr. Angus), why the Government did not include in the Small Businesses Loans Act a concentration on women and particularly their inaccessibility
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to credit. The Minister of Finance replied, as reported at page 2691 of Hansard:
Mr. Speaker, unlike the Hon. Member's Party, we have great faith in the ability of women to get credit.
That answer, Mr. Speaker, comparable to the one of the Minister of State for Youth and of other Ministers, simply ignores the realities before us.
We have also suggested that the spending cuts which we see, both provincially and federally, impact most adversely on women. If in the Budget the Government taxes more heavily the middle-income groups, denies universality to all, makes no serious efforts to improve the housing situation, does not raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and does not provide for genuinely universal health care, women are going to suffer the most. Already 62 per cent of single elderly women are living below the poverty line. It used to be that 42 per cent of families headed by women were living below the poverty line, but in 1983-84 that number increased to 50 per cent.
Is the Government going to address this most serious situation in our society in the forthcoming Budget? Will it also address child care, family violence, and the increased concerns of women's centres? Will it bring about at least some first steps toward the genuine equality of women in the Budget?
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic: ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 62-CANADIAN WOMEN