Personal Data

New Democratic Party
New Westminster--Coquitlam (British Columbia)
Birth Date
April 1, 1943
executive assistant

Parliamentary Career

November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
  New Westminster--Burnaby (British Columbia)
  • N.D.P. Deputy Caucus Chair (January 1, 1990 - January 1, 1991)
January 23, 2006 - September 7, 2008
  New Westminster--Coquitlam (British Columbia)
October 14, 2008 - April 13, 2009
  New Westminster--Coquitlam (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 153 of 158)

June 22, 1989

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster-Burnaby):

Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women told a family violence conference yesterday that a change in attitudes would stop family violence and that transition homes were not the answer. This sounds remarkably like a justification for why the Government is spending only $10 per year per battered woman. It is waiting for a change in attitudes so that the problem will go away.

Of course attitudes must change, but the Minister knows that one out of two battered women coming to a transition home is turned away because of lack of space. Battered women cannot afford to wait around for attitudes to change as the Government is doing. Battered women need support and services and they need them now.

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June 21, 1989

Ms. Black:

This is unpalatable. What is to prevent a large corporation from using these funds to pay for upgrading programs for their middle and upper-level employees? I have seen no guarantees in this legislation that would prevent this. There are no guarantees. How will we go about retraining all those displaced by the free trade deal? We need a cohesive policy to face this challenge, not a piecemeal shuffle of funds from one program to another.

Why is $32 million of this money being used to pay for student on-the-job training? This money should be used for what it is intended for, the support of those who are unemployed. When will the Government make a responsible commitment to retraining?

The unemployment insurance cuts, as with every action that the Government has taken in this session, hits the disadvantaged the hardest; women and young people, native people, all of those who experience high unemployment levels. These are the people who are being most short-changed by this attack on our unemployment insurance system.

The unemployment rate for women is 7.9 per cent, higher than that for men which is 7.2 per cent. Women are in and out of the labour market more often than men. It is women who bear the brunt of the responsibility for child rearing and family responsibilities. Why is the Government attacking women further with its changes to the unemployment insurance program?

Women's groups cried out that the Mulroney trade deal would hurt social programs like unemployment insurance, they cried out that it would hurt women the most. The Government has proven those women's groups right. Immigrant women who are losing their jobs in the textile and clothing industries because of free trade now have only half an unemployment insurance program to turn to. They are paying for UI benefits and for training now through their premiums and they will not have access to these benefits that they deserve. They will not even be able to access the job training due to the Government's discriminatory language training practices. Many immigrant women are condemned to job

ghettos or to unemployment by the Government through its deplorable sexist discrimination in language training.

As a sweetener to this mess, the Government introduced parental leave and tried to take credit for it. The credit really belongs to Mr. Schachter who took the Government to court over another Tory discriminatory practice which forced natural mothers, out of economic necessity, to stay at home and take care of infants even if the couple had agreed that it would be the father who would take on this responsibility. It is Mr. Schachter who won parental benefits for natural fathers. The Government was forced to bring in parental leave through his actions.

At the same time, the Government has reduced adoptive parents' leave by five weeks. It has gone from 15 weeks to 10. The previous speaker tried to take credit for adoptive parents' leave. The Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mrs. McDougall) brought in these changes to parental leave knowing full well that many provincial labour laws do not guarantee that parents will be able to take that leave. This is just another way the Minister can attempt to score a few political points.

The fishing industry is a very important industry in my home province of British Columbia. After successive I

years of both Conservative and Liberal mismanagement I

the Canadian fishing industry is really at risk now, both I

on the East Coast and the West Coast of Canada. Why I

are they in danger? This is because the Conservative I

Government decided to put the needs of the Canadian I

people and the Canadian workers last. I

On the East Coast, overfishing has meant massive I

lay-offs. Those who fish have lost their incomes. Fish I

plants are shutting down, processing jobs are lost. What I

has the Government done to help these laid off workers? I

It reduced their benefits. The Minister talks about I

retraining but, Mr. Speaker, retraining for what? Where |

are the jobs in these small coastal communities? I

The Minister knows that 70 per cent of those who are |

employed in the fish processing industry are women and I

many of them visible minority women. Why has the 1

Government chosen to attack the regions of Canada, I

attack the fragile resource industries of our country? I

Why has the Government allowed these jobs to be stolen I

from Canadian working women? The Government has I

introduced changes to our unemployment insurance I

program which may force these women and their families on to the welfare system.

It was in 1988 that Pat Carney told this House of Commons that fish would be landed, inspected, graded and quality- controlled in Canada. That has not happened. Instead, we have seen the present Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (Mr. Siddon) gut the whole Canadian industry. The whole B.C. fish processing industry has been gutted and those jobs are going. These job losses could not come at a worse time for Canadians. Not only have we lost control over our own Canadian fish, our own resource, we have now lost control over Canadian jobs. We are losing control today over Canadian social programs.

I wonder whether the Government thinks that it is some kind of accident that the countries with the most progressive unemployment insurance programs also have the lowest rates of unemployment? Countries like Sweden, Austria and Switzerland, all with truly progressive unemployment insurance programs, have unemployment rates of less than 5 per cent.

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June 21, 1989

Ms. Black:

Why has the Government again found it necessary to finance its agenda on the backs of the average and lower-income Canadian families? What benefit can come of this for Canadian people? None. Working people pay more when the Tories are in power and they receive less and less. We have a Government which said social programs were a sacred trust. We have a Government which chooses not to inform Canadians during an election of its plans to slash our social programs. We have a Government that invokes closure after only one day of debate on such a fundamental change to our social contract in Canada. This is flawed legislation. It is a sad time for all Canadians.

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June 21, 1989

Ms. Black:

What about jobs?

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June 21, 1989

Ms. Black:

Yes, I will. It is difficult for me to observe the Minister's new found commitment to retraining. It does, I suppose, make good headlines and give a capsule of hope to some unemployed Canadians, but let's look beyond the headlines and the catch phrases and look into the reality of these retraining proposals.

Canada does need a strong commitment to retraining. We need to remove women from the pink ghetto jobs. We need to give young people the opportunity to learn a skill, and we should offer hope to those who want to pursue non-traditional occupations. We must prepare ourselves for the changes that are brought about by technological change. Canada must make a commitment to a viable and productive retraining program.

Instead, what has the Government pieced together? It has made a commitment to retraining which is based on a suspect system of funding. It has decided to force the jobless to pay for those who want to upgrade. The Minister will shift $800 million from the UI fund in order to fund retraining. This money should not be coming from the jobless. This is a group which faces many battles already; they have few savings and sometimes have low

June 21, 1989

Unemployment Insurance Act

literacy skills, and we are telling them to fund those who wish to upgrade.

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