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 156 of 158)

April 26, 1989

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster-Burnaby):

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege for me to present these petitions under Standing Order 36. The petitions have been certified and the people who have signed this petition come from British Columbia, from Vancouver, New Westminster, Burnaby and Coquitlam. They are asking that the federal Government continue in perpetuity the moratorium on offshore oil exploration and development in the Canadian Pacific off B.C. They are very concerned about the effects of the devastating oil spill, what has happened to the coastline in B.C., and they are taking their right in bringing these petitions to Parliament.

Subtopic:   PETITIONS
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April 25, 1989

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster-Burnaby):

Madam Speaker, I rose in the House last week to question the Minister for Employment and Immigration (Mrs. McDougall) who is also the Minister responsible for the status of women. I asked her for guarantees that women would not be unduly hurt by the new cuts to the unemployment insurance program. She was unable to give me those guarantees.

How will these new outrageous UI penalties help women? How is cutting women off UI and plunging whole families into poverty good for women? The Government made these changes to help itself, certainly not to help women or other workers.

I am very much afraid that women will be penalized for quitting their jobs because they are being sexually harassed. They will have to suffer the new seven to twelve-week penalty. I am afraid that women who refuse employment while on UI because they cannot find child care or because the hours of work do not allow them to take care of family responsibilities will be punished by the Government through these new penalties. I am afraid that women who are fired due to some type of sexist discrimination will have to forgo UI benefits for which they have paid through their premiums. These women and their families will face up to three months with no income.

Women are not supposed to suffer penalties for those reasons. However, it is left up to an employment officer in a Canada Employment Centre to decide whether a woman has just cause to quit, or whether her refusing employment was for a good reason. I wonder how much training in women's issues these employment officers have received.

I would like to read into the record a letter sent to me by a woman in British Columbia. This letter was sent to her by an officer with Employment and Immigration in the UI program. Rose Marie Roux has given me permission to use her name. The letter is dated April 10, 1989 and it states:

Dear Rose Marie Roux

The following information is required to establish the permanency of your relationship. It is not to be construed as a moral issue.

Are you living common-law with your fiance? If so, how long have you been living together? Have you set a definite date for your wedding? When was this date established? What is the date of your planned wedding? Are there any children involved?

Yours truly, R McLeod Insurance Agent

This letter was sent from the Canada Employment Centre, 124 East Fifteenth Street, North Vancouver.

This is an invasion of privacy. It shows the insensitivity of the present system, yet the Minister did not choose to improve the system. Employment officers will be making arbitrary decisions about women's lives. The Minister was unable to guarantee that women would not fall through the cracks of the new system.

Women treated unfairly have the right to appeal, but what will they live on during the long appeal process? What will their children eat, Madam Speaker? These are serious questions that were not addressed by the Minister.

I am also very concerned that a woman unfairly treated at work and then unfairly treated by UI may just give up. Will she take on the UI system by herself? I raised these concerns in my supplementary question to the Minister but she skirted around them and was unwilling to give us a straight answer. The Minister patted herself on the back for bringing the unemployment insurance parental leave benefits in line with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Denying benefits to natural fathers while giving them to adoptive fathers is discrimination that should never have taken place in the first place.

The Government's policy forced a decision on young families that it must be the natural mother and not the natural father, if that was their choice, who could care for the children. Is this what the Minister was being self-congratulatory about, the fact that for years this Government practised an unconstitutional policy? Perhaps it was the fact that it took the case of Shalom Schachter, who took the Government to court on this issue and won, thus forcing the Government to change its discriminatory practices. Maybe the Minister is proud of the fact that the Government initially appealed the Schachter decision to try to rob further natural fathers of the benefits which they should have been receiving all along.

What is lost in the whole parental benefits debate is that the Minister cut adoptive leave benefits from 15 weeks to 10 weeks.

April 25, 1989

The Minister stated that her new UI scheme would benefit immigrant women and that this Government had done a lot for immigrant women. That may be the Minister's position, but the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women does not think so. It does not think the Government has done anything positive for immigrant women. If the Government cares so much about immigrant women, why does it not remove the long-standing discrimination against immigrant women inherent in its language training programs? How can immigrant women benefit from the Minister's job training if they do not have language skills?

I am concerned about the type of job training the Minister speaks about. Does the Minister mean subsidization of wages for for low skill occupations? The Government has been less than honest all along about the UI program. The Conservative Party did not campaign on the platform of "elect me and I will slash the UI program", but that is what it has done.

Of course, more and better training is necessary, especially after the devastating effects of free trade on women's jobs in Canada, but these training programs should not come at the expense of those in our society who can least afford it.

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April 24, 1989

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster-Burnaby):

This past weekend the Government sponsored a conference for REAL Women. The Secretary of State (Mr. Weiner) has said that this group meets the women's program criteria for funding.

The criteria do not include bashing the female Supreme Court Justices. They do not include spreading lies and hatred about lesbians and gays. They do not include absolutely ridiculous seminars on how children in day care will all become psychopaths. It does not include raving about pre-marital sex.

The criteria do state that the project should deal with how barriers to women's equality should be addressed. This conference denied that any barriers exist.

Women's program officials have told equality seeking women's groups that their funding could be cut by up to 65 per cent in the coming budget.

This Government is funding anti-child care, anti-employment equity groups, and cutting back on equalityseeking women's groups. This clearly represents the Government's true agenda for women. It is a back-to-the-kitchen agenda.

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April 17, 1989

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster-Burnaby):

Mr. Speaker, today Canadian women are celebrating the anniversary of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms coming into force. This clause guarantees equality to the women of Canada.

Canadian women depend on the women's Legal Education and Action Fund to use the Charter to promote women's equality. We also need equal access to education and jobs, child care and pay equity. For those programs we need a Government truly committed to women's rights.

How is the Conservative Government celebrating this anniversary? It is funding a gathering of REAL Women, a group opposed to the inclusion of women's rights in the Charter and dedicated to turning back the clock. This action shows us what the Government really thinks of the Constitution and of women's equality.

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April 12, 1989

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster-Burnaby):

I am

sure that we are pleased with the extension to parental benefits, but I would remind the Minister that this initiative was pushed on the Government by the courts of Canada. Women may have the right to appeal an unfair penalty through unemployment insurance, but we know that the immigrant women of Canada do not appeal in many instances. They do not have the same access in our society to the appeal process. What assurances can the Minister give that no women will be unfairly penalized through these new measures?

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