Pay equity, child care, violence prevention and support: 3 issues the government can act on, now. Send them a message.
Ottawa (07 March 2017) — Every year on March 8 people gather together to celebrate women's rights and to send the message that the fight for equality is far from over.
"We live in a country where our Prime Minister calls himself a feminist," says Elisabeth Ballermann, Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "but we are still fighting for economic justice."
We need pay equity now
"It's 2017 and we're still fighting for pay equity. Why are they waiting? The government says it is going to introduce legislation in 2018, but given its track record with issues like electoral reform, I'm skeptical," says Ballermann.
Following several federal studies on pay equity and a $3.2-billion pay equity settlement for public services in 1999, this new Liberal government has promised to act. Enacting federal legislation will cover 874,000 workers and 10,800 employers. It would include public servants and employees of Crown corporations and federally regulated companies such as banks, airlines, telephone and cable companies, and radio and television broadcasters. Many are worried that delaying the issue risks not having legislation passed before the next election.
We need a national child care program
"If the government wants to truly help women, it can start with creating a national child care plan, rather than sending cheques to families," Ballermann says. "Child care costs can be the equivalent of mortgage payments for many people. A national plan where we see increases in the number of affordable child care spaces would go a long way to easing the burden on families."
When the government invests in female-dominated sectors like health care, child care and educationl women benefit. In a recent interview with CBC TV, Lauren Ravon, Director of Policy and Campaigns for Oxfam Canada said that "by investing in those sectors we create better jobs for women, more pay equity but we're also investing in services that free up people's time to have access to the labour force. If we're investing in child care, more women can access employment which is good for economic growth overall."
We need a violence against women and girls strategy
"We are also waiting for a national strategy to deal with violence against women in a comprehensive way," stated Ballermann. "One in 3 workers in Canada has experienced domestic violence in their lifetime, and more than half of those say they've experienced violence at or near their workplace. We need government action and resources now."
After many years of calling for a national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the federal government launched its inquiry. As Prime Minister Trudeau said at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations in December 2016, "We have made this a priority for our government because those touched by this national tragedy have waited long enough. The victims deserve justice, their families an opportunity to be heard and to heal."
Our movement is strong, determined and proud
"These are 3 issues that the government can take concrete steps to address. We've already waited too long for this progress," Ballermann continued.
"We're not even talking about the generalized sexism and discrimination that pervade our lives. We don't have to look far to know it exists –— from Kevin O'Leary to the U.S. President. But it's our response that makes the difference and shows how ready we are to take those attitudes on as well. The women's marches that took place on January 21 demonstrated how strong our movement is. The marches that will take place on International Women's Day will show how united women are and how tired we are of waiting for change."
"On this International Women's Day, we honour all those working for women's rights and women's economic fairness," Ballermann said. "Shoulder to shoulder, we are with you."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
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