'Life/Work Balance: Quality of Women’s Lives'

'Participants took advantage of the opportunity to engage, talk, debate and share with activists – women who work diligently within their unions despite their life/work challenges.' - James Clancy

Ottawa (16 April 2010) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) women’s conference Life/Work Balance: Quality of Women’s Lives concluded earlier this week. The conference which ran April 12-13 brought together women activists from across Canada to discuss the issue of life/work balance and the stresses associated with managing life responsibilities, work responsibilities and involvement within their unions.

At the conference, NUPGE released the key findings of the survey it undertook in 2009 to examine the issue of life/work balance and its effects on women. The report provided a snapshot of what other Canadian research and statistics have also found: women are suffering extreme stress and, as a result, are suffering from health related issues as they juggle multiple roles, responsibilities and inequalities in an attempt to find balance. They are reporting health problems and injuries, missing work, losing sleep, missing important family events and having little time for exercise.

National Union president James Clancy welcomed participants and framed the issue of “quality of life” within this economic recession. He further emphasized the importance of fighting for public services to maintain the quality of life that Canadians share.

“Participants took advantage of the opportunity to engage, talk, debate and share with activists from coast to coast to coast – women who work diligently within their unions despite their life/work challenges,” said Clancy.

“The results of the survey we conducted confirm that the issue of life/work conflict is an extremely important issue among the sisters in our union. The National Union will continue to fight and lobby for supports such as child care, elder care and more control of workers’ time in the workplace.”

Participants at the conference had the opportunity to hear from leading experts on the subject of life/work balance and women’s roles, experiences and challenges within society and the workplace.

Heather Mallick, a Canadian journalist and author of Pearls in Vinegar and Cake or Death, ignited the Monday discussion with a lively and entertaining address about the challenge of juggling multiple roles. Her closing message urged women to write letters to the editors of newspapers, engage in the online media through the comment sections and let their voices be heard.

In the afternoon, Nora Spinks, the founder and president of Work-Life Harmony Enterprises, focused on the personal aspect of life/work harmony. Her knowledge and expertise of the issues ended with a productive Q&A from the participants.

On the second day of the conference, Netsy Firestein, the founder and director of the Labor Project for Working Families in the U.S., spoke from a labour and bargaining perspective. Her 20 years plus experience working with labour on work/family issues proved to be very informative for the Canadian group.

Participants had the opportunity to discuss and engage in conversation about ways to move forward in raising awareness of this pressing issue during a plenary session with panelists that included Nora Spinks, Netsy Firestein and Jenni Tipper from the Vanier Institute of the Family.

The conference was developed through the NUPGE Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues and the discussions and results of the conference will help form the work of the committee over the next three years.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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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