Reality Check: 'A sharp decrease in institutional and political support by the government of Canada for the promotion and protection of the human rights of women and girls.'
Ottawa (26 Feb. 2010) – Describing it as a "Reality Check," labour and women’s groups have issued a stinging new report describing Canada’s lagging performance in achieving women’s equality.
The document will be distributed at a special session of the United Nations (March 1-12) to mark 15 years since the Beijing conference on women in 1995. The huge Beijing conference laid out plans of action for all participating nations – including Canada – to improve women’s equality.
The report, entitled Reality Check: Women in Canada and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Fifteen Years On, cites regression in everything from pay equity to child care. It was prepared by the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action and the Canadian Labour Congress.
Endorsed by many organizations, including the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the document takes direct aim at the Harper government, accusing it of overseeing a “systematic erosion” of gender equality in Canada.
“There has been a sharp decrease in institutional and political support by the government of Canada for the promotion and protection of the human rights of women and girls during the period 2004-2009," the report says.
It highlights a number of specific actions taken by the Harper government which have eroded women’s equality in Canada, including:
- the scrapping of a national childcare program.
- a widening wage gap between men and women.
- the removal of the right to pay equity for federal public sector workers in 2009.
- the elimination of funding for women’s advocacy groups.
- the closing of 12 of Canada's 16 Status of Women offices, on the grounds that women's and men's issues do not need to be separated.
- the elimination of funding for court challenges, which provided assistance to cases related to equality rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
- the decision to eliminate the phrase "gender equality" from the mandate of Status of Women Canada, the country's primary institution responsible for gender equality.
Despite its record, the Harper government has said women's issues will be front and centre when Canada hosts the G8 and G20 meetings later this year.
An indictment of Canada's own record on women's issues at next week’s UN conference would cast an embarrassing shadow over that goal.
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