Panel calls for women’s eco­nomic equal­ity

Com­mons com­mit­tee of­fers so­lu­tions

National Post (Latest Edition) - - CANADA - Teresa WrighT

OT TAWA • A Com­mons com­mit­tee that spent over a year look­ing at eco­nomic bar­ri­ers fac­ing Cana­dian women has re­leased a sweep­ing list of rec­om­men­da­tions it be­lieves could pro­vide a path to­ward full equal­ity for women.

The stand­ing com­mit­tee on the sta­tus of women tabled its re­port Thursday fol­low­ing a 15-month study of women’s eco­nomic se­cu­rity.

It found women’s em­ploy­ment and wage po­ten­tial are be­ing un­der­mined in Canada by a wide va­ri­ety of sys­temic and struc­tural bar­ri­ers, in­clud­ing bias, gen­der­based vi­o­lence, the wage gap and a lack of ad­e­quate ac­cess to child care.

The re­port in­cludes 86 rec­om­men­da­tions to gov­ern­ment for changes, in­clud­ing a call for im­me­di­ate im­ple­men­ta­tion of fed­eral pay eq­uity leg­is­la­tion and for the gov­ern­ment to re­quest that all pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial labour min­is­ters do the same.

A num­ber of rec­om­men­da­tions also ad­dressed the many fac­tors that con­trib­ute to the wage gap be­tween men and women.

Mea­sures that would help close the gap in­clude more sup­port for child care, es­pe­cially in ru­ral, re­mote and marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties, the re­port said. It also main­tained that more flex­i­ble child care op­tions are needed for sin­gle par­ents and par­ents who work ir­reg­u­lar hours and shift work.

“Child care is a huge is­sue for women in be­ing able to main­tain their salaries as they’re work­ing,” said Lib­eral MP Pam Damoff, one of the vice-chairs of the com­mit­tee.

“Al­low­ing women to have high qual­ity, af­ford­able child care that suits their needs, which is some­thing we’ve rec­om­mended … will al­low them to con­tinue to work and ad­vance in their work­place.”

NDP women’s equal­ity critic Sheila Mal­colm­son, a com­mit­tee co-chair, said wit­nesses de­scribed a vi­cious cy­cle of eco­nomic in­jus­tice that face women in Canada. She wants the gov­ern­ment to act im­me­di­ately to adopt the rec­om­men­da­tions.

The NDP also tabled a sup­ple­men­tary re­port with even more calls for change.

“Women have been call­ing for such change for decades, it’s past time for gov­ern­ment to step up and im­me­di­ately im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions,” Mal­colm­son said.

“We’ve got con­crete mea­sure that the gov­ern­ment, if it im­ple­mented now, it would be putting its money where its mouth is, it would be walk­ing its talk on fem­i­nism and the econ­omy and women in our coun­try would do bet­ter.”

Other rec­om­men­da­tions in the re­port in­clude: more sup­port and study to ad­dress bar­ri­ers that ex­ist for women in male-dom­i­nated, high-in­come sec­tors; gen­der eq­uity pro­vi­sions on all projects and pro­grams that re­ceive fed­eral fund­ing that, if vi­o­lated, would re­sult in loss of fund­ing; more Crown in­vest­ment in women’s en­trepreneur­ship and more pro­grams for the in­te­gra­tion of fe­male eco­nomic class im­mi­grants.

ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

NDP women’s equal­ity critic Sheila Mal­colm­son, a com­mit­tee co-chair, said wit­nesses de­scribed a vi­cious cy­cle of eco­nomic in­jus­tice that face women in Canada.

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