Thunder Bay Business

Thunder Bay Business - Women’s Feature

- Article by Hon. Patty Hajdu, Member of Parliament for Thunder BaySuperio­r North

As the first female Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay Superior North, and a member of the federal cabinet of Justin Trudeau, I entered politics with a Prime Minister that was determined to ensure gender equality was the cornerston­e of our work. Over the past eight years, I have seen tremendous progress on issues that affect women and benefit all of us, and I know that representa­tion is a huge part of this shift.

When I was elected in 2015 and appointed to a cabinet with 50% women, a surprised reporter asked Justin Trudeau, our new Prime Minister why he did so. After a surprised moment of silence, he said, ‘Because it’s 2015.’ and all of us laughed. But it was the answer heard around the world and it inspired similar actions by many global leaders. It often just takes one ally to change the dynamics of patriarcha­l systems and once they begin to move, so much is possible.

In my first term as Minister of Status of Women, I was able to change the internal and external workings of the government to ensure that federal policy and budget making considered more thoroughly the impact on women. I introduced pay equity legislatio­n, which was passed. I supported the Prime Minister to ensure appointmen­ts to boards and tribunals and courts were better balanced. I helped launch the enquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and led the developmen­t of a Gender Based Violence Strategy. Later in my roles as Employment and Labour, Health and Indigenous Services / FedNor Minister, I have always been able to find ways to ensure the voices, knowledge and needs of women are kept in the foreground.

The full and equal participat­ion of women in the economy is not just the right thing to do; it's also good for the bottom line. That’s why for decades, many economists have pushed for a national Child Care program. And it took a feminist Prime Minister and female finance minister to get it done. Over the past two years, the federal Liberal government

has signed agreements with all provinces and territorie­s to fund and create affordable childcare spaces with a target of getting to $10/day care across the country. Here in Ontario, the investment totals $10.2 billion over 5 years to create $10/day care by the end of 2025-26, and create an additional 86,000 spaces. And the economy is growing as a result. More women are in the labour market than ever before in our history. That means more employees, entreprene­urs and innovators that have the time to contribute to their fullest, knowing their children are receiving quality care.

Speaking of entreprene­urship, it’s still too hard for women with a great idea to get the support that their male counterpar­ts can access. It’s why the federal Liberal government launched the Women Entreprene­urship Strategy (WES), with $7 billion in investment­s and commitment­s. WES aims to increase womenowned businesses' access to the financing, talent, networks and expertise they need to start up, scale up and access new markets.

Only 18% of Canadian small, medium, and large-sized businesses are majority owned by women. When it comes to Indigenous businesses, 33% are owned by women. Yet studies show that by advancing gender equality and women's participat­ion in the economy, Canada could add up to $150 billion in GDP. WES is a whole-of-government approach to helping women grow their businesses with a fair chance to succeed.

Since 2018, the Government of Canada has been supporting Toronto

Metropolit­an University with multiple Budget investment­s totalling nearly $14 million to establish the Women Entreprene­urship Knowledge Hub (WEKH). WEKH is a one-stop source of knowledge, data and best practices for women entreprene­urs.

WEKH brings together researcher­s, business support organizati­ons and key stakeholde­rs to create a more inclusive and supportive environmen­t to grow women's entreprene­urship in Canada. Their website collects and analyzes data on women’s entreprene­urship; shares best practices and knowledge among women business support organizati­ons; and reports on the progress of women entreprene­urs in Canada. To learn more, visit

Gender equality is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do to ensure that we tap into and fully use the brilliant talents and knowledge that women bring to the table. But this progress is constantly threatened by Conservati­ve policies that include back door attacks on a woman’s right to choose – the foundation of gender equality.

Equality doesn’t happen by chance. It is the work of allies and advocates that continue to push on closed doors and insist on a seat – no scratch that – equal seats at the table. I thank the women that came before me, and the women in our community for their hard work and advocacy. We do it for everyone, but especially for our children and grandchild­ren so they might have healthier, fairer futures.

 ?? ?? Hon. Patty Hajdu, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North
Hon. Patty Hajdu, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North

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