||March 8, 2008
|On International Women’s Day - Top 10 reasons why PM Stephen Harper is Turning Back the Clock on Women's Equality
|Brought to you by the CAW Women’s Department
10. Shortly after taking office, the Stephen Harper government
cancelled the Early Learning and Child Care agreements with the
provinces, cutting $3.7 billion from children’s programs,
abandoning the planned universal childcare system in the works
from the previous government.
9. The Harper government cut more than 40 per cent of the
operating budget from the Status of Women Canada. This
amounted to a $5 million cut, to which Bev Oda, the Tory minister
responsible for the SWC declared: “The government recognizes,
knows and does not have to be told that women are equal…”
The organization responsible for promoting women’s economic,
social, political and legal equality had to close 12 of its 16
8. In the last election, the Harper Conservatives had the lowest
number of women candidates of any party – a measly 10 per
cent. According to the United Nations, Canada ranks 30th in the
world, in terms of women’s representation in Parliament, behind
Sweden, Norway, Rwanda, Trinidad and Tobago. How’s that for
7. The federal government also eliminated the SWC’s
independent policy research fund, removed the words ‘equality,’
‘political’ and ‘legal’ from the mandate and changed the funding
rules so that no equality advocating groups or those doing
research for this purpose would be eligible for funding.
6. A year later, the minister responsible for the Status of Women
Canada Bev Oda, pledged on International Women’s Day 2007,
$5 million for the SWC. Wait, does this mean women aren’t so
equal after all? Most of the money will be re-routed into the
government-created Women’s Partnership Fund which has
drawn ire for being open to for-profit firms to apply for funding.
5. Since taking office, the Harper government has refused to act
on women’s economic equality – ignoring the recommendations
by the federal Pay Equity Task Force to introduce proactive pay
equity laws. Currently, Canada ranks 38th in the world on the
male-female income gap – after Switzerland, Cambodia, Kenya
and more than 30 other countries.
4. Women form a large majority of part-time workers and since the 1990s cutbacks to Employment Insurance, women have found it increasingly difficult to
access EI benefits. At any given time, less than one third of unemployed women are covered by EI benefits. Current benefit rates and term lengths are at an all
time historic low and are unevenly applied across the country. In three consecutive federal budgets, the Harper government has refused to address this
3. Over the last five years, 350,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost – most of these jobs have disappeared since the Harper government has taken office.
Women have been disproportionately affected as well-paid jobs with family-supporting benefits are replaced by temporary or part-time jobs or no jobs at all.
Currently 2.4 million women live in poverty, with more than 1 million children suffering the same circumstance and the numbers are growing. The Harper
government’s poverty reduction strategy has been much the same as their job creation strategy – non-existent.
2. Delivering a further blow to equality, the Harper government eliminated the Court Challenges Program, one of the few avenues for marginalized groups to
dispute discriminatory laws in court.
1. In a clear disregard for low-income people, many of whom are women, the Harper government reduced federal contributions to new affordable housing by
$200 million, effectively cancelling pre-existing agreements with the provinces and territories. Next, the Harper government cut the Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation budget by $45 million, the organization that provides assistance to low-income home owners, seniors and people with disabilities.
Related: March 2 to March 8 is International Women's Week
March 8 is International Women’s Day