This Coalition Government is Good for WomenTuesday, July 27 2010
Advocates for women's equality confirmed that they endorse the coalition government as rallies in support took place across the country today.
"We've carefully read their Policy Accord to address the economic crisis and listened to what the parties had to tell us about their plans," said Gisèle Pageau of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union. "We can confidently say this coalition government is good for women."
The proposed Liberal-NDP coalition government, with the support of the Bloc, has made several commitments on policies of particular concern to women that were either curtailed or ignored during the Harper minority government. These policies include:
- Improving child benefits and an early learning and childcare program
- Eliminating the two-week waiting period for employment insurance and a guarantee that all revenue from EI premiums goes to provide benefits and training for workers
- Spending on infrastructure, including in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities
- Income support to older workers transitioning into retirement
- Support for culture, reversing the Harper budget cuts
"After fighting the Harper government's anti-equality agenda for two years, we're thrilled to see these policies proposed," said Aalya Ahmad of the Ad Hoc Coalition for Women's Equality and Human Rights. "Currently, women are less able to access EI, are more likely to be in precarious work and are penalized in the job market when child care is not available. These measures will give women some much-needed protection from having to bear the brunt of the economic crisis."
While pay equity was not specifically mentioned in the coalition government's accord, women's advocates say they have earlier commitments from all three opposition parties to move ahead on implementing Pay Equity Task Force recommendations from 2004. The Harper government's proposal in its economic statement to prevent women from making pay equity claims has appalled many Canadians.
After taking power in 2006, the Harper minority government moved quickly to cut Status of Women funding and dismantle child care agreements with the provinces, despite a pre-election pledge to uphold the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). When they were invited by women's organizations to renew their CEDAW pledge in 2008, all opposition parties signed. Harper's government did not bother to respond. For these reasons, women's advocates express little surprise at the current posturing of the PM.
"Speaking as a child care worker, I see a boy who can't share the sandbox and who wants to bully the other kids, especially the girls," said Rachel Besharah of CUPE. "Women simply do not have confidence in Harper's ability to work with others because of his track record with us."
The Conservatives' frequent allusions to "getting into bed with separatists" have also angered women's groups. "Hopefully Canadians will not fall for these divisive attacks on the Bloc," said Jessica Notwell of the Canadian Women's Community and Economic Development Council.
"We welcome the opportunity we now have to stand up for a government that doesn't constantly threaten women's equality rights."