Wednesday, January 31

Income splitting looms as next big child-care policy battle

The new frontier in the battle over child care begins this week in Parliament's venerable West Block, the dust still swirling from the fight over $100-a-month payments for children under six.

The new fight goes by a different name - income splitting. But the front lines have the same armies that went toe-to-toe over the choice between a national child-care plan and universal allowances in the last election campaign. Traditional stay-at-home parents on one side, advocates for publicly funded care and learning on the other.
Read more
See also - Child Care Foes Face Off Again

N.B. residents want better access to abortion services: survey

New Brunswickers want better access to abortion services, according to the results of a public opinion poll conducted in December.

The poll by Omnifacts Bristol Research found 57 per cent of respondents believe that abortions should be available in medical clinics, said Maryse Courville, a senior research consultant with the firm.

Another 40 per cent said they'd agree under certain strict conditions.

New Brunswick's medicare system will only pay for an abortion if it is performed by one of the two gynecologists in the province who perform the procedure and it takes place in a recognized hospital. Two doctors must recommend that it is medically necessary for the woman.

Women can also go to a private abortion clinic in Fredericton and pay up to $750 for the procedure.

The poll is part of a regular survey conducted every four months, asking various questions of 1,833 people in Atlantic Canada. Its margin of error is 2.2 per cent, 19 times of 20. Last month marked the first time the market research company's survey asked questions about abortion.

New Brunswickers were asked if they felt women had the right to choose when it came to having an abortion.

"The largest segment of the population, in fact, the majority of 57 per cent of New Brunswickers, believe that abortions should be available in medical clinics to provide greater access," said Courville.

Atlantic Canadians are most hesitant to approve abortions when the woman says she's not ready to have a child, at 18 per cent, according to the poll. Only 13 per cent say they would approve an abortion for someone who is financially unable to afford the child.

Rosella Melanson, head of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, said the poll will be given to Health Minister Mike Murphy when he meets with women's groups later this week.

"Compared to other provinces, New Brunswick is conservative," Melanson said. "But even in New Brunswick, it is a majority that agrees that women should have the right to choose."

Harper not the only one dithering on child care spaces - Nova Scotia Coalition

With news out this week that Stephen Harper's government has not delivered any new child care spaces since his election one year ago, a coalition of Nova Scotia child care organizations and supporters says our own provincial government has been equally ineffective.

The Action Coalition on Early Childhood Education and Care (ACECEC) says working families crying out for more child care spaces can take little comfort in the MacDonald government's performance in this area.

Read more

Nunavut's homeless women target of report

A new report on Nunavut's homeless women will call for better ways to track the problem when it's released in February, researcher Rian Van Bruggen says.

The report by the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council, titled Little Voices of Nunavut: A Study of Women's Homelessness North of 60, will highlight the dire situation all across the territory, Van Bruggen said in an interview on Monday.

In Iqaluit alone, there an estimated 150 women, many with children, without a place to call home, she said.

"The hidden homelessness is something that is so pervasive here in Nunavut, and the housing crisis, as well … makes it so difficult to get a home," Van Bruggen said.

"So a lot people just, you know, sleep together in one house or they sleep in a closet or they sleep on a couch and then the next night they sleep on the floor, and that's what makes it so difficult as well to actually determine the extent of homelessness."

Van Bruggen said she interviewed about 100 homeless Nunavut women for the study.

CBC News story

Related story: Forgotten homeless sleep in tents in frigid North

Monday, January 29

NUPGE letter to Harper

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has been one of the national organizations fighting to have the cuts reversed. NUPGE president James Clancy wrote to the prime minister in October on behalf of the union's 340,000 members across the country – a majority of whom are women. NUPGE

Read More

Friday, January 26

Online Movies

Here are some new finds from YouTube...Click on the picture to watch the video

613-941-6888 ...

More December 10, 2006 footage...

CLC: Focus on Jobs and Working Families' Priorities

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 25, 2007) - "The priority is political climate change!" says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress as he lays out what Canadian working families expect from their Members of Parliament, as they prepare to resume their sessions next week.

On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress and their families, Georgetti wants Parliament to:

- Ensure quality child care and early learning so every child has the same opportunity in life.

"These are the priorities. Canadian working people want to remind every and all elected officials that they should focus on our priorities: because we who work for wages are the majority. The majority of their constituents. The majority of voters and by far and away their largest source of tax revenue."

"Action on these priorities would change our political climate, bringing Parliament on the side of working Canadians."

Read more

Females not getting fair shot in Regina

REGINA (CUP)—Female faculty members at the University of Regina face a slower rate of promotion than their male counterparts, according to the school’s faculty association.

Donna Bowman, chairwoman of the status of women committee, speculates that the reason for this lag in promotion is due to women’s ongoing role as the primary caregiver of children and elderly parents. Bowman also suggested the problem could be attributed to the lack of females filling senior positions throughout the University.

Read more

Wednesday, January 24

New Brunswick women's groups meet Minister Thompson

Representatives of three New Brunswick groups hard hit by recent changes to Status of Women Canada travelled to Fredericton last Wednesday to meet with Greg Thompson, Regional Minister for New Brunswick in the federal Cabinet. They were joined by Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, Chairperson of the N.B. Advisory Council on the Status of Women. " We were glad to have the opportunity to share our concerns with the Minister " said Ginette Petitpas-Taylor. " We are particularly troubled by the removal of the words ' women' s equality ' from the Status of Women Canada mandate. We also deplore the new funding rules, because they exclude groups that do advocacy or lobbying. Advocacy and lobbying are essential to change the systems that create social problems."
* Read the media release of January 19, 2007

Monday, January 22

No Tory child-care plan as parents face long waits, rising fees

“They’re really over a barrel,” said Monica Lysack, executive director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada.

“They don’t have a plan. ...They haven’t created a space. Parents are being caught in the middle of this cut-and-run approach.”

Conservatives are handing out cheques worth $1,200 a year (minus taxes) for each child under six. But they’re running from the fact that there are registered spaces for fewer than 20 per cent of kids under 12, Lysack said.

Parents - regardless of income - have received $1.2 billion since the first payments were mailed in July, according to the government.

“Great,” said Lysack. “But it’s not child care. Even they acknowledge that.”


Conservative capital plan won’t ‘create’ child care spaces

OTTAWA – A new study shows Stephen Harper’s promised “child care spaces initiative” is bad public policy that won’t deliver the much-needed accessible spots.

The study, Making space for child care, reviews Canadian and international evidence and experiences, outlining policies that will build a solid early learning and child care system.

Visit Code Blue for details

Canadian Union of Public Employees wholeheartedly supports and appreciates the work done by Vancouver activists

Vancouver SWC occupation successful
Jan 21, 2007 12:04 PM
On January 18th 2006, Stephen Harper stated: "I agree that Canada has more to do to meet its international obligations to women's equality. If elected, I will take concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the United Nations, to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women in Canada."

He even signed it.

It is a year later, and Harper shows no sign of keeping his promise. His Conservative government has cut the budget of Status of Women Canada by 43 per cent, closed twelve of the sixteen SWC offices, and terminated funding to women's advocacy groups.

To mark the first anniversary of this broken promise, BC women held an information picket in front of the Vancouver SWC office, which is slated to close. An occupation of the office began after the picket, with the women demanding a meeting with Bev Oda, the Minister responsible for the Status Of Women.

Late last night, Minister Oda agreed to have a teleconference with the women this afternoon at 3:30pm (Pacific Time). A press conference will be held following the teleconference.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees wholeheartedly supports and appreciates the work done by these activists. We hope that Minister Oda uses the teleconference as an opportunity to learn how to better serve her constituents.

Friday, January 19

Minister Beverley Oda to Meet with Women after Vancouver Office Occupation

OTTAWA and VANCOUVER, Jan. 19 /CNW Telbec/ -

Women in British Columbia have obtained a meeting with federal Minister Beverley Oda after occupying the Status of Women (SWC) office in Vancouver yesterday. The meeting between BC women and the federal Minister responsible for the Status of Women will take place this afternoon, Friday, January 19th at 3:30 (PT).

Following a noon time rally yesterday, women occupied the Vancouver office to protest its closure by the federal government. They remained in the office until 11 p.m. last night at which time Minister Oda's staff agreed to the hour long meeting today.

The federal government announced this past December that it will close twelve of its sixteen regional Status of Women Canada offices, including the one in Vancouver. Women in BC say that these closures contradict a campaign promise made by Stephen Harper during last year's federal election. At that time, he committed in writing to the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) to improve the situation of women's human rights in Canada.

A year later, the work of women's and human rights groups is threatened and under attack. The office closures are part of a previously announced $5 million (43 per cent) reduction to the operating budget of Status of Women Canada (SWC), the lead federal department for gender equality. The Harper government has also announced the elimination of the Court Challenges Program, the termination of funding for all advocacy related work by women's groups and the removal of the word equality from the mandate of SWC's Women's Program

Provincial and Territorial Ministers have also expressed their dissatisfaction with Minister Oda's leadership. According to a report from the Ontario Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Sandra Pupatello, the Harper government has shown such little interest in women's issues that provinces and territories will meet on their own in early February to plot a national strategy.

Since the federal government's announcement of the office closures, women across the country have undertaken a variety of actions to signal their concern with the federal government's approach to Status of Women in Canada.

For further information: Nancy Peckford, (613) 292-7941; Shelagh Day,
(604) 872-0750; Shauna Paull, (604) 209-5776

Women in Vancouver are currently occupying the BC/Yukon Status of Women Canada (SWC).

Women Reclaim Their Rights

For Immediate Release

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Sit-in at BC/Yukon Status of Women Canada Vancouver Office

Vancouver - Women in Vancouver are currently occupying the BC/Yukon Status of Women Canada (SWC). On the heels of a successful rally against federal cuts to equality rights, earlier today, 15-20 women are demanding that the Harper conservative government:

. reinstate the $5 million which as been slashed from Status of
Women Canada budget

. withdraw the decision to close 12 of the 16 Status of Women
Canada regional offices

. return "equality" to the Women's Program mandate while ensuring
that research, lobbying, and advocacy are eligible for funding

. reinstate the Court Challenges Program so that equality rights
test cases are accessible

. adopt proactive pay equity legislation

. implement the promise of a nation-wide accessible childcare program

. Insist that Canada honours and fulfills its CEDAW obligations

SWC National has been notified of the sit-in and the Vancouver office awaits a response.

The women resisting the cuts and closures, who are occupying the office, encourage women to engage in similar sit-ins at other SWC office across Canada. These women also welcome others to join them at the sit-in to 'reclaim women's rights' which have been attacked.

Tuesday, January 16

"We are not a 'Special Interest' Group"

Submitted by hillarybain on Mon, 2007-01-15 10:58.

Feminist organizations nationwide are protesting the latest in a series of attacks on Status of Women Canada (SWC).

by Anna Carastathis

Marching on Ottawa Hill on December 10 to protest Harper's cuts to SWC. Photo: CUPEDavid-James Fernandes

On October 11, the Dominion reported that the Conservative government imposed a 40 per cent reduction of SWC's operating budget over two years, as well as new restrictions on the agency's grant program. In what might be described as an effort to de-politicize SWC, the government has forbidden the agency from funding groups that undertake advocacy or lobbying for women's rights. It has also removed the word "equality" from the agency's mandate.

Following these cuts and restrictions, on November 28, Bev Oda, the minister responsible for SWC, announced the closure of 12 of 16 SWC regional offices, to take effect on March 31, 2007. Almost half of SWC's employees -- 61 of 131 -- will lose their jobs. The four remaining regional offices (in Edmonton, Montréal, Moncton and Ottawa) will be required to provide services to expanded -- critics say unmanageable -- jurisdictions. In the most extreme case, the Edmonton office will serve women and women's groups across British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, in addition to those based in Alberta. This is an area of over 4.7 million square kilometres, constituting almost half -- 47 per cent -- of the total territory occupied by Canada. Despite the foreseeable increased workload, there are no plans at present to hire additional personnel to staff the Edmonton office, according to a SWC official. The Moncton office will serve Atlantic Canada; the Montréal office will serve Québec and Nunavut; and the Ottawa office will serve Ontario and national feminist and women's organizations. Justifying this decision, Oda maintained that the regional office closures will help the SWC remain within its severely restricted operating budget, saving approximately $700,000 in rent and utility bills.

Implying that the SWC is a "special interest" agency, Oda told the CBC that "[we] don't need to separate the men from the women in this country." However, on January 18, 2006, during his campaign, Stephen Harper vowed, if elected, to "take concrete and immediate measures [...] to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women in Canada." Now, the Conservative government is claiming that downsizing SWC will actually better serve the goal of achieving women's equality. As quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, Oda suggested that running a separate agency devoted to researching and mobilizing to improve conditions facing women's issues actually "weakens the ability of the equality of women to be instilled throughout the government departments, agencies, and offices."

Demonstrations against the cuts, restrictions and office closures have been held across Canada. On December 10, over 1,000 demonstrators rallied in support of the SWC and women's equality in Ottawa, marking the 25th anniversary of Canada's ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

According to Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Oda's claim that the SWC "ghettoizes" the task of achieving women's equality "reveals a fundamental misunderstanding" of the agency's mandate. Arthur, who is working on the B.C. Campaign for Women's Equality and Human Rights in Canada, explains that the SWC was set up to "help women mount campaigns and do research on particular issues affecting women, so that they can then take this work and lobby the relevant government ministry or department to make changes that will benefit women. The point of SWC funding is to help ensure that [the] government examines [its] policies and legislation through a gender lens. The SWC [is] a conduit that allows women access to government in general and to lobby for women's equality at all levels."

Opposition MPs have joined feminist groups and labour unions in calling for Oda's resignation, who is responsible for what Liberal MP Maria Minna (Beaches--East York) calls "the single largest attack on women's services in the history of this country." At the same time, Shauna Paull cautions against "personalizing these cuts to SWC to [Oda]." Paull, a feminist organizer active in the B.C. Campaign, argues that the cuts, restrictions and office closures are part of a systematic, "ideological demolition of [women's] equality." Arthur agrees: "[The] government has effectively removed women's Charter right to equality, by removing the mechanisms for achieving it."

Arthur sees restricting the role of SWC to "service provision" (barring it from funding "political" groups, research or campaigns) as an effort to de-politicize gendered oppression. "It simply doesn't make sense to restrict SWC funding to provide services directly to women, since that does nothing to address the systemic inequality that causes the need for those services to begin with," she says. "For example, women's groups fighting against domestic abuse combine their efforts at both helping individual abused women at transition houses and lobbying the government on ways to address and reduce domestic abuse in general. The two activities cannot be separated." Barb Byers, executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress, quoted by, echoes this view: "It's not good enough for this government to say we'll give you more money for shelters but we won't let you question why women are there in the first place."

Feminist and women's organizations have not stood by silently as Harper's Conservatives "turn their backs on [...] women in Canada," as Arthur puts it. No sooner had the cuts been first an-nounced in mid-October, Pam Kapoor and Audra Williams, together with a network of feminist contributors, launched, a website serving as a centralized source of information and calls for action, which has reportedly received over 40,000 "hits" since its inception.

On November 13, an ad-hoc coalition of women's and feminist organizations, led by the Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA), began the "One-Month Campaign for Women's Equality and Human Rights." In addition to the cuts and restrictions to SWC, the campaign opposed the cancellation of the Court Challenges Program; the government's refusal to adopt improved pay equity legislation; and the cancellation of a pan-Canadian childcare program, effecting cuts of $1.2 billion annually to provinces and territories for childcare services.

Demonstrations against the cuts, restrictions and office closures have been held across Canada. On December 10, over 1,000 demonstrators rallied in support of the SWC and women's equality in Ottawa, marking the 25th anniversary of Canada's ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

On this day, the National Association of Women and the Law presented a declaration, signed by 430 feminist and women's organizations and by thousands of individuals, calling on the Harper government to renew Canada's commitment to CEDAW, specifically "by improving the living conditions and respecting the human rights of Aboriginal women, effectively addressing violence against women and women’s poverty, improving maternity and parental benefits, funding civil legal aid, changing immigration laws to respect the rights of live-in caregivers and ensuring a more equitable participation of women in the political institutions."

Elsewhere, 300 people from throughout New Brunswick converged on Moncton for a rally, while in the Northwest Territories, an "old-fashioned bra-burning" was held in front of the federal building in Yellowknife. "Mourners" gathered at a "funeral for women's equality” in Winnipeg on December 8, and in Saskatoon, Iskwewuk E-wichiwitochik (Women Walking Together) held a discussion on the impact of the cuts on First Nations women's lives.

Saturday, January 13

Join Us ! January 18

1st Anniversary of Harper's Broken Promise to Women

Promise made....

"Yes I am ready to support women's human rights and I agree that Canada has more to do to meet international obligations to women's equality.

If elected, I will take concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the United Nations, to ensure that Canada upholds its commitments to women in Canada"
Stephen Harper January 18, 2006

Promise broken....

Since coming into office, the Harper Conservatives have

  • closed more than half of the Status of Women regional offices
  • have changed the funding criteria for women's groups and have removed the word "equality" from the SWC's list of objectives
  • eliminated support for equality rights test cases (the Court Challenges Programs)
  • refused to adopt proactive [pay equity legislation and have cancelled funding to the Canada-wide child care program

The Harper Conservatives have consistently dismissed eqaulity rights for women. They will continue unless we speak up !

Join Us !



18 January 2007-Noon onwards

Sinclair Centre-757 West Hastings Street

Gather outside the front door of the Sinclair Centre

Rally and Information Picket

1st Anniversary of Harper's Broken Promise to Women

Hold the government responsible for broken promises. For more information contact shauna paull 604-209-5776 or alison brewin 604-684-8772

Thursday, January 11

Federal minister not welcome at provincial meeting on women's issues

January 10, 2007 - 18:21 By: JOAN BRYDEN

OTTAWA (CP) - The Harper government has shown so little interest in women's issues that provinces have decided to meet on their own to plot a national strategy without bothering to invite federal Status of Women Minister Bev Oda.

The snub follows two recent federal-provincial meetings on women's issues at which Oda put in only brief appearances and displayed "a complete lack of interest," according to Sandra Pupatello, Ontario's minister responsible for women's issues.

At a meeting of federal and provincial ministers in Saint John, N.B., in October, Pupatello said Oda showed up for only an hour.

"Because we have ministers who travel literally from coast to coast to coast, a couple of them that take two days just to get there, they were really quite offended that she would come for an hour," Pupatello said in an interview Wednesday.

Their frustration deepened on Dec. 15, when a federally organized teleconference, supposedly aimed at finishing up the agenda from the October meeting, was similarly cut short.

Pupatello said Oda "attended for 20 minutes and then had to excuse herself and insisted that the meeting be over when she left the call."

"It's hard to have an FPT (federal-provincial-territorial meeting) with no F. That sort of sums it up . . . It's just very frustrating because you feel like you're at the altar and the bride didn't show."

After the teleconference call, Pupatello concluded that provincial and territorial ministers need to get together on their own to devise a national action plan "because I'm not going through this charade of FPTs as if we're actually doing something dramatic here because we're not."
She said "every minister across the board" concurred with her assessment of the situation.

Indeed, another minister from a province not usually considered adversarial with the Harper government, privately expressed virtually identical criticisms.

Consequently, Pupatello will host a meeting of women's issues ministers - minus Oda - on Feb. 1 in Toronto.

"It clearly takes leadership at the federal level to bring us together. It is completely absent in my view and we are taking it upon ourselves to say, you know, this is either a priority or it isn't and regardless of federal involvement . . . what are we going to do about it?"

However, a spokesman for Oda disputed Pupatello's account of the federal minister's participation in the last two meetings and suggested the Ontario Liberal minister is simply indulging in a "partisan attack" on the federal Conservative government.

Chisholm Pothier said Oda attended an evening get-together prior to the meeting in Saint John and was in attendance the next day for about two hours.

He said the December conference call was scheduled to last for 90 minutes and went almost an hour longer, with Oda on the line the entire time.

"It seems to me to be a partisan fight," Pothier said of Pupatello's criticisms.

"I think it's sort of beside the point of working together to make concrete progress on issues of importance to women in Canada. I don't think this is a particularly helpful contribution to that and it's certainly not dialogue when you're trying to exclude people from the dialogue."
Pupatello said provincial ministers were frustrated with what little Oda did say to them at the past two meetings.

She did not, for instance, give them any details about the federal government's decision to slice $5 million over two years from the $23-million annual budget for Status of Women Canada, a federal agency that promotes gender equality and funds women's groups across the country.
Oda told them the money would be "redirected" into other programs for women but Pupatello said she couldn't explain how or when that would occur or whether the money saved by closing some of the agency's regional offices would remain in those regions.

Pupatello said Oda also claimed the Harper government has already done a "tremendous amount" on justice issues for women, pointing to stiffer sentences for gun crimes.

"The women who are being murdered here, they're being strangled and beaten and burned," said Pupatello.

"So please don't pretend to me that gun bill somehow was introduced and tabled in the House with a mind to assisting violence against women. You know, please."

However, Pothier contended that Oda has a strong record of advancing women's issues and will continue with her "agenda of action" whether or not she's excluded from meetings with her provincial counterparts.

Among other things, he said Oda has presided over changes to matrimonial property rights for aboriginal women, increased funding for on-reserve family violence shelters, eliminating conditional sentencing for sexual offences, and granting temporary visas to victims of human trafficking so that they can recover from their ordeal.

Monday, January 8

CRIAW Forum May 4-6, 2007

About the Forum

CRIAW (Canadian Reasearch Institute For The Advancement of Women) wants to create a space to collectively explore, reflect, and mobilize around the alternatives being developed and explored by women dealing with poverty and exclusion, particularly within the Canadian context. The Forum seeks to bring together a wide range of people into conversation with one another to explore alternative visions and practices. Possible outcomes include the development of concrete actions and/or the development of new partnerships and alliances.

The Forum will limit the number of participants to 75. This activity is not meant to be a conference but rather an opportunity to strategize and further develop feminist alternative models and approaches to address women’s poverty and exclusion. There will be a combination of plenary sessions and more “hands on“ smaller group sessions. We anticipate that there will be approximately 12 smaller sessions and it is for these that we are seeking proposals. Partial subsidies will be available on a needs basis.

Interdisciplinary, multicultural and bilingual, this forum will be a space that will offer an opportunity to discuss local, national, and global developments that create opportunities and challenges to women’s active, creative, and critical participation as actors in resisting poverty and social exclusion. We are interested in both individual and collective strategies for alternative visions and practices in resisting poverty and social exclusion. We hope to receive material from grassroots activists, academics, and other individuals who are privately, publicly, and/or politically working with women resisting poverty and exclusion.

Call For Presentations

We invite proposals for round table discussions, interactive presentations, workshops, structured debates as well as art work, poetry and performances which explore, reflect, and mobilize around alternative models to women’s poverty and social exclusion. We welcome contributions from wide range of perspectives, particularly ones that are not usually included in the forefront of feminist discourse such as: sex workers, youth, transgender women, live-in caregivers, women with disabilities, and aboriginal women to name a few.

Visit CRIAW by clicking here