Thursday, March 8

PSAC press release - March 8th - Women Occupy Bev Oda’s Office

TORONTO * Women members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) are spending their International Women’s Day occupying the Bowmanville constituency office of Status of Women Minister Bev Oda.

The women are protesting the Harper government’s broken election promise to do more for women’s equality, particularly the cuts to the Status of Women Canada’s mandate, operational funding and regional offices.

Minister Oda’s March 7th announcement that the $5 million cut from Status of Women Canada (SWC) last fall is being "re-invested" will not stop the scheduled closure of SWC offices Canada-wide. It won’t help fund women’s groups who research the roots of women’s inequality and who propose systemic solutions. Nor will it restore the jobs lost by the women in the SWC offices.

"Harper promised to take concrete and immediate measures to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women in Canada," says Robyn Benson, PSAC elected officer responsible for women’s rights and Regional Executive Vice-President (Prairies).

"Harper and Oda’s fantasy that women’s equality has arrived isn’t supported by the facts," according to Benson. "Women working full-time still only earn 71 cents for every dollar men earn. Only 15% of women with young children have access to child care. Women and girls still face high levels of violence with Aboriginal women even more severely affected."

The women occupying Oda’s office want the government to reverse its backward trend on women’s equality. That includes putting women’s equality back into the mandate of Status of Women Canada, and a Women’s Program that funds women’s groups who research and advocate for change.

"Harper and company are actively ignoring women’s inequality," says PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for Ontario Gerry Halabecki. "By undermining women’s groups who do research and advocacy work, they hope to bury the very real problems facing women in Canadian society."

"On this International Women’s Day, we’re here today to tell them that they can try to hide from the issues but women are not going to stop doing what it takes to achieve equality."

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