Sunday, February 24

Pre-2008 Budget - Women Call For New Budget Priorities

Women across the country are calling for new government priorities that reflect the realities they face, not the Conservative cuts to programs that have characterized government action in the past year.

"Budgets are all about choices," says Pamela Cross, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for YWCA. "The federal government can choose to continue down the same destructive path that favours cuts to critical programs and funding of questionable wars, or it can choose balanced funding that responds to real needs of Canadian women and their families."

Women Are Being Left Out In The Cold

It is clear that Canadian women are being left out in the cold by the federal government's current strategy. Instead of choosing more of the same approach that ignores the well-known realities of women, the Harper government would do well to finally set the kind of budget priorities that would deliver substantial benefits to Canadian women and their families:

  • Affordable housing. With 1.5 million Canadian households (many with children) at risk of homelessness, the time for a National Housing Policy with supporting federal funding is long overdue.
  • High-quality, affordable, accessible child care. Over the last three years, more than $2 billion in federal child-care funding has flowed into a virtual accountability void. Less than 20% of Canada's children and families have access to regulated early learning and child care services. Fees have gone up and families are struggling to find care for their children in the current patchwork system. The government must restore multi-year federal funding for childcare through dedicated capital transfers to community-based, not-for- profit childcare services to assure that child care is available for all children and families that need or want it.
  • Accessible post-secondary education. Unmanageable student debt risks making post-secondary education a luxury that is out of reach for most women. In addition to restoring and increasing federal funding transfers to the provinces, this budget must clearly articulate a plan for moving Canada's expensive and unfair student loan system to a grants-based funding formula.
  • A commitment to women's equality. Increase Status of Women Canada's budget to $50 million and the re-open regional offices and improve training of government departments on gender-based analysis. Increase funding to the Women's Program at Status of Women Canada to provide grants to women's organizations that provide research and advocate for women's interests. Appoint a Gender Equality Commissioner to ensure that Canada fully upholds its equality commitments under domestic and international law.

This government refuses to acknowledge the heavy costs of tax cuts and military spending. By cutting taxes, bankrolling a war and funneling public funds into debt reduction, the Harper government is choosing family instability, homelessness, student debt, and gender inequality in Canada. It is no wonder that there was a 9.5% "gender gap" in the Conservative vote during January 2006 election - women do not trust Conservative priorities.

It's time !!

It's time for women's voices to be heard and for families to become the true priority in government spending - what's good for women is good for everyone.

Founded in 2006, the Ad-Hoc Coalition for Women's Equality and Human Rights is a group of over 25 regional and national women's organizations that have come together to monitor and advocate for federal government leadership on gender equality in Canada.

Disponible en francais
For further information
: Cathy Tilsley, The Ad-Hoc Coalition for Women's
Equality and Human Rights, (613) 355-7842

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