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Women in the Workplace
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| Words: 1305 | Submitted: 01-Apr-2013
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DescriptionWomen in the Workplace
With recent cuts to the funding of some women's groups, critics say the federal government is turning back on the progress made for women's rights over the last several decades.
Women have faced many inequalities?mainly lower wages?since they entered the workforce. Over the years, Canada took a lead role in implementing legislation and in several important cases the courts ruled in favour of pay equity. Great strides were made, most of it thanks to women's groups and strong unions.
And yet equal pay for work of equal value?a mantra of the '60s and '70s?hasn't been achieved across the board, despite formal guarantees of equality in Canada's laws and constitution.
"Women working full time still earn only 71 cents for every dollar that men make," states a federally commissioned report released in July, entitled Equality for Women: Beyond the Illusion .
'Time for Action'
Still, women's participation in the labour force has continued to climb, despite cuts by the previous Liberal government to women's programs three times over the last 10 years. In 2003, 57.2 percent of women were employed full time, up from 51.6 in 1993.
Now it's the Conservatives' turn to wield the axe. Bev Oda, Minister of Heritage and Status of Women, cut $5 million from Status of Women Canada's (SWC) budget, saying the government will no longer fund women's groups that do lobbying, advocacy, or general research. The government also removed the word 'equality' from SWC's mandate.
"The whole purpose for establishing SWC was to follow up on the Royal Commission Report on the status of women, which was aimed at achieving equality for women. So to remove equality from the mandate is a very significant reorientation," says Fay Faraday, a lawyer with the Toronto-based Pay Equity Coalition.
The Court Challenges Program, which Faraday says was an "enormously valuable part to ensure that people could actually enforce charter rights," also came under the Tories' axe.
A federal government agency, SWC was created in 1973 to address issues such as promoting gender equality. Oda said numerous reports and research projects have identified the problems women face, and now it's "time for action." She said 31 cents was spent delivering a dollar's worth of services in SWC.
"We believe that public funds used to directly fund women in their daily lives and in their communities is value for taxpayers' dollars," says Oda.
"Study after study, report after report, had all come to the conclusion that not enough was being done. We will be acting directly to affect the lives of Canadian women in every community."
The minister says changes made to the Canadian Pension Plan will help seniors living in poverty. As well, matrimonial property rights for Aboriginal women will be addressed, and $370 million will go toward immigrant settlement ...
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