International Women's Day: Top 10 Reasons Why Harper is Turning Back the Clock on Women's Equality

    Brought to you by the CAW Women's Department

    TORONTO, March 7 /CNW/ -

    10. Shortly after taking office, the Stephen Harper government cancelled
the Early Learning and Child Care agreements with the provinces, cutting
$3.7 billion from children's programs, abandoning the planned universal
childcare system in the works from the previous government.

    9. The Harper government cut more than 40 per cent of the operating
budget from the Status of Women Canada. This amounted to a $5 million cut, to
which Bev Oda, the Tory minister responsible for the SWC declared: "The
government recognizes, knows and does not have to be told that women are
    The organization responsible for promoting women's economic, social,
political and legal equality had to close 12 of its 16 regional offices.

    8. In the last election, the Harper Conservatives had the lowest number
of women candidates of any party - a measly 10 per cent. According to the
United Nations, Canada ranks 30th in the world, in terms of women's
representation in Parliament, behind Sweden, Norway, Rwanda, Trinidad and
Tobago. How's that for equal?

    7. The federal government also eliminated the SWC's independent policy
research fund, removed the words 'equality,' 'political' and 'legal' from the
mandate and changed the funding rules so that no equality advocating groups or
those doing research for this purpose would be eligible for funding.

    6. A year later, the minister responsible for the Status of Women Canada
Bev Oda, pledged on International Women's Day 2007, $5 million for the SWC.
Wait, does this mean women aren't so equal after all?

    Most of the money will be re-routed into the government-created Women's
Partnership Fund which has drawn ire for being open to for- profit firms to
apply for funding.

    5. Since taking office, the Harper government has refused to act on
women's economic equality - ignoring the recommendations by the federal Pay
Equity Task Force to introduce proactive pay equity laws. Currently, Canada
ranks 38th in the world on the male-female income gap - after Switzerland,
Cambodia, Kenya and more than 30 other countries.

    4. Women form a large majority of part-time workers and since the 1990s
cutbacks to Employment Insurance, women have found it increasingly difficult
to access EI benefits. At any given time, less than one third of unemployed
women are covered by EI benefits. Current benefit rates and term lengths are
at an all time historic low and are unevenly applied across the country. In
three consecutive federal budgets, the Harper government has refused to
address this injustice.

    3. Over the last five years, 350,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost -
most of these jobs have disappeared since the Harper government has taken
office. Women have been disproportionately affected as well-paid jobs with
family-supporting benefits are replaced by temporary or part-time jobs or no
jobs at all. Currently 2.4 million women live in poverty, with more than
1 million children suffering the same circumstance and the numbers are
growing. The Harper government's poverty reduction strategy has been much the
same as their job creation strategy - non-existent.

    2. Delivering a further blow to equality, the Harper government
eliminated the Court Challenges Program, one of the few avenues for
marginalized groups to dispute discriminatory laws in court.

    1. In a clear disregard for low-income people, many of whom are women,
the Harper government reduced federal contributions to new affordable housing
by $200 million, effectively cancelling pre-existing agreements with the
provinces and territories. Next, the Harper government cut the Canada Mortgage
and Housing Corporation budget by $45 million, the organization that provides
assistance to low-income home owners, seniors and people with disabilities.

For further information:

For further information: or to request an interview, please call CAW
Women's Programs Director, Julie White, (cell) 519-860-7015 or CAW
Communications Director, Shannon Devine, (cell) 416-302-1699

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