Welcome to the 21st meeting of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.
The committee is continuing its study on the economic leadership and prosperity of Canadian women.
To refresh the committee members' memory after over two weeks without a meeting, I want to remind you that, in keeping with the stated priorities of the Status of Women Canada, we are carrying out a study on the economic leadership and prosperity of Canadian women, as well as on entrepreneurship among women.
We are considering the economic leadership, but also the prosperity of Canadian women. There are some nuances between those two considerations in our study's interpretation. So I am asking you to keep that in mind. Your questions can be about economic leadership and prosperity, but they can also be about entrepreneurship among women.
Today, we are pleased to welcome Kate McInturff, from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Alex Johnston, the Executive Director of Catalyst Canada Inc. By videoconference, we will hear from Shannon Phillips, Policy Analyst for the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Each witness will have 10 minutes to make their presentation, which will be followed by a question period.
Ms. McInturff, you can start us off. You have 10 minutes.
Thank you, Madam Chair and committee members, for the opportunity to speak to this committee today about the economic leadership and prosperity of women in Canada.
My name is Kate McInturff. I am a senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Today more women than ever are attending university and college. They are going into the workforce in greater numbers and entering new fields, yet young women graduating today will still be paid less than their male peers. They will be promoted less often to the ranks of senior management, and they will spend twice as much time doing unpaid work at home.
What is at the root of the persistent gaps in women's employment, pay, and promotion?
It has been argued that women, particularly women with young children, do less paid work as a matter of choice and that this is the source of their gap in pay. Yet when we look at the results of the labour force survey, we find that 69% of women with children under the age of 6 are employed. That's only 1% less than the employment rate for women overall.
It has also been suggested that in households where there's a male breadwinner, women will be more likely to choose not to work. Yet again, if we look at labour force survey data, we see the opposite is true. If you look at the choices families are actually making, you will find that in families where the fathers are working, the mothers of young children are actually more likely to be employed and more likely to be employed full time. In families with young children where the dad has a job, 63% of moms work full time.
Whether by choice or out of economic necessity, the mothers of young children are working women. Many of these working women are working full time while performing twice the number of hours of unpaid work at home. That time deficit plays a significant role in the inability of more women to move into demanding, higher-paid, and higher-profile jobs.
What can we do to address the time deficit faced by women in Canada?
While some of the answers are easier than others, I'm going to start with one of the most obvious: safe and affordable child care. Economists from across sectors have demonstrated the benefits of affordable child care, benefits reaped by children, benefits to women's economic security, and benefits to the overall economic health of a community.
Women in sectors as diverse as health care and mining report that the lack of access to affordable child care is a significant barrier to doing the work they want to do and achieving their professional goals.
What is the difference child care can make?
An analysis of the impact of subsidized child care in Quebec found that by 2008 the program had directly contributed to a 3.8% increase in women's labour force participation. The program also provided a broad economic benefit to Quebec's economy, increasing Quebec's GDP by 1.7%. An equivalent boost to Canada's GDP would contribute an additional $31.9 billion to Canada's economy.
Opening the door for more women to engage in paid work is a first step. However, once there, women continue to face the persistent problem of unequal levels of pay and unequal rates of promotion. Canada's gender pay gap is the eighth largest among OECD countries. Women's median employment incomes are 34% less than men's incomes. For some groups of working women, the picture is even worse. Visible minority women earn 17% less than non-visible minority women and 25% less than visible minority men. The picture is similar for first-generation immigrant women and for aboriginal women.
Here again it has been argued that women's paycheques may be smaller because they choose to work fewer hours; however, that is not entirely the case. Comparing the wages of women working full time, full year, to the wages men earn working full time, full year, we still see women taking home 20% less than their male peers.
One of the reasons for this has to do with industries in which men and women work and the value we place on that work. Women and men tend to work in different industries. A recent study by Statistics Canada found that women with university degrees today are most likely to work in the same fields they worked in 20 years ago, education and nursing. Men tend to work in technology and finance. One reason for the pay gap is that workers in male-dominated fields are paid more in general than are workers in female-dominated fields. This is to say that both men and women working as computer programmers will earn more than will men and women working as elementary school teachers.
However, even within the same industry, women and men experience pay gaps. For example, in the female-dominated education sector, male elementary school teachers still earn $10,000 a year more on average than do female elementary school teachers. So what can we do to make a difference?
When we look at wages across sectors, across industries, and across regions, there are patterns to pay and equity. One of the patterns I've been able to identify, looking at regional differences, is that where there is a proactive pay equity policy in place, the wage gap narrows. For example, if we look at median employment incomes in Canada's largest cities, women in cities with large public sector employers with proactive pay equity policies in place see the smallest gaps in their earnings. Yet these same cities do not have the highest overall incomes, a fact that runs counter to the idea that closing the wage gap is merely the result of higher overall wage increases. Indeed, the city with the highest average incomes, Edmonton, also has the biggest pay gap, with men bringing home $21,000 a year more than women on average do.
Narrowing the wage gap is a matter of fairness. It's a matter of non-discrimination, and it provides a clear benefit to women's prosperity and to the economy. Estimates from the World Bank suggest that closing the gender wage gap in industrialized nations like Canada could boost our GDP by as much as 9%.
Narrowing the wage gap can also make the difference in whether or not women and their families live in poverty. Poverty rates are highest among families that depend on a female income earner. This is true not only of families led by single mothers but also of two-parent families with children in which the woman is the sole income earner.
Consider the women in the lowest-paying of female-dominated industries, the service sector. Women working in retail sales in Canada earn just over $12,000 a year annually. Their male counterparts earn $18,000 a year. That $6,000 pay gap can mean the difference between having enough for rent and food and not having enough.
There are solutions to these problems. I've mentioned just a few here, but I would be happy to speak further about the public policies that have been demonstrated to make a real difference in the lives of women and in their economic well-being.
However, I want to close by reiterating what every small-business owner knows. There is no free lunch. Without a stable, upfront investment, any enterprise will falter, and the same is true of our investments in the policies and programs that can increase women's economic well-being in Canada. With adequate and stable support, our economy and the women in Canada will reap multiple dividends including significant GDP growth and the concomitant increase in government revenues. Without that investment, we are setting up our own programs to fail just as inadequate access to credit and financing causes small enterprises to fail.
Right now, in the last fiscal year, the budget for Status of Women amounted to 0.03% of direct federal program spending. As a percentage of federal program spending over the last several years, this is very little.
Let me repeat. The federal government allocates three-one hundredths of 1% of its total program spending to a department that is tasked with ensuring equality and the full participation of women in the economic, social, and democratic life of Canada.
Gender inequality is a crucial barrier to growth, to good governance, and to well-being. An investment of political and financial resources into increased economic security for women in Canada will pay dividends, not only in the quality of life of Canadians but also in the economic stability of the country.
The challenge with going second is that Kate took most of my good material. That's fine. I have a couple of good jokes left.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to present today. My flight was delayed. I made it just in the nick of time, so I'm grateful for that.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Catalyst, we are a global organization. We work with businesses around the world to support them in creating diverse and inclusive workplaces and in fully leveraging their talent.
We've been around for over 50 years, and we try to produce a really strong body of research to drive and shape the conversation around women's advancement globally. More important, we take that research and we turn it into very practical tools and resources for business leaders and companies to make change.
I am delighted to contribute to the important work you're doing, looking at systemic barriers to women's advancement. I think this is a timely and important conversation because of the importance of talent to Canada's economic competitiveness, but I also think the bigger question for this group is the fact that we're still having this conversation and it still really matters.
In my view, this conversation really is about Canada's economic competitiveness and our talent. As you well know, Canada, like many countries around the world, is facing a labour shortage, with aging baby boomers who will move out of the workforce, with slower population growth—although I'm doing my part; I had three children in 12 months; I'm trying to increase the stats—and with an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
Our talent gives us a competitive advantage because we have a highly skilled workforce. Kate touched on this. We put more people through post-secondary education than almost any country in the world. We need to capitalize on that talent, but we do not. We are now falling behind—and you know this—at least insofar as we can start tracking progress for women on boards, which is one example but an important example. We're falling behind comparator countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and much of Europe. That is something that I think is driving a very different conversation in this country today.
When we look at the numbers and the pyramid we put together as an organization, it's typically focused on FP 500 companies, our largest Canadian corporations. Roughly 50% of the entry level workforce in those companies is women, and 36% of management positions, 16% of board positions, and 18% of senior officer positions are occupied by women.
Common wisdom—and you hear this often—suggests that women's choices are responsible for the lack of progress through the ranks. We frequently hear the following. Women have babies. We take time off to care for our babies. We often take on additional caregiving responsibilities in the broader family. We may be less ambitious because we want a different quality of life. We make different choices. The evidence does not support those as the key reasons why progress through the ranks is so slow.
What is the evidence telling us? The evidence is telling us, in a nutshell, that this is not a glass ceiling. Women are not entering as 50% and then moving up to management consistently through the ranks and then all of a sudden hitting a barrier. Increasingly we are saying it's a sticky floor. When we are looking at men and women with similar skills, similar education, similar experience, similar aspirations, using similar strategies to get ahead, we see that the differences emerge immediately and they grow with time.
I have brought a table today as a piece of information for you that I think might be useful: a Canada-specific report that we put out last December. It's part of a global long-term research project we're doing, tracking MBA grads, men and women. We chose MBA grads because they cut across sectors. What we're finding is that right out of the gate there's a compensation gap. Globally the compensation gap is $4,200. In Canada it's $8,200.
The question I always get when I table that is, “Isn't that just men going into investment banking and women going into marketing?” No. That is men and women going into similar jobs and similar fields. The compensation gap starts early and grows with time.
There are differences in sponsorship. Men are typically benefiting from mentors who become sponsors who are more senior in an organization and better positioned to create opportunities for those individuals. Most importantly we are finding differences in the critical work experiences that men and women are getting right out of the gate, to advance. Men are benefiting from files and projects with bigger budgets, more direct reports, significantly more exposure to senior executives. That is what the evidence is telling us is directly attributable to different progress through the ranks. My hope is that we can move the conversation away from so much focus on the individual and onto the organization and some of the things we need to be doing as leaders to really drive that into organizations across this country.
Where are we now? Systemic challenges continue to undermine equal opportunities and women's ability to advance into leadership roles. At the risk of boring you with numbers, I've brought two additional pieces of information that I think will be useful for you, two short summaries of our census data.
One year we put out a census tracking progress for women on boards. One year we put out a census tracking progress for women in executive officer positions. There's a tonne of detail behind that. I've just brought the short summaries today. But when we are looking at progress through the ranks, if you want to put the numbers in context, what I always say to people is that if we felt that today 25% for boards and 25% for executive committees was the sweet spot, we are on track for it to take 15 years to get there for executive committees and 20 years for boards. So if nothing going forward changes, with the current rate of progress year over year it will take 15 and 20 years to get to a quarter. That feels shocking to me and typically when I put it in that context people say that does not feel right.
I think increasingly international and domestic pressure is starting to drive this conversation into boardrooms and executive committees across the country, which is a real positive. We are seeing in the census data, for the first time ever, the numbers are just starting to move. I always joked that when I saw the data last year for boards and I knew I had to be a public spokesperson around it, I said to my colleagues, I'm going to have to drink a carton of Red Bull to go out there and speak enthusiastically about these numbers, because there's nothing in here that is a positive message and nobody wants to just talk about negativity.
Where are we headed? I'm extremely hopeful about where we're headed. I don't think that's naive, I think it's based on the fact that more business leaders are speaking about these issues publicly and passionately. More importantly, they are being challenged on these issues more regularly. I do believe the Ontario Securities Commission's proposed comply or explain regulations will have a significant impact. I believe they're already having an impact. I give them huge credit for moving forward with this. But I give credit to people in this room and others who have been driving this conversation for a very long time and trying to get it on the radar of leaders.
Australia is a wonderful comparator jurisdiction, and I would have brought a chart that we prepared comparing where Australia was four years ago to where Canada is today, but I just didn't have time to get it translated so I think I'll submit it later on. But we looked at where Australia was in 2010 when they just started to talk about comply or explain—and again boards are just an indicator—but the numbers started to move. They implemented comply or explain and there was a 7% increase in three years in their board numbers. They absolutely took off. What you're seeing is that seat turnover now is increasingly being filled by women. That to me is where we're headed. Again, boards are one example, but a very important, significant step in this country.
Two years ago, Catalyst challenged all FP 500 companies to commit to an initiative we moved forward, the Catalyst accord. We've asked companies to set a goal and a target for women's board representation and I think increasingly the focus, rightly so, is on boards and executive committees to help lift the FP average to 25%. So if you're at 0%, don't worry about getting to 40%. Get to 15%, get to 20%. Start to focus on what is realistic for you, but help lift the average to 25% by 2017. So far 26 companies have made the commitment and more and more companies are contacting us every month and bringing the information to their board and having the conversation, which I think is a real positive.
Again, to put this in context, to get to 25% would require every FP 500 company to add one more woman to their board, so 90 more women a year for the next five years. That is out of 4,200 board seats. You cannot tell me there is a dearth of women who are qualified to take those 90 spots. We simply need to increase demand. Supply is well in hand.
If I could ask one thing of you as influential leaders looking to understand or remove systemic barriers getting in the way of women's advancement, it would be to challenge Canadian business leaders to do just this: to set targets, to set goals around women's representation, to develop the strategies to help them get there. Our experience with the accord is that as soon as a company has this conversation, there's no turning back. Out of the probably 40 or 45 companies who have contacted us so far about the accord, only one company has taken the issue to their board and come back and said they won't sign the accord. Typically what we're seeing is that companies have the conversation at the board level and the changes are immediate. They're not necessarily dramatic, but you see over two or three years something very significant start to change in that organization.
I'd also ask you to challenge leaders to align their business and their people strategies and really connect those two things very powerfully together. This really is about creating inclusive workplaces where men and women can fully contribute and we fully leverage our talent.
You know that leveraging our talent is too important for economic competitiveness not to get it right. I think we're on the right road, but there's a lot more work to do.
I'm delighted to be here today. I'm pleased to support you in any way I can. The one thing I would flag is that most of our research is publicly available. To the extent that it can be useful, I'm a resource, and the website is www.catalyst.org. I think you'll probably find a number of things there that will support your conversation.
Good afternoon, Madam Chair, and hello to the committee. Thank you for accommodating me via video conference.
My name is Shannon Phillips. I'm the policy analyst for the Alberta Federation of Labour.
I live in southern Alberta, in Lethbridge, and I am in Edmonton today. I am often back and forth for work, so I will be bringing you a perspective that I think is going to come down a little from the heights of corporate boards and the Fortune 500, down to ordinary working people in the rural communities and the small cities of southern Alberta in particular and in Alberta as a whole.
While Kate and Alex have given us some very good context for women's inequality, I want to zero in on what we see happening in Alberta, which is frequently described as the economic engine of the country.
The last time I appeared before this committee was in 2010. I was the chair of the Womanspace resource centre in Lethbridge, which had its funding cut after 25 years of continuous Status of Women funding.
I remember my committee appearance like it was yesterday, as I was a few weeks pregnant with my second son and appearing in front of a House of Commons committee, and that is a stressful thing to do. I was utterly nauseated at the time, and I was also very annoyed, frankly, because I couldn't have a beer after all was said and done. So just to let you know, you can go as hard as you like on me in the Qs and As, as that little boy is now three and a half years old, and it's a beautiful spring day here in Edmonton to have an after-work beer on the patio.
I was the chair of Womanspace. Our project worked at ground zero of women's economic independence and economic literacy. Our project served low-income women, often indigenous, with financial literacy support services of various kinds. In two years, and on less than $150,000, we served 825 women with financial literacy one-on-one services, tax filing, and group classes that taught women how to do things such as transition to the paid workforce and save for retirement.
I remember one woman in particular, Donna. That's not her real name. We worked with her and the CRA to get several thousand dollars back in child tax credits that she had missed out on due to a bitter split from her ex. She used that money to buy a minivan so she could enrol her kids in better after-school activities, and as important, so she could take a job, transition to paid work, and get off social assistance. When she came to Womanspace, she was a broken woman, frankly, and today she holds her head high. I've just checked in with her. She is still in the workforce.
But at that time, this government had deliberately frozen out long-standing feminist organizations like Womanspace in favour of other organizations such as for-profit ventures and other untested organizations that did not necessarily serve women, forgoing southern Alberta's chance at even more stories like Donna's. The opportunity for more women's economic independence in southern Alberta was squandered, which is, by the way, the place where you will find the lowest-waged economy in Alberta, where you will find more women working for low wages, Canada's largest indigenous reserve, and a high proportion of off-reserve indigenous peoples in cities and towns. If I have one goal today, partially it is to remind you and all the women about all of the women in my community who didn't get that same leg up that Donna did, because instead the decision was made to play politics with women's lives.
Alberta is often described as the economic engine of the country, but replicating our resource extraction economy across Canada is also a good way in down times to apply the brakes. Let's talk about where we're at in terms of women's economic equality in Alberta. The story you hear from the business pages of The Globe and Mail is that wages are growing very quickly and everything is totally great all the time for everyone. That is, I think, a convenient narrative for the business press, because it keeps wages low, especially in low-wage sectors, but directly linked to that, it keeps profits high.
Alberta has the highest pay gap in Canada between women and men. As Kate said, it's 80% Canada-wide, but on average, Alberta women who work full time for the full year earn about 65% of what men earn. I think no one would have predicted that the pay gap my mother's generation faced in the 1970s would be the same pay gap that my generation of women in their late thirties faces, but that is the reality in Alberta.
I think women's economic participation is hindered by some of the lowest levels in the country for investment in child care and early learning, by extremely low government spending as a portion of GDP—as we know, women are the majority of public sector workers—and by the concentration of private sector jobs in a few select industries, which is another way of saying there's a lack of economic diversification.
Alberta is also showing now and we are finding data of stagnating wages in low-skilled occupations. Prevailing wages in the service, hospitality, and accommodations sectors have barely inched up since 2008. The majority of workers in these sectors are women who are often trying to supplement the family income and juggling child care responsibilities when children are very young.
The result of a low-wage economy is visited upon children. An astonishing 60% of Alberta children who live below the poverty line have at least one parent in the workforce full time, full year. One in five full-time working Albertans earns less than $15 an hour and one in four of those is a woman. Sixty per cent of low-wage earners in Alberta are over 25.
I know that many of you on the government side are students of history, in particular of your own party's history in western Canada. I probably do not need to tell you that western economic diversification has been a long-standing mirage for our Conservative governments, both federally and provincially, since Ernest Manning.
Western economic diversification was one of the big reasons why Peter Lougheed, for example, had a policy of upgrading and refining bitumen and natural gas in our province rather than shipping the raw product down the pipeline and shipping the associated manufacturing and other spinoff opportunities to the United States, in his day, and increasingly, in our day, to China. That is why Mr. Lougheed opposed the Keystone XL and other bitumen export lines. It was not the pipeline he opposed. It was what was in it. He shared that position with my employer, the Alberta Federation of Labour.
We take this view of economic diversification and using public policy instruments in order to accomplish it because we see the results of intensifying economic concentration. What are the results?
First, you have a commodity-price roller coaster. During the recession, Alberta went from the lowest unemployment to among the highest. Our social assistance caseloads shot up at the fastest rate in the country. The recession hurt ordinary people. As the energy sector put projects on hold, that increased poverty in Alberta at an astonishing rate. No person in their right mind would predict eternally high global oil prices. Any financial speculator who took that view would immediately find him or herself disabused of most of their earthly comforts and delights, but that is what Alberta, and increasingly all of Canada, is banking on.
The petroleum sector has among the lowest share of labour income as a share of total revenues in any industrial sector. Even with Alberta's housing boom and rising wages, it still has among the weakest wage growth in Canada.
Here's the context for relying on commodity prices. We only derive benefit from commodities in one of three ways. One way we derive benefit is from direct jobs in the petroleum sector, which delivers about 16,500 of these. However, the number of long-term spinoff jobs in upgrading and associated manufacturing processes, plastics and so on, is projected by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada to flatline.
The second way we derive benefit from commodities is through royalties and taxes so we can pay for public services and keep the economy stable and running even when a commodity price dips. As we know, it always will. However, Alberta has the lowest royalty and tax take from heavy oil in the world. We lag behind Angola, where extraction companies contend with the cost of sifting through hundreds of thousands of land mines in order to get to the heavy oil deposits they want.
The third way we derive benefit is from whatever we can add to the commodity. Alberta is projected to upgrade only 26% of its bitumen production by 2020, when the provincial government's own policy goal is 65%.
Because we are singularly fixated on extraction jobs, which are in male-dominated fields like power engineers and others, we miss out on many opportunities to have long-term stable employment close to home, which is what women want and need. Someone has to go to work close to home; not everyone can go to Fort McMurray. Someone needs to take the kids to hockey practice.
We can use this bounty of natural resources well, to upgrade the resources here and to diversify the economy. We can ensure that we are getting our fair share so that we can take that money and use public policy instruments to incentivize a different kind of economy. We're building green technology, retrofitting buildings close to home, and making a sustainable economy where someone is home in the evening to put supper on for the kids.
We can ensure that we have the money for good child care and the jobs that will carry us through the next century, not the next business cycle. We can ensure that we have the right budget amounts going to the right places, and that we can address systemic poverty and inequality. But we cannot do that on a roller coaster.
Of the ones I tabled, I think sponsorship is relevant. Sponsorship is subtle. For this conversation, I think sponsorship is one of the two critical ones. If men and women are entering the workforce in roughly equal numbers, and early on men are benefiting from more senior people in organizations who really are sort of creating a path, creating opportunities, paving the way for advancement, that is a huge systemic barrier. It's also very subtle. No one is waving a red flag. These things are powerful but are often not effectively addressed.
We were stunned by some of MBA research we did on this. When we asked these MBA grads if they were getting “hot job” experience—mission-critical files significant to the organization, a big budget, a significant number of direct reports—the men and women all said, yes, they were. These were the men and women who had all been tapped as high potentials in their organization, many of them put into management training programs, who really viewed their stars as rising. We then analyzed the projects—this was for thousands of people—and were stunned to realize that men's budgets were twice that of their female counterparts, men had three times the number of direct reports, and men had significantly more exposure to senior executives.
So when I talk about systemic barriers, these kinds of things are barriers. They're just not obvious and orchestrated. They're often very subtle but very powerful behaviours and patterns in organizations that replicate themselves at all levels over time. You see the pyramid doing this....
Up until, I'd say, five years ago, the only conversation we ever had was about women not putting their hands up, women not leaning forward sufficiently, women making choices that self-select them out, women not having the confidence to go for the promotion. I can't tell you whether all of that is going on. I can tell you that we do know what's going on in organizations—systemic things that are preventing organizations from fully leveraging their talent. Those are just two examples, but I'd say they're critical examples.
With regard to sponsorship, Tom Falk, the CEO of Kimberly-Clark, just won our global award two weeks ago, and he gave an amazing speech. He said that when he took over in 2008 and started to focus on diversity and inclusion, he went across the world, met with his regional country heads, and asked them to give him a list of the people they were sponsoring, the top five. He looked at the lists they gave him and said, “You're an Asian man, and every name on this list is an Asian man”, or “You're a white European male, and every name on this list is a white European male.” He told them that when he went back in six months, those lists needed to look different.
That's the kind of leadership that will break those systemic barriers.
In addition to child care, I would echo what Alex has said about the fact that we need to keep track of how we're paying and promoting men and women. It is clear, as Alex's examples demonstrated, that we cannot address, for example, inequities in pay if we don't know that they're there. So where there are policies that require employers to keep track of those things, then those employers are in a position to actually address the gaps.
I think in terms of women's pay, we also need to look at labour force segregation and the fact that men and women tend to work in different industries. I think there are two things to do there. One is to value the work that women do in female-dominated sectors so that our computer programmers and our elementary school teachers are making equivalent wages or more equal wages. The other is to remove the barriers for women to work in the sectors where they would like to work but perhaps aren't finding the jobs, or where they're facing barriers like child care or the lack of flexible work hours.
I think we need to increase the budget of Status of Women Canada. I just think we're being unrealistic about what it's going to cost to create well-being for women in Canada. As everyone here has demonstrated today, we are still facing inequalities in this country, and 0.03% is just not enough. The take-home on that for me, and I hope I repeated this often enough, is that we will see economic benefits down the road that investments in child care pay themselves back in terms of economic growth; that closing the wage gap pays back your investment in economic growth; that increasing women's access to paid work increases economic growth. This isn't about an endless outflow of government funds. I think if we make those investments, think of them as tied up investments, we will see great dividends to our economy and obviously to women in their lives.
Last of all, thank you so much for bringing up the issue of violence against women. I wasn't able to address this in my remarks. Initially, there's no question that women's economic security is related to women's personal security. Women who don't have the means to afford housing, for example, may find themselves staying in an abusive relationship. The YWCA has found, in a survey of their shelters, that the lack of affordable housing is the number one reason that women in shelters return to abusive settings.
There's also been some excellent research by academics in British Columbia looking at the long-term economic impacts of women after they've experienced violence. Among their findings was the fact that for women who have experienced domestic violence, three years after they leave the setting, regardless of what their incomes were at the time that the abuse took place, they are 13 times more likely to be using food banks three years later. So that tells us that there's a huge impact on women's economic well-being when they've experienced violence. This is a two-way dynamic. Anything we can do to increase women's economic security is going to have an impact on their personal security, and alternatively, the more we invest in women's personal security, the greater their economic well-being is going to be.
What does our network of companies accomplish? There are three things.
One, the power of peer pressure is quite significant. I've seen, even in two years, the OSC is driving a different conversation around boards. I think international pressure drove us to a different place, but individual leaders started to drive people to a different kind of conversation. So I think in a network of companies and business leaders, seeing each other connecting has an impact.
We're seeing it in the mining sector. Mining sector stats for boards and executive committees are terrible. Five years ago this wasn't a conversation. You have two worlds in Canada, a place where the conversation isn't happening around talent development, men and women fully leveraging talent, and a place where it is. That's changing, but that's changing because individuals are starting to say, “I don't want to be a zero. I actually don't want to be a zero anymore, so help me find qualified women. That's starting a conversation around engineers and geologists. You don't have to be in a mine in Angola to be on a board, but you do need to have the requisite experience.
Peer pressure is huge. Best practices is huge. The reason I share an example like Tom Falk is because it matters. The year before, Muhtar Kent was one of our global award winners. When you hear him—CEO for Coca-Cola, employing 700,000 people worldwide—talk about why he's betting the farm on women and developing women, it is very powerful and influential. That creates culture change.
I think the third piece, beyond best practices, really is strategies. There is no one-size-fits-all. That applies to most things in the world. But there are core things you see as very effective. When we look at companies setting goals, building their strategies, sometimes tying achievement of those goals for diversity and inclusion to compensation, pushing the envelope, when you share through your network those kinds of things, they create change that is much broader than a company having an isolated conversation here, a company having an isolated conversation there. Sector conversations—IT, mining, oil and gas—knowing that their sectors, on the face of it, don't feel like they are fully leveraging their talent, that is beneficial as well.
Mining isn't necessarily comparing itself to banking, but they are finding sectors where they have common challenges, common opportunities. so I think it's having a network of business leaders and companies sharing a lot of this. It's a lot of practitioners working together that really matters and is quite powerful.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ms. Phillips, I want to come right back to you on the very same theme.
I'm from Prince Edward Island, and two very common themes that you touched upon, I hear over and over again. Those are the need for long-term jobs close to home, and the choices that have been made with respect to the provision of government services, or the removal of government services over the years.
I can tell you that I did a bit of a double take as I heard your opening remarks. I had to keep looking at the sign over your head to see that you were speaking from the economic engine of Canada and not from my part of the world, because the themes you touched upon, I hear about so much.
Going back to your last answer, you talked about apprenticeships and opportunities in non-traditional work. The federal government programs that were hugely successful in our part of the world were the labour market agreements and the labour market development agreements. In particular, there was a program administered through the Women's Network in Prince Edward Island called Trade HERizons. I'm aware of one particular success story of someone who went from receiving social assistance to becoming a welder, making over $40,000 a year, which is certainly darn good money in our parts.
May I have your comments, first of all, if these—the labour market agreement and the labour market development agreement—are programs that have resulted in some significant value also in your part of the world? As well, what are your comments more generally on government programs as they relate to making opportunities for women in non-traditional fields?
First of all, I think we need to do more than advertise to women, if we want women to work in non-traditional fields. It has historically been the approach of the provincial government, as you know. There is a lot of overlapping jurisdiction in this area of training, and so on. It hasn't been a roaring success in Alberta, because the approach taken is essentially to advertise to people rather than to actually support people.
That doesn't just come from being able to access bursaries and so on. It also comes from being able to relocate to where the work is, and it also comes from the policy environment around apprenticeships. Are those apprenticeship spots available? Are the right incentives being made for employers to hire apprentices? I think that's something that the Canada job grant misses, and I think that's something that many provinces miss as well.
In terms of long-term jobs close to home and removal of government services, I note for Atlantic Canada that there is a lot of pomp and some very excited talk about the energy east pipeline. Quite frankly, all of those projects ship the raw bitumen straight past the refineries in New Brunswick, and even the refinery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is facing closure.
What we need to understand about upgrading and refining is that those have spinoff effects throughout an entire region, because it means that your economy can engage in things like tertiary manufacturing—plastics and other kinds of manufacturing processes that didn't exist before. If you're just shipping the raw bitumen away, you are taking that economic base away from an entire region, and I think that matters to people in Atlantic Canada.
Finally, the last point I think I'll make is about the EI program. Canadians need to be given a proper incentive to relocate to where the work is. I am not going to argue that there is an economy-wide labour shortage. I think there has been enough work done on that, and Stats Canada will tell you that there are six unemployed Canadians for every job vacancy in this country. What we have are skills mismatches, and potentially we have people needing more incentive to relocate to where the work is, or at least relocate temporarily. I think we can address that through the EI program, and we can make it so that we can relocate people—at least potentially short term for construction jobs, particularly in northern Alberta—so that we can fill those jobs with Canadians first; so that Canadians can have first crack at that employment and take the money they earn back to their communities in P.E.I. or elsewhere; so we do not have to bring in temporary foreign workers to fill those spots.
I just want to address some things that Ms. McInturff has said.
You said earlier in your testimony that 0.03% of the federal budget for the status of women committee, etc., was not enough. Are you aware that earlier, from other testimony we had from the department and other departments, that it is just this one little department within the federal government? The federal government is very big. We expend program dollars in all kinds of different areas, whether it's Industry Canada, Employment Canada; hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars that do focus on women's programming, whether it's skills training, whether it's targeted programming for aboriginal women, etc., but it's across the board. Unfortunately these funds are not captured, and we've asked the department, in fact, to capture them all, across all departments in government.
So I just want to let you be aware of the fact that it's not 0.03%. It's because this is a very tiny department. However, when you look across all government departments, all government levels, there's a substantive contribution. In addition, not even including the international work we have done.... Let me point to the human trafficking area, where we—as a strategy—have put in $25 million, and that is primarily women and children.
A voice: Is there a question?
Ms. Wai Young: Let me also point to the maternal health and children area—