Good afternoon and welcome to the 25th meeting of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. We are continuing our study on the economic leadership and prosperity of Canadian women.
I want to let the members and guests know that, since a vote will be held today and the bells will sound at 5:15 p.m., the first panel of witnesses will be here from 3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., and the second panel will be here from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.. So by the time the bells ring, we will have had an opportunity to hear all the presentations and to discuss with the witnesses.
During the first hour, we are hearing from two Statistics Canada representatives. Joining us are Alison Hale, Director, Labour Statistics Division, and François Nault, Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.
The two of you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
The floor is yours.
I hope everybody has a copy of the presentation in front of them, because I'll walk you through it.
Good afternoon. We're very happy to be here. There is nothing Statistics Canada likes better than talking about the data.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you on a subject relevant to your study on economic leadership and prosperity of Canadian women.
In today’s presentation we will be focusing on Canadian women in the labour market, providing information on some basic labour market indicators, including wage rates, union coverage, and the characteristics of self-employed women. Generally, except for one slide where it's indicated, all the information comes from the labour force survey.
It's 15 years of age and over. So, generally, when we're looking at people in the labour market, we're looking at those 15 years of age and over, unless we say otherwise.
So here we wanted to look at women overall. This is, again, looking at employment rate. The top line is men. The bottom line is the women. So we're looking at the employment rate for men. Basically, we put a little circle to show what happened in the most recent recession. What you generally find for employment, often it will go down during a recession and then go back up.
What we saw in this most recent recession, for women, yes, the employment rate went down. It went down less than it did for men. So in that little circle you see a 3% drop for the men at the top line, and a 1% drop for women. So while yes, they both were impacted by the recession, it was less for women than men.
So now I'll focus more on women's characteristics themselves, and look at graph number four. Here I'm looking at all women 15 years of age and over. The top line is the proportion of women who are working full-time. The bottom line is all women who are working part-time. If you look at the top line, you can see that the proportion of women working full-time has been increasing fairly steadily. There are a few ebbs and flows with the economic cycle, but in general women working full-time has been increasing up until about 2006, and then it's flattened out at about 42% to 43% of all women working full-time. So we're not looking at just participation, but the population 15 years of age and over.
For working part-time, it's been fairly steady since about 1990. For about the last 20 years, 15% of all women worked part-time, which means less than 30 hours per week. About 75% of those women who worked part-time are working part-time by choice. About 25% of women who are working part-time are working part-time because they cannot find full-time work due to business conditions. There's no full-time work because of business conditions, or because they couldn't find work of over 30 hours.
The next slide, number five, I don't think will be news for the committee. Looking at wages by occupation, overall women have a lower wage than men in all occupational groups. These are the major occupational groups in Canada, in 2013. So the top bar in each graph is women. The bottom is men. Probably many members weren't part of the committee back in 2010, but we did do a presentation back then looking at the gender wage gap.
In general, these are just raw numbers comparing things, but if you control for those experiences in the labour market and the types of jobs, in general, even once you control for everything you observe, you'll find that women's wages are about 90% that of men, even when you control for years in the labour market, work experience, and different types of education as well.
The next slide is union coverage rate. This is something where there's been a switch between men and women. At about 2005, the lines overlap so the one that starts at the bottom on the left side is women, and the one that starts higher up but going down is the union coverage rate for men. Generally, the union coverage rate of men has been decreasing fairly steadily over time, whereas for women it's increased a bit more in the latter part of the last 10 years. That's because women tend to work in areas that have a higher rate of unionization, in particular the public sector. So the public sector has over 70% of their employees unionized, versus 20% in the private sector. So the fact that women tend to be concentrated in education, health care, as well as public administration...they have a higher rate of unionization.
Turning to the graph on slide 7, men are shown in the top line and women in the bottom line. Here we're looking at the rate of self-employment: one in eight women were self-employed in 2013 compared with one in five men. So more men are self-employed than women.
It increased for women fairly steadily for awhile. It often tends to drop in an economic cycle, and then, depending on the economy, it will increase again. You saw an increase in the nineties. When the economy gets good, some people leave self-employment and go into a paid worker situation. It's been very steady since the late nineties that about 13% of women are self-employed.
We're zeroing in on the self-employed here because we thought this would be of interest to the committee. We found that in 2013 just over three-quarters of women entrepreneurs worked on their own with no help. That's the unincorporated. Basically, when we're looking at self-employed, they can be split into various categories. You have self-employed people with an incorporated business, with and without paid help, or an unincorporated business, with and without paid help.
Generally we find that 60% of self-employed women tend to be in that category of unincorporated business with no paid help. If you're looking at self-employed women with no paid help overall, it's about 76%, but for men it's about 64%. So there is a difference between the two.
In slide 9 we're zeroing in on the approximately one million women who were self-employed in 2013. Looking at the top ten occupations, in general most self-employed women tend to be in the service industry, at almost 90%. The largest group is made up of early childhood educators. If you combine that with babysitters, about 10% of women are either in child care or early child care education.
Slide 10 looks at those self-employed women with employees. These are women who are self-employed, they own a business, and they have their own employees. The portrait of the occupations does change when you start looking at this group. About 15% of this group are retail trade managers. They basically own their own business in the retail trade and have employees. That is by far the biggest group in that area.
Our committee is concerned about how we can make concrete recommendations. Perhaps your statistics would be more secure if we had a mandatory way to have Canadians fill in a 24-hour survey.
Or I can just leave it there.
We want to make evidence-based decisions, but obviously, if it's a voluntary kind of situation, then it's problematic for us to say “these are the kinds of things that need to be done”.
I'm wondering, in terms of your focus on first nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, how much of your work in gathering statistics in these communities is gendered, and what, perhaps broad conclusions—given the little amount of time we have left—you could draw based on the realities you see amongst indigenous women.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to welcome our witnesses here this afternoon. Thank you for your great presentation. You've given us lots of information in your presentation already.
I just want to say, coming from the education system as well, that I agree that there would be more women working in the public sector, and we would have been highly unionized. But in New Brunswick, I can guarantee you that man or woman, we would be paid the same and it would be based on our qualifications and our years of teaching. So there would be no difference between a man or woman working as a teacher. We would be qualified, and we'd all get the same pay. I imagine it would be the same with the health-care workers. I was thinking of that when we were talking about it.
Now, as is expected, lots of information is gathered from different departments, and you would see that in your field, of course. I'm wondering how labour ministers at all levels of government make use of this labour information that is gathered.
I have three questions about page 12 of your brief.
You chose median employment income as opposed to average employment income. The first question, is there a significant difference between the two? Why did you chose median as opposed to average income? What do you think is behind the difference?
The second question has to do with the wages and salaries graph, where it shows a big gap, in the order of $10,000 between men and women. Yet, among the self-employed, the gap is significantly narrowed. I was wondering what your explanation was for both the issue of average and median income, and also the significance of the disproportionality of the gap.
Intuitively, you would have said there's a gap, so why isn't it a big gap on both wages and salaries, and a big gap on self-employment? Or why isn't it a small gap on self-employment and a small gap on wages and salaries?
Good afternoon, and thank you to the committee for inviting the PSAC to appear here today. I will speak briefly on several key issues that affect both women in the public service and women in general.
Women have made gains in the federal public service but there are still gaps in their representation. One of the reasons for these gains is the federal Employment Equity Act. Federal departments and agencies are required to have an employment equity plan that not only addresses representation gaps but also barriers to women in the workplace. These employers are also subject to employment equity audits by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The problem is that the Treasury Board Secretariat is dropping its central oversight role and is turning it over to individual departments and agencies. This makes it more difficult to monitor what's happening. The secretariat's annual report now contains the bare minimum instead of an in-depth analysis.
There is also a significant gap in the data available with respect to the breakdown of racialized women, aboriginal women, women with disabilities, and women from the LGBT community. These women experience additional barriers and challenges in employment. We believe the government's 20,000 job cuts may be disproportionately affecting these groups of women. However, the lack of data makes it difficult to analyze the impact of the cuts.
In 2009 Treasury Board began a review of all its existing human resources policies affecting federal public service workers. This isn't a positive development. Right now these policies spell out in detail the employer's obligations and they're mandatory: deputy heads and managers must comply with them. Some of the policies cover workplace day care centres, duty to accommodate, employment equity, and telework. The policy review will replace over 60 specific policies with one or two broad ones. They will eliminate many of the current obligations.
The accommodation, employment equity, and child care policies address fundamental human rights. If they're reduced to a few lines hidden in an omnibus policy we believe they will be ineffective. Even now, inconsistencies in practice exist.
It's clear the government is using the policy review to step back from its obligations that have supported women in their work and careers. This will have a direct impact on women's prosperity.
One immediate concern is the workplace child care policy, which was first implemented in 1991. The policy led to the creation of a dozen workplace child care centres across the country. They were given start-up budgets; rent subsidies; and non-profit, bilingual services geared to meet accessibility needs. On-site child care works for both parents and employers and contributes to recruiting and retaining employees, particularly women. Now Treasury Board has pulled its rental subsidy at two local workplace centres. The Tupper Tots Day Care Center was forced to move, and the relocation affected 50 children. Negotiations are continuing for the Tunney's day care.
Making child care more expensive and less convenient goes directly against initiatives aimed at increasing women's prosperity and participation in leadership roles. In the larger context, more than 70% of mothers in Canada are employed working women. Although the gender gap has narrowed significantly for leaders, this is not the case for women with young children. Without available and affordable child care women take time off work. This has the potential to slow opportunities for advancement, including for senior leadership positions.
Women who withdraw from the workplace are also financially penalized in salary increases, seniority benefits, and their pensions. Expensive child care costs can take up a large part of a woman's earnings. In contrast, province-wide affordable child care in Quebec has balanced the scales. The affect on women has been significant. It has contributed to a marked increase in women’s participation in the workforce.
Many child care services operate along regular business hours, creating an additional barrier. As a recent PSAC human rights complaint shows, irregular child care is all but non-existent in Canada. That makes it difficult for women with children to devote themselves to leadership. Women who can't work irregular hours due to child care restrictions are much less likely to occupy management and higher paying positions. Ultimately, the lack of available child care and the lack of affordable child care hold women back.
We believe that unionized workplaces make the difference for women. Women with collective agreements have a lower pay gap with men. They have access to benefits such as flexible work arrangements; paid leave for family related responsibilities, medical or personal needs; sick and vacation leave; paid maternity and parental leave; duty to accommodate; and provisions to help balance work and family care. These benefits haven't come easily. They've been gained through hard bargaining, strikes, and through the courts. All these provisions help make workplaces women friendly and family friendly, and they help women become leaders by reducing work-life conflict.
One of them, pay equity, is a proactive measure that addresses wage gaps based on gender and has a direct impact on women’s prosperity. It’s no accident that women in the federal public sector, especially those in administrative positions, are paid more than many women performing similar work in other sectors. PSAC has worked hard for decades to make the pay equity provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act a reality for our members.
But as you know, there has been another step back. In 2009, Bill enacted the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. In spite of its name, this law undermines pay equity. Pay equity was designed to redress the affects of the market on women’s pay. The new law does the reverse, and it restricts women’s capacity to claim and obtain pay equity. Unions are not allowed to encourage or work with their members to seek protection from pay equity violations. They can even be heavily fined for doing so. Pay equity is a way to overcome obstacles to women’s prosperity. The new law is just another barrier for women to overcome.
In these three areas, we're making the following recommendations: first, safeguard employment equity and other policies that support women; second, fully fund a national child care program; and third, scrap the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act and replace it with a real, proactive pay equity law. We need to stop attempts to destroy what women have achieved and take these necessary steps forward.
I thank you for the opportunity to be here today, and we'll certainly be very pleased to answer any questions that you have. It should be noted that we'll be sending the committee a more detailed written submission very soon. It's currently in translation. As soon as it comes out, we will send it.
I'll start, and certainly Seema can continue if need be.
We agree with mentorship. Certainly, from a union perspective with our members, we mentor our leadership. We have courses. We provide education, etc. When I was in the workplace, mentorship for leadership roles was rarely seen and more specifically, for women.
Many years ago a committee was going to be struck to promote and mentor women into leadership. It certainly didn't promote what one would have thought it would, so I'm not sure they continue to have it in the workplace, but I would suggest we should be looking at it.
The federal public sector actually has champions and committees for three of the four equity groups: aboriginals, persons with disabilities, and racialized or visible minorities, as they're called.
One of the things we are recommending in our more detailed submissions is that there should be champions and committees for women as well, although that's not ideal, and we have some criticisms of that system. A champion would be a deputy head, and then they would have committees of different people within different departments and they could connect with their workers. That's where the discussions about mentorship should happen.
Secondly, employment equity also plays a factor in this. When you look at employment equity, you look at the barriers that are facing the equity groups, like women, and then you enact an initiative that would remove that barrier. One of them could be the fact that there are cultural biases and attitudinal biases that come in, such that men are picked over women to be promoted and given more opportunities. You could try to remove that by having a specific initiative around mentorship.
I want to begin by thanking the two witnesses for participating in our study on the economic prosperity and leadership of Canadian women.
According to the United Nations 2012 human development index, inequalities in Canada have increased. We ranked 15th, behind countries such as Iceland, Denmark and Slovenia. According to the World Economic Forum's annual report for 2012, Canada slipped from the 18th to the 21st position in one year, falling behind the Philippines, Latvia, Cuba and Nicaragua. That report ranks countries based on gender inequality data in terms of economic situation, access to education, health care and women's participation in politics.
I would like you to explain to us why Canada has been falling behind on the international stage over the past few years.
Is this regression due to politics, budget cuts, programs that have not been renewed? What are your thoughts on this?
Yes, we think it is the cuts.
Even with some of the changes to the eligibility age, for example, for old age security or CPP—from 67 to 65—we know that women are often the poorest and they leave the workforce. Sometimes they don't have workplace pensions so this is what they rely on as a good chunk of their income. Now if the qualifying age has gone from 65 to 67 that would increase poverty.
The changes to EI, for example, also affect women disproportionately, because more women are in part-time work as well. I was looking for the statistics about how many women are actually able to access EI and it's a very low number. I'm thinking the percentage is in the 30s.
With the changes, it's going to be harder because now they have to commute farther and take lower jobs. That's going to contribute to bringing it down because, if they have child care, they can't commute longer. So these kinds of changes don't take into account a gender lens when they are being implemented. Those are some examples.
No, thank you. That doesn't help me.
I'm saying compared to other organizations, other governments, or other private sector companies. We've heard from private sector operators, for example, the lady who ran Lululemon, of all the accommodations they had made for women in the workplace. They don't have meetings before 9 in the morning. They don't have meetings after 4 o'clock in the afternoon. They have 16% bonuses for people in the middle-pay group, which we thought were really good and would really assist women in prosperity, which is what the subject of this investigation is.
You're telling us what you're unhappy with in the federal workplace. I've been at Bell Canada when we cut 10,000 employees in three years, so I know what that's like.
But I'm saying that, overall, in the structure, and in the rules, in the processes, in the rights of workers, in the things you have bargained for, isn't the federal workplace a good place to work for women; in fact, better than almost any other?
After consultation with the members and since our previous guests had a certain amount of time at their disposal, I will end the meeting.
Thank you very much, Ms. Benson and Ms. Lamba. I also want to thank the members of the committee.
We will reconvene on Tuesday, May 26, at 3:30 p.m., in the same room, to discuss our report on eating disorders.
I wish you all a good week in your ridings.
The meeting is adjourned.