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Results: 1 - 15 of 120
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-07-20 16:05
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Thank you very much.
I disagree with you about the value of volunteering, but I think there's a difference between what was done with the WE program and what should be done.
In any event, I'm going to turn to Ms. Spinks for a minute. With all the data that she provided to us, I wonder whether she can shed some light with a gender impact analysis, if you will, of COVID, and particularly its impact upon women and the value of a national child care program.
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Nora Spinks
View Nora Spinks Profile
Nora Spinks
2020-07-20 16:06
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Sure.
We had a ton of data that model very clearly that women are disproportionately affected by COVID. There's no question. Financially, physically, emotionally, intellectually—all of that—they are much more impacted.
We know that this is particularly so for women who are at risk of violence or who are vulnerable in terms of their attachment to the labour force, whether they are essential workers and their vulnerability is about getting sick or they are caregivers and their vulnerability is about not being able to provide that care, particularly since long-term care facilities have been really locked down.
Also, financially more women are either leaving the workforce in order to care for their children or are thinking that if schools do not return on a full-time basis in the fall, they will not be able to continue working from home remotely and home-schooling and raising children all at the same time—particularly those women who don't have other adults around to rely on or to support them. Definitely, women are disproportionately represented.
They're also disproportionately represented in the research. In a crowdsourcing survey, for example, more women will respond than men, so we have a really good voice of women in the data. Women are articulating that they're quite pleased and satisfied with the government measures that are in place. The “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” ratings are at 76% at the federal level and 79% at the provincial level.
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View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-07-20 16:07
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Let me interrupt for one second. I wonder whether in that data there's any information about the need for child care? I'm hearing that a lot in my own riding. People are saying that we need a national child care program.
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Nora Spinks
View Nora Spinks Profile
Nora Spinks
2020-07-20 16:08
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Absolutely.
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View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
Great. Thank you.
The other thing that we heard from every single witness yesterday was the need for affordable, reliable child care. In fact, the economist Armine Yalnizyan said that without child care, without women going back to work, the economy cannot recover and that we would not only see a recession but we would actually see a depression. The key here is that those spaces not only are available, but they are safe, they are licensed and they are affordable, they are publicly funded.
Is your government committed or willing to commit to ensuring that children and parents have equal access, no matter where they live in Canada, to that high-quality early learning child care? Much like it's enshrined within the Canada Health Act that everyone has access to health care, they could have access to affordable, publicly funded child care.
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View Maryam Monsef Profile
Lib. (ON)
The short answer is yes. We are working with provinces and territories, with the safe restart agreement, with the $14 billion that's on the table, to support the safe reopening of day cares so that parents can go to work knowing that their little ones are safe.
We also know that the child care system in Canada is not yet fully a system. We can't get back to a strong economy if we don't address the labour force attachments that women need. There is a link between gender-based violence, economic security, child care and pay equity. These things are all related. When women are able to stand on their own feet, to earn a good income, to participate in the economy, they are less vulnerable to gender-based violence—not totally 100% safe and free, but it makes a difference.
We are committed to that work. We do look forward to coming to agreement with our provinces and territories. It's mid-July. Parents are nervous, and rightfully so. We need women to get back to work so that we can restart the engines of our economy.
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View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
2020-07-08 11:42
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Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Minister Monsef, Minister Qualtrough, for being here with us today. Thank you for the work you are doing for all Canadians.
My first question is to Minister Monsef. Minister, yesterday at committee we heard that women have been hit hard by COVID-19. One key to restarting our economy will be to ensure that there's proper child care—I know that question was asked before, but my question's a bit different—so that women can return to the workforce.
Some of the industries that have been affected the most by COVID-19 are made up mostly of women: as examples, we heard that 91% of nurses are women; 76% of teachers are women; and 56% of those in food and accommodations services are women. As well, we are seeing that the majority of jobs coming back recently are being filled by men, not women.
How is the government looking to address child care in collaboration with the provinces?
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View Maryam Monsef Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you so much for that important question. We were already working to support the creation of some 40,000 child care spaces in the country. Minister Hussen and I have a joint mandate, from the Prime Minister, to develop an early learning and child care secretariat. That work is under way.
Ninety-seven per cent of early learning and child care workers are women. The wages that they're paid, and the way the different provinces and territories treat early learning and child care affect them.
I've been working with the Canadian Teachers' Federation very closely for the past few months—and a shout-out to Cassie Hallett. They're having their AGM this week. These women, these teachers were expected to look after their own kids while coming up with online modules for children across the country. They've endured incredible hardships, and we thank them for stepping up.
We are working very closely with provinces and territories. Minister Freeland and the Prime Minister have had weekly meetings, first ministers meetings with provinces and territories, with the premiers. Of the many initiatives that we are working together on to ensure a safe restart to our economy, child care is one of them. It has to be one of them.
This sector was hard hit before COVID. The sector needed support before that. COVID has changed their entire business model. We owe it to them, to our children and to our economy to get it right. Those negotiations are ongoing, and more needs to be done.
I do look forward to one of the other good things coming out of COVID, being a stronger, more whole system of early learning and child care.
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View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Chair.
Ladies, thank you both for being here today in these unprecedented times. Most importantly, thank you for the work you do helping Canadians, helping women and young girls and everyone. You're doing phenomenal work.
Ms. Walker, I want to give you a shout-out. I believe it was early days in the pandemic that you realized and brought to attention the fact that the human trafficking hotline had ceased to work. Thank you for bringing that to the government's attention. It was interesting that you reached out on one day and the next day, thankfully, the Minister of Public Safety had it up and relaunched. Since the relaunch, it's received more than 340 contacts. So I thank you for that. If it wasn't for that, those ladies and friends would have slipped through the cracks again.
Ms. Hawranik, I really loved what you said, that COVID is the “flashlight”. We all know that a lot of these issues have been on the go for so long, and COVID did put the flashlight on them. What are we doing, and what can we do better, to make sure that when the second wave comes, we've addressed it, and that, more importantly, we've made changes for the organizations and these women and children and young boys in the future going forward?
I have just a couple of little points I want to bring up with you. Number one is that with regard to the funding that was announced in 2015, it was known that it was going to expire in 2020. We recognize the importance of human trafficking. That's why the human trafficking strategy will be launching at the end of this month, I believe. That will be great. We know that we're investing $75 million across the government, with $10 million for WAGE; applications from the WAGE funding for that will open shortly.
We know that there's an urgency of action. That's why we're rolling out some things now. We know that we need to address gender-based violence in all its forms. That's why we're supporting the national action plan with more than $200 million in additional investment. We know that women are at the core of our first-ever national housing strategy. It's our 10-year, $55-billion plan to give more Canadians a place to call home. Of those investments, 30% has to go to projects that benefit women and girls.
On top of that, we've promised to create at least 7,000 shelter spaces by 2027. We hit that number long before the pandemic of COVID-19 hit. However, since the pandemic began, we've doubled down on funding for vulnerable women and their families. One of our first announcements was $50 million for this group, including $30 million for shelters and sexual assault centres; $10 million for indigenous shelters through Indigenous Services Canada; and a $10-million contingency fund for groups, like the London Abused Women's Centre, to provide the essential non-shelter services to help so many women.
Through Women's Shelters Canada, we've provided more than $20 million to more than 420 women's shelters across Canada from coast to coast to coast. Through the Canadian Women's Foundation, we've provided more than $2 million to more than 90 sexual assault centres. We've worked with the Province of Quebec to deliver funding there as well. We've provided that province with $6.46 million. According to the most recent report, that has gone to over 120 women's shelters and 50 sexual assault centres in the province of Quebec. As we speak, the contingency fund is flowing out the door via the Canadian Women's Foundation.
We don't know exactly how many organizations have received money from that so far, but we do and can confirm that one of the recipients was yours, Ms. Walker, the London Abused Women's Centre.
To touch on child care for a minute, I just want to make sure.... Again, from all the conversations, in terms of our women being ready and able to go back to work, it's the child care component that is so important. We proudly signed the first-ever multilateral agreement with the provinces and territories on early learning and child care, because we understand that investing in our children means investing in our future. We have provided $7.5 billion, between 2017 and 2028, to give the children the best possible start in life. Since 2017 we've created more than 40,000 child care spots, providing kids who need it the most with quality, affordable and culturally appropriate child care. We have put a lot of money in the pockets of nine out of 10 families with the Canada child benefit. We're currently in the process of renewing each of the bilateral agreements with the provinces and territorial partners. We hope to announce those agreements soon. We all know that child care is basically the responsibility of the province, as many segments are, but we're jumping in to help out there.
We know that there's still quite a lot more to do. It's important to recognize how far we've come, but between 2015 and 2019, our government increased funding to women's and gender equality-seeking organizations from less than $20 million under the last year, in 2014, of the Harper government, to more than $65 million a year since then.
This year, through the Department of Women and Gender Equality, WAGE, a department that didn't exist before but was instead a subsection of another department, our government has approved total funding of over $110 million. That's more than the combined total funding in the last five years of the Conservative government, so it's wonderful that this has come to the forefront. Thanks to our investments, we are providing essential funding to more than 1,200 organizations.
Ms. Hawranik, I'd be curious to hear from you, as we talk about the COVID-19 issue, about your experiences in Alberta when you hit the downturn in the oil and gas industry, which my province is going through now too. What programs did you come up with that really helped? How can we learn from what you did in Alberta and from your experiences there? What can we learn and glean from that to take forward in what we're doing in COVID now and what we have to do coming up in the second wave of COVID?
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Marcie Hawranik
View Marcie Hawranik Profile
Marcie Hawranik
2020-07-07 13:11
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We're still in the thick of it in Alberta and in the emergency response phase. I think it might be too soon to share anything we did that's really good and that could be replicated across the country, because Albertans are still really suffering, especially the women, but I do have some more general recommendations that I think would be applicable across the country, and that's to ensure that collection of diversity- and gender-disaggregated data in everything.
I've communicated with emergency management agencies across the country. What they've all shared with me is that they are not applying a GBA+ lens and they are not putting this intersectional lens on their work, because they feel that they're in an emergency and it is the first thing that gets left out, which I think is unacceptable. I'd love for the federal government to take leadership and push or advocate for that, especially since GBA+ should not be slowing down their work or their processes at all. It's been around since 1995. It was reinvigorated—thank you very much—in 2016. Over the last few years, it should already have been seamlessly integrated into the way the government does business.
I commend you for your investments in child care and, as well, I think a really targeted approach to fund emergency, accessible and flexible child care for everyone would be amazing, and also, even establishing permanent top-ups for professionals who work with people with disabilities, the elderly or those experiencing domestic violence and homelessness.
I also think that anything we can do to disrupt and affect the social norms that perpetuate inequality and advance gender equality, which could be some sort of campaign to disrupt these biases and social norms to prevent the—
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Ann Decter
View Ann Decter Profile
Ann Decter
2020-07-07 14:01
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Good afternoon. I'm Ann Decter from the Canadian Women's Foundation, Canada's only national public foundation for women and girls and one of the 10 largest foundations in the world. Through three decades, our granting work has focused on moving women out of poverty and violence and into safety and confidence.
Thank you for the invitation to appear today on this urgent question—urgent because women in Canada have been impacted by the pandemic to an extent that threatens to roll back equality gains. Women's safety, livelihoods and well-being have all been put at risk, most severely for women from communities that are marginalized by systemic discrimination. The pandemic has shone a penetrating light on gender-based violence, women's economic security, care work and the central economic role of child care.
Economic losses have fallen heavily on women, and most dramatically on women living on low incomes who experience intersecting inequalities based on race, disability, education, colonization and migration and immigration status. A historic downturn in women's employment, compounded by uncertainty over the capacity of our fragile child care sector to fully reopen, is a potential perfect storm for women's economic security. Women in diverse and marginalized communities can be expected to have the greatest difficulty in emerging from this crisis.
The scale of women's job losses is enormous. At the end of May, 1.5 million women had lost their jobs and another 1.2 million had lost the majority of their work hours, impacting more than one quarter of all women workers. The lowest wage earners have been hit the hardest. Fifty-eight per cent of women earning $14 per hour or less were laid off or lost most of their work by April. Overall, women earning the lowest 10% of wages experienced job loss at 50 times the rate of the highest wage earners. This is the type of granular data revealed by the intersectional gender-based analysis that is needed to support decisions on next steps.
Mothers are experiencing disproportionate job loss. They account for 57% of parents who had lost their jobs or most of their hours by the end of May and for only 41% of employment gains. More than one quarter of mothers with children under 12 who were working in February were unemployed or working less than half-time by April's end. Mothers parenting on their own were more likely to lose work than those in two-parent families.
Women are leaving the labour market and increasing their care responsibilities at home. The number of women in core working years outside the labour market increased 34% from February to the end of April. That includes women who stopped looking for work due to soaring unemployment or to take up care responsibilities at home. This leaves women's economic security under threat.
Access to child care underpins mothers' access to the workforce, and without government intervention child care will be scarcer and more expensive. One out of three child care centres have not confirmed that they will reopen. Physical distancing requirements are reducing spaces. Personal protective equipment and sanitization will raise costs, increasing parent fees and putting child care financially out of reach for more families. Parents of all genders need child care to work, but for women, who still shoulder a disproportionate share of family care work, it is essential. Emergency closure of child care centres and schools placed a triple burden on mothers doing full-time jobs from home and managing both children and household tasks.
Care work has been central to pandemic response. Our primary and long-term care systems are staffed largely by women. More than one in three women workers are in high-risk jobs with greater exposure to COVID-19. Women make up more than two thirds of those who clean and disinfect buildings and almost 90% of personal support workers. After two decades of austerity in health care and community services, the most poorly paid workers—a highly racialized, women-majority workforce—form the first line of defence against catastrophic illness and economic depression. Canada's care economy is fractured, and women, largely racialized, black, migrant and undocumented women, are bearing the brunt.
Government withdrawal opened the door to the proliferation of for-profit chains in care work, which reduced quality of care, staff levels, job benefits and protections, with negative consequences for care recipients, the gendered racialized workforce and Canada's pandemic response.
Care work in Canada also has an entrenched reliance on highly skilled but low-paid migrant care workers who now fill positions in private homes and in health care facilities, yet face increasingly restricted chances of securing permanent residency and rights protections. Pandemic impacts on migrant care workers include dismissal by employers now working from home or laid off, 24-7 lockdown in employers' private homes and loss of immigration status due to government processing delays.
Stay-at-home orders increase the risk of domestic violence and decrease women's abilities to leave abusive homes for the safety of shelters—highlighting the importance of the violence prevention sector—while placing additional strain on already taxed anti-violence services. Closure of physical spaces and the shift to remote services created unique access barriers to sexual assault centres.
In the best of times, gender-based violence services are underfunded and oversubscribed. Demand for access to women's shelters consistently exceeds capacity. Significant gaps persist in shelter services for women with disabilities, deaf women, women in rural and remote areas and women in need of culture-specific services. Four out of five women's shelters across the country are accessed by first nation, Métis or Inuit women, yet only one in five can frequently provide culturally appropriate programs, and 70% of Inuit communities do not have access to a shelter.
With the rise of “Me Too”, sexual assault centres experienced significant increases in calls without matching increases in funding. As the pandemic arrived, sexual assault survivors, some at high risk of suicide, were stuck on a waiting list for counselling across Canada. One sexual assault centre executive described transitioning to remote work: “We had to invest in a phone system, as ours was a donation from 1980. We didn't have funds for PPE for staff and volunteers accompanying women to hospitals, police and doctors. ... As much as I'm grateful for the 25k, I must be honest with you: It's not enough. … We are running out of PPE, volunteers have begun to show signs of burnout, and we are averaging 60 to 80 crisis calls a day.”
As you're likely aware, the women's sector refers to non-profits and charities that provide women-specific services in order to advance women's equality through policy, advocacy and public engagement. That includes shelters for women, sexual assault centres and women's centres that provide a safety net to women and their families. These are essential to a healthy welfare state system and to achieving gender equality.
The pandemic lockdown exposed and exacerbated existing flaws in the women's sector funding model. The sector is funded partially and irregularly through an unpredictable combination of individual donations, corporate gifts and foundation and government grants. This is time-consuming and inefficient, requiring constant renewal and contact. Organizations constantly seek out, apply for and renew funding that is largely project-based and temporary. Reports from the women's sector indicate an impending future crisis.
Like the best of the pandemic emergency response from public health leaders, many of whom are women, recovery planning with women and gender equality in mind requires thorough analysis, clear evidence-supported outcome targets, methodical approaches to implementation and responsible leadership with vision and heart.
Should broad emergency measures need to be reimposed for another indefinite period, the Canadian Women's Foundation recommends the following actions, with a reminder that an inclusive gender-based analysis with an intersectional lens is essential to the design of all government recovery investments, short or long term: With regard to women's economic security, reinstate the Canada emergency response benefit throughout any economic shutdown; reinstate the Canada emergency wage supplement with a simpler administrative mechanism throughout any economic shutdown: broaden access to employment insurance so all women who pay in can access benefits; work with the provinces and territories to implement 10 paid sick days, as announced; ensure funding is in place to safely reopen the child care sector at pre-pandemic service levels and to continue to expand it until universal access is achieved.
As for women and care work, work with the provinces and territories to ensure—
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Morna Ballantyne
View Morna Ballantyne Profile
Morna Ballantyne
2020-07-07 14:12
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Thank you very much, Madam Chair and members of the committee, for inviting me to testify this afternoon.
Child Care Now, also known as the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada, was founded in 1982 to act on behalf of organizations and individuals who want high-quality, affordable and inclusive early learning and child care to be available for all families and all children, regardless of where they live and regardless of their circumstances.
We commend the Standing Committee on the Status of Women for undertaking an examination of the impact of COVID-19 on women and for recognizing that such an examination would be incomplete without addressing the impact of COVID-19 on women's access to child care.
I appeared before your committee three years ago, when you were carrying out a study on the economic security of women. I and many other witnesses said then that women in Canada will not and cannot achieve economic security without full access to the paid labour force and properly paid work. This will not and cannot happen without a publicly funded and publicly managed child care system. It's taken a public health crisis to prove our argument yet again. Now, finally, the essential and multiple roles of child care are being recognized, including by our Prime Minister. COVID-19 also exposes the fragility of the provision of child care in Canada. However, what governments will do about it, if anything, remains to be seen.
Statistics Canada's labour force survey confirms the devastating impact of the pandemic on women's employment, and particularly on the employment of mothers with children under the age of 12. While the May jobs report shows some job recovery overall, women accounted for only 29% of that recovery. Getting women back into the paid labour force is critical to women's economic security, but increasing women's labour force participation is also crucial to a sustainable economic recovery for everyone. The construction of an accessible, affordable, quality and inclusive system of child care is essential if Canada is to forge a resilient and just future and also become the best possible place for children.
Child care in Canada was fragile before the pandemic hit, because it's market-based, it's fragmented, and it's seriously underfunded.
Parents in Canada are forced to purchase services from a child care market, some of which is regulated and much not, and some of which is not-for-profit and some a source of profit. It's a market that offers a confusing array of very scarce offerings, too many of which are of poor quality and almost all of which are unaffordable for most families. It contributes to and exacerbates economic and social inequity. Indigenous families, racialized families and low-income households are disproportionately shut out.
The child care market is also particularly bad at meeting the needs of children with disabilities, children whose parents work non-standard or irregular hours and children who live in rural and remote communities.
This market approach works no better for child care providers. Almost all programs outside of Quebec rely primarily on parent-fee revenue to stay in operation. The predominantly female workforce earns low wages. Any raise in compensation translates into higher parent fees. Inadequate compensation has made the recruitment and retention of qualified early childhood educators a perpetually serious concern.
Leaving the provision of care to the market doesn't work for child care any better than it would work for health care, primary education or secondary education, or countless other areas where governments have intervened for the benefit of all Canadians and because it makes economic sense to do so.
COVID-19 exposed all the problems with market-based child care and the absence of a fully publicly funded and publicly managed child care system. When provinces and territories ordered child care programs to close during the emergency response phase of the pandemic, with limited services for essential workers, the sector was disrupted in a way that it was not disrupted for public education or other parts of the public sector. The level of disruption depended on the approach taken by each province and territorial government.
In places where necessary support was provided, the child care programs are in a much better position to reopen and respond to the needs of children and parents, but a survey of licensed child care centres in Canada carried out in May found that more than one-third of the centres across Canada are uncertain about reopening.
It's now time for major government intervention in early learning and child care. Child Care Now has proposed a federal strategy for doing just that. Of course we recognize that the reconstruction of child care cannot be left to the federal government alone. It's going to require the federal government to work with the provinces, territories and indigenous governments and communities, but the federal government must provide policy leadership, supported by its spending power, to respond to the immediate economic and social fallout of COVID-19 and to set the foundation for longer-term system-building.
Our strategy calls for a two-phased approach. In the first phase, we want the federal government to spend $2.5 billion to support the safe and full recovery of regulated early learning and child care and to respond to the immediate care needs of school-age children. In the second phase, we propose that the federal government boost its child care spending to $2 billion in 2021-22 and that this base be increased each year thereafter by $2 billion.
These federal funds would be used to move Canada towards a fully publicly funded system in partnership with the provinces, territories and indigenous governments. Twenty per cent of this funding should be earmarked to support the indigenous early learning and child care framework. The federal government, under our plan, would require the provinces and territories to use the federal funds to achieve measurable improvement in accessibility, affordability, quality and inclusiveness. Additionally, the federal government would establish and fund a federal early learning and child care secretariat to lead and coordinate the federal government's work. Finally, the government would propose legislation that enshrines Canada's commitment to give all children the right to high-quality early learning and child care.
Let me elaborate very briefly on what we want to see in the first phase, which would start now and continue to the end of the current fiscal year.
The federal government has promised $14 billion in new federal transfers to the provinces and territories, to be rolled out over the remaining months of 2020. These transfers are to help finance the safe restart of the economy. What we propose is that the federal government allocate $2.5 billion of these promised transfers for spending on child care. Agreements with each province and territory would ensure that the federal government funds would be used for, one, a safe restart of child care programs; two, the restoration and expansion of the number of licensed child care spaces that existed prior to the pandemic; and three, the establishment and operation of child care programs for school-age children up to age 12 through the summer months and into the fall and winter. Parents need access to quality programs before and after school hours and/or during regular school hours if schooling is not available because of public health concerns.
Additionally, we want the federal funds to be used to improve the wages of those who work in early learning and child care to ensure the return and retention of qualified staff to the sector.
The federal secretariat that has been mandated by the Prime Minister of Canada would be established during this first phase. Its mandate would be to advise on, monitor and evaluate phase 1 implementation and to plan for phase 2, including the development of comprehensive workforce and expansion strategies.
Again, thanks for inviting me today. I invite you to read the full text of our strategy, which is posted on our website at timeforchildcare.ca.
Of course, I am happy to answer any questions you have.
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Hélène Cornellier
View Hélène Cornellier Profile
Hélène Cornellier
2020-07-07 14:22
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Good afternoon.
Thank you for the invitation to today's hearings.
The question your study seeks to answer is directly tied to one of the fundamental challenges behind achieving equality among Canadians: recognizing and valuing invisible work. The Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale, or AFEAS for short, is approaching today's consultation from that particular perspective.
Already in 1968, during the Bird commission hearings, AFEAS stressed the importance of recognizing unpaid work by women in the family unit and society. It argued that this work, which is seen as women's social role, impoverishes women their entire lives. The situation continues today, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown.
No one, it seems, anticipated a health crisis of this magnitude. From the outset, it brought out glaring inequalities between women and men, especially for racialized and immigrant women.
At the same time, the pandemic has shone a light on the work of those who remained on the job to keep society's essential services running and care for those who are ill. In the health care sector, 80% of the workforce is female, caregivers are generally women, and the education sector also relies on many female workers.
Since the pandemic hit, women have mostly been the ones on the front lines. However, the key stakeholders, women, are left out of the decision-making bodies, even though decisions made on a day-to-day basis directly concern them. To prepare for a second wave of the pandemic, as well as the recovery or the return to normalcy to be defined, AFEAS is proposing various short- and medium-term measures.
To start with, AFEAS recommends two essential benchmarks to ensure that legislation, policies, programs and measures require that women participate as key stakeholders. It means not only involving women MPs, but also women's and community organizations, as well as researchers who, year after year, work for and with women. The way out of the crisis, which will be social, economic and environmental, must include women.
AFEAS requests that the Government of Canada establish a gender parity requirement for all relevant bodies set up to manage the crisis and its aftermath, and use gender-based analysis, or GBA+, to ensure that women's needs and perspective are heard and taken into account.
To obtain true recognition for their work, and to raise awareness of the contribution made by Canadians who perform invisible work, AFEAS calls on the federal government to declare the first Tuesday in April national invisible workload day and, above all, to assess and integrate the economic value of so-called “invisible” unpaid work into the gross domestic product, or GDP. For your information, in 1992, Statistics Canada estimated that the invisible workload accounted for 34% to 54% of GDP, or $235 billion to $374 billion Canadian.
To address some particular challenges women are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, AFEAS suggests implementing certain measures. With regard to women's health and safety, coping with the crisis has brought its share of stress, anxiety and distress for women who manage the daily routine, but also for the people they care for, be they children, the elderly or persons with disabilities. In addition, for many women, losing their jobs, even if that income was temporarily replaced by the CERB, has added further stress. I should also mention the upsurge in domestic and family violence, which more women and children have suffered during the lockdown period.
To remedy this situation, in the event of a return to lockdown, the Government of Canada and the local and provincial authorities concerned must implement services for children and seniors or others in need; ensure regular follow-up with vulnerable people who may be victims of violence, women and children, to bring them out of isolation; and consolidate the network of shelters for those experiencing domestic violence.
In terms of economic impact, the Conseil du statut de la femme estimates that 120,000 women have lost their jobs, as compared with 55,100 men, and that twice as many women work part time, which has consequences for them. The data obviously relate to Quebec.
In Canada, it would cost $4 billion to $10 billion to hire 1.2 million full-time professionals to cover the hours worked by family caregivers, 54% of whom are women.
According to the Regroupement des aidants naturels du Québec, only 3.2% of caregivers received a tax credit in 2017, receiving an average amount of $559. Moreover, because of the restrictive eligibility criteria, many caregivers did not qualify for the tax credit.
Research shows that, in Canada, caregivers spend an average of $7,600 per year on the person they care for, regardless of their initial income level, and that 20% of caregivers are financially insecure.
To support and value the contribution of parents, caregivers and all those who do invisible work, AFEAS is asking the federal government to convert existing non-refundable tax credits into refundable tax credits for parents and caregivers, and create new income tax measures truly adapted to their needs.
In addition, AFEAS is calling on the government to make changes to employment insurance caregiving benefits: the compassionate care, family caregiver for adults, and family caregiver for children benefits. Specifically, the government should eliminate the mandatory one-week waiting period, pay all three benefits for 35 weeks, and change the current definition of a critically ill child or adult to provide access to benefits in the event of a chronic medical condition.
More than anything else, AFEAS is calling for the requirement to implement pay equity programs at all levels, both in government institutions and in federally regulated businesses, as well as in companies that receive government contracts, grants or loans.
Women are known to face pressures and social barriers. As the previous witnesses have all mentioned, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the government to place schoolchildren and people age 70 and older in lockdown in their homes, and to close non-essential businesses. Overnight, women had to find different ways to run errands, keep the kids busy, home-school them, and care for family members with diminishing independence or in self-isolation, while continuing to do their paid jobs at home or in the essential service sector—if they had not lost their job as a result of the crisis. Most importantly, they also had to avoid getting infected and infecting others. Quite a heavy added burden that no one was prepared for landed on women's shoulders.
To support women in the coming months, the Government of Canada and its provincial partners must introduce measures to ensure equal sharing of family duties and responsibilities, strengthen family agencies and services, and develop agreements with employers and others to reduce productivity requirements, even for teleworkers, while maintaining full weekly pay.
In closing, AFEAS has something else for the committee's suggestion box. It recommends that the federal government create a public day care system across the country, introduce 10 days' paid vacation, and move quickly to set up affordable housing programs and ensure adequate availability of consistent, comprehensive high-quality home care.
Most of all, AFEAS is asking the federal government to resist introducing austerity measures while the economy recovers, as it would only impoverish those already in need and destroy public services and the social security system. We have been there before.
Finally, AFEAS is requesting that special attention be paid to indigenous communities on and off reserve. How can you self-isolate if you are contagious, when families live in overcrowded conditions because of a lack of adequate housing? How can you follow public health measures—
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View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you.
I think all of you touched on the fact that there is no recovery of Canada's economy without women, and they cannot recover without child care. I know that I hear from so many women in my community in London, or parents in general, who are overwhelmed by the high cost of that child care.
I want to ask the witnesses if they could talk about the importance of that affordability piece and what the difference is between the idea of publicly funded child care and what we currently have in terms of the national child care plan that the government has put forward.
I'm also going to throw in there, in case I run out of time, returning to Ms. Ballantyne's point on the establishment of legislation enshrining the right of high-quality child care, affordable child care into our system, what that would mean overall and link it to something like the Canada Health Act where there's equality and accessibility across Canada.
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Hélène Cornellier
View Hélène Cornellier Profile
Hélène Cornellier
2020-07-07 14:54
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I will be quick, because that is not one of the areas we specialize in.
For women to be at work—as is the case for men too—it is essential to have quality and educational childcare, rather than services where the children are left to play in a corner. That is what was established in Quebec, in the form of early childhood centres, the CPEs. We ourselves are asking the Government of Quebec for more of them, in order to meet the demand from all women and all families. We wish the same for all Canadian women.
It also means that the government must subsidize those services so that the cost to families is minimal. If it is not, they will not be able to access them. If need be, private daycares can also be subsidized; however, the same criteria as in the public network must apply in terms of education, service quality, and the wages of the educators.
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