Federal Budget Offers Little for Women Once Again

OTTAWA – February 12, 2014 – With the exception of a few announcements, Economic Action Plan 2014 offers very little to improve women’s economic opportunities and address violence against women says the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW).

In previous Economic Actions Plans we have seen the Government of Canada focus heavily on industries and job creation in fields where women are significantly underrepresented, such as in resource development, infrastructure, science and technology, and the trades, while at the same time cutting jobs in the areas where women do work and earn more equitable wages, such as in the public sector. Again in this budget we see a similar emphasis. There does, however, appear to be a small investment specific to women and the economy, with a mere $150,000 to increase mentorship among women entrepreneurs, and initiate discussions about how to increase the numbers of women entering into, and succeeding in, business.

“Approaching job creation without considering gender differences is very damaging for women, who continue to lag behind in terms of pay and workforce participation”, said Susan Murphy, President of the Canadian Federation of University Women. “And while young women are increasingly attaining higher levels of education, they are struggling with high rates of unemployment, underemployment, and student debt. We need the Government of Canada to think about the impact of their budgeting decisions and economic policies on both women and men of all ages.”

Budget 2014 also announces that the Government of Canada will launch a Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan shortly. “This is a positive step, which may help women attain more flexibility in the workplace to attend to their care responsibilities. However, this announcement does nothing to address one of the most limiting factors forcing women out of the workforce, partially or even entirely, the high cost of child care and elder care”, said Ms. Murphy. “For many years, women’s groups have been urging the Government of Canada, to no avail, to work with provinces and territories to address the lack of affordable and safe child care in this country.”

The Government of Canada has also indicated that it will continue funding to address violence against indigenous women and girls, but the $25 million committed over 5 years is miniscule in comparison to the tremendous costs of violence estimated at over $7 Billion annually. A growing number of organizations and groups have been calling on the Government of Canada to develop and adequately fund a comprehensive National Action Plan on Violence against Women and Girls, along with a National Public Inquiry on violence against indigenous women and girls. “We are looking for a much higher funding commitment from the Government that brings a stronger focus on prevention, and addresses all forms of violence, particularly for disproportionately affected groups of women and girls, ” said Murphy.

CFUW is a non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded organization with over 100 CFUW Clubs, located in every province across Canada. Since its founding in 1919, CFUW has been working to improve the status of women, and to promote human rights, public education, social justice, and peace. It holds special consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC) and belongs to the Education Committee of the Canadian Sub-Commission to UNESCO. CFUW is the largest affiliate of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW), which represents women worldwide.

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For more information or to schedule an interview please contact:
Tara Fischer, Advocacy Coordinator, CFUW, 613-234-8252 ext. 106 or cfuwadvocacy@rogers.com

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