My inbox is filled with statements from women’s groups regarding the impact of the Harper’s decisions around the Status of Women Canada cuts. Here are a couple of them.
First, from the Newfoundland – Labrador Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women (not available online):
Federal Conservatives Betray Commitments to Women’s Equality:Provincial Advisory Council Responds to Cuts to Status of Women Canada
September 26, 2006
The Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women is alarmed by the federal government’s decision to cut 1 billion dollars in spending. “The federal government signaled its intention to make these cuts last spring, and our worst fears are being realized,” says Leslie MacLeod, President. “They are eliminating 1% of their overall spending by
eliminating or reducing critical social programs.”
The Advisory Council denounces the decision to cut the federal Department of Status of Women Canada by $5 million over two years. These cuts will be taken from its modest budget of $13 million per year. It is one of the smallest federal departments but has a huge role in advancing women’s equality. This department provides critical analysis of the effect of policies and programs on women.
Prior to the 2006 federal election, Stephen Harper stated to Canadian women that: “If elected, I will take concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the United Nations, to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women in Canada.” However, yesterday’s cuts are proof that the Prime Minister has no intention of upholding his commitments to Canadian women.
According to Ms. MacLeod: “The reduction in funding to Status of Women Canada and the elimination of the Court Challenges Program of Canada, along with other social spending cuts, fly in the face of recommendations made by equality-seeking groups and the United Nations. This is certainly not what Canadian women or the United Nations
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women had in mind.”
And from the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, FAFIA:
Cuts to Status of Women and Court Challenges Program
Undermine Government’s Commitment to Women’s Equality
September 25, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa: FAFIA, a pan-Canadian alliance of women’s and human rights organizations, is denouncing the $5 million cut to the federal department of Status of Women over two years. These cuts will be taken from its modest annual budget of $13 million. The grants and contributions arm ($11 million) of the department was not affected.
“These cuts will critically affect the federal government’s own capacity to live up to its equality commitments to women,” said Shelagh Day, Co-Chair of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA).
FAFIA is also dismayed by the elimination of the Court Challenges Program. “This Program has provided Canadian women with their only access to the use of their constitutional equality rights,” said Shelagh Day. “Equality rights have no meaning in Canada if women, and other Canadians who face discrimination, cannot use them.”
“Constitutional cases are too expensive for women to mount on their own. Without this test case fund, women simply do not have access to the courts when their rights are violated.”
During the last federal election campaign, Stephen Harper promised to “take concrete and immediate measures…to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women.” These cuts are not consistent with Mr. Harper’s election promise,” said Day
Status of Women Canada is responsible for equipping the federal government to conduct gender based analysis of all policies and programs. It also provides internal expertise on specific policy initiatives. The department’s budget is one of the smallest of any department at the federal level.
An Expert Panel on accountability mechanisms for gender equality, that made its report just before the last federal election, concluded that Status of Women Canada needed to be significantly strengthened in order to better perform its function as a watchdog for women’s equality. The cut to SWC ignores those crucial recommendations.
Whomever suggested that the Harper was Bush Lite was wrong. This is Bush Heavy.