Update: SWC Sit-in

Minister Beverley Oda to Meet with Women after Vancouver Office Occupation  

Women in British Columbia have obtained a meeting with federal Minister
Beverley Oda after occupying the Status of Women (SWC) office in Vancouver
yesterday.  The meeting between BC women and the federal Minister
responsible for the Status of Women will take place this afternoon, Friday,
January 19th at 3:30 (PT).  Following a noon time rally yesterday, women
occupied the Vancouver office to protest its closure by the federal
government.  They remained in the office until 11 p.m. last night at which
time Minister Oda’s staff agreed to the hour long meeting today.  

The federal government announced this past December that it will close
twelve of its sixteen regional Status of Women Canada offices, including the
one in Vancouver.  Women in BC say that these closures contradict a campaign
promise made by Stephen Harper during last year’s federal election. At that
time, he committed in writing to the Canadian Feminist Alliance for
International Action (FAFIA) to improve the situation of women's human
rights in Canada.  

A year later, the work of women's and human rights groups is threatened and
under attack.  The office closures are part of a previously announced $5
million (43 per cent) reduction to the operating budget of Status of Women
Canada (SWC), the lead federal department for gender equality. The Harper
government has also announced the elimination of the Court Challenges
Program, the termination of funding for all advocacy related work by women's
groups and the removal of the word equality from the mandate of SWC's
Women's Program 

Provincial and Territorial Ministers have also expressed their
dissatisfaction with Minister Oda’s leadership.  According to a report from
the Ontario Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Sandra Pupatello,
the Harper government has shown such little interest in women's issues that
provinces and territories will meet on their own in early February to plot a
national strategy.  

Since the federal government’s announcement of the office closures, women
across the country have undertaken a variety of actions to signal their
concern with the federal government’s approach to Status of Women in Canada.

For more information, contact Nancy Peckford, 613-292-7941, Shelagh Day at
604-872-0750, and Shauna Paull at 604-209-5776

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