Members of AWH, Chair Tina Agrell, Bev Lefrancois, Lorraine Green and Teri Shaw, met with Stephen Crawford, MPP Oakville, on Thursday, Sept.6. The meeting gave us the opportunity to share with him Our Halton 2018: Women, prepared by Community Development Halton, analysis and research based on the 2016 Census and other public information.
From Tina Agrell, elected Chair June 2018
The summer of 2018 was expected to be a time of rest and recuperation for AWH members. The weather was sultry and hot, and many vacation plans were made. However, with the Municipal elections scheduled for the Fall and with the swearing in of the newly elected Conservative Ontario government in July, many issues arose that required our attention.
The Halton region had five brand new MPPs and we felt it was important to seek meetings and introduce ourselves at the earliest opportunity. A meeting was soon planned with Oakville MPP Stephen Crawford for September 6, 2018.
Oakville North Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos (assistant to Minister of Health Christine Elliott) promised a meeting as soon as she had set up a constituency office.
We wanted to have questions related to our most pressing concerns ready for the Mayoral candidates in the municipal elections. We met and discussed a range of potential topics, with Elka Enola narrowing it down to a crucial few.
The new Provincial government took rapid action on many fronts having an impact on vulnerable women in children in the region.
Supporting Poverty Free Halton, AWH wrote a letter to Minister Lisa McLeod with copies to local MPPs about allowing the experimental pilot project on Basic Income to continue for its designated 3 years, so that useful data could be collected.
Supporting Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, AWH wrote a letter to Minister of Education Lisa Thompson with copies to local MPPs about retaining the updated sex education curriculum in schools. MPP Ted Arnott (Wellington-Halton Hills) responded.
Supporting Toronto City Council AWH wrote a letter to Oakville MPP Stephen Crawford about finding a way to work with municipalities and the federal government to assist asylum seekers while they await review of their applications.
Members of AWH return to meeting in September 2018 and there will be much to occupy us then.
I am the current chair for Advancement Women Halton (AWH) and we were pleased to host a Halton Provincial Candidates session at our monthly meeting. Thanks to all the candidates who participated and the members of AWH who came out. It was unfortunate the PC party was not represented at this session and they were invited. Get involved attend an all candidates session and vote wisely in the upcoming provincial election.
Ancilla Ho-Young, Chair
Advancement of Women Halton hosted an all candidates meeting. Thanks to the 3 NDP and 3 Liberal candidates for showing up and engaging in a conversation on the issues. All 3 PC’s were no show. AWH members will be be sharing that lack of respect with the 20+ Halton organizations we represent.
Wonderful afternoon with AWH as we heard from local Halton Liberal and NDP candidates. The PCs chose not to come. Our region is blessed with 3 Cabinet ministers. All 7 candidates were inspiring and inspired, both those currently serving and those who hope to be there. Interesting listening to the Cabinet ministers as they explain the real complexities of running a government.
“Via the questions posed to the political contestants who were present, it was felt that our concerns were heard and addressed. We thank them for their time and interest.”
4 Liberals and 3 NDP at Advancement of Women Halton debate. Maybe the PCs have nothing to say to women?
AWH, our meeting with 3 Liberals and 3 NDP we invited Conservatives they did not come, sort of says something…..
PRESENTATION, ONTARIO PRE-BUDGET, JAN.30, 2018
Good afternoon. Thank you for the invitation to speak. My name is Tina Agrell and I am here on behalf of Advancement of Women Halton, a coalition of more than twenty community groups and agencies in the Halton region.
Applying a gender lens
I am here to remind you of your government’s undertaking to look at each line of the upcoming budget through a gender lens and incorporate a gender equity perspective .
A gender-based analysis of proposed budgets allows for the assessment of how a certain policy may affect women.
* We want Gender Based Analysis of all future Ontario budgets
Making a gender statement
Since the 2017 Federal budget, all spending proposals submitted to the Treasury Board are required to provide proof that gender was considered. (1)
Toronto City Council has also finalized a gender-responsive budget plan. The plan includes the development of a data collection strategy designed to assess the gendered impacts of budgetary and policy decisions. (2)
* We want all Ontario Provincial government spending proposals to provide proof that gender was considered
* We want a data collection strategy to assess gendered impacts of budgetary and policy decisions
Ontario MPPs have noted that, increasingly, women’s participation in the paid labour force doesn’t just benefit women—it helps the whole economy. (3) A study by the Royal Bank of Canada estimates that the GDP could grow by 21 per cent if women had pay equity. (4) These issues are not adequately addressed by a basic income proposal alone, and therefore basic income has to be part of a larger packet of social policy measures, if it wants to maximise real freedom for all.
* We want pay equity in Ontario
* We want basic income to be part of a larger packet of policy measures to promote gender equity
What kinds of budget measures could achieve the goals of greater gender equity in the labour market?
For years these have been access to affordable, high quality post-secondary education and reliable and affordable childcare.
In particular young women are currently less likely to obtain degrees in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which can offer better career and income opportunities. (5)
And according to Statistics Canada, Ontario has the highest cost of full-time child care, with an average cost of $677 per month. Affordable, quality day care is still the stuff of dreams. (6)
Expanding access to education and to childcare is usually seen as very expensive, but that fails to take into account how, ultimately, they pay for themselves in the form of higher tax revenues. In the case of childcare, this payback is immediate. In 2008, each $100 of subsidy for child care paid out by the Quebec government resulted in an additional $104 in tax revenue in the same fiscal year for the province, both from the mothers now freer to work productively and from the newly created jobs of child care workers. (7)
* We want improved access to affordable, high quality post secondary education
* We want reliable and affordable child care
Other budget measures could pay off by preventing costs, both financial and human. Ontarians spend millions a year coping with the terrible price of violence against women. On any single day, women and children fleeing domestic violence are turned away from shelters because they are full. (8)
Well-targeted programs for shelters and supports could forestall huge costs and misery.
* We want well-targeted programs for shelters and supports
Gender budget analysis simply asks: do your budgetary initiatives generate more equality or less? For the Wynne Liberals, the answer should be a resounding “more.” There are precedents world-wide.
Walking the talk
Canada hosted a national conference in Paris last year on best practices in gender budget analysis, even as we were figuring out ourselves how best to do it. The OECD showcased Prime Minister Trudeau, who opened their conference on Business, Finance and Gender on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017. (9) This year Minister of the Status of Women, Maryam Monsef, will host a National Round table on Gender Based Analysis
Living within our means
Our governments have consistently placed priority on tax cuts or eliminating the deficit. Keeping taxes low means making choices that impact the most vulnerable members of Ontario’s population. And invariably that means women.
By 2020 there is a projected surplus of almost 1 per cent of GDP between what we collect in revenues and what we spend. According to the Centre for Policy Alternatives. by 2020, 1 per cent of GDP could fund a provincial child care program, an affordable housing strategy, a post-secondary granting strategy, Pharmacare, community infrastructure (including transit and neighbourhood revitalization) and still leave more for any other initiatives. (10)
* We want 2020 surplus to be spent on provincial child care program, affordable housing strategy, post secondary grants, Pharmacare and community infra-structure
This is not a bean counting exercise, it is a benefit counting exercise, using robust data and responsible government to improve services and save costs
Will the Ontario government opt for process over substance, citing lack of resources as the excuse, or will it kick-start a new fiscal sensibility, where men and women are equals?
More than 50% of voters in Ontario are women. And we are ready to give our support and help fight the battles.
Will the Ontario Government lead the way?
1.Department of Finance Canada: Budget 2017
Empowering Women to Lead in the New Economy
2. The Public Policy Governance Review February 2017
“Budgets Speak Louder than Words” Emily Wong
3. Toronto Metro April 2017
“MPP Cheri Di Novo brings gender lens” Gilbert Ngabo
4.RBC Economics Research March 2017
“The State of Women in Canada’s Economy”
5. Catalyst January 2018
“A Leaky Pipeline in STEM Education”
6.Statistics Canada November 2015
“Child Care in Canada” Maire Sinha
- Policy Network Newsletter April 2015
“A Child Care win-win” Pierre Fortin
- The Globe and Mail March 2017
“Canadian Shelters Forced to Turn Away” Tavia Grant
9. Minister of Status of Women Mandate Letter
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau October 2017
10.Centre for Policy Alternatives March 2017
Rebuild, Rethink, Renew. An Alternative Federal Budget
On Tuesday November 28, 2017 at the Local 707 Galaxy Hall, Advancement of Women Halton, Community Development Halton, Halton Non-Profit Network and Poverty Free Halton worked together to host an evening of conversation with MPP and Provincial Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn on the implications of the newly passed Bill 148, the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.”
Oakville and District Labour Council Chair Dave Millar welcomed the approximately 200 attendees and introduced the M.C. for the evening Joey Edwardh, Executive Director of Community Development Halton.
Minister Flynn spoke very frankly about the need for revisions to existing labour relations laws and the process his government had followed to bring these to completion. He did not hesitate to confess that there were difficulties along the way but felt that the end product was an enforceable document that would serve to change the lives of Ontarians for the better.
Lesley Sprague of Poverty Free Halton and Tina Agrell of AWH circulated among the audience to collect their written questions.
The host organizations each had an opportunity to pose a question to the Minister.
Oakville and District Labour Council, Dave Millar, Chair asked: The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act signals significant changes to Ontario’s labour and employment legislation. What strategies does the Government of Ontario have to guarantee that workers become aware of their new rights and how can they be empowered to move beyond fear, to act on these rights?
Minister Flynn noted that information will be made available to workers and that the government will hire many new enforcement officers to inspect working conditions and enforce the new act.
Poverty Free Halton, Maureen Weinberger, Chair asked: There are exclusions in this legislation that leave out some of our most vulnerable workers. We are very concerned about this.
Halton and surrounding jurisdictions are still considered rural areas where agricultural workers are employed. Agricultural workers are some of the province’s most vulnerable workers, and they are excluded from the new legislation, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. They will continue to operate under the grossly inadequate Agricultural Employees Act of 2002. This means Ontario will continue to be the only province in Canada where farm workers do not have the right to unionize, a right that had been given in the 1990’s, was taken away by a previous government and not restored by yours. Why did your government not move to protect agricultural workers immediately in this new legislation?
Minister Flynn explained that discussions were already under way to address this issue.
Advancement of Women Halton, Ancilla Ho Young, Chair asked: AWH welcomes this legislation, because it goes a long way towards improving conditions for women in the workforce. Can you tell us how the Fair Work Places, Better Jobs Act fits in with the ongoing work of the government on gender equity and wage parity?
Minister Flynn felt that the Act was one piece in a developing system of gender equity and wage parity. His colleagues in Provincial parliament are working on other aspects of employment and pay for women
Halton Non-profit Network, Jody Orr, Coordinator asked: The Ontario Government provides funding to non-profit organizations that serve as delivery agents for a wide range of important if not essential services to Ontario individuals, families and communities. Research has shown that approximately 80% of a non-profit’s expenditure is on wages, salaries and benefits, (and we know that wages and salaries in the sector tend to be low.) Over the last decades, government funding to non-profits has remained stagnant while, at the same time, government expectations as to accountability reporting and evaluation have increased dramatically with no parallel commitment to pay for these increased costs. Therefore, while supportive of measures to increase the minimum wage, the Halton Non-profit Network would like to ask the Minister what commitment his government has to ensuring government funding will increase to non-profits in a timely fashion, so as to assist these organizations to meet their wage obligations in January without making cuts to staffing or essential programs and services?
Minister Flynn pointed out that negotiations were in progress in order to resolve this issue in time for January 1, 2018
Community Development Halton, President of the Board of Directors, Jan Mowbray asked
Community Development Halton believes that the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act will positively affect working conditions in the non-profit community services sector. However, government has a unique relationship with the sector where Government is both funder and regulator. This creates an imperative that demands a non-legislative commitment to address the complexity of the Government’s relationship with the non-profit sector and its contribution to human well-being and civicness. Minister Flynn, will you advocate for and convene a cross-Ministry roundtable of representatives from the non-profit community services sector and the funding sector to develop an innovative and sustainable funding formula and labour market strategy that supports and sustains the sector and, ultimately, their contribution to the health and well-being of people across the province?
Minister Flynn welcomed this idea and suggested a future meeting in order to discuss it more fully.
There were also many interesting questions from the audience. Minister Flynn responded to them all in full and clearly had an in depth understanding of the new act and its ramifications. There has been some dismayed reaction from small business owners to the proposed increase in minimum wage and this will need to be addressed. Some union members expressed their disappointment that the government had legislated a return to work after a strike by community college staff. It was pointed out that it would be a shame to condemn Bill 148 because of this, as it represents a major advance in Labour Relations, a move unprecedented by other governments. The evening ended with coffee and cookies, provided by the organizers.
AWH was satisfied with the event and feels that it is important to ensure free and frank discussion of new and proposed legislation, rather than resorting to demonization of political parties and wholesale rejection of policies based solely on partisanship.