October 18 is Persons Day in Canada


October 18 is Persons Day in Canada! 

It marks the day in 1929 when the historic decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons” was handed down by Canada’s highest court of appeal. This gave women the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and paved the way for women’s increased participation in public and political life.

On October 18 2018 Advancement of Women Halton had the pleasure of hearing from two women mayoral candidates in the municipal election.  Julia Hanna (Oakville) and Marianne Meed-Ward (Burlington) shared some of the challenges they face while running for office.  Being dismissed as irrational, negative or incompetent by male opponents still happens today, 89 years after that historic decision. Nevertheless, these two women show an energy, passion and determination to succeed.

AWH meets with Stephen Crawford

IMG_1870Members 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.

AWH Meeting with Candidates, May 17, 2018

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.

Maureen Weinberger

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.

Teri Shaw

“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.”

Daniela Jansson

4 Liberals and 3 NDP at Advancement of Women Halton debate. Maybe the PCs have nothing to say to women?

Tina Agrell

AWH, our meeting with 3 Liberals and 3 NDP we invited Conservatives they did not come, sort of says something…..

Tessa House





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

Pay Equity

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

 Budget Measures

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

  1. Policy Network Newsletter April 2015

“A Child Care win-win” Pierre Fortin

  1. 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