OTTAWA, January 27 – “Tuesday’s Federal budget offers very little support for women. In fact it has left women out in the cold,” says Susan Russell, Executive Director of Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW). “When women are struggling financially, Canada can’t expect to recover economically.”
The budget fails to mention women even once. It does not address women’s needs in key areas of Employment Insurance (EI), childcare, pay equity and pension reform.
Despite calls to improve access to EI, over two-thirds of Canadian women continue to be shut out of a program into which they pay. Women make up the majority of part-time and minimum wage earners, a segment of the workforce that is seriously impacted by economic cri sis, yet many of these women do not qualify for EI or are forced to live on insufficient benefits. The proposed expert panel on EI is a step in the right direction, but will not help women in the short and medium term.
Much-needed childcare spaces were not included in the budget. While increasing the child tax benefit may help some families, many women find it difficult to access quality childcare and when they do, it is a serious financial burden that limits their ability to participate in the workforce. The government has again missed out on an opportunity to provide economic stimulus though providing the social infrastructure of childcare that would benefit and employ women across the country.
Disturbingly, this budget maintains the government attack on women’s right to pay equity. This means that women will be unable to pursue pay equity complaints in a time when economic pressures mean that millions of families are solely dependent on women’s wages.
Tax cuts are no substitute for social infrastructure for the 40 percent of women who fall below the lowest income tax bracket.=2 0
This budget has failed to invest in women and to take on the work of building a prosperous and inclusive future for all Canadians.
CFUW is a non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded, non-governmental organization of about 10,000 women university graduates in 118 Clubs across Canada. CFUW works to improve the status of women and girls, education, peace, and human rights. CFUW holds special consultative status at the United Nations and serves on the Sectoral Committee on Education of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. CFUW is the largest of 79 national affiliates of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW).