The first six pages are letters from various female MP's. The letters are endorsements of the Pink book, and they come from Belinda Stronach, Judy Sgro, Mariam Minna, Anita Neville, Nancy Karetak-Lindell, Tina Keeper, Ruby Dhalla, Marlene Jennings, and Yasmin Ratansi. These women have not been in the position of the average Canadian for a very long time. Some have never been in that position. They are unable to empathize with the common woman, and their opinion should be taken with a very large grain of salt.
Before looking at the policy recommendations themselves, it is important to note that the Status of Women in Canada is given a great deal of support. Indeed, the recent cuts to the Status of Women would appear to be the motivating factor for the creation of the Pink book. Please be aware that despite Opposition reaction to the cuts, this group does NOT look out for the women who need most help. The group has been hijacked be extremists who do not identify with the average Canadian woman. In the past they have been ardent supporters of decriminalized prostitution and the legalization of polygamy and it is my hope that under the Conservative government the Status of Women in Canada will once again be useful.
I also want to point out that the book makes mention of the fact that the Conservative plan seeks to favour single income families and discriminates against modest income families. This is simply false. As I fall under both categories, I can tell you that the new plan doesn't even begin to level the playing field between single and dual income families. Dual income families by far have the economic advantage. This will continue to be so until income splitting is legislated. Also, despite the fact that the "average" Canadian family has less than two children, there are some out there who have many more. These families are frequently single income families. For a single income family an additional $300 to $400 a month, plus the Child Tax Credit, is very useful.
Throughout the work, the policy recommendations are in hot pink. They are as follows:
1. We believe a new Liberal government needs to reverse this Conservative government’s decisions, particularly in relation to the recent budget cuts and new policy directives for Status of Women Canada.
2.The Liberal Women’s Caucus recommends that a new Liberal government honour the previous bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories for $1 billion a year over five years in early learning and child care.
3. To fully meet the needs of working women and young families, a new Liberal government needs, as a long term goal, to devote federal financial support equivalent to one per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to early learning and child care. This is the target established by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) in its report entitled Starting Strong II.
4. To further help working women and families, a new Liberal government should use the $100 a month under the Conservative government to boost the Canadian Child Tax Benefit. It would mean an additional $1,200 each year for the majority of Canadian families.
5. A new Liberal government should use the value of the Spousal Credit, a tax deduction for a spouse at home, to be paid directly to the spouse who, in the majority of instances, would be a woman.
6. The Liberal Women’s Caucus believes a new Liberal government should implement new proactive pay equity legislation as recommended in a 2004 federal Pay Equity Task Force report.
7. Allow seniors to earn income, including RRSP withdrawals, of up to 10 per cent of the benefits received under Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). This would mean approximately $1,400 in benefit to all seniors.
8. A range of other benefits provided by the federal government could be moderated to improve the economic position of seniors.
9. To ease the burden on women and other caregivers, a new Liberal government should invest $1 billion over five years to develop a national caregiver agenda. The provinces and territories need to be partners with the national government to move forward in this area.
10. As a further help to caregivers, a new Liberal government should extend the Canada Pension Plan drop-out provision to unpaid caregivers. This measure will improve the economic security for those who leave the workplace to provide care for their family members.
11. The Liberal Women’s Caucus believes a new Liberal government should open these discussions as soon as possible to build an improved income replacement plan for parents, including self-employed individuals.
12. Liberal Women’s Caucus supports the policy recommendation of the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada (NOIVMWC) that government policies must look at: "providing sufficient access to profession specific language training, skills upgrading and back to work mentoring and bridging programs" for these groups.
13. As a first step, the Liberal Women’s Caucus endorses providing "financial resources to Aboriginal women’s organizations at the same level as their male-led counterparts." Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) recommends this measure.
14. The Liberal Women’s Caucus strongly recommends to a new Liberal government that action must be taken to repair the damage done by this Conservative government’s policies to Status of Women Canada. In particular, the Liberal Women’s Caucus is calling for:
- Designating "equality" as the main goal of the Women’s Program.
- Reinstating the Terms and Conditions of the Women’s Program as they were before the Conservative changes.
- Ensuring that the funding under the Women’s Program is only available to not-for profit groups.
- Reversing the 43% cut to the operating budget of Status of Women Canada.
- Increasing funding to the Women’s Program at Status of Women by a minimum of 25%.
- Revising the funding to organizations by introducing a mix of core funding to allow for long-term planning and project funding.
15. The Liberal Women’s Caucus is committed to the reinstatement of the Court Challenges Program.
16. The Liberal Women’s Caucus has been and continues to be a strong supporter of the national gun registry.
17. As one of its first priorities, the Liberal Women’s Caucus encourages a new Liberal government to work collaboratively with the provinces and territories to establish a federal poverty-reduction strategy.
18.The Liberal Women’s Caucus proposes that a new Liberal government should:
- Honour the bilateral agreements signed with provinces and territories to provide a system of early learning and child care across the country. These agreements should be protected by legislation. The original Liberal commitment was for $1 billion a year for five years – this level of support must be reinstated as a minimum starting point.
- As a longer-term goal, establish a schedule for federal funding of child care so it reaches one per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as recommended by the OECD report, Starting Strong II.
- Re-invest the $1,200 per year, per family, provided under the Conservative government’s policy in the Canadian Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). The Canadian Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) is already in place and works efficiently and effectively. By increasing the base benefit by $1,200, the overwhelming majority of Canadian families would receive – and keep – a $1,200 increase in their Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB).
- Direct the value of the Spousal Credit – the tax deduction for a spouse at home – to be paid directly to the spouse, who, in most instances, will be a woman.
19. The struggle for pay equity goes back to a recommendation by the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in 1970 for legislative change to address the issue of equal pay for work of equal value.
20. The Liberal Women’s Caucus proposes that a new Liberal government should implement pro-active pay equity legislation as recommended by the 2004 federal Pay Equity Task Force.
21. The Liberal Women’s Caucus proposes that a new Liberal government should:
- Allow seniors to earn income, including RRSP withdrawals, equal to as much as 10% of the benefits they receive under Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) before they see their GIS reduced. Ten per cent of these two benefits would be approximately $1,400.
- Eliminate the application form for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). All this information is on income-tax returns.
- Divide the GIS cheque in proportion to a couple’s income. For example, if a man earns 80 per cent of the income he would get 20 per cent of the GIS and the woman would get 80 per cent.
- Work with provinces to remove the 11-month retroactivity restriction that currently applies to CPP benefits. This change would mean that an individual applying late for CPP benefits would not be penalized.
22. The Liberal Women’s Caucus proposes that a new Liberal government should:
- As a short-term measure, invest $1 billion over five years towards the development of a national caregiving agenda. This would be done working co-operatively with the provinces and territories, especially Québec. A national conference in the fall of 2004 provided substantial information on how to develop caregiver policy.
- As a longer-term measure, extend the Canada Pension Plan drop-out provision to unpaid caregivers. This measure will address the future economic security of those who drop out of the labour force to provide care. The Liberal Women’s Caucus recognizes that this strategy would require negotiation with provincial and territorial governments as part of a review of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).
23. The Liberal Women’s Caucus proposes that a new Liberal government should:
Using the Québec model, open discussions with all provinces and territories to discuss ways to construct an improved income replacement program for parents, including self-employed individuals.
A few notes:
The Court Challenges Program and the Gun Registry are utterly irrelevant to the other material covered in the Pink Book. These two policies do not belong here and should be removed.
Policies 5, 8, 11, 17, 19, 20, 22 and 23 are either not policies, too vague, or have no practical effect or application. In other words, even should these policies be adopted and acted upon, there would be no discernible change in the status quo. Policy 11 could have had value, but it doesn't go beyond "discussion."
Policies 2, 3, 9 and 18 are all variations on the same theme. Policies 1 and 14 are the same. Policy 18.3 would reduce the amount of money my family would receive from the government, as would Policy 4. Policies 18.1 and 18.2 are anti-family. It is not the responsibility of the state to raise children. It is the responsibility of the state to enable the family to raise their own children. Policy 5 and 18.4 are the same. Also, I am uncertain as to how redirecting the credit to the dependent spouse would be a benefit to the family as a whole.
Policies 7 and 21 are variations on the same idea. I am not familiar enough with OAS to know what drawbacks there would be, if any.
There are a fair number of ad hominem attacks and unsubstantiated accusations interspersed throughout the document. Beginning at page 8:
The policies of the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper are detrimental and damaging to women and threaten the hard-won gains made in past decades...
Prime Minister Harper, once said "pay equity" is "a rip-off," and clearly, the Conservative government is not providing leadership to help women improve their economic status...
The Conservative government has begun a systematic, ideologically-driven campaign to dismantle programs that help give voice to women’s issues...
This ideologically-based action [cancellation of the Court Challenges Program] by the Conservative government will make it more difficult for thousands of Canadians to exercise their constitutional rights. Through this action, access to justice for all Canadians will be severely eroded and especially so for women and Francophone minorities...
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cuts to Status of Women Canada and the Women’s Program are a direct and deliberate reversal of his January, 2006, pledge to "support women’s human rights" and to "take concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the United Nations, to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women in Canada..."
The enormous progress toward equality achieved by women over the past thirty years has stalled under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative agenda, and will be reversed unless the needs of women are moved to the forefront of the public agenda...
The Conservative government’s current approach [to child care] will not build an affordable, accessible and high quality system of early learning and child care...
The Conservative government’s plan discriminates against low-income families. According to the Caledon Institute, the plan will "help modest-income families least and favour one-earner couples over single parents and two-earner couple" and does not help create an environment for early learning. A Liberal approach is to help all families...
The Conservative minority government refuses to provide leadership on this issue [pay equity], ignoring both the report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women and the recommendation of the 2004 federal Task Force Report on Pay Equity that calls for replacing the current complaint-based model of pay equity with new stand-alone, pro-active legislation. This should not be a surprise. In 1998, the current Prime Minister made it clear that he thought pay equity was "a rip-off" for the taxpayers and that the federal government should "scrap its ridiculous pay equity law..."
Random statistics pepper the margins of the Pink Book. Of note is the fact that "36 years after Royal Commission recommendations for legislative change for equal pay for work of equal value, women still earn approximately 71 per cent of what men earn for full-year, full-time work." In fact, this statistic has no meaning, since women are more likely than men to take time off work in order to raise their children. When they return to work, they do not start at the same salary as a man with equal work experience who did not take time off, nor should they. In this case, the woman has a learning curve; she has to get back into the groove of "how things are done." Not reflected in this study is that, regardless of her education level, this woman has less skill than her male counterpart. Because of this, in order to surpass a man, women who take time off to have families will have to work harder in the corporate world... and there is nothing wrong with that.
Another irrelevant statistic is this: "65 per cent of all women with children under age 3 in 2004 were employed, more than double the figure in 1976 when just 28 per cent were employed." How many women work is the wrong question. How many women want to have a career versus how many women want to raise a family would have been the relevant statistic in this case. I have discussed the financial burden the comes with foregoing a career before. Some families are simply not able or not willing to make this difficult choice. If the Liberal Women's caucus truly wanted to be proactive and offer all women choice, then they would work to their utmost to enable every woman who wished to remain at home to do so. Such is not the case.
It is my hope that people will see the Pink Book for what it is: a last ditch effort to paint the Conservatives as a bunch of male-chauvnist women haters, a sorry attempt to enforce a rigid, anti-family agenda on the average Canadian. It is an insult to the intelligent, thinking woman. It is especially an insult to stay at home mothers, those of us who are "barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen." As already mentioned, that such a piece of work should be delivered by the likes of Judy Sgro is salt on the wound.
Time to file it under the desk.