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January 28, 2009

Statement from Irene Mathyssen, NDP Critic for the Status of Women

OTTAWA – The Conservative budget is totally inadequate when it comes to funding for Status of Women and for issues that directly affect women. Women are not considered at all in this budget.  There is not a single mention of women in the entire document.

In tough economic times it is crucial that the government invests in protecting the most vulnerable in society. No affordable housing programs were introduced that would target vulnerable women.  Housing is key to fighting poverty and the first step needed for many looking to get into the workforce.

The budget contains no mention of childcare spaces.   An investment in childcare would have been an investment in the economy.   No national child care program will significantly reduce women’s ability to contribute to the labour market.  The increase to the Child tax benefit is helpful, it does not go far enough no create any new childcare spaces.

It maintains the attack on women’s ability to pursue pay equity complaints.   The NDP has called repeatedly for a pay equity commissioner to ensure that pay equity complaints are dealt with effectively and efficiently.

The job creation programs announced are aimed at infrastructure and construction programs which are male dominated industries. This again leaves more women vulnerable to the effects of the economic downturn.

An expert panel will be established to consult Canadians on extending EI to self employed workers.   While this is a positive move, it will not help those who may be impacted in the short term.   With two thirds of women not qualifying for EI, changes to the system are crucial. Unfortunately, the Conservatives did not make any further changes to E.I. leaving many part-time workers, and seasonal workers without any support despite paying into the fund.

There was no attempt at incorporating gender responsive budgeting as recommended by the June 2008 Status of Women Committee report.  This was a failed opportunity for the Conservative Government to show that it would address issues raised and passed by the other parties in the House of Commons.

Tax cuts have historically not benefited women.  The focus on tax cuts in this budget will only decrease the government dollars available to invest in promoting women’s equality in Canada. The tax cuts in this budget will be of no benefit to 40% of women who fall below the lowest income bracket. It will have minimal impact on the 38% of women who fall in lowest tax bracket leaving the most vulnerable 68% of women receiving little or no benefit from the tax cuts.

For more information, please contact: Office of Irene Mathyssen, MP – Miriam Rycroft, 613-995-2901

[Via PAR-L]


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