PART II: MEASURES ADOPTED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
Article 2: Anti-Discrimination Measures
- In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
was enacted. The Charter, also known as the Constitution Act, 1982,
provides constitutional protection of individual rights. According to s. 1, it
guarantees the rights and freedoms set out therein subject only to such
reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free
and democratic society. As a result, any law, regulation or act, of any
level of government in Canada, or any government agency, as well as all court
decisions, must conform to the Charter within the meaning of s. 1. The Charter
applies to relationships between an individual and government, rather than
between individuals which are covered by provincial bills of rights.
- Section 15 of the Charter ensures equal protection and equal
benefit of the law for all Canadians without discrimination, and s. 28
guarantees that all the rights covered in the Charter apply equally to men and
women. The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), passed in 1977, prohibits
discrimination in employment and services within federal jurisdiction. The Act
provides a list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, which was expanded
last year to include sexual orientation. The CHRA creates the Canadian Human
Rights Commission (CHRC), which investigates, settles and prosecutes complaints
of discrimination. It also creates the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which
hears and adjudicates complaints. Amendments to the CHRA in 1998 made the
Tribunal a permanent court-like body.
- The Court Challenges Program, originally established in 1985
through the former Department of the Secretary of State, was introduced to fund
private cases involving challenges to federal policies, laws or practices
pertaining to equality rights protected by ss. 15 and 28 of the Charter.
The Program was discontinued in 1992. However, following widespread public
demand, it was reinstated in October 1994. The current Program provides funding
to selected challenges to federal law, policy or practices, with the exception
of complaints under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
- In addition to the legal instruments to combat discrimination,
a number of other agencies promote anti-discrimination measures at the
provincial, territorial and federal levels. For example, the Law Commission of
Canada, which was established on July 1, 1997 under the Law Commission of
Canada Act, is mandated to engage Canadians in the renewal of the law to
ensure that it is relevant, responsive, effective, equally just and accessible
to all. The Commission is an independent agency of the federal government. It
was established to provide the government with independent, broadly based
advice on legal policy issues. Commission projects include historical child
abuse in public institutions, adult relationships of dependence and
interdependence, relationships involving older adults, transformative justice,
workplace relationships in transition, the role of legislation and the
governance of research on human subjects.
Article 2 (c): Protection of Womens Legal Rights
- There have been several important Supreme Court of Canada
cases relating to womens equality during the reporting period. Although
many of the cases mentioned below do not deal with sex-based discrimination,
they are important to womens equality and are particularly relevant to
women exposed to double disadvantage by virtue of such personal characteristics
as disability, religion, marital status, sexual orientation or race. These
cases arise out of claims of discrimination pursuant to s. 15(1) of the
Charter, or under human rights legislation. Also included are cases
relating to womens equality in the criminal law context.
- In Eldridge v. British Columbia (Attorney General),
 3 S.C.R. 624, the Supreme Court reiterated that s. 15(1) of the
Charter protects against direct, as well as adverse effects,
discrimination. The latter type of discrimination does not require a
discriminatory purpose or intent but merely that the effect of the measure is
to deny an individual equal protection or benefit of the law. The Court held
that the failure to provide sign language interpretation for deaf patients in
hospitals where necessary for effective communication violated the
appellants equality rights. The appellants in Eldridge were a deaf
woman who needed medical treatment for her diabetes, and a deaf couple who were
attending at the birth of their twin girls.
- Considerable advances were also made during the review period
with respect to the equality rights of lesbians. In Egan v. Canada,
 2 S.C.R. 513, the Supreme Court held that although sexual
orientation is not listed as a ground of discrimination in s. 15(1), it
constituted an analogous ground on which claims of discrimination may be based.
In Vriend v. Alberta,  1 S.C.R. 493, the Court held that
provincial human rights legislation which omitted the ground of sexual
orientation violated s. 15(1).
- A majority of the Supreme Court in Miron v. Trudel,
 2 S.C.R. 418, recognized marital status as an analogous
ground of discrimination. The exclusion of common-law (unmarried) spouses from
accident insurance benefits was found to violate their equality rights.
- In Thibaudeau v. Canada,  2 S.C.R. 627, a
majority of the Supreme Court held that the legal requirement stating that when
separated or divorced parents compute their income for tax purposes, they must
include amounts received from their former partners for child support, did not
constitute sex-based discrimination. The Court found that the requirement did
not impose a burden or disadvantage when examining the situation of the
post-divorce family unit.
- In response to the negative reactions of women, womens
organizations and the media to the Thibaudeau decision, the federal
government responded to these concerns through Bill C-93, which amended the
Income Tax Act to eliminate this treatment of child support. It received
Royal Assent on April 25, 1997. Under the new rules, child support paid
pursuant to a written agreement or a court order made on or after May 1, 1997
is no longer deductible to the payer, or included in the income of the
recipient for tax purposes.
- In Benner, the Court held that the imposition of
additional requirements for the granting of citizenship to children born abroad
prior to February 15, 1977, to a Canadian mother (as opposed to a Canadian
father) constituted sex-based discrimination.
- In R. v. S. (R.D.),  3 S.C.R 485, the Court was
asked to determine whether comments made by a Black female judge about police
treatment of minorities raised a reasonable apprehension of bias. A majority of
the Court found that the remarks did not raise a reasonable apprehension of
bias and that, in general, judges should be aware of social context
including the prevalence of racism or gender bias in a particular community in
rendering their decisions.
Human Rights Legislation
- In Gibbs v. Battleford and District Co-op Ltd., 
3 S.C.R. 566, the Court reiterated that human rights legislation is
fundamental or quasi-constitutional, and that it should
be interpreted in a broad and purposive manner. The Court held that a female
employee had been discriminated against when her disability insurance benefits
were terminated after a two-year period because she suffered from a mental
disability as opposed to a physical disability.
- There have also been several cases before the lower courts
regarding pay equity. The federal as well as some provincial human rights
statutes contain provisions embodying the general principle that men and women
should be given equal pay for work of equal value. Disputes in these cases
often relate to the methodology used to compare the wage differentials between
predominately male occupational groups and predominately female ones.
Womens Equality in the Criminal Law Context
- In R. v. Biddle,  1 S.C.R. 761, one of the issues
before the Court was whether the use of the Crowns power to tailor the
jury constituted an abuse of the jury selection process or created a reasonable
apprehension of bias. The appellant was convicted on two counts of assault
causing bodily harm and two counts of choking with intent to commit an
indictable offence. The two victims were women. The Crown successfully
empaneled an all-female jury. While the majority of the members of the Court
decided that it was not necessary to deal with the issue, two (female) members
of the Court found that there was no abuse of the system in empaneling an
all-female jury. Moreover, there was no evidence that an all-female jury could
not act impartially in judging the case before them. To find otherwise would be
applying impermissible stereotypical assumptions. Of particular interest is
McLachlin J.s statement: I see no reason to suppose that an
all-woman jury cannot be as impartial as all-male juries have been presumed to
be for centuries.
- In R. v. Daviault,  3 S.C.R. 63, the Court held
that it was unconstitutional to not allow the defence of voluntary drunkenness
to a general intent offence. In Daviault, the accused had sexually
assaulted a 65-year-old disabled woman but was acquitted at trial because there
was a reasonable doubt as to whether he had the minimal intent required to
commit the offence because of his extreme intoxication. This decision resulted
in considerable criticism from womens groups and others. In response, the
federal government amended the Criminal Code to specify that the defence
of self-induced intoxication will not be available for particular offences
(including assault) where the accused departs markedly from the standard of
care generally recognized in Canadian society.
- In R. v. Park,  2 S.C.R. 836, the Supreme Court of
Canada restored a sexual assault conviction. In this case, the appellant had
put forward the defence that no sexual intercourse had occurred or, in the
alternative, that he mistakenly believed the victim had consented to sexual
intercourse. In her reasons, LHeureux-Dubé J. expounded on the
issue of consent in sexual assault trials. She expressed the view that in order
to combat the stereotype regarding consent held by men, the focus must shift
from whether there were words or actions consistent with no consent, to what
actions or words communicated by the complainant grounded the accuseds
honest but mistaken belief in consent. This case arose prior to the Criminal
Code section that stipulates the meaning of consent for sexual
assault offences. These provisions generally require that an accused must take
reasonable and definitive steps to ensure that the complainant consents to
engaging in sexual activity.
- A majority of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v.
OConnor,  4 S.C.R. 411, reaffirmed that the Crown had a duty to
disclose all relevant records in its possession to the defence, including the
victims therapeutic records (in this case, sexual assault counselling
records). With respect to records in the hands of a third party (as compared to
the state), the Court in OConnor established a procedure for the
production of such records. A minority of the judges were of the view that, in
determining whether private records in the hands of a third party should be
disclosed to the defence, the accuseds right to make full answer and
defence should be balanced against the victims right to privacy and the
right to equality without discrimination. Subsequent to this decision, the
Criminal Code was amended to codify a specific procedure for the
disclosure of private records in the possession of the Crown or a third party
to defence counsel where the accused has been charged with a sexual offence.
The purpose of the procedure is to protect the privacy and equality rights of
victims of sexual offences while, at the same time, preserving the
accuseds right to a fair trial. The Supreme Court of Canada recently
upheld the latter amendments as constitutional.
Article 2(d): Public Authorities and Institutions
- Setting the Stage for the Next Century: The Federal Plan
for Gender Equality was released in Canada on August 11, 1995, and tabled
at the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing. The Federal
Plan represents a collaborative initiative of 24 federal departments and
agencies, led by Status of Women Canada (SWC), and is Canadas framework
and blueprint for implementing the Beijing Platform for Action.
- The Federal Plans most strategic measure is a policy
requiring federal departments and agencies to conduct gender-based analysis
(GBA) of future policies and legislation. GBA is a key methodology for
mainstreaming a gender perspective. It is being developed to ensure that
federal policies have intended and equitable results for both women and men,
and will assist the federal government in respecting the equality provisions of
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international
- SWC has been leading this analysis process, collaborating with
other governments, as well as federal departments and agencies, in its staged
implementation over a five-year period. SWC has developed and provided other
departments with a series of tools and supports to assist them in implementing
gender-based analysis. Notable among these is the publication Gender-Based
Analysis: A Guide for Policy-Making, released in March 1996, as well as a
series of presentations to departments and agencies initiated in the fall of
- Although the implementation of GBA in public policy is still
in its infancy, Canada has made some significant efforts. Examples of some key
achievements in this area include:
- developing tools and methodologies to carry out GBA, including
a guide and brochure for policy makers
- holding information sessions on GBA for managers and officials
- stimulating GBA discussion through dialogue, roundtables,
workshops, symposiums and conferences with governments, womens
organizations and other non-governmental actors
- contributing to the development of statistics and indicators to
support GBA, such as the Economic Gender Equality Indicators, Finding Data
on Women: A Guide to the Major Sources at Statistics Canada, and the
Guide to Gender-Sensitive Indicators with its accompanying handbook
- developing gender-based research in the Government of Canada
and with counterparts in other governments and international organizations
- Several departments and agencies within the federal government
have undertaken specific activities to advance gender-based analysis of the
policies and programs within their mandates. This includes the production of
customized training materials to meet their own particular needs. Some examples
- In 1996, the Department of Justice established the three-year
Gender Equality Initiative headed by a Senior Advisor on Gender Equality, with
a mandate to implement gender-equality analysis in all departmental activities.
The following year, the Department adopted the Policy on Gender Equality
Analysis. Subsequently, a report entitled Diversity and Justice: Gender
Perspectives, A Guide to Gender Equality Analysis was developed and
published. The Department also created an internal network of gender equality
specialists in each sector to act as resources to colleagues in the development
of policies, programs, legislation, legal opinions and research. Finally, in
1998, the Department of Justice began providing training on gender equality
analysis to lawyers throughout the Department, including regional offices
across the country.
- Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) has developed the
Gender-Based Analysis Backgrounder and Guide, customized for the
Departments needs and activities. The Deputy Minister has also issued a
memo to executives encouraging the use of GBA as part of effective policy and
program development within HRDC.
- Health Canadas Womens Health Strategy includes a
commitment to implement a gender-based analysis of the Departments
research, policies and programs. Tools, methods and training materials
appropriate to the health sector are being developed that will assist in
implementing gender-impact assessments. Workshops are being held and
womens health networks are being created in the line branches of the
Department. The Womens Health Bureau is also using the Commonwealth
framework to develop a Gender Management System for the health sector. In
addition, as chair of the Commonwealth Working Group on Gender Equality and
Health Indicators, the Womens Health Bureau has begun work on developing
a conceptual framework for a system of gender equality and health indicators.
- The Gender Equality Division within the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA) is responsible for articulating the Agencys
policy and good practices in gender equality. The Divisions activities
- development of mechanisms to mainstream gender perspectives
into CIDAs management, planning and performance assessment systems
- contributions to the Agency knowledge base on gender equality
- participation in conferences and international policy dialogue
on gender equality
- management of information on gender equality issues,
particularly lessons drawn from gender equality policy implementation in
- Gender analysis and gender equality results are to be
incorporated into all of CIDAs international cooperation initiatives,
although application will vary among branches, programs and projects.
- CIDA has underlined the importance of integrating gender
considerations in all of its policies, programs and projects. Its Policy on
Poverty Reduction and its Health Strategy (both released in 1996) and the 1997
Policy on Basic Human Needs, all recognize the need to address gender equality.
At the program and project level, guidelines to promote the systematic
application of GBA and a handbook on gender-sensitive indicators has been
developed and widely distributed. In 1998, CIDA began a series of extensive
consultations including a virtual one with partners in Canada and around
the world to revise its policy on gender equality. Based on these
consultations, an updated policy has been developed with a strong
gender-mainstreaming, rights- and results-based approach to better serve policy
makers and people in the field.
- The Departmental Coordinator on International Womens
Equality at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT)
is situated within the Human Rights, Humanitarian Affairs and International
Womens Equality Division. The Coordinator heads up the International
Womens Equality section which functions as the focal point on gender
within the Department to promote gender equality and the human rights of women,
including integrating gender perspectives into foreign policy development and
- The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
(DIAND) has developed its policy on gender equality analysis (GEA). It requires
that GEA be used in the legislative, policy and program development processes,
and that it be integrated into all of the Departments work, including:
- the development and implementation of policies, programs,
communications plans, regulations, legislation, consultations and negotiations
(including, but not limited to, self-government agreements, claims, treaty land
entitlement, fiscal framework and devolution)
- instructions and strategies on research, contracting, dispute
resolution and litigation (This policy has been developed in consultation with
the Departments Advisory Committee on Gender Equality and with other
government departments. The Guide to Gender Equality Analysis, which
explains how to apply GEA in the day-to-day work setting, has been developed
and will be distributed within the Department.)
Gender-Based Policy Research
- New and significant initiatives in the area of gender-based
research have also been developed to support gender-based analysis. For
instance, Status of Women Canada (SWC) launched its Policy Research Fund
following input from extensive national consultations held between March and
May 1996. The primary objective of the fund is to support forward-thinking,
independent, nationally relevant policy research on gender equality issues. The
Policy Research Fund supports research which identifies policy gaps, trends and
emerging issues, and provides concrete recommendations and alternative
solutions to policies and programs affecting women. A small, non-governmental
external committee, nominated by constituents, plays a key role in identifying
priorities and research themes, choosing research proposals to be funded and
exercising quality control over the final research products. Policy research
themes explored to date include womens access to justice, womens
paid and unpaid work, womens vulnerability to poverty, and the
integration of womens diversity into policy research, development and
analysis. Once the research is complete, it is available free of charge to the
public and is also available on the SWC website http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca
- Other examples of research initiatives within the federal
government which include a gender perspective are the Metropolis Initiative and
the Policy Research Initiative.
- A consortium of federal departments and agencies provides core
funding for the Metropolis Initiative. It examines immigrant integration and
the effects of international migration on urban centres. A gender perspective
is to be factored into all the research being undertaken, with applicability to
- The mandate of the Policy Research Initiative, launched in
July 1996, is to build a solid foundation of horizontal research on which
future public policy decisions can be based. The Initiative brings together
over 30 federal departments and agencies, including SWC, which plays an active
role in ensuring that a gender perspective is incorporated into all research
Article 2(f): Legislative Changes
- In 1996, the Canadian Human Rights Act was amended to
include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
- In 1998, the Government of Canada passed amendments to enhance
the overall protective provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
These amendments included the addition of an express duty on employers and
service providers to accommodate (up to the point of undue hardship) the needs
of persons protected by the law, the establishment of a permanent human rights
tribunal and improvements to the remedies provided by the Act.
Article 2(g): Penal Provisions
- Actions were undertaken between 1994 and 1998 to vitalize ss.
81 and 84 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (promulgated
in 1992). The two provisions read:
s. 81. The Minister, or a person authorized by the Minister,
may enter into an agreement with an Aboriginal community for the provision of
correctional services to Aboriginal offenders and for payment by the Minister,
or by a person authorized by the Minister, in respect of the provision of those
s. 84Where an inmate who is applying for parole has
expressed an interest in being released to an Aboriginal community, the Service
shall, if the inmate consents, give the Aboriginal community
(a) adequate notice of the inmates parole
(b) an opportunity to propose a plan for the
inmates release to, and integration into, the Aboriginal community.
Sections 81 and 84 are intended to increase the reintegration
potential of Aboriginal women offenders through community support.
- Since the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, Canada has
continued to advocate for the integration of a gender perspective in the work
of international forums. This includes multilateral organizations, such as the
United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD), the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, and the Organization of American
- Canada consistently stresses the importance of the full
realization of the human rights of women in its relations with other countries,
and at international and world conferences, including the International
Conference on Population and Development and the Fourth UN World Conference on
Women. For example, Canada took a lead role in ensuring that the 1996 Habitat
II conference document, Habitat Agenda and Global Plan of Action,
acknowledged the empowerment of women and their full and equal participation in
political, social and economic life as essential to achieving sustainable human
- Canadas international efforts with regard to gender
equality include promoting and supporting the work of international
organizations to integrate gender considerations for example, the UN
Economic and Social Council adoption of agreed conclusions on gender
mainstreaming. Further mainstreaming efforts are under way at the Commonwealth,
the OAS, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and
the organization for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
- Canada strongly supported the adoption of an effective
Optional Protocol to the CEDAW creating both an individual complaints mechanism
and an inquiry procedure. Canada was among those countries which originally
proposed language in the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action (adopted at
the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights) calling for an Optional Protocol to
CEDAW. This was adopted and subsequently reaffirmed in the Beijing Platform for
- Canada supports the strengthening of the Committee on the
Elimination of Discrimination Against Women which oversees CEDAWs
implementation. In order to address the lack of meeting time available to the
Committee the shortest of any of the six human rights treaty monitoring
bodies an amendment to Article 20(1) has been officially accepted by
Article 2 - Links to Conventionand
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BC | NT
Article 3: Measures to Ensure the
Advancement of Women
Reducing Violence Against Women
- One of Canadas key objectives in its Federal Plan for
Gender Equality is reducing violence in society, particularly
violence against women and children.
- In 1997, the federal government confirmed its commitment to
reduce family violence in Canada, particularly violence against women and their
children, through the third phase of the Family Violence Initiative. Under the
Initiative, federal departments collaborate to prevent family violence by
integrating preventive measures in policy and programming. Ongoing additional
funding supports research, knowledge dissemination through the National
Clearinghouse on Family Violence and costs related to coordination. The key
results anticipated from this horizontal approach are effective, efficient,
coordinated federal policy development and programming, enhanced prevention of
and improved response to family violence, development and implementation of
community activities, increased public awareness and reduced tolerance of
family violence in society. The 13 federal departments that currently
collaborate in this strategy address housing, international development,
immigration, corrections, culture, justice, employee assistance, health, social
policy, Aboriginal peoples, law enforcement, national data collection and
- The federal intervention model depends on partnership with
provincial, territorial and municipal governments, non-governmental
organizations, academic institutions, professional associations, corporations
and individuals to develop, implement and evaluate programming for
- Under the present Family Violence Initiative, a number of
important activities have been undertaken. For example, a policy focus group on
violence against women was held to share information and identify priorities in
areas such as public awareness, prevention, intervention and research, and an
expert group on the cost of violence was also convened. Research was carried
out on the issue of homelessness and family violence, and two projects are
under way to review the impact of conditional sentencing in cases of family
violence, and to examine the effectiveness of model family violence treatment
programs for offenders.
- A five-year report summarizing and evaluating the achievements
of the current phase of the Family Violence Initiative will be prepared in 2002
for the Treasury Board Secretariat.
- The Family Violence Initiative supports many activities
intended to reduce violence against women. In 1997-98, federal government
funding specific to family violence amounted to $30.7 million. This figure
includes direct allocations for shelter enhancements, family violence treatment
for federal offenders and transfers to First Nations shelters and family
violence prevention projects on reserves. It also includes an additional annual
allocation of $7 million which departments share to address identified gaps,
operate the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence and coordinate the Family
Violence Initiative. It does not reflect expenditures to carry out the regular
work of departments. For example, ongoing policing provided by the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), prevention programming provided to inmates by
Correctional Services of Canada and housing initiatives provided by Canada
Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) all incorporate elements intended to
prevent family violence.
- Other Canadian initiatives place priority on issues related to
the safety, health and well-being of women, and help address violence against
women, although they are not specifically directed to the prevention of family
- The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth is a
long-term study being conducted by Human Resources Development Canada and
Statistics Canada. It examines a variety of factors thought to influence child
growth and development. The study began in 1994, with data being collected at
two-year intervals as the child grows from a newborn to an adult. The survey
consists of a parent and child questionnaire given at home, as well as a
teacher and principal questionnaire given at school. Some questions relate to
child maltreatment, for example, traumatic events such as abuse, conflict
between parents and parents use of physical punishment. Based on the
research, recommendations for governments, communities and individuals will be
used to enhance child development.
- The governments commitment to diversity and human rights
demands that all Canadians have a right to dignity and respectful treatment,
regardless of ethnic, racial, religious, gender or other differences. The
Multiculturalism Program is working in partnership with other federal
departments such as Justice, the Solicitor General and Industry Canada, to
develop a coordinated strategy to combat hate crime and bias activity.
- The National Strategy for Community Safety and Crime
Prevention promotes the integrated action of key governmental and
non-governmental partners to reduce crime and victimization, and to assist
communities in developing and implementing community-based solutions to
problems that contribute to crime and victimization, particularly violence
against youth, women and Aboriginal people. Its aim is also to increase public
awareness and support effective approaches to crime prevention. Launched in
1994, Phase I consisted primarily of coordinating a range of federal
initiatives that emphasized a proactive and social development model of crime
prevention. It also emphasized building federal, provincial/territorial and
community partnerships. Phase II, announced in 1998, enables the federal
government to broaden its partnerships and support communities in designing and
implementing innovative and sustainable ways of preventing crime.
- Addressing violence in First Nations and Inuit communities is
also a priority for the federal government. Federal support is provided to
community-based services to help in the prevention, intervention and treatment
of violence against women, and for research evaluation and professional
training that increase recognition of abuse and explore healing models.
Criminal Justice Measures
- Violence against women, including physical and sexual assault,
is considered a crime under the Criminal Code. The Department of Justice
participates in the Family Violence Initiative and, as part of its responsive
policy and programming, has amended the Criminal Code through several
measures to provide enhanced protection to women and children from violence and
- Bill C-42 (omnibus amendments) included over 100 amendments to
the Criminal Code. These amendments, proclaimed in 1995, included making
peace bonds (protective court orders) easier to obtain and more effective, and
increased the maximum penalty for a breach from six months to two years. They
also included the reclassification of certain offences (known as dual procedure
or hybrid offences). This allows the Crown prosecutor to choose to proceed
summarily or by way of indictment. Proceeding by way of summary conviction is
sometimes preferred in cases involving violence against women because it can
avoid having the victim testify twice.
- Bill C-72 (self-induced intoxication) clarified the criminal
law to indicate that intoxication is not a defence to any general intent crimes
of violence such as sexual assault and assault. It came into effect in 1995.
- Bill C-41 (sentencing) included amendments to the sentencing
provisions of the Criminal Code. These amendments, proclaimed in 1995,
provide that where an offender, in committing the offence, abuses his spouse or
child or a position of trust or authority, this shall be considered an
aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. The restitution provisions were
also amended to entitle a victim to seek restitution for actual and reasonable
expenses for moving out of the offenders home to avoid bodily
- Bill C-27 (child prostitution, child sex tourism, criminal
harassment and female genital mutilation (FGM)) included provisions to
facilitate the testimony of young victims and witnesses of sexual exploitation.
In addition, the legislation, proclaimed in 1997, allows for the prosecution of
Canadians who travel abroad and sexually exploit children, strengthens
penalties against those who exploit juvenile prostitutes and those who kill the
victims they have stalked, and clarifies that the practice of FGM is an
- Bill C-46 (production of records in sexual offence
proceedings) protects sexual offence victims by restricting the production of
personal information records, such as psychiatric, therapeutic and counselling
records. The legislation was proclaimed in 1997.
- In 1996, the federal government introduced the Firearms
Control Act. Key elements include licensing possession of firearms, a
national registration system for all firearms and a mandatory minimum sentence
in four years of prison, and a lifetime prohibition against the possession of a
restricted or prohibited firearm on conviction of specific violent offences,
including sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault. These
measures, intended to ensure greater community safety, will have an impact on
womens safety. Registration of firearms will enhance womens safety
by alerting police to the presence of firearms in scenes of family violence. In
dealing with applications for firearms acquisition certificates, risk factors
associated with incidents of family violence must be considered, and
applications require spousal consent.
- Criminal Code provisions relating to the defence of
provocation, self-defence and defence of property are under review as a result
of concerns expressed by a judicial inquiry and some womens groups that
these provisions are not applied in a gender-sensitive manner.
- The federal government is also reviewing an ad hoc process
that has been in existence since 1992 to respond to requests from victims
trying to change their identity to escape life-threatening spousal abuse.
Through this process, victims are provided with a new, de-linked (i.e., no
computer links) Social Insurance Number (SIN). Canada Pension Plan (CPP), tax
and social benefit records are also securely re-created under the new SIN.
Because of concerns about client safety, the federal government has initiated
an interdepartmental project to complete in-depth work with the provinces and
territories to determine whether a nationally coordinated New Identities
Program can be implemented. This initiative seeks to support victims
services strategies by addressing the concerns of victims of extreme family
violence in relation to safety, restitution and the prevention of further
- Other justice system initiatives include seeking to improve
the criminal justice system by making it more accessible to vulnerable groups,
including Aboriginal women and women with disabilities.
- The province of Saskatchewan adopted the first Victims of
Domestic Violence Act in Canada in February 1995. This civil legislation is
designed to provide an alternative, non-criminal response to victims of family
violence. The provisions include emergency intervention orders which may
provide for exclusive victim occupation of the home, and restrain the abuser
from communicating with or contacting the victim or members of the
victims family. Victims assistance orders may include monetary
compensation from the abuser, and warrants of entry which allow police officers
to obtain entry to a home where family violence is suspected. The second phase
of an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Victims of Domestic Violence
Act will be completed in 1999.
- Other jurisdictions in Canada have enacted similar
legislation. Prince Edward Islands Victims of Family Violence Act
is the first provincial act to include emotional abuse as a form of
violence. Manitobas The Domestic Violence and Stalking Prevention,
Protection and Compensation and Consequential Amendment Act is the first
act to address civil remedies for stalking. Yukon has enacted its Family
Violence Prevention Act and Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust
Act. Albertas legislation, the Protection Against Family Violence
Act was introduced in the Legislature during the 1998 spring sitting.
Training and Education in the Criminal Justice System
- Since January 1997, the Social Context Education Project at the
National Judicial Institute has developed and delivered a range of programs
examining the social context of judicial decision making for courts across the
country. During these programs, judges have examined issues such as equality,
impartiality, judicial independence and the process of decision making, as well
as considering the needs of women and disadvantaged communities, such as
Aboriginal peoples and racial minorities. The programs are available to both
federally and provincially appointed judges.
- As part of the Family Violence Initiative, the federal
government provides training on family violence within its jurisdiction in the
justice sector. The RCMP, Correctional Service of Canada personnel and members
of the National Parole Board all receive such training.
- As part of the Family Violence Initiative, in March 1998, the
Department of Justice Canada hosted the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Forum on
Spousal Abuse Cases, to discuss and exchange best practices by police, Crown
prosecutors, victims services and policy experts relating to spousal
- The First Nations Family Violence Course was developed by the
Canadian Police College in collaboration with the First Nations Chiefs of
Police Association, with funding provided by the Aboriginal Policing
Directorate within the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada. The
course has been offered on five occasions: May 1994, March 1995, 1996 and 1997,
and January 1998. The course provides First Nations police officers with the
skills and expertise to deal with family violence on reserves. The three-week
course offers training in investigative techniques, including confronting the
perpetrator, supporting the victims of family violence and attempting to guide
both the victim and aggressor toward the proper community or justice resources.
Having First Nations police officers trained in the area of family violence
investigation can only serve to help women living on reserve feel more
comfortable with reporting the crime to the police.
Supporting Community-Based Action
- The federal government provides funding for projects that
address violence against women in a variety of community contexts. Following
are some examples.
- The Aboriginal Friendship Centre Network developed a framework
for services and programs to meet the needs of urban Aboriginal women. The
Womens Community Action Team in the Northwest Territories developed a
series of community training modules in three Aboriginal languages.
- The Calgary Coalition Against Family Violence, with funding
from Status of Women Canada (SWC), worked extensively with womens
shelters and transition houses to ensure that the needs of immigrant and
visible minority women were met. The project resulted in changes to policies
and procedures by agencies throughout the shelter movement, involving such
areas as staffing and staff training, diet, child care and cultural
- Equay Wuk Womens Group was established in 1988 to
represent the interests of Aboriginal women in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation of
Northern Ontario. Women from 25 isolated First Nations communities are
represented. Status of Women Canada has been a key partner in supporting Equay
Wuk to develop and carry out a three-year, anti-violence strategy in northern
communities. Anti-violence training manuals were developed based on meetings
held with women in First Nations communities. The guides, in English and Oji
Cree, have been used extensively in training health and social service workers.
In addition, local women were trained to conduct workshops and to provide
support to women in their communities.
- As part of the Family Violence Initiative, efforts to increase
access to information and services often have a community focus. In 1995, the
government produced a booklet for immigrant women entitled Abuse is wrong in
any language. The government was also a key sponsor of the Canadian Mental
Health Associations document, Joining Together Against Violence, An
Agenda for Collaborative Action.
- The Multiculturalism Program of the Department of Canadian
Heritage has an allocation of $215,000 per year for family violence prevention
programming, as part of the Family Violence Initiative, for ethnic and visible
minority communities, particularly for community members who are not fluent in
either English or French. The Program is working with community NGO partners in
the three largest Canadian urban centres to develop heritage language
programming about family violence, including child abuse, for airing on ethnic
radio and television stations. It has also developed, in collaboration with
CFMT-TV (Canadas largest multilingual television station), a 30-second
public service announcement about the impact of family violence on children.
The announcement has been produced in 14 languages and was aired on all major
ethnic television stations across Canada.
- From 1992 to 1995, on behalf of the Family Violence Initiative,
funding was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and
Health Canada to establish five Research Centres on Family Violence and
Violence Against Women across Canada. Based on partnerships among front-line
workers, government officials and academics, each centre continues to carry out
participatory research, the results of which are available from Health
Canadas National Clearinghouse on Family Violence. In 1996, the centres
formed an alliance, and, in 1998, SWC provided financial assistance to the
alliance to develop recommendations for a national strategy on family violence
prevention and the girl child.
Awareness and Education Initiatives
- Through the National Film Board (NFB), the federal government
continues to produce films that stimulate discussion and promote action on the
issue of violence against women. Since 1995, the NFB has assisted in the
production of more than 10 English and French productions that focus on
violence against women, including De lamour à la violence :
trois femmes parlent, You Cant Beat A Woman and Mixed Messages:
Portrayals of Women in the Media. Through a partnership with the National
Clearinghouse on Family Violence, these films are distributed to 38 partner
libraries across Canada.
- The Department of Justice Canada has developed various
information materials to inform Canadians about their rights and
responsibilities under the law, including a booklet entitled Stalking is a
Crime Called Criminal Harassment, as well as a guide which explains how to
do gender equality analysis in the prosecution of family violence cases. The
Department has also developed information materials on spousal abuse for
immigrant women and their service providers, and on the use of peace bonds.
- In 1995, the federal interdepartmental Working Group on Female
Genital Mutilation supported community consultations on FGM and the development
of a literature review. In 1998, a workshop training module was developed for
communities to address the health, legal and cultural aspects of this practice.
- In April 1994, the federal government, as part of the Family
Violence Initiative and in partnership with the Canadian Association of
Broadcasters, launched a two-part national campaign to raise awareness about
violence and to change peoples attitudes toward violence. One major
element of the Speak Out Against Violence Campaign was the
broadcast, on a national scale, of a series of radio and television public
service announcements. Phase I of the campaign focused on messages designed to
raise awareness about violence in general.
- Phase II of the campaign was launched in April 1996 and lasted
a year. Entitled Violence: You Can Make A Difference, it went
beyond raising awareness of the issue of violence to giving practical
information to Canadians for action against violence. It revolved around a new
series of television and radio announcements on the themes of violence against
women, violence against children and media literacy. To support this campaign,
print materials were developed and distributed to communities across Canada.
- An evaluation of Phase II of this initiative concluded that
the campaign was successful. It found that violence issues, including family
violence, are of concern to Canadians, that the television and radio public
service announcements were well received and the print materials were useful to
a wide variety of front-line workers, service agencies and other intervenors.
- In June 1996, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Forum of
Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women released a resource guide
entitled Beyond Violence: Reaching for Higher Ground. This guide
catalogues violence prevention and intervention initiatives across the country,
and aims to help governments and community organizations share information on
best practices and avoid unwarranted duplication.
- To mark Canadas National Day of Remembrance and Action
on Violence Against Women (December 6) in 1998, the Iqaluit Declaration of
the Federal- Provincial-Territorial Status of Women Ministers on Violence
Against Women was issued. The Declaration reflects the shared vision of
Canadas status of women ministers of safe, healthy communities in every
region of the country and government commitments to end violence against women.
Shelters for Women Leaving Abusive Situations
- Transition homes in Canada have more than 85,000 admissions of
women and dependent children every year. Eighty percent of these women are
escaping abusive situations. From April 1, 1997 to March 31, 1998, there were
90,792 admissions to the 413 facilities that responded to the survey question
47,962 women and 42,830 children. In a snapshot taken on April 20, 1998,
the 422 shelters that provided data had 6,115 residents 2,918 women and
3,197 accompanying children. Nearly 80 percent of the women and children living
in shelters that day were there to escape abuse. These women were escaping from
psychological abuse (78 percent), physical assault (67 percent), threats (48
percent) and sexual assault (26 percent). Non-abuse admissions for both women
and children generally resulted from housing problems (almost three quarters of
those women admitted for reasons unrelated to abuse).
- The federal government has made a substantial investment in
building and enhancing shelters in Canada. Its commitment to providing and
enhancing housing for women and children in crisis continues through the $4.3
million Shelter Enhancement Program (SEP), launched in 1996. The federal
government upgraded existing second-stage housing and emergency shelters to
meet acceptable health, safety and security standards, as well as to address
the needs of children, older clients and persons with disabilities. It also
constructed new family violence emergency shelters in First Nations
communities, which opened in 1998-99. Since 1995, 3,000 shelter units have been
enhanced under this program.
- The largest period of growth came in the 1980s as the issues
of violence against women and family violence gained attention at all levels of
government. Much of the growth between 1989 and 1998 was due to the development
of shelters in Aboriginal communities and in rural areas. In 1998 for example,
46 percent of shelters served rural areas (and may also have served
urban/suburban areas), and 29 percent provided services to reserves. Currently,
however, safe shelters in Canada accommodate about 90,000 women and children
annually. An evaluation of the federal governments SEP will be conducted
in 2000-01. As part of this evaluation, the question of need, and
the extent to which the Program addresses it, will be assessed where possible.
Conditions of Women in Federal Prison
- Women serving federal sentences make up approximately 4 percent
of the total federal offender population. More than half of the 850 women
offenders are in the community on conditional release.
- In 1990, the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women
recommended the replacement of the sole federal Prison for Women with four
regional facilities and an Aboriginal healing lodge. The Task Force also
recommended that these facilities operate on a community-living model and that
women-centred programs be developed.
- These five new facilities, accommodating medium and minimum
security women, were operational by the end of the 1996-97 fiscal year, are
located in Nova Scotia, Québec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Eighty-five percent of federally sentenced women are now housed in these
- In April 1996, a few months before the opening of the new
facilities, the commission of inquiry into a disturbance at the Kingston Prison
for Women released its report. The Arbour Commission, in general, supported
Correctional Service of Canadas plans for the new facilities but made
several recommendations to further ensure there would be consistent improvement
in the management of women offenders. In response to this report, the federal
government committed to several key measures, including the following.
- A Deputy Commissioner of Womens Corrections has been
appointed to be responsible for all policy and program development for women
offenders in the federal correctional system.
- An external monitor has been appointed to oversee and report
annually for the next three years on the systemic impacts, if any, of
cross-gender staffing at the regional womens institutions. The project
began in January 1998 with the second annual report being released in 1999. The
final phase of the project is under way.
- Correctional Service of Canada has amended its policy to state
that, in a womens institution, there will never be an all-male
institutional emergency response team used as a first response, and at no time
will male staff ever participate in, or witness, a strip search of female
- An exclusion order in place at the Edmonton Institution for
Women authorizes the Correctional Service of Canada to have women only in
front-line staff for three years, pending the final recommendations of the
cross-gender staffing monitor.
- The implementation of the new facilities for women included not
only a new physical design but also the establishment of a program strategy for
women offenders and a unique staff selection and training program. In addition
to standard correctional officer training, front-line staff are required to
participate in a 10-day modularized women-centred course.
- The Okimaw Ochi Healing Lodge for Aboriginal women is the
first institution of its kind in Canada, and was developed with and for the
First Nations community. The majority of the staff, including the
kikawinaw (director of the institution our mother in
the Cree language) are of Aboriginal descent. The Okimaw Ochi Healing Lodge
opened in 1996 near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, and operates at capacity with 28
women offenders. The interventions with the women are Aboriginal based, with a
strong emphasis on culture and spirituality. There are full-time, on-site elder
services available, and a major component is the strong link between the
programs and the larger Aboriginal community. Women offenders at the Healing
Lodge also have the opportunity to participate in the residential mother-child
- With the regional facilities, the Correctional Service of
Canada designed an environment which provides women with related opportunities
to accept responsibility, learn new skills and successfully return to the
community. The institutional design and operation is based on a
community-living model. The inmate housing is provided through stand-alone
houses clustered behind a main building containing staff offices, program
space, a health care unit and visiting area. Each facility also has an enhanced
security unit, which contains cells used for segregation and initial reception
for new admissions. Each house accommodates 6-10 women and includes communal
living space, kitchen, dining area, bathrooms, a utility/laundry room and
access to the grounds. The women in each house are responsible for all their
daily living needs, including cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. There are no
staff members in the houses; however, regular counts are done. As well, the
facilities all have a perimeter fence with a detection system, and the doors
and windows on each house have alarms.
- During 1996-97, it became apparent that the community living
concept and design of these facilities did not meet the needs of the maximum
security population or the women with severe mental health needs, in terms of
both security and programming. Based on a comprehensive review of operations
and an assessment of the population, it became evident that some inmates pose
an unacceptably high safety risk, or their mental health status was such that
appropriate long-term clinical intervention could not be addressed within the
community-living operation of the regional institutions. After examining a
number of options, available accommodations in existing facilities where women
are housed separate from the male population are being used as an interim
- The Correctional Service of Canada has also implemented two
intensive mental health treatment programs one at the Regional
Psychiatric Centre in the Prairie Region and one at the Prison for Women in
Ontario for those women with significant mental health problems.
- The Women Offender Initiative of the Correctional Service of
Canada represents a new and innovative way of housing and assisting women. To
date, it has proven to be a successful approach to correctional interventions
for women offenders. It is anticipated that the initiative will continue to
evolve within the gender-responsive framework established in Creating
Choices, the 1990 Task Force Report.
Support for Aboriginal Women
- In January 1998, the Government of Canada launched Gathering
Strength Canadas Aboriginal Action Plan, a comprehensive long-term
plan to develop healthy, more self-sufficient and economically viable
- Gathering Strength sets out commitments under four themes:
renewing partnerships, strengthening Aboriginal governance, developing a new
fiscal relationship, and building strong communities, people and economies. The
aim of this integrated agenda is to improve living conditions, develop
employment-related skills and promote economic development.
- Aboriginal women living in poverty benefit from the integrated
and numerous Gathering Strength initiatives, in particular:
- the development of a framework for welfare reforms focusing on
economic development and job creation
- the Aboriginal Human Resource Development Strategy which
includes labour market programs and child care
- the Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative which
increases recruitment, employment, retraining and promotion of Aboriginal
- increased funding for housing, water and sewer projects on
- Canada has undertaken research and development of supports for
Aboriginal entrepreneurs. Programs include: Aboriginal Business Canada; the
Opportunities Fund; the Aboriginal Business Development Centre; Canadas
Aboriginal Youth Business Strategy; and the Aboriginal Export and Trade
Directory. These programs are particularly beneficial to Aboriginal women as
their growth in self-employment is double that of women generally. An
additional program, the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business, was
developed by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND)
and is supported by Public Works and Government Services Canada. In 1998-99,
103 contracts were awarded to Aboriginal firms.
- The Immigration Review Board Guidelines on Women Refugee
Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution, issued originally in 1993,
were updated in 1996 to clarify and strengthen the principle that adjudicating
gender persecution requires making the links between a womans gender, the
feared persecution and one or more of the enumerated grounds for persecution.
- The Guidelines now take into account Supreme Court of Canada
decisions confirming that gender is the basis for entitlement to protection as
a member of a particular social group one of the grounds for
recognition of Convention refugee status. As well, the amended Guidelines
clarify that, in the context of civil war, sexual violence must be recognized
as gender persecution.
- In response to a request from the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees in 1998, Citizenship and Immigration Canada hosted an
international workshop of government officials, NGOs and Women at Risk program
participants to examine challenges facing both governments and NGOs in the
delivery of programs designed to protect refugee women. That workshop was
followed by a national workshop on Canadas Women at Risk program. One
outcome of these workshops is the Urgent Protection Pilot implemented in 1999.
The Pilot was tested on women in need of urgent protection and involved
expedited processing in their selection and resettlement. Women at Risk in need
of urgent protection are now selected within 24 hours and resettled in Canada
within 48- 72 hours.
Proposals to Reform Immigration Legislation
- In November 1996, an independent advisory group was
established to review legislation relating to immigration and the protection of
refugees. Building on the report of the Legislative Review Advisory Group
(released in January 1998) and subsequent public consultations, the Department
of Citizenship and Immigration developed proposals to reform Canadas
immigration legislation. These proposals were presented in a document entitled
Building on a Strong Foundation for the 21st Century: New Directions for
Immigration and Refugee Policy and Legislation. This document contains
several proposals of particular significance to women under consideration for
- The government proposed to discuss (with provincial and
territorial governments) a possible reduction in the length of sponsorships for
spouses and children. Currently, the duration of a sponsorship is 10 years for
all categories; while in Québec, the duration is three years for
spouses. In keeping with Canadian values and important national policies in
support of families and children, it was proposed to prohibit sponsorship by
people in default of court-ordered obligations (alimony or child support) and
people convicted of crimes involving domestic violence. Enacting a provision
that suspends sponsorship obligations, if the sponsor or the sponsored
immigrant is convicted of violence against the other person, would also
recognize the overwhelming evidence of danger for the victim that any contact
with the convicted person represents.
- In the area of immigrant selection, the government proposed to
undertake further research to determine how a new selection system might take
into account the potential for the social and economic contribution of spouses.
The government also examined its policies in the area of employment for spouses
of temporary foreign workers and instituted a spousal pilot project,
automatically extending employment authorizations to spouses accompanying
highly skilled foreign workers entering Canada for a period of more than six
months. Programs of a more permanent nature are under consideration.
- Canada continues to promote the mainstreaming of a gender
perspective into programming and policy in the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR). Canada was a strong proponent of the establishment within
UNHCR of a senior coordinator for refugee women in 1989, and agreed to both
staff and fund the position for three years. The senior coordinator drafted the
UNHCR guidelines on refugee women, and the position has now become a permanent
UNHCR post attached to the Program Policy Unit. This position is regarded as an
important means of mainstreaming a gender perspective, and Canada continues to
support strongly the work of the UNHCR in this regard. Furthermore, Canada has
been, and continues to be, active within UNHCR Executive Committee discussions
on conclusions related to gender persecution and women refugees. Canada
continues to promote UNHCR reporting on steps taken to mainstream gender
concerns in their activities, including efforts to follow up on the
implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
(DFAIT) works actively at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the UN General Assembly to support
resolutions calling for the elimination of violence against women, including
the girl child, to recognize violence against women as a violation of the human
rights of women, and to eliminate traditional or customary practices affecting
the health of women and girls, including female genital mutilation (FGM).
- As a result of a Canadian-led resolution at the CHR in 1994, a
Special Rapporteur on violence against women was appointed. (The Rapporteur is
in her third term, as of CHR 2000.) Support for this Canadian-led CHR
initiative is increasing with over 70 cosponsors from all regional groups.
- DFAIT recently launched a new research and policy development
initiative on gender and peace building. This initiative focuses on the
gender-differentiated experiences, accounts, impacts and perspectives of armed
conflict. The policy work seeks to address, from a gender perspective, the
broad issues of peace implementation, human security and the cessation of
violence. The objective is to integrate a gender perspective into the
Departments peace building policy development and peace implementation
- DFAIT is co-developing the Joint Canada-UK Gender Awareness
Training Initiative for Civilian and Military Participants in Peace Operations.
The training curriculum under development will enhance awareness of the gender
dimensions of peace operations and provide participants with the ability to
employ gender analysis in the field. This will be achieved through the
provision of concrete skills and tools. The pilot is expected to be delivered
in March 2000.
- The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre has been involved with the
creation of Gender Training for Peacekeepers. This course sensitizes those
involved in peacekeeping with the trauma faced by local women in the areas of
operation, including the impacts of culture and religion.
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Article 4: Temporary Special Measures
Womens Equality and Role in the Federally Regulated
- The federal government is one of the largest employers of women
in the country and, as such, has a responsibility to exercise leadership in
promoting gender equality within the public service. The federal government is
committed to increasing womens recruitment, development and promotional
opportunities within the federal public service. One key objective outlined in
The Federal Plan for Gender Equality is the advancement of gender
equality for employees of federal departments and agencies.
- The representation of women in the federal public service has
gone from 42 percent in 1987 to 49.5 percent in 1996; in 1998, that figure rose
to 50.5 percent. Despite these advances, women in the public service have yet
to attain gender parity with men in terms of career development, opportunities
for advancement and job security.
- A number of initiatives are under way to improve the
representation of women in non-traditional public service occupations.
- There are recruitment campaigns to attract women to
non-traditional occupations and programs, and to facilitate the transition of
administrative support staff into high growth, high demand career streams such
as computer science.
- Some departments have introduced mentoring programs to enhance
promotion opportunities for women in non-traditional occupations.
- Other departments have set targets for the participation of
women in recruitment and career-bridging programs.
- A major initiative in support of the goal of improving the
representation of women in the public sector was strengthened with the coming
into force of the new Employment Equity Act on October 24, 1996. The new
Act strengthened the former Employment Equity Act of 1986. It continues
to apply to private sector employers under federal jurisdiction, and it
includes almost all employees in the federal public sector. In addition, the
Act gives the Canadian Human Rights Commission the authority to conduct audits
and to verify and gain employment equity compliance, clarifies existing
employer responsibilities and streamlines regulatory procedures. Where
compliance is not attained within a designated period, the Commission may issue
directions to order compliance.
- The 1996 Employment Equity Act enhances the merit
principle by ensuring that all qualified candidates are considered for
employment opportunities. The legislation specifically states that the
obligation to implement employment equity does not require an employer to hire
or promote unqualified persons.
- The Act requires federally regulated employers to move toward a
more representative work force by developing and implementing an employment
equity plan. The plan, based on a careful analysis of the employers work
force and a review of the employment systems to identify barriers, must contain
flexible numerical goals (not rigid quotas) for the hiring and promotion of
designated group members in those occupational groups where there is
under-representation. The four designated groups are women, Aboriginal peoples,
persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities. These goals,
which, in most cases, must be higher than availability in the labour force, are
intended to act as human resource planning tools. They must be supported by
sufficient special measures to ensure they are achieved. Employers are required
to make all reasonable efforts to implement their plan and achieve the goals
they have set, but failure to achieve these goals does not automatically result
- Under the Act, employers must report on their progress
annually, and these reports are made available to the public. On June 1st of
each year, employers covered under the Act (about 340 employers and 568,000
employees) submit to the Minister of Labour a report on the employment
situation of the four designated groups for the previous year.
- Reports filed by employers covered under the Employment
Equity Act indicate that the four designated groups are under-represented
in most occupational categories and industrial sectors everywhere in Canada.
- Employment equity for the public service (those for whom
Treasury Board is the employer) is now legislated in the Financial
Administration Act, through passage of the Public Service Reform Act
- In addition, Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) tables
an annual report on employment equity in Parliament. The report for 1998
(released in February 1999) shows that the overall representation of women in
the work force under the Act was 44.57 percent in 1997, compared to 44.81
percent in 1996 (compared to overall representation in the Canadian labour
force of 46.4 percent according to the 1996 Census). The decrease was mainly
due to the fact that significantly more women were terminated than were hired
in the work force under the Act in 1997, mainly in the banking sector. Despite
a slight decrease, from 1996-97, in the overall representation of women in the
work force, their representation increased in full-time work and in promotions.
- In the banking sector, the number of jobs traditionally
occupied by women has decreased significantly in the last 10 years, and banks
have not been hiring enough women into other jobs to compensate for the
decrease. In 1997, women represented 73.79 percent of all employees in the
banking sector, compared to 74.76 percent in 1996. However, there have been
increases in some key areas, such as in the number of female executives.
- The average salary of women working full time in the federally
regulated private sector work force under the Act was $39,282 in 1997, compared
to $51,727 for men.
- Women increased their share of promotions in permanent jobs in
the private sector from 55.96 percent in 1996 to 56.59 percent in 1997. In
1998, that figure rose to 57.6 percent.
- In the private sector subject to the Employment Equity
Act, women in the other three designated groups earned average salaries
that were lower than the salaries of all women in the work force. The
representation of persons with disabilities decreased significantly, from 2.66
percent in 1996 to 2.31 percent in 1997. Women with disabilities accounted for
almost 85 percent of this decline.
- In addition to the Employment Equity Act, the federal
government has other initiatives to advance the representation of women in the
federal public service.
- The Treasury Board Secretariat announced its new Employment
Equity Positive Measures Program in December 1998 as a successor program to the
former Special Measures Initiatives Program (SMIP) which ended in March 1998.
By 1997-98, the SMIP, along with federal government departments, had funded 166
special measure programs for the four designated groups at a cost of $32.5
million. Many of these programs were designed to address special measures for
women. Some of the programs included career development, moving women into
non-traditional occupations and out of the administrative support categories,
workplace equality and mentoring programs.
- The new Employment Equity Positive Measures Program is a
temporary four-year program, running from 1998-99 to 2001-02. It is designed to
promote greater self-sufficiency of departments and agencies in achieving their
employment equity objectives and fulfilling legislated obligations. It also
positions central agencies to better discharge their legislated
responsibilities to address system-wide employment equity priorities. The
Program aims to: promote multi-departmental partnership projects dealing with
barriers to employment equity; provide an intervention fund for strategic
initiatives; offer career counselling to designated group members; and
establish the Employment Equity Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities.
- The Management Trainee Program is designed to attract
qualified university graduates from both inside and outside the public service
and to develop them to the middle management level. As of March 1996, 55
percent of the participants were women.
- The Diversity in Leadership Program, which assesses the
experience of aspiring senior level, employment equity group managers, includes
a component to develop women for non-traditional occupations.
- The Career Assignment Program (CAP) and the International
Program also seek to ensure that qualified women are nominated as participants
wherever possible. CAP is intended to develop the executive potential of
promising public servants through rotating assignments. As of March 31, 1997,
62 percent of CAP participants were women. The International Program identifies
qualified candidates for work experience in international organizations.
- A number of steps have been taken to create a more supportive
and flexible work environment in the federal public service. There is a focus
on learning and development, balancing work and family, wellness, and
recognition of individual and team accomplishments. There is also promotion of
the value and strengths of gender equality and diversity in the work force.
Medical and dental benefits have been extended to the same-sex partners of
- The introduction of a government-wide flexible workplace policy
has been positive. As a result, public servants can take advantage of a number
of flexible working arrangements such as telework, compressed hours, job
sharing, part-time work, daycare and self-funded leave. These initiatives
particularly benefit employees seeking better ways to balance family and
- In 1994, a strengthened harassment policy was introduced into
the federal public service. It includes access to impartial mediation and
conflict resolution, and a new prescribed means of handling harassment
complaints. As a result, all departments are reviewing, updating and improving
their harassment policies and procedures. Training programs on interpersonal
relations, harassment, abuse of authority and conflict resolution have been
introduced in many departments.
- There have also been changes to the physical design of the
workplace and adjacent areas to improve the physical safety of women employees
of the federal public service. This has included tree trimming to eliminate
hiding places along exterior walkways and improved lighting in parking areas.
Some departments have undertaken personal safety inspections and audits, while
others have made self-defence courses or information available to employees.
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Article 5: Elimination of Stereotypes
- Awareness and education programs in the area of violence
against women are discussed under Article 3. A discussion of the promotion of
women role models in the area of sports, and a commemoration of womens
achievements in history are discussed under Article 13.
- The Womens Program administered by Status of Women Canada
(SWC) provided $1.6 million in grants and contributions in 1996-97 to
equality-seeking groups to address such issues as sexual assault, family
violence, pornography and the portrayal of women in the media.
- In 1995-96, SWCs Womens Program provided funding to
the Students Commission of Canada to prepare a multimedia kit on young
womens issues entitled Challenge the Assumptions. In 1997-98,
SWC provided funding to the Commission to hold a national video conference,
Challenge Those Images. The conference involved young women in the
development of critical perspectives on the impact of media on young women and
in articulating recommendations related to the negative portrayal of young
women in the media to influence media professionals and other relevant decision
- In March 1997, SWC held the Roundtable on the Portrayal of
Young Women in the Media. Participants included industry representatives,
advertising agencies, publishers, fashion editors and television producers, as
well as academics and representatives of MediaWatch with expertise on the
impact of media images on young women. Among the concerns discussed were the
relationship between the portrayal of women as victims of violence and violence
against women, and the sexualization of younger women. This dialogue continues.
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Article 6: Trafficking of Women and
- Prostitution itself is not illegal in Canada, but a number of
prostitution-related activities are prohibited. It is a criminal offence to
keep or be an inmate of a bawdy house (brothel). Procuring or
living off the avails of prostitution is illegal. Finally, it is an
offence to communicate in public for the purpose of engaging in prostitution
(this applies to the customer as well as the prostitute).
- On December 15, 1998, the FederalProvincial-Territorial
Working Group on Prostitution released its final report entitled Report and
Recommendations in Respect of Legislation, Policy and Practices Concerning
Prostitution-Related Activities. The Working Group was established in 1992
by the federal and provincial/territorial deputy ministers of justice. Its
mandate was to review legislation, policy and practices concerning
prostitution-related activities and to provide recommendations. The Working
Group focused its energies on the issues of youth involved in prostitution and
the harm associated with street prostitution. The issue of violence against
prostitutes was raised frequently as it affects both youth and all street
prostitutes. The Working Group found that, despite a series of Criminal
Code amendments made over the last 25 years, there is compelling evidence
that the current law is not working.
- The Working Group recommended that the response to youth
involved in prostitution should include social intervention strategies and more
effective measures to apprehend and prosecute those who sexually exploit youth.
Any response should also address the issue from the perspective of the
victimization of youth.
- The Canadian government is working interdepartmentally to
develop domestic policies to deal with trafficking in women in Canada and a
federal government interdepartmental working group on trafficking is examining
issues related to trafficking in women in preparation for negotiations of the
UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime.
- Canada supports the elaboration of the Protocol to Prevent,
Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children,
Supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. Canada
emphasizes the importance of including human rights protections and safeguards
and, if appropriate, an article on discrimination.
- In 1996, the Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed a special
advisor on childrens rights, with a mandate to provide advice on
childrens issues, liaise with NGOs, the academic community, business and
the public, and to participate actively in national and international
activities on childrens rights. The special advisor also chairs an
interdepartmental committee that is following up on the Agenda for Action of
the 1996 Stockholm Congress on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
The focus of the committee is to help develop and promote a Canadian strategy
that is aligned with the orientations set out in the Report of the
Rapporteur-General, prepared by the former UN Special Rapporteur on the
sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
- The interdepartmental committee was instrumental in the
convening of the Summit on Sexually Exploited Youth held in March 1998 in
Victoria, British Columbia. The Summit provided a forum for victims of sexual
abuse to convey their personal experiences, and brought together youth
(primarily girls) from the Americas with experience in the commercial sex
trade. They successfully developed a declaration and an action plan. Canada is
currently exploring ways to develop support mechanisms for youth, particularly
girls, to return to their communities. This includes rehabilitation and
counselling, education and training, and reintegration into the community and
- Canada has also been very supportive of the early adoption of
the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale
of Children, Child Pornography and Child Prostitution. It has been very active
in the negotiations to ensure that the text would oblige states to criminalize
these practices and to put measures into place to protect child victims.
- The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) supports a
number of initiatives to prevent the exploitation of women in developing
countries, including the trafficking of women. Through its Southeast Asia Fund
for Institutional and Legal Development, CIDA has supported the national and
international action to control, reduce and ultimately eliminate the
exploitation of migrant labor, especially the trade in women in the sex
industry in the Mekong area.
- Efforts to prevent trafficking in women have historically
focused on controlling illegal migration and punishing those who violate
immigration law. There is now an understanding that a broader approach is
necessary one which not only focuses on preventing illegal immigration,
but also recognizes and protects the human rights of the women being
trafficked, and prosecutes those who perpetuate and facilitate this
trafficking. In order to develop policies and programs that satisfy the
requirements of this broader framework, it is important to have a good
understanding of how trafficking plays out in Canada. Unfortunately, there is
limited concrete information on the extent and the nature of trafficking in
women in Canada, and on the implications for municipal, provincial and federal
governments of policies that would reinforce this wider approach.
- A Federal Government Interdepartmental Working Group on
Trafficking is presently examining issues related to trafficking in women in
preparation for negotiations of the UN Convention on Transnational Organized
- SWC has contracted four research projects on the Canadian
dimension of trafficking in women. It is anticipated that the research will
provide greater insight into the extent of the problem in Canada and suggest
possible legal and social approaches to the issue, which would take into
account the various jurisdictional aspects. The projects are scheduled for
completion by the year 2001.
- SWC has convened a series of roundtables to address different
aspects of the issue of exploitation of children, with a focus on the
exploitation of girls and young women. The first one held in December 1996
the Roundtable on Child Sex Tourism brought representatives of
the travel and tourism industry together with groups such as Street Kids
International and End Prostitution in Asian Tourism to discuss how Canadians
can contribute to solving the problem of child sex tourism. A subsequent
roundtable in March 1998 produced a draft action plan for a national education
campaign against the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The campaign,
called Stolen Innocence, brings together representatives of the Canadian travel
and tourism industry, NGOs and governments to coordinate efforts to address the
problem both here and abroad.
- The Womens Program, administered by SWC, has also funded
a number of activities undertaken by NGOs in this area, including Passages :
Centre des femmes pour jeunes prostituées de Montréal, to
undertake a public awareness and education campaign on issues of street life,
commercial sexual exploitation and violence against women. The project
Lautre coté de la rue will train 10 female street youth to
facilitate workshops in Montréal, St-Jérome, Drummondville,
Buckingham and Hull. In addition, the Womens Program has provided funding
to The Tracey Memorial Project carried out in Vancouver by Prostitution
Alternatives Counselling and Education to look at off-street prostitution. In
Saskatchewan, funding was provided in support of a project entitled Saskatoon
Communities for Children to begin the process of implementing the strategies
and recommendations developed by the Working Group to End the Sexual Abuse of
Children by Pimps and Johns. It involved working with community groups,
government departments and agencies to establish fiscal responsibilities and
time lines for the implementation of recommendations. Outcomes include the
establishment of a safe house, healing and treatment programs for victims aged
7-15 and service protocols among the various agencies involved.
- SWC also supports community-based action on trafficking in
women. For example, in the spring of 1997, SWC provided financial assistance to
the North American Regional Consultative Forum on Trafficking in Women held by
the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW) Canada. The Forum took
place in Victoria, British Columbia.
- More recently, SWC provided funding to the Toronto Network
Against Trafficking in Women to document the experiences of the women arrested
under Operation Orphan in Toronto in September 1997.
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Article 7: Women in Politics and Public
- A key objective for Canada outlined in The Federal Plan for
Gender Equality is the incorporation of womens perspectives in
governance. The federal government acknowledges that promoting womens
participation and representation in governance and decision making at
all levels of political and social life is an essential step in
improving womens status and well-being. It is also a fundamental
prerequisite for womens equality and is integral to respecting
womens human rights.
- Despite their many advances in leadership roles, women continue
to be under-represented in such critical areas as politics and the corporate
business sector. Women are also a minority among professionals working in such
fields as the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.
Representation in the Federal Parliament
- As of December 1998, women comprise 60 (or 19.9 percent) of the
301 elected members of the House of Commons. This is up from 13.6 percent in
1990 and 5.0 percent in 1980.
- Within the appointed Senate, women constitute 32 of the 104
senators, or 30.8 percent. This is up from 13.5 percent in 1990 and 10.2
percent in 1980.
Representation on Boards and Judicial Appointments
- The federal government acts to ensure gender balance is
considered when proposing candidates for appointments to federal boards and
agencies. Some departments have developed guidelines in this regard, while
others are establishing data banks of qualified women who can be considered for
appointments to boards and commissions.
- Between April 1, 1994 and March 31, 1998, a total of 3,021
appointments were made to federal boards and commissions; of these 1,930 were
men and 1,091 were women.
- The federal government continues its efforts to recommend women
for appointments to the federal judiciary. In 1997, 17 of 39 judicial
appointments were women, while in 1998, 17 of 55 appointments were women.
- In 1997, Industry Canada and Canadian Women in Communications
(CWC) established an exchange program to foster professional and personal
growth for high potential business and government employees. As part of this
exchange program, awards are offered each year to two candidates from the
private sector and two employees from Industry Canada. Industry Canadas
participation in this program complements the existing Jeanne Sauvé
Award, an internship program sponsored by the Department of Canadian Heritage
and the CWC in memory of Canadas first female Governor General.
Women in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- During 1996, it became evident that many female applicants
were unsuccessful in passing the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation
(PARE) for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The main reason was the
lack of upper body strength. To alleviate the problem, recruiting personnel
(with the assistance of the B Division (Newfoundland)
fitness-lifestyle coordinator and Depot Division (formerly the RCMP
Training Academy) fitness staff) developed a training program specifically
designed for female applicants in preparation for PARE. This program is
available to all applicants, regardless of gender. Since its inception, a vast
improvement has been noted in PARE test results for female applicants.
- The RCMP is continuing to develop initiatives to have the
number of instructional staff correspond to the proportion of women, visible
minority and Aboriginal members throughout the RCMP work force. Policy on the
recruitment of applicants from designated groups has also been established
based on the need to make the RCMP more representative of the clients it serves
and to ensure that recruiting supports community policing principles.
Women in the Canadian Armed Forces
- In 1989, a human rights tribunal concluded that the exclusion
of qualified women from combat roles could not be justified. It ordered the
Canadian Forces to develop a plan to ensure that the integration of women
proceeded steadily, regularly and consistently toward complete
integration into combat operations within 10 years. Full integration does not
mean that women must make up half of Canadian Forces members. Rather, barriers
must be eliminated so that women, who meet the required standards and want to
serve, can have a career in combat occupations and other areas where previously
there were limits on the numbers of women who could serve in a specific
- As of September 1997, women accounted for 10.6 percent of the
effective strength of the Canadian Forces. However, in 1998, women still
accounted for only 4.8 percent of the members of combat occupations in the
navy, army and air force. In 1997, Land Command developed a targeted
recruitment campaign to increase the number of women in combat occupations,
with Operation Minerva, which was targeted toward career retention and
promotion, and the elimination of systemic barriers by 1999. The army has
requested that 25 percent of its intake of recruits be women, in order to
obtain a critical mass for training and employment in various units. Beginning
in January 1998, the army launched a $1.5 million advertising campaign aimed at
recruiting women for infantry, armor, artillery and engineering roles. From
1989 to 1997, 245 women joined all four combat non-commissioned member
occupations. As of November 1998, in the four months following the completion
of the campaign, 368 women applied for at least one combat arms occupation, and
recruiting centres received numerous applications from women wanting to
transfer from the primary reserve to regular force combat arms positions.
- Maritime Command has undertaken various initiatives, including
a study of the reasons that lead women to leave the navy and a re-examination
of its family support policies.
- Other initiatives undertaken by the Canadian Forces include
efforts to design its newer ships, and those undergoing refits, in a way that
provides flexible accommodation to meet the needs of a mixed male and female
crew. Further, combat helmets, rucksacks, combat boots and flak jackets are
being modified to ensure that women have the same level of protection and
comfort as their male colleagues. Diversity issues are included in senior level
Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Forces briefings and
seminars, and gender issues are covered extensively in the Departments
harassment elimination program. A harassment sensitization course, Standard for
Harassment and Racism Prevention, is now mandatory for every member of DND and
the Canadian Forces. A gender integration component is being incorporated into
the curricula of basic recruit and officer training.
- The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS),
created in September 1997, was established to investigate reports of sexual
misconduct. It is independent of the operational chain of command, and is an
investigative body that will recommend criminal charges if warranted. The CFNIS
is a revamping of a special arm of the military police. It specializes in
sensitive investigations, and aims to develop expertise through its specialized
focus. It has the authority to bring sexual assault cases directly to trial,
thus eliminating the need for an officer who may have served directly
over the victim or the assailant or both to make the ultimate decision
to press a charge. The CFNIS has no mandate to conduct investigations into
sexual harassment, which is dealt with through other means.
- The CFNIS released statistics in July 1998 on investigations it
is conducting into sexual misconduct allegations. Between January and June
1998, the Service received reports of 97 sexual assaults and 13 other
- In the wake of a series of press reports on incidents of sexual
harassment and assault within the Canadian Forces in the spring of 1998, the
Canadian Forces has made a number of efforts to step up its commitment to
eliminating these unacceptable behaviours. In May 1998, DND established a
national 1-800 hotline for reporting sexual assault incidents, with the new
National Investigation Service investigating the reported incidents. In June
1998, the militarys first ombudsman was appointed, providing an informal
clearinghouse for complaints. In November 1998, the Minister of National
Defence announced the re-establishment of an advisory board on gender
integration, headed by Sandra Perron, the former captain of the Royal 22nd
Regiment who left the military in 1996 after being harassed by fellow soldiers.
- The recent passage of Bill C-25 will also greatly improve the
effectiveness of the military justice system in dealing with complaints of
sexual assault in the military. The legislation to amend the National
Defence Act was given Royal Assent on December 10, 1998. One amendment
relating to sexual offences in the military and the military justice system is
of particular interest to women. The new legislation empowers the military
justice system to handle these matters directly, rather than having cases of
sexual assault tried in a civilian court, under the Criminal Code, as
they have been. As a result, cases of sexual assault can be tried under the
military justice system. This is expected to result in more expeditious and
serious treatment of any such complaint.
Women in Power and Decision Making
- The federal government continues its practice of ongoing
consultation with womens organizations and other community leaders on key
issues of concern to women. For example, since 1994, the Minister of Justice
and the Secretary of State for the Status of Women have consulted with
womens organizations on women and violence. Similar consultations have
been held on the developments of the Centres of Excellence on Womens
Health and on issues relating to sustainable development. Biannual
consultations are also held with national women farm leaders.
- Under Gathering Strength Canadas Aboriginal Action
Plan, the Department of Canadian Heritage works with Aboriginal womens
groups (both on and off the reserve) primarily to strengthen their capacity at
the community level, with some attendant support at the provincial/territorial
and national levels. The goal is to ensure the full and equitable participation
of Aboriginal women in the consultations and decision making surrounding
Aboriginal self-government initiatives.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
(DFAIT) has promoted engagement by Aboriginal women in power and decision
making by inviting the leaders of national Aboriginal womens
organizations to consultations convened by DFAIT on international indigenous
issues. For example, DFAIT sponsored Aboriginal women to attend sessions of the
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Fact-Finding Mission to Canada
on Intellectual Property Rights and Indigenous Peoples, during its cross-Canada
tour in November 1998.
- In 1996-97, through the Womens Program, Status of Women
Canada (SWC) provided funding in support of some 33 projects, with these grants
totaling $579,422 in support of a range of projects at national, regional and
local levels aimed at addressing the issue of the participation of women in
decision making. For example, funding was provided to the Manitoba Association
of Women and the Law to increase womens awareness of the federal
appointment system and areas where qualified and interested women are needed to
fill positions. In Ontario, Women Plan Toronto received funding to conduct
workshops aimed at getting women involved in municipal elections as well as
municipal governance issues in general. In Québec, the Table de
concertation des groupes de femmes de lest du Québec received
funding for four regional meetings. The goal in involving 27 womens
groups and 50 women, who sit on regional decision-making bodies, was to
increase the representation of women on these bodies and to improve the
supportive links among these women.
- The Government of Canada has also provided funding support for
projects undertaken by womens and other equality-seeking organizations to
address the participation of women in decision making. Of particular importance
is the funding of Aboriginal womens groups to participate in the
self-government process. Through this funding, a new relationship is being
forged with the Aboriginal community. Initiatives funded include the following.
- In response to the creation of Nunavut, Canadas newest
northern territory, the Inuit Womens Association of Canada (Pauktuutit)
implemented an education strategy for generating public support for gender
equality in the Nunavut legislature and the full participation of Inuit women
in self-government efforts. This was accomplished with the financial assistance
of the Womens Program. Pauktuutits work focused on the proposal for
gender parity in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly, and encouraged womens
participation in the plebiscite on gender parity. Pauktuutit held education and
strategy sessions with women from across the North, developed a website to post
information throughout the plebiscite process, and taught women how to use
telecommunication tools and the information highway in networking and coalition
building. In the end, although the plebiscite results did not adopt the gender
parity proposal, there was widespread public debate about the proposal, laying
the groundwork for future public policy discussions on gender equality.
- The Nova Scotia Native Womens Association researched the
traditional role of Mikmaq women in the self-governing process. Through
its efforts, the Association successfully acquired official status in the
NS-Canada Tripartite Forum on Native Self-Government in 1997, thus facilitating
Native womens involvement in setting public policy on the critical issue
of self-government for Native people in Nova Scotia.
- The Aboriginal Womens Action Network received funding in
1997-98 to undertake research on the impact of Bill C-31 (an amendment to the
Indian Act) on Aboriginal women in British Columbia, on the extent of
inequities in status and membership and, consequently, access to decision
making and resources. Through interviews and questionnaires, research is being
conducted, primarily with urban Aboriginal women throughout the province, to
identify issues related to band membership, access to homelands and rights for
Aboriginal women. In partnership with other urban Aboriginal groups, a strategy
is being developed to address identified issues, and improve womens
access to band membership and the self-government process.
- Through the Government of Canada, the Canadian Adaptation and
Rural Development Fund is providing $80,000 to farm and rural womens
organizations to undertake leadership development and strategic planning
workshops in order to revitalize and strengthen their organizations
- The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
(DIAND) provided the Native Womens Association of Canada with project
funding of $250,000 for a national conference on Bill C-31 which was held in
March 1998, and $45,000 for a national follow-up conference which was held in
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Article 8: Women as International
- The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
(DFAIT) has made progress in the last five years toward the goal of achieving a
work force that reflects the diversity of the Canadian labour market. Progress
is also being made to meet obligations under the Employment Equity Act.
In addition, DFAIT is committed to improving the career prospects of women by
increasing their representation in departmental management and by facilitating
their access to non-traditional occupations. Efforts continue to be made to
implement outreach measures to recruit visible minorities, persons with
disabilities and Aboriginal peoples.
- In 1998-99, women made up 44.7 percent of DFAITs work
force. This is an increase from their representation of 40.8 percent on March
31, 1994. In the Foreign Service officer group, women comprise 28.4 percent, an
increase from 22.8 percent in 1994. Progress continues to be made in the
recruitment of women. In 1998-99, 49 percent of new employees were female, a
slight decrease compared to 52 percent on March 31, 1994. Progress is also
being achieved in the Departments commitment to ensure that 50 percent of
the candidates interviewed annually are women. The rate of promotion among
women has also improved; in 1998-99, 45.5 percent of the people who received
promotions were women, compared to 36.7 percent in 1994-95. The separation rate
for women in 1998-99 was 46.6 percent, an improvement compared to March 31,
1994 when the rate was 51.5 percent.
- Current female representation in the executive group of DFAIT
is 13.3 percent compared to 8.7 percent in 1994. In 1999, 16.6 percent of heads
of mission were women, a substantial increase from 10 percent in 1994.
- In 1998-99, 28.68 percent of Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA) overseas employees were women. Of these, 5.71 percent occupied
management positions, 88.57 percent were in program and administrative
services, 2.86 percent in economics and 2.86 percent were from the Foreign
- DFAIT has initiated qualitative measures to improve the career
prospects of women employed in the Foreign Service, inter alia,
developmental and educational opportunities, flexible working arrangements,
teleworking, job sharing, arrangements to accommodate religious holidays and
the responsibilities of caregivers, and the provision of funding to acquire
special equipment for persons with disabilities.
- DFAIT has enhanced and improved departmental mechanisms for the
career advancement of Aboriginal women in the public service, through the
efforts of the Departments employment equity advisor, and pursuant to the
provisions of the Employment Equity Act. An Inuit woman has served as
Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs for several years and provides
strong leadership at the Arctic Council where she is Canadas senior
Arctic official. Other Aboriginal women occupy positions at the management
level and at Canadian missions abroad.
- Status of Women Canada (SWC) has been successful in securing
the participation of representatives from Canadian NGOs (including womens
organizations) at key international meetings, to enable them to access the
international public policy process more effectively. This has included sending
two NGO representatives on the Canadian delegation to the Commonwealth
Womens Affairs Ministers Meeting in November 1996 and having NGO
representatives on the Canadian delegation to the UN Commission on the Status
of Women since 1997.
- Through SWCs Womens Program, funding has been
provided to Canadian womens NGOs for activities in support of Canadian
NGO preparations for participation at the United Nations World Conference on
Women held in Beijing in 1995 and the more recent United Nations Beijing + 5
preparatory meetings. Through CIDA, Canada has also supported the involvement
of women from developing countries in the Beijing process and its follow-up.
Article 8 - Links to Convention and
Article 9: Nationality
- Before February 15, 1977, children born outside of Canada were
entitled to be registered as Canadians provided they were born in wedlock to
Canadian fathers. If they were born to Canadian mothers, they were entitled to
be registered as Canadians only if they were born out of wedlock. Since most
children were born in wedlock, the parents civil status had the effect of
discriminating against Canadian women.
- In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada found in Benner v.
Canada that the denial of citizenship to a man (for reasons unrelated to
his birth), who had been born abroad in wedlock to a Canadian mother in 1962,
amounted to unjustifiable discrimination based on sex. If the individual had
been born to a Canadian father, he would have been entitled to registration as
a Canadian, and other reasons for denying citizenship would not have come into
play. The Supreme Court found that the difference in treatment between children
born in wedlock to Canadian fathers and those born in wedlock to Canadian
mothers amounted to unjustifiable discrimination based on sex.
- As a result of the Supreme Court decision, eligibility for
citizenship for those born abroad of Canadian mothers in wedlock before
February 15, 1977 is no longer subject to certain prohibitions. Such children
are now entitled to citizenship.
Article 9 - Link to Convention
Article 10: Education
- In Canada, responsibility for education rests primarily with
the provincial governments. All levels of government recognize the importance
of improving womens education and training opportunities as being central
to improving their employment opportunities and, subsequently, their economic
well-being. In The Federal Plan for Gender Equality, the Government of
Canada has outlined a strategy, in partnership with provincial and territorial
governments and womens organizations. The Plan focuses on improving
womens access to lifelong learning, supporting and encouraging
womens participation in the fields of science and technology, and
developing appropriate training materials and programs for women. Examples of
initiatives that have been undertaken include the following.
Article 10(a): Access to Studies
- The Canadian Opportunities Strategy (introduced in the 1998
budget) will be of particular importance to women in gaining access to
knowledge and skills. Women represent more than 50 percent of university and
community college students. Initiatives included in the Canadian Opportunities
- income-sensitive measures to help students manage their debt
from Canada Student Loans
- child care expense deductions and education tax credits for
part-time students, many of whom are women
- Canada Study Grants designed to provide assistance for high
need, low-income students (such as sole-support mothers) who must study part
- Canada Study Grants students designed to assist female
doctoral students in certain programs in which women are traditionally
- new Canada Study Grants designed to promote accessibility to
post-secondary education for students with dependents, by helping them to
better afford to continue their studies
- the needs assessment provision under the Canada Student Loans
Program which allows child care costs to be assessed for both full- and
- The Canada Student Loan Program provides assistance to eligible
students attending post-secondary institutions; a number of provisions are
relevant to women. Fifty-five percent of full-time Canada Student Loan
borrowers are women, and there is no upper age limit for eligibility.
Article 10(c): Elimination of Stereotypes
- Through the Office of Learning Technologies (OLT), the
Government of Canada provided support to the Pan-Canadian Women and the
Internet Conference, held in the fall of 1997. The focus of the Conference was
on learning about womens equality issues by using the Internet. The OLT
also sponsored the Womens Ways of Learning Workshop which highlighted the
work of women and womens organizations in addressing these issues.
- Another OLT initiative, the Janus Project, raised awareness
about the challenges and opportunities learning technologies present to women.
Researchers gathered data, published a discussion paper and held a workshop on
technologies and womens learning. Results were integrated into a
discussion paper outlining trends, issues and areas for further exploration.
This paper provided the background for a workshop in the spring of 1997 that
brought together about 100 representatives from womens literacy and adult
education organizations, unions, industry and government.
- The federal government is also committed to supporting and
encouraging Canadian students (particularly women) to achieve excellence in
science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and to choose careers in
science. In 1996, women accounted for 34 percent of all university science and
technology graduates in Canada, up from 28 percent a decade earlier. Studies in
the early 1990s identified many of the obstacles to the advancement of women in
these careers and provided recommendations for action.
- Federal and private sector funding was announced in 1996 for
the creation of five Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering at different
Canadian universities across the country. The Chairs encourage female students
in elementary and secondary schools to consider careers in science or
engineering, and promote the integration of women students in universities.
Article 10(e): The Same Opportunities for Adult and Functional
- The National Literacy Secretariat (NLS) works to ensure that
Canadians have opportunities to develop the literacy skills they need to manage
everyday life. NLS supports projects in five mandated areas of activity: the
development of learning materials; public awareness; literacy research;
improved coordination and information sharing; and improved access to literacy
programs. Within the scope of this mandate, the Secretariat supports projects
that facilitate the involvement of women in literacy programs. Some examples of
such projects, from 1995 to the present, include the following:
- The Montréal YM0YWCA was funded to research and develop
a bilingual literacy program designed for women learners.
- The Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women
received support for a project to research and assess the relative merits of
different approaches to serving womens needs in a literacy program. It is
conducting research into the effects of abuse on literacy learners and is
examining ways of creating more appropriate learning practices for abuse
- The Regina Chapter of Immigrant Women of Saskatchewan received
funding to research and develop a literacy entrepreneurial skills program model
and curriculum for immigrant women.
- The Womens Network Inc. of Prince Edward Island will
prepare health education materials in plain language for adult learners, health
education curriculum for adult educators and a plain language resource guide to
health information for adult learners.
- Le Réseau national daction-éducation femmes
will develop and produce literacy exercise booklets which target the needs of
Francophone women. The booklets will be distributed to practitioners in the
Francophone community across the country for integration into their literacy
- The Edmonton John Howard Society received support for the
research phase of a project to determine the effectiveness of literacy and life
skills integration programs for women in conflict with the law.
- The Canadian African Womens Organization received support
to develop literacy activities designed to encourage women from Africa and the
Middle East to acquire the skills they need to deal with their social and
- The Provincial Association Against Family Violence in
Newfoundland received support to develop and hold a series of family literacy
workshops for mothers who are, or who have been, residents of transition
houses. The workshops demonstrated ways in which mothers can help their
children develop literacy skills. A tutor-training guide and a program model
were developed for women interested in setting up family reading circles in
their own communities.
Support to Civil Society
- sThe Government of Canada has provided support to a range of
NGOs to undertake initiatives in the area of education and training. This
includes the following:
- The Women Inventors Project Inc. conducted a series of
workshops for women with children and leaders in NGOs, and a public awareness
campaign to increase knowledge and understanding about why activities and
careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are important for
girls and young women.
- Les Scientifines piloted a project involving girls aged 9-12
from five schools in Montréal, along with their mothers and teachers, in
order to stimulate interest in non-traditional occupations and careers in
science and technology.
- In Saskatchewan, funding was provided in support of a
conference entitled Women and Other Faces in Science, and an
affiliated project entitled A Day of Science for Girls. This
multi-component project also included an essay contest for girls and a video
production of the conference.
- Working for Women in Saskatoon Inc. received funding for the
development of a FreeNet workshop to help women access the information highway
in order to enhance their marketability in a changing workplace and to promote
their economic autonomy.
- The Réseau-Femmes Colombie-Britannique is working with
the newly created Francophone School Board of British Columbia to develop a
gender sensitive French language education system. The School Board will submit
to its Board of Trustees a policy that will commit its teaching methods to
those described in the guide.
- In Québec, funding was provided in 1998-99 to the
Centre dintégration au marché de lemploi for a
project promoting education in non-traditional, science and technology areas
for women. Workshops will serve to sensitize up to 2,000 young women in the
Estrie region, and also reach guidance counsellors, teachers and parent
- At the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) at
Geneva in July 1998, three Aboriginal women teachers from Canada, as members of
Canadas official delegation, organized and hosted a workshop on
indigenous education and training, with financial and policy support from the
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). The Canadian
workshop supported the designated theme of education for the 1998 WGIP, as one
of the principal themes of the International Decade of the Worlds
- DFAIT coordinates the Youth International Internship Program
(YIIP) which is designed to provide youth with career-related internationally
focused work experience. Since 1997, women have comprised 55 percent of the
participants in the program. The program has placed hundreds of women,
including young Aboriginal and visible minority women, from across Canada in
international training and intern positions in multilateral, regional, private
and public sector organizations around the world. The selection criteria focus
particular attention on recruitment of women and Aboriginal and visible
minority youth. The program also placed interns with organizations working on
indigenous and ethnic issues.
- One of the guiding principles of the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA) is to promote the equal participation of women as
agents of change in economic, social and political processes as an essential
component in achieving gender equality. One example of such a project is
CIDAs support for the Training Fund for Tanzanian Women Project which
aims to increase the number of qualified women capable of assuming
responsibility and decision making in the public, private and NGO sectors in
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Article 11: Employment
- One of Canadas objectives outlined in The Federal Plan
for Gender Equality is to improve womens economic autonomy and
well-being. The federal government has undertaken a number of measures to this
end, including areas reported under other articles within this report, such as
improved education and training opportunities (Article 10), support for women
entrepreneurs (Article 13) and strengthened child support (Article 16).
- Statistics Canadas Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics
is a longitudinal survey of individual and family incomes. It provides a basis
for the study of the dynamics of low income through time. Studies have shown
the extent to which families and individuals move into, and out of, low income
and the extent to which these movements are the result of changes in family
composition (e.g., separation or divorce) and changes in income sources (e.g.,
- Using longitudinal income tax data, Statistics Canada has
published studies showing the differential impact of family dissolution on men
and women, both for families with children at the time of family breakdown and
for those without.
- Other measures taken by the government include the following.
Recognition for Unpaid Work
- Each year, Canadians spend as much or more time on unpaid work
as they do on their jobs. Women, on average, spend five full-time weeks a year
more on unpaid work than men. Unpaid work from making meals to caring
for children or the elderly, or volunteering in the community comprises
essential tasks that individuals, families and society at large could not do
without. It is increasingly evident that womens responsibilities for
unpaid work create barriers to their participation in, and progress through,
the paid labour force.
- The government has taken a number of measures to raise
awareness and stimulate public policy discussion on the issue. For example:
- The 1996 Census included questions on unpaid household work,
child care and elder care for the first time in Canadas history.
- Statistics Canada is continuing its program of time use
surveys, the most recent of which was conducted in 1998. Time use surveys
generate data on a wider range of unpaid work activities than are available
from the Census and can be used to update the information collected in the
Census. Time use surveys in the future will be based on larger samples allowing
for more detailed analysis.
- In 1997, Statistics Canada conducted another survey of
volunteer work that examined, in detail, this important dimension of unpaid
- Statistics Canada has been a pioneer in the development of
measures of the value of unpaid work. The Department is creating an accounting
system analogous to the System of National Accounts (measures such as the gross
domestic product) to facilitate the comparison of the value of the output of
the non-market sector with conventional national accounting statistics.
- Released in 1997, Economic Gender Equality Indicators is a new
tool for measuring womens economic status and progress. This set of
benchmarks a joint federalprovincial/territorial initiative
transcends traditional measures and reflects factors such as unpaid work,
education and job-related training.
The government sponsored an international symposium on
gender equality indicators in March 1998 as a way to stimulate public policy
discussion on indicators and contribute to international work in this area.
- · Unpaid work has been identified as a specific priority
for SWCs Policy Research Fund (PRF). A notable recent contribution under
this theme is a study entitled Unpaid Work and Macro Economics: New
Discussions and New Tools for Action. A considerable amount of other PRF
research addresses unpaid work issues in examining child care, elder care and
public service delivery issues. An example is Benefiting Canadas
Children: Perspectives on Gender and Social Responsibility.
- Research in other departments exploring the dynamics of unpaid
work in our society, its contributions and its relevance to the development of
labour market policy is also being undertaken, including a work arrangements
survey to explore the extent and use of various alternative work arrangements.
- · Funding has been provided to a number of womens
NGOs to study and promote awareness of the policy implications of unpaid work.
One important product has been the development of When Women Count: A
Resource Manual on Unpaid Work.
- A House of Commons committee was struck to examine issues
related to the treatment of families with dependent children in the tax and
transfer system. It heard witnesses from across the country and has reported a
number of recommendations to be considered by the Finance Committee and the
government that could provide enhanced assistance for families to meet their
income and care requirements.
Recognition for Unpaid Caregiving
- The government has taken a number of steps to recognize unpaid
work most of it done by women related to caring for children,
elderly and disabled family members.
- The government also recognizes that the economic welfare of
women and children are inextricably linked. Child welfare particularly
child poverty is a priority for the government.
- Federal, provincial and territorial governments are developing
the National Childrens Agenda, a comprehensive and long-term strategy for
improving childrens well-being. Representatives from the five national
Aboriginal organizations participate in the Aboriginal Perspectives sub-group
of the National Childrens Agenda FederalProvincial/Territorial
Working Group. The Agenda will act as a focal point for collaboration across
sectors (e.g., health, social services, justice, education) and will build on
efforts already under way by non-governmental organizations and business.
- The $6 billion Canada Child Tax Benefit was introduced in 1997
to help low-income families and families on social assistance, many of whom are
lone-parent families headed by women. The initiative enables provincial
governments to invest more in services and supports, such as child care, dental
and drug plans, and nutrition programs.
- The 1998 federal budget announced that the tax system would
provide a better financial break for child care expenses. The Child Care
Expense Deduction increased from $5,000 to $7,000 for children under age 7, and
from $3,000 to $4,000 for children aged 7-16.
- The 1998 budget acknowledged the significance of unpaid work in
the home with a new caregiver tax credit. The credit gives Canadians a tax
break of up to $400 for producing care and support for elderly or disabled
family members. Since women outnumber men at a 3:2 ratio in caring for people
with long-term health problems, the credit will benefit them most.
- Expenses related to care for a person who has limited means of
self-care are now exempt from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Harmonized
Sales Tax (HST).
Article 11.1(b): Right to Same Employment Opportunities
- Status of Women Canada provided financial support for the
DisAbled Womens Network (DAWN) to carry out an action research employment
project. DAWN prepared a comprehensive employment workbook filled with
experiences of job readiness and job searching for women with disabilities. It
also contained examples of successful employer programs that may be adapted and
promoted, and recommendations and strategies to assist women with disabilities
to access mainstream employment programs. The workbook has been very well
received by both employers and potential employers of women with disabilities,
and by women with disabilities themselves. Due to an overwhelming demand for
this employment tool, over 1,500 French and English copies in print and
alternative format have been distributed to women with disabilities, employers
and employment counsellors, and it is now also available on DAWNs
- In September 1997, the federal government signed an agreement
with the Native Womens Association of Canada to provide funding of $6.6
million under the Urban Aboriginal Employment Initiative until March 31, 1999.
The agreement represents the first time Aboriginal women have had the
opportunity to determine labour market programming and intervention for
Aboriginal women on this scale. The Native Womens Association of Canada
works closely with other partners, such as the provinces/territories, the
private sector and non-profit organizations, to provide the tools Aboriginal
women need for themselves and their families to become self-sufficient. For
example, one project is the work of the Bay of Islands Native Womens
Association in Benoits Cove, Newfoundland. Aboriginal women were trained
as home support workers through the local Victorian Order of Nurses.
- Data from the 1996 Census indicate that immigrant women who
arrived between 1961 and 1970 have a lower unemployment rate than non-immigrant
women. Women who arrived between 1971 and 1980 have an unemployment rate
similar to non-immigrant women. Women who arrived from 1981 to 1996 have a
higher unemployment rate than non-immigrant women. With respect to
participation rates, immigrant women who arrived between 1971 and 1980 have a
higher participation rate than non-immigrant women. Immigrant women who arrived
between 1981 and 1985 have a participation rate almost the same as
non-immigrant women, as do those who arrived between 1961 and 1970. The
participation rate is lower among more recent arrivals (1991-96) which could be
the result of a number of factors including the recession of the early 1990s,
language and other integration issues.
- Immigrant women make a considerable contribution, both paid and
unpaid, to the economic well-being of their families. Once immigrated, the
financial security of immigrant families depends on the labour force
participation of both spouses. In many key source countries and regions (e.g.,
Hong Kong and Southeast Asia), two-income earner families are the norm.
Building on a Strong Foundation for the 21st Century, a public document
produced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, lays out new directions for
immigration and refugee policy, and states that further research will be
undertaken to determine how a new selection system might take into account the
potential for the social and economic contribution of spouses. This is an
acknowledgment that the often invisible contribution of spouses
(mostly women) needs to be recognized in the immigrant selection system.
Article 11.1(d): Right to Equal Pay
- Pay equity requires that occupations of equal value receive the
same wages (equal pay for work of equal value). Aside from employment equity
programs, pay equity legislation (and settlements) remains one of the main
measures to address the wage gap. Complaints-based enforcement of most pay
equity legislation and a narrow interpretation of equivalent value have slowed
progress in addressing the wage gap.
- Section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA),
introduced in March 1978, requires employers under federal jurisdiction to pay
men and women workers equal pay for work of equal value. The CHRA covers
employees of the federal government, Crown corporations and private companies
under federal jurisdiction, such as banks and Bell Canada, regardless of the
size of their work force. In 1986, equal wage guidelines were introduced which
prescribe factors to be used in interpreting s. 11. For instance, this includes
a list of exemptions that justify the payment of a different wage in cases
involving different performance appraisals, seniority, demotion, training
assignments and internal labour shortages.
- The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has the authority
under the CHRA to bring a complaint, given reasonable grounds; it can also
receive pay equity complaints, investigate, settle, dismiss or refer a
complaint to a tribunal. Enforcement of federal equal pay legislation remains
reactive and relies on complaints and investigations rather than on mandatory
timetables. Employers are not obliged to bargain pay equity with unions.
- On October 29, 1999, an agreement was reached between the
Treasury Board Secretariat and the Public Service Alliance of Canada on the
implementation of the July 1998 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling on pay
equity. This agreement followed a Federal Court of Canada decision that
resolved a long-standing debate on the interpretation of s. 11 of the CHRA.
- The Canada Labour Code, Part III, s. 182, empowers Human
Resources Development Canada (HRDC) to monitor implementation of pay equity in
the federally regulated, non-governmental sector (i.e., transportation,
banking, communications, some Crown corporations), covering over 700,000
employees. Officials from HRDCs Equal Pay Division work with employers
and provide training to ensure compliance with s. 11. Employers who fail to
implement a pay equity plan may be referred to the CHRC. Since 1986,
1,300 employers have been contacted, and 76 percent have started to address pay
Article 11.1(e): Right to Pension and Social Security Benefits
Support for Older Women
- The government recognizes that public pensions have been
essential in reducing poverty among older women.
- The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) reflects this understanding
through such means as the child-rearing drop-out provision, credit splitting
and full indexation of benefits. These features recognize that womens
patterns of unpaid work, employment, unemployment and remuneration are
significantly different from those of men.
- These features were maintained during pension revisions and
included rate increases to ensure the CPPs financial sustainability. They
are being examined in a second stage of the review to ensure that the CPP
continues to meet the needs of Canadians.
- The other key parts of Canadas retirement income system,
the Old Age Security (OAS) program, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and
the Spouses Allowance (SPA), have also been maintained. The GIS and SPA provide
assistance to those with little or no other retirement income, and are
particularly important for women, who comprise 65 percent of GIS recipients and
91 percent of SPA recipients.
A New Employment Insurance System
- The Canadian Employment Insurance (EI) system provides
temporary income supports to workers who become involuntarily unemployed.
Special benefits, such as maternity, parental and sickness support, are
provided, as well as measures to assist unemployed Canadians to re-enter the
paid work force.
- The reforms of the EI system introduced in July 1996 and
January 1997 were the most fundamental restructuring of the Unemployment
Insurance Program in 25 years. In conducting a gender-based analysis (GBA) of
the reforms, it was recognized that any measures would have a differential
impact on women and men because of their different social, economic and
familial realities. Women earn less than men on average and are
over-represented in the contingency work force through part-time employment,
multiple jobs and low-paying jobs. They comprise the majority of lone-parent
families, and carry the main share of family responsibilities and unpaid work.
- These reforms included providing means to assist women in
overcoming barriers to employment through targeted employment benefits, and
child care and income supports. The broader eligibility requirements for
benefits will enable women who find it difficult to re-enter the work force to
access assistance. For example, women who left the paid labour force for
maternity or parental leave in the last five years will be eligible for active
- By serving as replacement income, maternity and parental
benefits provided under the Employment Insurance Act enable women and
men to take temporary leave from work during the period immediately surrounding
the birth of a child, and during the early months after birth or adoption. The
system provides 15 weeks of maternity benefits to biological mothers, during
the period surrounding childbirth, and 10 weeks of parental benefits to both
adoptive and biological parents for child care purposes. Parental benefits are
payable to either parent or can be shared between them with an extra five weeks
of benefits, should the child require special care.
- About two thirds (67 percent) of new claimants receiving the
Family Income Supplement (FIS) are women. The FIS is intended to target
claimants in need. It is a family supplement for claimants in low-income
families with dependent children based on net family income. To qualify,
claimants must receive the Child Tax Benefit, which indicates they have at
least one dependent child and have a net family income of $25,921 or less.
Article 11.1(f): Occupational Health and Safety
- Proposed changes to Part II of the Canada Labour Code,
designed to improve occupational health and safety in the workplace, are before
the House of Commons. A new provision would allow a pregnant or nursing
employee to withdraw from work or be given other tasks, even before she obtains
a medical certificate, if she believes the job will adversely affect her, her
fetus or the child she is breastfeeding. The revisions will also extend the
responsibilities of employers and employees to monitor and resolve workplace
health and safety issues jointly.
Article 11.2(c): Child Care
- The Government of Canadas activities with respect to
child care include research and funding.
- One such activity was a comprehensive study of human resource
issues in child care. This in-depth sector study entitled, Our Child Care
Workforce: From Recognition to Remuneration, examines the child care work
force, its wages, benefit levels, working conditions, and training and career
opportunities in a full range of settings such as child care centres and
nursery schools, as well as home-based care. The study was funded through the
Sectoral Partnerships Initiative, which is designed to bring together partners
in a sector to analyze human resource issues and to develop a plan of action. A
committee is now examining ways to act on the study recommendations.
- Child Care Visions was created in 1995 as a national child care
research and development contributions initiative to support projects that will
study the adequacy, outcomes and cost-effectiveness of the best child care
practices and service delivery models that currently exist.
- Funds have been invested to create 4,800 new child care spaces,
and enhance a further 2,900 spaces, on First Nations reserves and in Inuit
communities. This programming is designed and delivered by First Nations and
Inuit child care centres at the local level, with good results.
Funding Womens Equality Organizations
- Womens equality organizations play a very important role
in raising public awareness and increasing public understanding.
- The Government of Canada provides financial support for
projects undertaken by womens and other equality seeking organizations
aimed at addressing womens economic equality. The following are some
examples of these projects:
- the Manitoba Farm Womens Conference an annual
provincial farm womens conference and follow-up evaluation
- the New Brunswick Womens Intercultural Network an
activity entitled Steps Towards Economic Self-Sufficiency, which
identified and addressed the various systemic barriers to economic
participation faced by immigrant and visible minority women in New Brunswick
- the Nova Scotia Womens Fishnet to facilitate a
community development process aimed at increasing womens ability to
participate in all aspects of decision making concerning the fishery and their
- Two grants from Status of Women Canada (SWC) in 1995-96 and
1996-97 enabled Kootenay WITT (Women in Trades, Technology, Operations and Blue
Collar Work) to achieve a number of significant outcomes related to
womens participation in British Columbias economic development.
- Three members of the eighteen-member Advisory Committee of the
Columbia Basin Trust (a regional benefit program to address the environmental
damage caused by the 1964 Columbia River Treaty between Canada and the United
States) are womens equality advocates. One seat has been specifically
reserved for a womens equality representative.
- Equity integration committees have been established under the
Science Council of British Columbia, the Columbia Basin Trust and the Island
Highway Infrastructure Project to address equity issues on an ongoing basis.
- A formalized commitment was achieved in the Columbia Basin
Trust Management Plan to create equitable outcomes for traditionally
disadvantaged groups in all development and construction projects administered
by the Trust.
- These outcomes were accomplished by Kootenay WITT working in
partnership with other local WITT groups and groups representing First Nations
peoples, visible minorities and persons with disabilities to secure the
representation of womens equality advocates at a number of key
negotiations and consultations affecting trade and technology workers. Once
representation was secured, advocates worked to ensure that a gender-based
analysis was incorporated into all agreements and practices relating to hiring,
training and promotion of trade and technology workers.
- SWC also contributed funding to the production by the Canadian
Bar Association of Equality for Women in the Legal Profession: A
Facilitators Manual. This publication is a tool designed to:
encourage action on womens equality issues in the legal profession;
promote action by legal institutions to incorporate womens equality
issues in decision-making structures, policies and programs; and promote
equality, diversity and accountability within the legal and other professions.
As a result of the use of this tool, a number of policies and procedures in the
law societies of various provinces and territories have been changed or are
under review. In addition, the Manual has been used by organizations
representing the profession of engineering.
Research on Womens Poverty
- The Government of Canada has provided financial support for
gender-based policy research in the area of womens poverty. Through
SWCs Policy Research Fund, a number of research projects have been
supported which examine the issue of womens poverty.
- Statistics Canada continues to produce reports on
malefemale earnings gaps. As well, most income-related outputs include
data for men and women separately, where this is appropriate. Further, there is
a great deal of emphasis on female lone-parent families in the analyses when
results on low income or income distribution are released.
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Article 12: Health
Article 12.1: Access to Health Care Services
- Physical, emotional and social well-being at all stages of life
are key to womens equality. While female life expectancy remains high in
Canada, this positive indicator is offset by other realities, such as violence
against women and quality of life issues.
- Improving womens physical and psychological well-being is
one of Canadas key objectives in The Federal Plan for Gender
- The renewal of Canadas health system is a priority of the
Government of Canada. Civil society and government representatives
federal, provincial and territorial participated in three working
conferences in early 1998 to examine home care, pharmacare and the health
infrastructure. In its 1997 budget, the government announced the new $150
million Health Transition Fund. The Fund supports efforts by the provinces to
evaluate their health care programs and undertake projects to improve the
health care system. The fund focuses on four areas home care,
pharmacare, primary care reform and integrated service delivery all
areas of particular relevance to women.
- In the 1998 budget, the federal government allocated $350
million for an Aboriginal healing strategy and $126 million for new and
expanded Aboriginal programs. In 1999, the federal budget allocated additional
funds to strengthen Aboriginal communities by improving First Nations and Inuit
health services, and providing increased funding for home and community care to
northern and Aboriginal women.
- On March 8, 1999, the Minister of Health launched Health
Canadas Womens Health Strategy, a framework to guide Health Canada
in addressing biases and inequities in the health system. To meet its goal, the
Strategy is organized around four main objectives:
- to ensure that Health Canadas policies and programs are
responsive to sex and gender differences and to womens health needs
- to increase knowledge and understanding of womens health
and health needs
- to support the provision of effective health services to women
- to promote good health through preventive measures and the
reduction of risk factors that most imperil the health of women
- In 1996, the Government of Canada established the Centres of
Excellence for Womens Health Program. The five research centres are
mandated over six years to conduct policy-oriented research on womens
health. Through focus groups, women identified health issues that were
important to them. Along with focusing on projects that research and promote
the empowerment of women, each Centre is a partnership between academic and
community-based groups, thus directly promoting the effectiveness of local
communities, where many health services are provided. As part of the Program,
the non-governmental Canadian Womens Health Network is funded by the
federal government to disseminate information on womens health, including
new knowledge generated by the Centres, and to foster critical debate.
- The National Coordinating Group on the Impact of Health Care
Reform on Women, representing the five Centres of Excellence for Womens
Health and the Canadian Womens Health Network, has begun to document how
health care reforms, particularly in the area of privatization, have been
implemented in the various regions of Canada. The goal is to ensure that there
are ongoing strategies for documenting, researching and monitoring health care
reform and its implications for women. The Coordinating Group is focusing on
the effects of these reforms on women as health care users and providers (paid
and unpaid). The group is especially concerned with ensuring that there are
ongoing strategies for documenting and monitoring health reform, and its
implications for women.
- In order to respond to proposed changes to Canadas health
protection legislation, the Working Group on Women and Health Protection has
been funded by the Centres of Excellence for Womens Health Program. The
Group will undertake activities to inform the health protection transition
process in areas such as the medicalization of womens lives,
the drug approval process, reproductive and genetic technologies, and
confidentiality and privacy issues.
- The Research Centres on Family Violence and Violence Against
Women were selected in 1991 to establish a sustainable capacity to conduct
research on family violence and violence against women. (Funding was provided
by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, a federal granting
council, and the Family Violence Initiative, an initiative of the federal
government.) The Centres incorporate the expertise of front-line organizations,
provincial partners and academics. There are five Research Centres across
Canada. Partnerships between front-line and academic members are fundamental to
the Centres. A process that is mutually respectful lies at the core of their
success. Critical to their cohesion is a participatory action research
approach, in which the front-line community defines the research question and
helps to design the methodology, and then directs, carries out and analyzes the
research. Results are then applied in the community. The Research Centres
include health care providers on their research teams who are beginning to
conduct research on links between violence and health.
- The experience of family violence, including physical, sexual,
emotional and financial abuse, underlies many health problems. Among the
negative health outcomes of exposure to family violence are life-threatening
injuries, death, mental and sexual/reproductive health problems, and substance
abuse and eating disorders. Women, children and older adults are most likely to
sustain injury. From a population health perspective, family violence victims
are disadvantaged in relation to income, education and social supports
all determinants of health. Preliminary partial estimates place the annual
health costs to Canada of violence against women alone at $1.5 billion. These
health outcomes cannot be addressed without making the link to family violence.
- In the last decade, Health Canada has developed screening tools
for professionals and university curriculum content on family violence, and has
funded parenting programs that address family violence prevention. Its
Laboratory Centre for Disease Control (LCDC) has undertaken surveillance and
developed guidelines on sexually transmitted diseases in children and youth.
LCDC collects national sex-disaggregated data on reported child abuse and
neglect. In partnership with other departments, Health Canada addresses family
violence in Aboriginal populations. Since 1997, Health Canada has used its
resources to broaden awareness, increase sensitivity and develop knowledge
among health care providers so they can prevent, detect and respond
appropriately to family violence. It also supports research to influence policy
makers, provinces/territories and the corporate sector to address the issue.
Family violence initiatives that focus on violence as a health issue are
intended to increase the opportunity for individuals and population groups to
lead healthy physical and mental lives and reduce physical and mental health
- The first CanadaUnited States Forum on Womens
Health was held in Canada in 1996. This ground-breaking event brought together
300 researchers, health professionals, academics and representatives of
voluntary and community organizations to exchange perspectives on womens
health issues. Delegates examined a range of health concerns common to women in
both countries, including breast cancer, smoking, stress, violence against
women and health care service delivery.
- The inclusion of a gender breakdown in the National Population
Health Survey, released in 1996, has generated important information for
understanding the incidence of depression, chronic pain and mental health
problems among women in Canada and has shed light on the social and economic
determinants of health.
- While the incidence of breast cancer has risen steadily over
the last decade, mortality rates have remained relatively stable. Decreasing
breast cancer mortality rates among certain age groups have been attributed to
screening and improved treatment.
- In 1993, the federal government initiated the Canadian Breast
Cancer Initiative (CBCI). In June 1998, the CBCI was renewed with stable,
ongoing funding of $7 million per year for research, prevention, early
detection, quality screening, support to community groups and networks, access
to information, public and professional education, diagnosis, care and
treatment, and surveillance and monitoring of breast cancer. A key objective is
the continued support and coordination of provincial breast cancer screening
- Previously, women in Canada had been excluded from clinical
research trials of new drugs, medical devices and therapies on the grounds of
their inconstant hormonal state (compared to men) and researcher liability in
the event of pregnancy and subsequent birth defects. In 1996, following
consultations with the medical research community, and health advocacy and
womens organizations, the government stipulated that manufacturers
applying to Health Canada for market approval of drugs had to include women in
their clinical trials in the same proportion as they are likely to use the
- In the period 1994-97, the federal government allocated $104
million to the Tobacco Demand Reduction Strategy. During that time, many
resources were developed for girls and women. The government has now allocated
$100 million over five years under the Tobacco Control Initiative. Five broad
target groups, including women, were identified. This Initiative builds on
lessons learned from past strategies and strengthens legislation, regulations,
enforcement, and research and public education activities.
- Canadian women are increasingly becoming infected with HIV,
especially those who use injection drugs and whose sexual partners are at
increased risk for HIV. In addition, the proportion of AIDS cases among women
has increased over time. In 1998, the federal government renewed the National
AIDS Strategy with ongoing funding of $42.2 million annually. Women are
identified as a priority group under the renewed Strategy. Collaborative
studies, conferences, community initiatives and education projects that meet
the specific needs of women are supported.
- In 1997, the federal government passed legislation amending the
Criminal Code to specifically prohibit the practice of female genital
mutilation (FGM). A workshop module was developed, to be used in community
workshops across Canada, to help educate community members about the health,
legal and social/cultural aspects of FGM. The government is also working with
health care providers and educators to provide effective and sensitive
responses to girls and women affected by FGM.
- With the 1997 federal election call, Bill C-47, a bill to
create the Human Reproductive and Genetic Technologies Act, failed to complete
the legislative process. The voluntary moratorium on the application of nine
reproductive and genetic technologies to humans (e.g., sex selection for
non-medical purposes, cloning of embryos, embryo research), declared by Health
Canada in July 1995, remains in place. Having consulted with the public,
medical professionals and other stakeholders, the federal government will be
introducing a comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework in the near
- 326. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is
collaborating with First Nations, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development, Health Canada and northern partners to develop five housing
demonstration projects on healthy housing. The objectives are to establish
house designs that meet the lifestyle needs and climate requirements of First
Nations communities in the North. The project will demonstrate housing that is
healthy and affordable, while using much less water and energy than current
on-reserve housing. Information is also being distributed on indoor air quality
and other housing-related health issues.
Article 12.2: Appropriate Services in Connection with Pregnancy
- In 1999, the government announced an expansion of Health
Canadas Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program. The Program aims to improve
the health of high-risk pregnant women and the subsequent birth outcomes with a
focus on nutrition, breastfeeding, education and support for the first year of
- The Medical Services Branch of Health Canada is responsible for
the delivery of health programs and services to First Nations peoples and the
Inuit. Increasingly, Health Canada is moving away from the provision of health
services toward First Nations and Inuit control and ownership of their health
programs and resources. Aboriginal self-government is one of the federal
governments highest priorities.
- There are several examples of initiatives in this area of
particular relevance to Aboriginal women and girls. For example, the Aboriginal
component of the national Child Development Initiative (Brighter Futures) helps
First Nations and Inuit communities develop mental health and child development
programs that are community based and managed. Such programs help improve
parenting skills, prevent childhood injury, develop youth activities and
community mental health programs, and address the problem of solvent abuse.
- As part of the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, Health
Canada, in consultation with First Nations and Inuit communities, has produced
versions of Building Healthy Babies: A Prenatal Nutrition Resource Book
for each cultural group. While infant mortality among First Nations and Inuit
people is still higher than among other Canadian groups, the rate has dropped
dramatically. The First Nations and Inuit Health Programs Directorate (within
the Medical Services Branch of Health Canada) funded a video on breast cancer
detection among Aboriginal women, and is working with Aboriginal organizations
to make existing screening features available to all communities. Another area
of research into the health needs of Aboriginal women has been projects on the
risk factors of HIV/AIDS.
- The First Nations and Inuit Health Programs Directorate
successfully collaborated with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
of Canada to set up the Aboriginal Womens Committee, which has held
workshops and information sessions to educate the Societys members on the
needs of Aboriginal women.
- In October 1998, the Minister of Health announced the expansion
of the Aboriginal Head Start Program to First Nations children and their
families living on-reserve. Funding for the Program has been set at $100
million over four years. This complements the Aboriginal Head Start Initiative
launched in 1995 to help enhance child development and school readiness of
First Nation, Métis and Inuit children living in urban centres and large
northern communities. As women are pivotal to the health of families and
communities, they will play a key role in the Aboriginal Head Start Program.
- Health Canada is committed to increasing the role of civil
society in policy and program development. For example, Phase III of the
National AIDS Strategy (1998 and ongoing) was planned following extensive
consultations with NGOs and members of the public, including women living with
- The Government of Canada has also provided funding support for
activities undertaken by womens organizations and other NGOs aimed at
addressing the issue of womens health and well-being. Examples of funded
- In 1996-97, funding was provided to the Aboriginal Nurses
Association of Canada in support of an activity entitled Health Care
Reform and the Team Approach in First Nations. This two-day educational
program explored approaches and strategies relevant to community health
planning, womens health and partnership building. It also involved site
visits to seven Aboriginal communities to discuss community health plans in
action. This was followed by the adoption of resolutions and an action plan by
members of this organization, as part of its annual general meeting.
- In 1997-98, funding was provided to the Réseau
québecois daction pour la santé des femmes in support of an
initiative to promote the participation of women in the development of policies
and programs aimed at better responding to womens health needs.
- Multi-year funding (1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01) is being
provided in Alberta to Multicultural Health Brokers for Advancing Minority
Womens Health and Well-Being An Intersectoral Program and Policy
Development Initiative. The aim is to increase access by marginalized minority
women to, and participation in, decision making about culturally appropriate
health and social services. Outcomes will include the development of guiding
principles, practice standards and policies on the creation of meaningful
relationships between immigrant and refugee women and families, and
- Funding was provided to the Kinapeskw Consulting Group
through SWCs Policy Research Fund for a research project entitled, Health
Issues for Aboriginal Women in Urban Centres in the Maritime Provinces. This
project will focus on the economic impact of women living in urban centres in
the Maritimes. Using talking circles, the leadership will investigate the
overall health concerns of urban Aboriginal women, identify gaps in health care
policy and establish a database.
- At the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) at
Geneva in July 1997, Canadian Aboriginal health experts hosted a joint
Canada/World Health Organization (WHO) workshop on substance abuse and healing,
at which Aboriginal women played a major role in focusing on the special health
concerns of indigenous women. This workshop was organized with financial and
policy support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
(DFAIT), and supported the designated theme of health for the 1997 WGIP, as one
of the principal themes of the International Decade of the Worlds
- As part of Canadian preparations for the UN General Assembly
Special Session in June 1999 to review the International Conference on
Population and Development/Program of Action (ICPD+5), Health Canada, in
collaboration with DFAIT and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development (DIAND), provided support to the Aboriginal Nurses Association of
Canada to host the Aboriginal Roundtable on Sexual and Reproductive Health. The
Roundtable was intended, as a first step, to identify, in partnership with
Aboriginal people, sexual and reproductive health concerns for Aboriginal women
in particular, and to develop joint strategies for addressing these concerns.
The results of the Roundtable were distributed in the form of a report at the
- CIDA has made womens health and reproductive health a top
priority. In Bangladesh, Canada has supported the capacity building of the
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to improve reproductive health and family
service delivery. In Africa, Canada continues to support NGOs working to raise
awareness of the harmful consequences of such customs as FGM, and to increase
awareness among both men and women of the importance of AIDS prevention.
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Article 13: Economic and Social Life
- Extensive discussion of federal measures regarding the economic
condition of women is also found under articles 11 and 16.
- In 1996, the federal government consolidated existing
federalprovincial transfer programs into the Canada Health and Social
Transfer (CHST). The CHST is a block grant to provinces to support health,
post-secondary education, social services and social assistance programs. Many
of the programs funded under the CHST, including child care subsidies for
low-income mothers, counselling and support services, rape crisis centres and
shelters, are of particular importance to women. The new CHST was introduced to
give the provinces greater flexibility in the design and delivery of programs.
The CHST legislation states that: the principles/conditions of the Canada
Health Act will be maintained; no period of minimum residency shall be
required or allowed with respect to social assistance; and the federal
government should invite the provinces to consult and work together to develop,
through mutual consent, a set of shared principles and objectives for social
programs other than health. The 1998 budget raised the cash floor of the CHST
from $11 billion to $12.5 billion. As women are the primary users and providers
of health care in Canada, the increase in federal transfers and equalization
payments, and other initiatives to support health care, will allow each
province and territory to be more responsive to the needs of women across the
- The Aboriginal Womens Program is the primary source of
federal funding to Aboriginal womens organizations for the purposes of
improving their socioeconomic and political status. It enables Aboriginal women
to advance their interests through the initiation of activities and projects
that improve social conditions, cultural retention and preservation, economic
well-being and leadership development, while maintaining cultural
distinctiveness and preserving cultural identity.
- Women entrepreneurs are changing the face of business in
Canada. Firms headed by women are now creating more jobs than the largest 100
companies in Canada combined. A 1996 Bank of Montreal study found that
women-led firms are creating new jobs at four times the rate of the average
- The government is encouraging this vital economic current with
a number of initiatives aimed at two critical areas for women entrepreneurs
starting and expanding their businesses.
- The Business Development Bank of Canada, a Crown corporation,
provides loan assistance and counselling for business owners. It also offers
seminars and conferences specifically designed for women in business.
- STEP-IN and STEP-UP programs offer a 10-month training
opportunity, counselling and mentoring to assist women who are starting or
expanding their businesses. The programs are a partnership of the federal and
provincial governments, and the private sector.
- In 1998, a seminar on access to credit for women entrepreneurs
was organized by Le Groupe conseil femmes-expertise, in cooperation with
Canadian Heritage, Status of Women Canada and the Quebec Ministère de
lIndustrie, du Commerce, de la Science et de la Technologie, in order to
address entrepreneurship issues experienced by women. FedNor, the federal
governments economic development initiative in Northern Ontario, also
offers funding to support women entrepreneurs.
- In 1998, FedNor supported a mission for Northern Ontario women
entrepreneurs to Chicago. Since 1996, FedNor has consulted with a number of
Aboriginal community organizations, including the Ontario Native Womens
Association, in order to support Aboriginal business and economic development
in the region.
- Western Economic Diversification Canada supports women
entrepreneurs in Western Canada. In 1996, there were approximately 275,000
self-employed women entrepreneurs (up 35 percent from 1991) mostly concentrated
in personal and household services, and health and social services. Recognizing
that entrepreneurship presents women with unique opportunities and challenges,
Western Economic Diversification launched the Womens Enterprise
Initiative in 1994, which makes loans available to women entrepreneurs. In
1996-97, the Initiative made 107 loans to women entrepreneurs, for a total of
- DFAIT works actively to support women business owners. In June
1998, the Department launched the Businesswomen in Trade Website that allows
women business owners to learn more about government services and how to export
successfully. It also allows them to network online, learn about financing and
insurance services, and locate foreign business opportunities. The site launch
reached over 500 Canadian women.
- The Trade Research Coalition, under the direction of 20
Canadian businesswomen, academics and government representatives, launched a
major research project in September 1998. The project surveyed 254 women
business owners, examining their export patterns and export service
requirements. The results, contained in the document Beyond Borders:
Canadian Businesswomen in International Trade, was launched to 1,500
businesswomen during a national video conference call on International
Womens Day, March 8, 1999. The call joined nine sites across Canada, the
United States, Argentina and the United Kingdom. Through this initiative, DFAIT
identified and added 2,100 new businesswomen contacts to its database, and
developed the first quantified documentation in Canada on the export activities
and attitudes of this growing market sector. Following the release of the
report and in conjunction with its partners, DFAIT coordinated and held
extensive focus groups across the country. These focus groups helped to expand
the awareness of Beyond Borders and brought forward concrete
recommendations on how to improve the success of women-owned small- and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in foreign markets.
- This research provided the main substance of the policy
elements discussed at the Canada/U.S.A. Businesswomens Trade Summit, in
May 1999 in Toronto, which focused on women business owners. Participating in
the Summit were 150 Canadian and 150 American businesswomen within SMEs.
Participants were provided with an opportunity to discuss trade impediments
between the two countries as experienced particularly by businesswomen and
researched by the Trade Research Coalition. New partnerships were formed
through organized networking events.
- Canada plays a lead role in advancing the interests of women in
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Canadas goal is to ensure that
APEC recognizes the specific realities of womens lives and systematically
considers the implications of gender in its work. Canada was instrumental in
the establishment of the Women Leaders Network, an APEC-related body that
has met annually since 1996. In 1997, during its year as chair of APEC, Canada
successfully initiated the concept of the Ministerial Meeting on Women in APEC,
which was held in the Philippines in October 1998 on the theme of Women in
Economic Development and Co-operation in APEC. This was the first
ministerial-level meeting on women in a multilateral trade-related
- The Government of Canada has also worked to fast-track
Aboriginal businesswomen into the APEC trade environment. Before the
Womens Leaders Network and the APEC trade ministerial meetings in June
1999, a three-day conference was organized to bring indigenous businesswomen
together from each of the 21 APEC countries. The conference built awareness of
the scope of APEC for Canadian Aboriginal businesswomen; provided them with an
introduction to potential trading partners from 20 other countries; and built
their knowledge of the APEC trade process and their opportunities for trade.
Recommendations from the conference will also be conveyed to the APEC trade
ministers concerning the requirements and importance of Aboriginal
- In 1996, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
provided seed funding for a new project, Gender and Economic Reforms in Africa.
The project focuses on increasing the capacity of African research
organizations and womens groups to research, analyze and influence
economic policies from a gender perspective.
- Through CIDA, a micro-credit program for rural womens
groups involved in agricultural production/processing and fish farming in
Cameroon has taught entrepreneurship to rural women and provided credit. In
Colombia, the Calmeadow Foundation of Canada has provided training workshops
and a revolving fund to assist micro-entrepreneurs in low-income communities.
Women comprise 60 percent of the borrowers in this program, and their increased
participation is being encouraged.
- A key Canadian objective for the World Food Summit in 1996 was
the integration of a gender perspective in all development and economic
activities. Equal access to education, credit and the ownership of land is
critical if women are to contribute fully to poverty reduction and food
Article 13(a): The Right to Family Benefits
- Established in July 1998, the National Child Benefit (NCB)
system is a federalprovincial-territorial initiative designed to support
low-income families and reduce child poverty. The federal government provides
increased income support to these families, through the Canada Child Tax
Benefit (CCTB), while provinces/territories develop programs and services
targeted to low-income, employed parents and their children. These programs and
services include child care and health benefits. About half of NCB
beneficiaries are lone-parent families headed by women. The 1999 federal budget
proposes to build on the NCB by increasing the income threshold at which
benefits start to be reduced from $25,921 to $29,590 at a cost of $300 million.
- The goals of the initiative are to:
- help prevent and reduce the depth of child poverty
- promote parental attachment to the paid labour force
- reduce overlap and duplication between Canadian and
- Under the previous system, some families were actually worse
off when parents increased their employment income and no longer received
social assistance because they lost special types of income support, benefits
such as dental care and other services for their children.
- The NCB begins to address this situation, in part, by
restructuring programs and services to ensure that all low-income families with
children receive comparable income support, benefits and services. As families
leave social assistance for paid employment, they continue to receive financial
support to assist with their children and child-related costs of employment.
Overall, income support to families on social assistance remains at least the
same as it was before implementation of the NCB.
- As federal funding for income support for families with
children increases, provinces and territories have agreed that any savings
realized will be re-invested in complementary programs to improve attachment to
the paid labour force, and benefits and services for low-income families with
children. Provinces and territories have announced innovative child benefit
programs that reduce the gap between what social assistance recipients and
employed parents receive, including income support programs, earned-income
supplements and in-kind benefits (e.g., health/dental benefits) as well as
child care and programs for families/children at risk. Given that there is
substantial movement of many families between social assistance and employment,
this will provide more security for all low-income families with children.
- Aboriginal people living on reserves will also benefit from
re-investment savings under the NCB, and work is under way to improve access of
First Nations families to the CCTB.
Article 13(c): The Right to Participate in Recreational
Activities, Sport and All Aspects of Cultural Life
- The federal government is involved in a number of initiatives
to increase womens participation in culture and sport. The Federal
Plan for Gender Equality has, as an objective, the promotion of gender
equality in all aspects of Canadas cultural life.
- Sports Canada, in association with the Canadian Association
for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity, supports the
Breakthrough Awards, a celebration of the accomplishments of Canadian women in
sport. In 1998, the Breakthrough Awards joined with the Canadian Sport Awards
and received significant media coverage.
- Since 1996-97, national sport organizations have been required
to specify certain levels for womens equality and access where female
participation/representation is less than 40 percent, and they must have an
approved harassment policy and procedures to receive federal support. The
Canadian Hockey Association, through federal funding and in conjunction with
the Red Cross Abuse Prevention Services program, has been developing harassment
resource materials for clubs and sport organizations. One of these resources,
the Speak Out! . . . Act Now! guide, was released in January 1998.
- In conjunction with the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan,
a series of vignettes were developed featuring Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Female athletes were featured in six of seven vignettes, with womens
hockey featured in two more. The portrayal of women athletes in a major,
nation-wide television campaign during the Olympic and Paralympic Games
promoted successful female athletes as role models and leaders.
- This decade, the federal government has focused on the
commemoration of the contribution of women to Canadian history. Since 1995, 27
designations related to women have been made. These include: important events,
such as the winning of the vote; important places, such as nurses
residences and the Womens College Hospital; important groups, including
the Womens Christian Temperance Union; and important women, such as Emily
Stowe, Margaret Newton and Edith J. Archibald. Every year, the National Library
of Canada adds new components to its website profile of the contributions of
Canadian women entitled Celebrating Womens Achievements.
- Museum exhibitions, events and other programming both
in the context of International Womens Day and Womens History
Month, and as part of regular programs also serve as important vehicles
for making Canadians more aware of the historical role of women in the
development of Canada. Exhibition highlights include those featuring women
inventors and domestic life (National Museum of Science and Technology), the
Women in Aviation touring exhibition created by the National Aviation Museum,
and an exhibition at the Canadian War Museum on the Canadian Womens Army
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Article 14: Rural Women
Article 14.1: Economic Equity for Rural Women
- In 1994, the FederalProvincial-Territorial Ministers of
Agriculture adopted a record of decision on the advancement of farm women,
recognizing the essential role of farm women as economic partners for a
prosperous agri-food industry. The ministers agreed to promote and support
initiatives enabling farm women to participate, to a much greater extent, in
policy and decision-making forums affecting the operation and development of
the agricultural sector. Part of their commitment to advancing farm women in
leadership and decision making was their agreement to meet with farm women
leaders annually. Since 1994, the federal Minister of Agriculture holds annual
business meetings with leaders of national farm womens
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) monitors Canadas
progress on the advancement of women in any decision making by inviting
provincial ministers of agriculture to submit annual updates on any measures
taken in their provinces to increase womens participation in policy and
decision making or to ensure that more women are appointed to agencies,
industry boards, commissions, etc. Responses are analyzed and a summary report
distributed to the provinces as well as to farm womens organizations.
- Through the Farm Womens Bureau, AAFC conducts regular
meetings with national farm women leaders, as well as regular conference calls,
to exchange information on priority issues and activities, and obtain their
input in departmental work planning.
- Since 1996, AAFC has continued to work toward implementing
womens participation in departmental and industry consultations by
monitoring participant lists, and providing names of farm and rural women
participants to conference and consultations organizers.
- To increase womens representation in decision-making
forums, AAFC developed a national farm0rural womens talent bank for
reference by senior officials when considering appointments to agricultural
agencies, boards and commissions.
Article 14.2: Rural Development
- In partnership with other departments, AAFC has provided
funding to farm and rural womens groups through various departmental
programs for projects related to issues of concern to women. This includes
health and farm safety, rural child care, family violence, social, economic and
legal rights for farm women and organizational development. It also includes
the participation of farm and rural women at national and international
conferences, including the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women and, most
recently, the Second International Women in Agriculture Conference in
- Rural women were an integral part of the Canadian Rural
Partnership initiative. In 1998-99, five of the ten Selection Advisory
Committee members were women, thus ensuring a gender balance in the review of
pilot project proposals. Approved pilot projects included a focus on rural
women. In 1999-2000, a greater number of pilot projects that target women as
the main focus are being recommended for consideration.
- Womens groups were encouraged by the Rural Secretariat
to participate in the Rural Dialogue. For example, in the summer of 1998, Women
and Rural Economic Development organized its own workshop to ensure that
womens issues were captured as part of that phase of the Dialogue. At the
National Rural Workshop held in 1998, 50 percent of the participants were
women. This Workshop was by invitation only, and a conscious decision was made
to target 50 percent female representation. Since the Workshop, the focus of
the Dialogue has been on conducting regional activities with efforts being made
to include an equal representation of women.
- Status of Women Canada (SWC) is a member of many of the rural
teams across Canada, providing valuable advice with respect to ensuring that
rural womens interests are considered for federal-led rural initiatives.
The Rural Secretariat is in regular contact with the Farm Womens Bureau
to keep farm women informed of rural initiatives and to invite their
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Article 15: Legal Rights
Article 15.1: Equality with Men Before the Law
- Under Canadian constitutional arrangements, the administration
of justice is primarily a provincial matter, with the federal government
exercising some jurisdiction over spending powers. Since 1995, the federal
government no longer specifically earmarks moneys transferred to the provinces
for civil legal aid. Civil legal aid is available across Canada; however,
eligibility criteria vary among jurisdictions.
- The Canadian Bar Association created the Standing Committee on
Equality to monitor the implementation of the recommendations put forward by
the Canadian Bar Association Task Force on Gender Equality in their report,
Touchstones for Change: Equality, Diversity and Accountability. The
report contained over 200 recommendations on how to improve the situation of
women in the legal profession. The Committee established the Action Plan on
Equality which records, on a yearly basis, the progress of the various
institutions implicated in the Task Forces recommendations. The
Department of Justice submits an update each year to the Committee on progress
made since the 1993 recommendations. The last update was provided in May 1998.
- Actions undertaken by the federal Department of Justice in
response to the recommendations include: monitoring the equity of allocation of
workload, particularly in senior positions; accommodating family
responsibilities through a comprehensive policy on alternative working
arrangements; and establishing a policy for the hiring of legal agents from law
firms where demonstrated commitment to employment equity is evident.
- Canada played a leadership role in the creation of the
independent and effective International Criminal Court. Canada was also
instrumental in achieving a gender-sensitive statute, including securing the
provision that the applicable sources of law must be applied without adverse
distinctions based on grounds such as gender. Canada continues to promote the
integration of a gender perspective in the Elements of Crimes and the Rules of
Procedure and Evidence.
- Canada advocated for the successful inclusion of sexual and
gender-based violence within the definition of crimes, for provisions ensuring
protection of victims and witnesses, and for the assurance of relevant
expertise in the composition and administration of the International Criminal
Court. Canada was also instrumental in securing references that states should
strive to elect judges who possess expertise in violence against women, and
that the prosecutor take measures to ensure the effective investigation of
sexual violence and violence against children.
- Canada strongly supported the appointment of advisors on
gender-based violence to the International Criminal Court, and the
establishment of a Victims and Witnesses Unit for the protection, security and
counselling of victims and witnesses, including staff experienced in trauma
related to crimes of sexual violence. Canada appointed an NGO advisor with
expertise in gender issues to the Canadian delegation to the Rome Conference,
which was held in July 1998 to establish the International Criminal Court, and
worked in close collaboration with NGOs interested in ensuring gender-sensitive
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Article 16: Women and the Family
- On March 6, 1996, the government announced comprehensive child
support reforms in the budget speech. The reforms included the introduction of
child support guidelines and a change in the tax treatment of child support
which came into effect on May 1, 1997. The child support guidelines (Bill C-41)
were stalled in Senate Committee hearings in November 1996. In order to resolve
the stalemate, it was agreed that the Senate Committee would monitor the use of
the guidelines and that a joint House of CommonsSenate committee would
review the issue of custody and access.
- The Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access was
established in December 1997 to examine and analyze issues related to custody
and access arrangements after separation and divorce. Throughout 1998, the
Committee held 55 public hearings. On December 9, 1998, it tabled its report,
For the Sake of the Children, which contains 48 recommendations
referring to a wide variety of issues.
- The Minister of Justice tabled the government response on May
10, 1999. The response incorporates the key themes, concerns and
recommendations contained in the Committees report within the context of
a proposed federal strategy for reform the principal directions the
government will be exploring with the provinces and territories over the next
- The process to implement the strategy for reform will involve
working closely with the provinces and territories in coordination with the
federal governments comprehensive review of the Federal Child Support
Guidelines. The Minister of Justice must table a report by May 1, 2002, on the
operation of the new Child Support Guidelines. The strategy for reform outlined
in the response will be carried out in conjunction with the child support
review. The report to be tabled in 2002 would deal with both custody and
access, and child support.
Article 16(d): The Same Rights and Responsibilities as Parents
in Matters Relating to Their Children
- In 1996, a new child support system was announced. The system
has four key features:
- introduction of a no-deduction/no-inclusion tax treatment
- creation of new guidelines for the calculation of child
- new enforcement measures
- an increase in the Working Income Supplement (since superseded
by the new National Child Benefit System)
- The outcome of the new tax treatment is that the full amount of
the support payment can be used to care for the child. New federal child
support guidelines make it easier to calculate the appropriate amount for
support payments making the system more consistent and predictable. New
measures assist provincial and territorial authorities in enforcing child
support orders. For example, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency database has
been added to the list of federal information banks, that can be used to track
defaulters. Federal pensions can now be diverted to pay for child support, and
federal passports and certain federal licences can be suspended if a debtor is
in persistent arrears. In addition, the legislation provides for measures to
help the provinces streamline the collection of out-of-province orders. A
standardized database on default and compliance of support orders will also
help governments design more effective enforcement mechanisms. Since 1997, the
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act contains provisions which give preference
to recipients of child and spousal support, whose parents or former partners
have filed for bankruptcy, arrears for certain amounts. These recipients are
overwhelmingly women. As preferred creditors, such recipients take precedence
over unsecured creditors. Outstanding child and spousal support payments remain
unextinguished by bankruptcy. The Act also allows damage awards for bodily harm
intentionally inflicted or sexual assault to remain undischarged by the
Article 16(h): The Same Rights in Respect to Ownership and
Disposition of Property
- The Minister for DIAND made the concerns of First Nation women
a priority. On December 9, 1999, the Minister announced that he would be naming
a special representative whose broad mandate will be to make recommendations
ensuring the protection of First Nations womens rights. The Special
Representative for the Protection of First Nations Womens Rights will be
mandated to examine the division of matrimonial real property on reserve in the
case of marital breakdown.
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