RE: OVERVIEW of theIMPACT of FED Cuts to Programs & Services, this will contribute to more POVERTY FOR US IN CANADA /B.C.

2006.10.15 - 2:19 PM

Hi Folks IMPORTANT COMMUNITY ALERT!!!

FYI
I have revised my letter to the Community to alert you all out there about new information on Federal governments massive cuts and eliminat ion of programs and services; information that has not got into the media or more truthfully what has been kept deliberally out. To illustrate the importance on how these awful changes about what the Feds are really doing and how will affect all of you out there in all our regional communities across Canada and I have included a letter I sent just recently to the Prime Minister on this issue. Posted October 15th 2006.

Subject: Overview
The Impact of the Federal Government’s Elimination and Deep Cuts to Government Departmental Programs and Services that have gutted a wide swath across the very fabric of our Canadian Civil Society:
October 15th, 2006 ( Revised again to reflect new info )
Dear Friends
With respect to the cancellation of many distinctly Canadian initiatives, that had been put in place over a number of years. The first point I wish to make is these initiatives have been proven to benefit our Aboriginal communities, and have been highly praised by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights. Because the evidence proved that these programs were working and making efficient progress, they have been eliminated, and completely gutted.
It was quite apparent to me, that there was some bias overtones involved regarding Indigenous programs being eliminated such as health initiatives to help native youth to quit smoking and educational outreach programs around drugs and addiction. There has been a long and very dirty political history by our Canadian Federal Government. The Indian Act for example and land entitlement claims not to mention illegal gas and oil exploration and pilfering of natural resources from native reserves without the permission or agreement from the bands directly impacted.
These big global gas & oil co-operations have made billions in profits for the oil and gas industry, due to the illegal selling of large sectors of land being bid for and auctioned off by Provincial Governments i.e. Alberta, with the indifference of the Federal Government (Feds.) This tragedy and greed has been allowed to continue despite having driven many native communities into abject poverty and this point was driven home and proven by the Lubicon Lake Band in Alberta so that even the United Nation’s Committee on human rights finally understands this ongoing prejudice from the Feds based on the hard evidence presented by all of the First Nations representatives who spoke in Geneva on May 4th –9th 2006.

Consider Stephen Harper’s controversial right hand policy-advisor/ assistant (a transplanted Irish American) who not only wrote a really vicious, discriminatory and controversial book called 'First Nations / Second Thoughts' published in 1999-2000. When this information came to light, it caused a huge uproar especially from the First Nation’s communities in the 2004 Federal Election. He continues to advise Harper on these matters at the present time.
The second point is, everyone who is affected by all these service cuts and programs will suffer greatly. Especially our senior women; disabled people; people of colour, immigrants, youth and our children, as these cuts, cross a wide sector of our civil society attacking the very core of our civic, social, economic and political justice.

Legal aid assistance will be severely impacted due to the elimination of the Court Challenge Program and this would ensure fair justice through the C.C P. and our cultural economical spectrum. With this program gone the door to challenge the government policies has been shut tight.

Many groups, organizations and many sectors of our civil society have made it clear that they are very angry about the Governments latest actions such as our Canadian librarians who learned valuable lessons from their US counterparts with respect to the Freedom of Privacy and Information violations due to the US Patriot Act. Other sectors of our society effected are.

Forest protection environmentalists are especially angry with the cancellation of the Mountain Pine Beetle Initiative as this was a big election promise to follow through the Feds commitment to eliminate the pine beetle problem;
More than 85,000 of our independent Canadian farmers and their families are very concerned about the fact that they have been in the past as a very organized and vocal group, will now be prohibited, from advocating. Just recently the feds have issued a gag order silencing their voices, with respect to input and to lobby on behalf of their wheat crops.

Therefore robbing the farmers and directors of the wheat board an important voice and venue as the Canadian Wheat Board which handles billions of dollars to compete in the global economic wheat market. The actions by the conservative government clearly show their contempt for the independent farmer and their valuable contribution to both Canada’s economy and on a global level as our Canadian Wheat amounts to about 20 % of the world’s wheat market.

The Wheat Board has very recently been slammed with a gag order. The gag order states that;
a) It shall not expend funds, directly, or indirectly on advocating the retention of its monopoly powers, including the expenditure of funds for advertising, publishing or market research and
b)It shall not provide funds to other person or entity to enable them to advocate powers of the CWB.)

This gag-order was imposed by the Conservatives to silence both the Board and the farmers as the Government will be making what could be very damaging amendments to Bill c-300 “ An Act to Amend the Wheat Board. The Feds have made it clear they wish to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board as soon as possible. These types of tactics that Feds have employed so far in their attempt to destroy farmers market advantage is dictatorial, unconstitutional and undemocratic. This gives the term ‘control freak’ a whole new meaning as applied to the Feds. More additional sectors of our society, such as our dedicated lawyers who provide pro-bono legal work are upset over the cancellation of court challenge program.

Museum people in the cultural arts, who provide rich, viable, diversified, multicultural and educational opportunities for research and hands-on programs both for youth, children and adults so that they can learn about our real Canadian history are furious and plan to do something about this as well.
The U.S. Government found out the hard way that you do not mess with American Librarians as they became quite vocal and efficient activists and fought tooth and nail against the impact of the Patriot Act.

Getting back to my earlier point of prejudice, discrimination and indifference towards our native people by the Federal government. I might also emphasize that, many organizations have spoken out in defence of our Aboriginal communities on this very issue.
§ The Canadian Bar Association,
§ The Canadian Library Association
§ Canadian Feminist Alliance,
§ National Association of Women and the Law, and
§ National Canadian Association of the Council of Women
§ The National Association of First Nations / Native Women.

In addition several of our national unions i.e. NUPGE and CUPE National, have already made similar public comments about this issue as well. In the City of Vancouver, there is a very large and disproportionate part of our aboriginal population who live in the Downtown East-side are being forced into abject poverty and are homeless, have drug addiction problems and it is a very serious problem that has developed into a health crisis.

Many of these people, especially elders and youth will be severely impacted or at high risk by these cuts / reductions or elimination of literacy programs or education initiatives such as access to and learning about the internet and how to make the ‘net’ work, best for the individual to be able to communicate with others; for seniors and immigrants learning a second language; improved reading and writing skills.

The third point is the cutting of more than $5 million dollars or about 40% per cent of the administrative budget of the Status of Women Canada as well as imposing rigid and narrow standards for funding and objectives and to re-instate the necessity for access with respect to advocating and lobbying. To combat, inaccuracies and indifference, towards Status of Women Canada.
I believe that objective information about the federal agency, along with providing tools and motivation for people to lobby the federal government to revisit changes made to the agency's funding and objectives.

Nine months after committing in election promises “to take concrete and immediate steps to increase women's equality in Canada�. The Harper administration has gone and removed all references to “equality� and “political justice� from Status of Women Canada’s mandate, and drastically changed rules in order to disallow groups from doing advocacy or lobbying with federal funds. These measures and changes alone are in direct violation of the following;

The United Nations CEDAW Declaration to Eliminate Discrimination against Women (Paragraph / Section. 353 – 380);
The Canadian Charter of Rights/ Section 15 ;
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights/ Article 19; The International Covenant of Human Rights under Article 11.
Beijing Declaration signed in 1995 / renewed 2005 for the purpose of promoting and working to ensure gender equality for all Canadian women

"The Harper Conservatives are clearly out of touch with reality, Oda and Harper have an responsibility to more than 16 million female constituents, whose equality and rights they are obligated to ensure and they are trying to paint women’s groups who speak out on this issue as victimized or partisan.

To counter that kind of ludicrous spin by the Conservatives, I believe that an independent space should be available, where anyone who cares about women’s equality can participate in specific projects to protect SWC.
For these reasons, I condemn the Conservative ‘messaging’ in labeling “advocates of women’s gender equality are only interested in focusing on women’s weaknesses�. Enough, with their convenient dismissals. What is needed is a sustained commitment to women’s equality which requires tremendous strength – especially nowadays, given the onslaught of inaccurate rhetoric from the right.

As a senior woman, who is fairly resourceful, creative and well educated. Although I am physically disabled and I have to cope with several learning (dyslexia) disabilities. Even with these daily life-long challenges, I am still very dedicated to raising public awareness about the importance of Status of Women Canada and the role it has played both in the past and should continue to play in the struggle for women’s full equality in Canada.
. Again, I wish to reiterate my deep concerns over the cuts and changes to the Women’s Program at the Status of Women Canada.

I am most disturbed by the recent undemocratic measures under taken by Minister Oda (Status of Women Canada) to try and silence women’s groups by drastically altering the rules of the Women’s Program at the Status of Women Canada.
Minister Oda’s decisions and actions are inconsistent with her job to advance and promote women’s equality as she has slashed the administrative budget and despite the cuts, being billed as administrative savings, these cuts will likely cripple the departments ability to undertake research, policy analysis and development and consultation with women’s groups.
In addition, as a reminder all references to the term ‘gender equality’ were eliminated from the new rules along with the term “political’ from references to the full participation of women in social, economic and cultural life. I demand an immediate reversal.

If the Minister fails to follow through with her obligations and responsibilities to her more than 16 million female constitutes, then we must demand that she resign from her post, effective immediately.

Background Information:
___________________________

I wish to include a recent report from official Liberal MP Status of Women Canada critic Maria Minnia

Subject: Standing Committee on the Status of Women Canada—A continued report from Maria Minna MP
Friday October 13th 2006
Maria Minna, MP
October 5, 2006

The following is a continuation of a journal of the meeting proceedings of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women, as prepared by the Hon. Maria Minna, M.P., Official Opposition Critic for the Status of Women.

Much of what I want to talk about today has already been in the press, for this was the day that Minister Oda finally appeared before the Standing Committee. I intend to add my impressions and observations about what I can only say was an extremely frustrating experience. The Minister’s rationale for changing the “terms and conditions� of the Women’s Program to exclude organizations involved in capacity building and advocacy activities defies all explanation.

Insisting that the Charter has been in place for 25 years, the Minister claims that women’s organizations are demanding “concrete actions�. It would be interesting to know what organizations she has talked to – perhaps her friends at REAL Women and other similar right wing groups! The new mandate of the Women’s Program is to “facilitate women’s participation in Canadian society by addressing their economic, social and cultural situation through Canadian organizations.�

Reference to the participation of women in political and legal aspects of society has have been removed. In addition, under the program objectives, achieving social justice has been deleted. One can, then, conclude, that this government thinks social justice issues are not important or, have all been achieved. Finally, under the former mandate it was clear that emotional, spiritual, personal or professional development projects would not be funded.

This criterion, has been totally removed leading the way for REAL Women and such groups to be approved for funding. As appalling as the new exclusions are, it is almost more distressing to learn that for-profit groups will now be able to qualify for funding under the program. Really, what ever could be the reason for permitting this, especially from a government that thinks we should be pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps?

She totally ignores the realities of women’s lives and quite frankly, dismisses the important work done by Status of Women over the years. Files, critical to the equality of women, i.e., pay equity, have benefited from support from Status of Women. However the Minister insists that: “After over 30 years of existence, Status of Women Canada must deliver real, measurable results directly affecting women and their families.� I wonder what she thinks they have been doing all this time ?
Calls for her resignation go unheeded, but I can assure you that I, and my Liberal colleagues, will continue to fight hard on behalf of the women of Canada. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with my office with your concerns and suggestions for action.

We must all work together to increase the public’s awareness of what is really happening at Status of Women Canada and pressure the government to rethink its position.

Nancy Baroni
Special Assistant
Office of Hon. Maria Minna, P.C, M.P.
Beaches- East York
Room 406 West Block
House of Commons

Tel: (613) 992-2115
For up-to-date information and for further help in providing more public support, please checkout the a new website www.statusreport.ca that has been just created to lend support and give people who wish to support the work of the Status of Women in Canada for continued advocacy /lobbying and provides valuable resource tools.

The fourth and final point is, I have questions, regarding the real reason for the cancellation of the BC Fall Legislature and I wonder about any real political connection or possibly just a coincidence.
I believe that Gordon Campbell and his Finance Minister Carol Taylor received an advance, ‘heads up’ on what was coming sometime in August, possible shortly before the public announcement come out about the legislature session being cancelled.
When did Gordon Campbell find out about these changes and cuts by the Feds?
How will this effect, the service delivery of programs and services to all British Columbians?
How will the reduction of Federal Social Transfers to the provinces (especially here in B.C.) impact services to our regional communities?
Will we see more cuts to services and programs, as was the case in 2002? Especially for those who live in smaller /rural communities;
How will these cuts and elimination of programs and services such as access to the internet and adult literacy / educational outreach programs impact these residents, who depend on these services with respect to rural libraries and community centers in the smaller communities in B.C.?

Thanks in advance (lizalligator)
Marilyn Young,
Vancouver, B.C. Canada
meybc2@yahoo.ca

________________________________________-

Copy of Letter sent to the PM

To the Office of the Prime Minister Stephen Harper
October 15th 2006
Subject: Is this how, the Prime Minister Stephen Harper honors his signature on the CEDAW Pledge?

I am writing to you today to express my concerns over the cutting of 5 million dollars from Status of Women Canada's operating budget of 13 million. This gives me, cause for grave concern about the Canadian government's commitment to their equality. Does the government, intend to dismantle the one department dedicated to the advancement of women's equality in Canada? This decision was made without public consultation or debate.

The second point I wish to make, is the abolishment of the national childcare program, and failing to support the adoption of pay equity legislation are further examples of arbitrary decisions taken without proper consultation with those most affected by these actions. CEDAW, the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, is the Human Rights Treaty for Women. Does this government not understand that it is bound by treaty obligations and that it must use properly debated legislation, passed by a majority of the elected members in order to rescind Canada’s ratification?

The third point is the elimination of the Court Challenges Program effectively silences marginalized Canadians. Treasury Board president John Baird publicly stated recently that it “did not make sense for the government to subsidize lawyers to challenge the government’s own laws in court�. However, women especially seniors continue to make up a disproportionate number of those marginalized Canadians.
The Court Challenges Program enabled those citizens without resources, who believed that their rights had been legally infringed to challenge the law both federally and provincially. In 2004 – 2005, the program handled 56 equality rights applications and 26 language-related cases that otherwise would never have been presented. How will the government, ensure that these citizens’ rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are protected, if the only viable recourse open to them has been eliminated?

The fourth point is the elimination of the Volunteer Canada Initiative that will directly affect volunteer organizations. More than 12 million Canadians, the majority of whom are senior women, provide 2 billion hours of volunteer work annually. The administrative advice, expert information and training courses available to small but important volunteer-staffed community initiatives has enabled many first-response services for the disadvantaged and desperate to be established.

This agency was a key resource for all volunteer-dependant service organizations, like shelters. More to the point, Volunteer Canada made it possible for these organizations to purchase necessary insurance without which it is almost impossible to attract the key volunteer officers they need. All charities must comply with government regulations and insurance is just one part of that responsibility.

This decision is an attack on the public spirit which built Canada, including Canada’s political parties. This was considered a non-core program that in the opinion of the Feds “does not meet the priorities of the federal government or Canadians�. How can the work of 12 million Canadian Women, not be necessary or worthy of support?

The fifth and final point is, how and when will this government now fund, ‘first response’ services? Cutting services to immigrants and adult literacy programs in the department of Human Resources and Social Development (HRSDC) will hurt new citizens, in particular older/ senior women who often have difficulty accessing the support systems that will enable them to become part of the paid work force. This was another arbitrary decision taken in spite of requests from organizations to discuss the programs that immigrant and visible minority women, including Aboriginal women need.

It is shameful that a government with a huge surplus in revenues would act, ostensibly to “cut the fat� to deny these women the assistance they need. Does the Harper Government see any such expense, which would in the end enable these women to become tax-paying citizens, as just waste? These cuts were done with out any public consultation or debate. The long-term effects of these changes will prove to be detrimental for the advancement of equality for women as well as other marginalized citizens. I request, that a moratorium be made immediately, on any further budget cuts and that these programs should have their funding reinstated.

Consultation with stakeholders such as women’s equality-seeking groups has traditionally preceded major policy changes. This departure from a democratic and transparent process is not only deplorable, it is unconscionable. I am very disturbed by this undemocratic action by the Federal Conservative Government and the failure of Minister Bev Oda (Status of Women’s Services).

In closing, if Minister Bev Oda refuses to reconsider her decisions on this matter that will impact the lives of more than 16 million of her female constitutes, than I demand her resignation, effective immediately.

Thank-you in advance:
Marilyn Elizabeth Young (lizalligator)
Vancouver, B.C
meybc2@yahoo.ca

Comments

Anonymous on 2006.10.16

The question that you as a taxpayer have the right to ASK. The question that can put them on the spot is THIS:

Since you have cut the above programs costing X million dollars and since the deficit has since gone up X billion dollars and taxes have not gone down...

WHERE IS A FULL AND COMPLETE PUBLIC ACCOUNTING OF WHERE THAT MONEY IS GOING?

The embarrassing question to ask publicly is this:

DID YOU CONSULT WITH THE MAJORITY OF TAXPAYERS *BEFORE* YOU MADE THESE DECISIONS?

Sometimes they come back with, "I am the ELECTED official"

My response, "That may be so. Does that somehow negate your accountability to the taxpayers in this riding?"

Anonymous on 2006.10.16

Liz I love your blogs--they're just chock fulla info.

I am gonna give you some tips however to make MORE impact when you write a letter to politicians.

Always send by registered mail or first class post. Email is useless most times. The AIDE reads it and deletes it. Usually all you get is a form letter back, "We're looking into it". Don't give them the opportunity to dismiss you.

On the first page, make your statements powerful, brief and to the point ONLY.

Eg: Where is the money going from the X program?

The REST of the pages BEHIND it, give all your sources, information etc--page after page. Eg:

November 2005
Funding cut of X million to X program.
Result: loss of service to X number of individuals.
Consultation with Service Users and Providers: None
Consultation with Taxpayers: None

I'm gonna tell you why.

Politicians are busy. They do not read long letters. They get to the first paragraph and say "bitch fest. circular file."

So put what you WANT in the first page along with all other strong statements. CC it to the media, other MP's etc and make sure they KNOW it.

Put your facts on all the following pages. The more, the better. They probably will not read it but it lets them know that YOU KNOW what they did--it isn't hidden.

Write ONE letter per topic. Pick the one that bugs you the most. The more you put in, the more you muddy the waters. What I see in this, for example is that your main concern is the cutting of funding for marginalized groups. Don't go any further on page one. Use your massive information on the following pages in cold, hard facts.

I really wish activists would stop asking for resignations. It's not an effective tactic. If it gets a response then the politican gets FREE PUBLICITY for being an idiot. That garners them more support.

What you really want to do, is IMPACT the politician presently holding office. What you really NEED is LEVERAGE. Leverage changes policy.

Take that power and USE that power.

macdevil on 2006.10.16

Thanks to both of you for posting. Well done.

Excellent edit support M-R.

Have a good week.

Anonymous on 2006.10.17

Thanks Mac.

It's good to let officials know where you stand but one has to speak a language they hear. That's why big business pays lobbyists.

The sad part is, the poor, who need them most can't afford lobbyists.

lizalligator on 2006.10.21

HI Folks
FYI
Here is a summary of cuts to programs and services by those nasty Feds in Ottawa as requested. Source; CUPE National and ABC Canada Literacy Foundation; Posted October 21st 2006
http://www.cupe.ca/government/Current_federal_government
____________________________________________________________

Current federal government cuts will seem like "small potatoes"
Oct 5, 2006 02:14 PM
Federal finance minister Jim Flaherty announced both a record $13 billion surplus and over $1 billion in federal program cuts. Many Canadians would have viewed that as just the sort of cruel irony that passes for fiscal policy under Stephen Harper's conservatives. To your average onlooker, the case for budget cuts when the government is in surplus might seem shaky. However, Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives economist Ellen Russell argues that between the Tories promised tax cuts ($9.9 billion in the first budget), increases in defense spending ($4 billion) and other initiatives, the government will be actually short $17 billion.
And so Flaherty and Treasury Board Chair John Baird sent their minions out through the halls of government to see if they couldn't make this a "win " scenario for their people. Lo and behold they came up with a list of departments and programs that - still, even after years of fiscal abuse at the hands of the Liberals and the old Tories - provide services, support, or advocate for people who are not "their people," namely, women, the poor, youth, aboriginal people, lesbians, gays and trans-gendered people, people without internet access and so on. While some cuts CUPE might not dispute (ending GST rebates for tourists, canceling a military radar project), the vast majority of the cuts reflect the Tory ideology that government should be in the business of serving business and the wealthy.
Summary of the Federal government cuts Here is a summary of the cuts we think will most severely affect Canada's communities:
Court Challenges program eliminated to save $5.6 million
• Assisted CUPE in its successful fight to achieve pension benefits for same-sex spouses
• Has provided women, first nations and other equality seeking groups with funding to mount court cases
• A coalition which includes CUPE has launched an online protest against the elimination of the court challenges program

Law Commission of Canada: eliminated to save $4.2 million
The Law Commission of Canada advises Parliament on how to improve and modernize Canada’s laws. They were working on legal issues around globalization, aboriginal legal traditions, labor law and ageism when the axe fell.
Status of Women Canada: $5 million cut from $13 million budget
Already the government's smallest department, Status of Women Canada now has no mandate to fund groups that do advocacy, lobbying or general research, which is convenient, because they also now have $5 million less to spend every year.
Also missing from the organization's new mandate is the word "equality" and “political justice.�
Community Access Program eliminated as part of $42 million in cuts to Industry Canada technology programs
CAP provided funding to allow libraries, post offices and community centers to provide low-cost public internet access, mostly in areas of the country where internet use is well below average.
Adult Learning and Literacy Programs: $17.7 million cut
Human Resources Canada will still do some work on literacy but will only fund national programs. The nine million adult Canadians struggling with low literacy will have far fewer places to turn to. In phrasing rich with double entendres, the government calls it "improved targeting."
• The Ontario Literacy Coalition has launched a petition against the cuts
• Canada's literacy advocates have a press release outlining the cuts and how they will affect literacy programs.

Back grounder/ ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation
ADULT LITERACY A NATIONAL PRIORITY
Spending cuts, marginalize adult Canadians, undermine Canadian economy
OTTAWA, ON – October 4, 2006 – Federal spending cuts jeopardize the welfare of adult Canadians with low literacy and undermine Canada’s economic future, say ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation and the Movement for Canadian Literacy, a national group representing
provincial and territorial literacy coalitions and learners throughout the country. As part of the federal government’s spending cuts announced September 25, $17.7 million ($5.8
million in 2006-2007 and $11.9 million in 2007-2008), previously available to literacy organizations through Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD), will be slashed over the next two years.

The department’s new mandate is to concentrate on national and federal programs alone. This change jeopardizes the delivery of programs to many learners whose literacy challenges hinder their ability to function fully at home, in the community and in the
workplace. “These cuts will decimate much of the infrastructure built cooperatively by all levels of government and the literacy community over the past decade or so,� says Wendy DesBrisay, Executive Director, Movement for Canadian Literacy (MCL).

“The funding supported outreach to potential learners, professional development for the educators, curriculum and materials development, research, partnership development and coordination. Without these supports, the field’s capacity to provide services to learners will be set back years.� “The cuts translate to thousands upon thousands of Canadian adults with low literacy left with fewer programs to turn to,� says Margaret Eaton, President, ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation. “Closing the door on a significant sector of Canada’s workforce – Statistics Canada says there are nine million adult Canadians struggling with low literacy – ignores the dramatic impact increased literacy skills can have on productivity and economic prosperity.�

Delivery of adult literacy a national, economic priority
Provincial and territorial literacy organizations develop and facilitate the delivery of literacy skills upgrading to adult Canadians. As such, they play a fundamental role in ensuring that our country’s adults are sufficiently prepared to enter, and engage fully in, the workplace and Canada’s economy.

“Investing in these organizations is investing in Canada’s workforce and its economic welfare, and as such is a federal responsibility,� says ABC CANADA President Margaret Eaton. The level of literacy acumen in a workforce has direct links with a country’s economic welfare. A rise of one per cent in literacy scores relative to the international average is associated with an eventual 2.5-per-cent relative rise in labor productivity and a 1.5-per-cent rise in Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) per person, according to Statistics Canada. “Dismantling a much-needed network of literacy services goes against the very investment Canada should be making in its workforce and in its economy,� adds Eaton.

Beyond children and schools
Adult literacy is one of the key components to ensuring a healthy Canadian economy and society. While much attention and resources are directed, as they should be, to children acquiring literacy skills, this large adult sector cannot be ignored. “For various socio-economic reasons, nine million Canadian adults lack the skills they need to engage productively in society and in the workforce. This is a hard reality – and a responsibility that the federal government cannot ignore,� says MCL’s DesBrisay.
Call for government action
Canada’s national, provincial and territorial literacy coalitions call on the federal government to address the termination of literacy services resulting from the recently announced spending cutbacks. In a September 8, 2006 statement acknowledging International Literacy Day, The Honorable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, said:

“The Government of Canada remains committed to working collaboratively with provincial and territorial governments and other learning and literacy stake-holders to promote the importance of literacy and to
facilitate the creation of opportunities for Canadians to acquire the literacy and other essential skills they need.� “In that spirit,� adds DesBrisay, “we trust there is every opportunity for the literacy community to meet with Minister Finley to determine how these literacy programs, severely compromised and in many cases closing altogether, can be salvaged.�
ATTACHED:
•THE TOLL OF THE CUTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
•CONTACTS FOR PROVINCIAL AND TERRITORIAL ORGANIZATIONS
Please contact:
ABC CANADA: Jim Pollock, Director of Communications
416-218-0010, ext. 126; cell: 416-524-8267; jpollock@abc-canada.org
MCL: Fiona Murray, Communications Officer
613-563-2464; fiona@literacy.ca
___________________________________________________________________________
ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation is a national charity committed to promoting adult and family literacy to the general public and to the private sector. ABC CANADA's focus is on public awareness programs, providing promotional support to local literacy groups, and conducting research to further the development of a fully literate Canadian population. For more information, visit www.abc-canada.org
The Movement for Canadian Literacy is a national non-profit organization representing literacy coalitions, organizations and individuals from every province and territory.
Our mission is to be a national voice for literacy for every Canadian. For more information, visit www.literacy.ca
Across the country, the toll of the cuts is severe:
•The Yukon Literacy Coalition programs are jeopardized, including its community literacy development, family literacy programming, learner support and its development of a territory-wide learners network. Local projects in youth literacy, family literacy, workplace literacy, and First Nations literacy are all at risk. Unless additional funds are found, the coalition will close its doors in three to four months;
•The NWT Literacy Council has seen a third of its budget cut, putting its Community Outreach Program on hold because it can no longer afford to travel to remote communities to support literacy workers. Aurora College literacy programs are jeopardized, and its outreach centers in Inuvik and Yellowknife are at risk;
•In British Columbia, Literacy BC will lose support of a number of specific activities, including training and development for literacy practitioners in the field, an electronic conferencing network that keeps practitioners around the province in touch with one another (a key resource for sharing best practices), and a project working with community literacy groups to define and measure outcomes for their work;

•In Alberta, half of Literacy Alberta’s funding is cut, severely compromising its Literacy Help Line, the development and delivery of its Practitioner Certification Program, and its professional development and resources support to practitioners, tutors and learners;

•The Saskatchewan Literacy Network reports it is in immediate jeopardy of closing its doors. This means that supports for the literacy system in Saskatchewan will be eliminated, including practitioner training and conferences, support for research in practice, the Learners’ Speaker Bureau, and a toll-free literacy line with referral service for adult learners;

•In Manitoba, Literacy Partners of Manitoba will lose about 80 per cent of its funding, resulting in the closure of the coalition in the spring of 2007. It will eliminate multiple services to learners in adult and family literacy programs, and to practitioners across the province;
•In Ontario, the development of adult literacy teaching resources, research and professional development will be severely reduced for availability to Aboriginal, Francophone, Deaf and Anglophone adult literacy programs. Family literacy support across the province will be minimal if almost non-existent.

•In Quebec, the Quebec English Literacy Alliance (QELA) in Lachute faces closing, and the operating budget for Regroupement des groupes populaires en alphabétization du Québec (RGPAQ) is effectively cut in half;

•In Nova Scotia, funding for seven major projects has ended, including funds for training for adult learners, and workshops for practitioners to better respond to the needs of learners. The cuts will affect 6,000 Nova Scotians currently in literacy programs as well as 30 per cent of Nova Scotians who do not have a high school diploma;

•The PEI Literacy Alliance is likely to close and with it the successful Summer Tutoring Program for Kids, bursary and scholarship programs for adult learners, workshops for adult educators and leadership for literacy in PEI;

•In Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial body will only be able to survive on surpluses for about five months. With it will go numerous programs, including its literacy hotline, promotion of family literacy, and its work in initiatives pertaining to workplace learning;

•In Nunavut, all training programs for adult educators and literacy practitioners are gone, most training and support for community-based groups and organizations is gone, all resources to support the delivery of literacy programs to learners are gone, and literacy programming in Nunavut Arctic College is at risk.
Youth Employment Programs: $55.4 million cut
More "improved targeting" as the federal government eliminates programs that allowed community organizations and other non-profit groups to hire youth.
Workplace Skills Program: $17.6 million cut
This is referred to as "refocusing". This program, which was a "key pillar of the government’s overall economic strategy" is now significantly thinner.
Canada Policy Research Networks: $3 million cut
CPRN provides excellent cutting edge research together with NGOs, universities on critical public policy issues: vulnerable workers, promoting public involvement and democracy, labor market and skills, health care reform, child and family policy. While the organization insists it will continue to exist without the federal government contribution, they're clearly being punished for consorting with the enemy.
Canadian Labour Business Centre: eliminated
Shirley Seward, the centre's CEO said, "Business and labor need an avenue where they can collaborate together in troubleshooting through shared labor market concerns such as the mobility of workers, workplace training, or our aging workforce." Apparently not, according to the government. Now it's all confrontation, all the time.
First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Program: eliminated to save $10.8 million Part of Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit health program, this program sought to reduce the 60% smoking rate amongst Inuit and First Nations people. It had had an external evaluation which had shown it was effective.
That this program was somehow deemed not to provide "value for money" has rather striking racial overtones.
Museums Assistance Program: $4.6 million cut
• Funding for projects that tell Canada's story of the cultural and natural heritage diversity and promote Canada-wide perspectives
• Used to fund First Nations museums and archive traditional and historical artifacts
Mountain Pine Beetle Initiative: $11.7 million cut
• One of the worst pests in pine forests
• Will hurt Canada’s already suffering forest industry
• Will especially hurt small resource communities and First Nations
Foreign Affairs Public Diplomacy program: $11.9 million cut
Will be acutely felt by Canada’s academics and cultural organizations who have played an increasing role in promotion of Canadian studies and culture abroad
Canadian Volunteerism Initiative: $9.7 million cut
Encourages Canadian’ s to volunteer with organizations and enhances capacity of organizations to involve volunteers.
Health Canada Policy Research Program: $7.5 million elimination of program
Environment: $7.6 million cut to grants and contributions to environmental groups
Youth International Internship Program: $10.2 million elimination
School of Public Service: $9.1 million cut
• cuts to training programs for federal employees
Punitive and cynical
These cuts seem severe, punitive and cynical that’s because they are. But the Tories have promised $22.5 billion more in spending cuts during their mandate.
This outline gives a sample of the destructive agenda of the conservatives. This is totally unacceptable and we cannot be quiet about this. Please share and circulate around the country. Thanks lizalligator/ Vancouver. B.C.

lizalligator on 2006.10.21

Hi folks
FYI
I have the following questions to ask:
When did Gordon Campbell find out about these changes and cuts by the Feds?

Since there were no consultations with service providers and users or with the majority of taxpayers I must ask these additional questions.

Will the Federal government adopt an Anti-poverty strategy as Quebec adopted a law in 2002 and Newfoundland did in the spring of 2005?
With respect to youth and adult literacy and education outreach programs.

Since you have cut the above programs; that supposedly are costing Canadians millions and it has made been reported that these savings will go to reduce the national debt, but our taxes have not gone down. Why?

Where is a full and complete public accounting of where that money is going?

Did you consult with the majority of taxpayers, service providers and users before you made these decisions?

From the savings (for Canadian taxpayers), that are supposed to be realized by the cutting or elimination of these programs and services, where is the money really going?

Although invariably an answer will come back “that I am an elected official� A good example of a counter-point question would be is: How does that negate your accountability to the taxpayers in your specific riding?

For educators and the users who will be impacted by these changes, these questions should be addressed and answered.

Will the BC government follow suit in adopting an anti-poverty strategy for low-income citizens of B.C who are affected by the elimination of these Federal programs and service cuts?

How will this impact others, such as those on welfare and suffer from homelessness to improve their knowledge, so that they can a get a decent job and affordable housing?
Will the provincial government enhance these programs that the Feds have cut? Or will more services be cut or eliminated?

How will this impact the service delivery of these programs and services to all British Columbians? Especially for those who live in smaller /rural communities, as now Literacy B.C. will be impacted by the Federal government cuts of over $2 million dollars nationally?
How will the reduction of the Federal Social Transfers, to the provinces (especially here in B.C.) impact literacy and educational outreach services to our regional (rural) and urban communities?
Will we see more cuts to services and programs, as was the case in 2002, when the BC government claimed big debt /but was not true and this would be a perfect excuse for the Liberals to do more, with respect to the Federal cuts and further elimination of programs and services?
How will this impact those residents, who depend on these services with respect to rural libraries and community centers in the smaller communities in B.C.?
With the result of program and services loss to communities across the country, how many millions of our disadvantaged citizens who depend on and use these services on a regular basis, be effected by these changes?

Thanks in advance
Marilyn Young,
# 5 1962 West 1st Ave
Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6J-1G6
meybc2@yahoo.ca

Anonymous on 2006.10.23

Much as I am a great believer in literacy since an informed public is an intelligently voting public I must ask:

Even if the government "ups" the literacy and education rates....

WHERE THE HELL ARE THE DECENTLY PAID JOBS for all these now better-educated people???

BTW, thanks for another great post, Liz.

ancientclown on 2006.10.23

hi Liz:

I would humbly ask to please allow me to copy/paste this onto my site with a link back to here(not everybody follows links, that's why I'd like to copy/paste). Actually, I'm going out on a limb that you will approve and go ahead and do it while I still have computer time. If you would like me to make any changes or revisions, please let me know.
your humble servant,
Ancient Clown

lizalligator on 2006.10.23

HI
Just sent a revised version to James Ash who hopes to point this up dated version on the world web internet. Sorry I took so long to answer but I have been really busy working on this project.

Subject: Overview
The Impact of the Federal Government's Elimination and Deep Cuts to Government Departmental Programs and Services that have gutted a wide swath across the very fabric of our Canadian Civil Society.

October 24th, 2006 ( Newly Revised with additional information)

Dear Friends
I wish to make it clear that I am appalled by the insensitivity and stupidity of this Conservative government to follow their very narrow minded right-wing agenda in terms of what they think is important and what is not. The Feds are telling the public that there will be a savings of over $1.2 billion by the simple cutting or eliminating of the following programs and service initiatives. However they are all distinctly Canadian, therefore in the Fed’s opinion they are just not important, but I think they are for the following reasons.

As a taxpayer I demand accountability, transparency and justification for these actions, through what should be regular Public Account reports through the Auditor General. If the government does not, or refuses to show a significant reduction with respect to the National Debt, {as they claim, this is where they say, the money will go.} Then we as taxpayers must demand that these programs and cuts be reinstated and significantly restored to their proper working budget.

The first point that I wish to make is with respect to the cancellation of many distinctly Canadian initiatives. They have been put in place over a number of years. These initiatives have been proven to benefit our Aboriginal communities and have been highly praised by the UN Committee on Human Rights.
The evidence has proven that these programs were working and making efficient and significant progress, but now they have been eliminated and completely gutted.

Given that the Feds have had a long history of indifference and discriminatory policies, it was quite apparent to me, that there was some bias overtones involved with respect to the elimination to the tune of $10.8 million dollars of the following Indigenous Programs such as:
• Health initiatives to help native youth to quit smoking
• First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Program and
• Educational programs around drugs and addiction
There has been a long and very dirty political history by our Canadian Federal Government. The Indian Act is one example and land entitlement claims are another.

Not to mention illegal gas and oil exploration and the pilfering of natural resources from native reserves without the permission or agreement from the bands directly impacted. These big global gas & oil co-operations have made billions in profits for the oil and gas industry, due to the illegal selling of large sectors of land being bid for and auctioned off by Provincial Governments. I.e. Alberta, with the indifference of the Canadian Federal Government. (Feds.)

This tragedy and greed has been allowed to continue despite having driven many native communities into abject poverty.
This point was driven home and proven by the Lubicon Lake Band in Alberta.

Even the United Nations Committee on Human rights finally understands this ongoing prejudice from the Feds based on the hard evidence presented by all of the First Nations representatives who spoke in Geneva on May 2006.

Consider for example, Stephen Harper's controversial right hand advisor- assistant (Tom Flanagan a transplanted Irish American) who not only wrote a really vicious and discriminatory book called 'First Nations / Second Thoughts' published in 1999-2000.

When this information came to light, it caused a huge uproar especially from the First Nation's communities in the 2004 Federal Election, but Flanagan’ continues to advise Harper on these matters at the present time.

Getting back to my original point with respect to the discriminatory policies and attitudes of the federal government towards our Aboriginal communities, This long time indifference shown by the Feds as been continuously shameful in terms of Canada’s international image and has been well documented by the UN Committee on Human Rights / (See UNCHR report on Canada from May 22nd 2006). I might also emphasize that, many progressive organizations, have spoken out publicly on this very issue.
• The Canadian Bar Association,
• The Canadian Library Association Canadian Feminist Alliance,
• National Association of Women and the Law, and
• The National Association of First Nations and Native Women.
In addition the National Unions i.e. NUPGE and CUPE National, have already made similar public comments about the Feds long time discriminatory attitudes and indifference towards our Native people.

In the City of Vancouver, there is a very large and disproportionate part of our aboriginal population who live in the Downtown East-side and they are being forced into low paying / dead-end jobs or worse, abject poverty.

Many of these people, especially elders and youth will be severely impacted, or at high risk by these cuts / reductions or elimination of literacy programs and education initiatives such as access to and learning about the internet and how to make the 'net' work, best for the individual to be able to communicate with others; for youth, seniors and immigrants learning a second language; improved reading and writing skills.

Another point is, everyone who will be affected by all these service cuts and programs that have been completely eliminated will suffer greatly especially:
1. Our senior women
2. Disabled people
3. People of colour
4. Immigrants and Youth (our children)
These cuts cross a wide sector of our civil society as the following sectors of our society show.

Legal aid assistance will severely be impacted due to the complete elimination ( to save $45.6 million dollars ) of the Court Challenge Program (CCP). This program had been in place since 1977 to originally ensure language rights court cases. Although under former, P. M. Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives in the 1980’s, it was eliminated and than restored by the Liberals in 1994. The Court Challenge program would help provide legal funding that would ensure fair justice through the CCP for those who could not afford it and to act as a measurable safeguard to offer some protection for our cultural , social-economical and political spectrum. With this program gone the door to challenge the government policies, has been shut tight.

It is very clear from my contacts across the country that many groups, organizations and many sectors of our civil society are especially angry.
The Law Commission of Canada was eliminated to save $4.2 million. Their mandate was to advise parliament on how to improve and modernize Canada’s laws and were working on legal issues around globalization, aboriginal legal traditions, labour law and ageism.
Youth Employment Programs and Workplace Skills Programs / more than $73 million dollars cut that would have allowed community organizations and other non-profit groups to hire youth.
For B.C. in particular the forest protection sector of dedicated and expert environmentalists are especially angry with the cancellation of the Mountain Pine Beetle Initiative as funding ( $11.7 million dollars cut )was part of an important political election promise by the Conservatives just before the recent election in January 2006. They are just a number of those groups impacted.
_____________________________________

In a blandant attempt, to control and silence another large sector of our Canadian society. More than 85,000 of our independent Canadian farmers and their families are very concerned about the fact that they have been prohibited, from advocating and lobbying on behalf of their wheat crop. Just recently the feds have issued a gag order. This latest action by the Conservatives have robbed the farmers and the directors of the Wheat board, an important voice and venue as the Canadian Wheat Board which handles billions of dollars to compete in the Canadian and International economic wheat market.
The actions by the Conservative government show their contempt for the independent farmer and their valuable contribution to both Canada’s economy and on a global level as our Canadian Wheat amounts to about 35 % of the world’s wheat market. The gag order states that:
a) “It shall not expend funds, directly, or indirectly on advocating the retention of its monopoly powers, including the expenditure of funds for advertising, publishing or market research� and
b) “It shall not provide funds to another person or entity to enable them to advocate powers of the CWB.�)

This gag-order, imposed by the Federal Conservatives to silence both the Board and the farmers, comes at the time , as the Government will be making damaging amendments to Bill c-300 “ An Act to Amend the Wheat Board. The Feds wish to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board as soon as possible. These tactics that the Feds have employed, is their attempt to destroy the independent “Farmers Market Advantage� are not only dictatorial, but unconstitutional and undemocratic.
This gives the term ‘control freak’ a whole new meaning as applied to the Feds. I certainly do not condone these actions by this ‘new’ government, as I wonder what their real agenda is?

____________________________________

In addition to the above groups and organizations that will be affected, another good example is our dedicated lawyers who provide pro-bono legal work are upset over the cancellation of Court Challenge Program.

People who work and volunteer in the museum cultural arts, through the Museums Assistance Program saw more then $4.6 million cut from their budget. These program initiatives provide rich, viable, diversified, multicultural and educational opportunities for research, promotion and hands-on programs for Canada wide perspectives both for youth, children and adults. Also used to fund First Nations museums and archive traditional and historical artefacts , so that young people and our children can learn about our real Canadian history. These people who have worked on these innovative and educational outreach programs are furious and plan to do something about this as well.

With the elimination and or deep cuts in funding to Canadian Libraries and Community Centres across the country the Federal Human Resources and Social Development Department (HRSDD) will seriously impact Adult literacy programs and public access to the computer internet specifically to help people to learn and improve their knowledge of how to use and get the best of their internet skills.

Canadian Librarians are very angry about this and learned a lot from their American counterparts. With the elimination of Community Access Programs which provided funding to allow libraries, post offices and community centers for low-cost public internet access and Adult and Literacy programs $69.7 million dollars in cuts, mostly where internet use is well below average.

The U.S. Government found out the hard way that you do not mess with American Librarians as they became quite vocal and efficient activists and fought tooth and nail against the impact of the Patriot Act.

My third point is the cutting of more than $5 million dollars or about 40% per cent of the administrative budget of the Status of Women Canada (SWC) which was about $13 million dollars as well as imposing rigid and narrow standards for funding and objectives and to re-instate the necessity for access with respect to advocating and lobbying.

To combat inaccuracies and indifference, towards Status of Women Canada, I believe that objective information about the federal agency, along with providing tools and motivation for people to lobby the federal government to revisit changes made to the agency's funding and objectives. Nine months after committing in election promises "to take concrete and immediate steps to increase women's equality in Canada", the Harper administration has gone and slashed 40 per cent of SWC's administrative budget, and have removed all references to "equality" and "political justice" from SWC's mandate, and changed rules in order to disallow groups from doing advocacy or lobbying with federal funds.
This measure alone is in direct violation of the following

• The United Nations CEDAW Declaration to Eliminate Discrimination against Women (Paragraph / Section. 353 - 380);
• The Canadian Charter of Rights/ Section 15 ;
• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights/ Article 19;
• The International Covenant of Human Rights under Article 11.
• The Beijing Declaration signed in 1995 / renewed 2005 for the purpose of promoting and working to ensure gender equality for all Canadian women.

The Harper Conservatives are clearly out of touch with reality, Minister Oda (Status of Women Canada) and Harper have a responsibility to more than 16 million female constituents, whose equality and rights they are obligated to ensure. They are trying to paint women's groups who speak out on this issue as victimized or partisan.

To counter that kind of ludicrous spin by the Conservatives, I believe that an independent space where anyone who cares about women's equality can participate in specific projects to protect SWC.

For these reasons, I condemn the Conservative messaging in labelling "advocates of women's gender equality are only interested in focusing on women's weaknesses."

Enough with their convenient dismissals; what is needed is a sustained commitment to women's equality which requires tremendous strength - especially nowadays, given the onslaught of inaccurate rhetoric from the right.

As a senior woman, I am fairly resourceful, creative and well educated. Although I am physically disabled and I have to cope with several learning (Dyslexia) disabilities and even with these daily life-long challenges, I am still very dedicated to raising public awareness about the importance of Status of Women Canada and the role it has played both in the past and should continue to play in the struggle for women's full equality in Canada.
Again, I wish to reiterate my deep concerns over the cuts and changes to the Women's Program at the Status of Women Canada. I am most disturbed by the recent undemocratic measures under taken by Minister Oda (Status of Women Canada) to try and silence women's groups by drastically altering the rules of the Women's Program at the Status of Women Canada.

Minister Oda's decisions and actions are inconsistent with her job to advance and promote women's equality as she has slashed the administrative budget and despite the cuts being billed as ‘administrative’ these cuts will likely cripple the departments ability to undertake research, policy analysis and development and consultation with women's groups.

In addition, as a reminder all references to the term 'gender equality' were eliminated from the new rules along with the term "political' from references to the full participation of women in social, economic and cultural life. I demand an immediate reversal. The changes Oda has made to the funding mandate for the department will severely limit the ability of organizations promoting equal rights for women. These restrictions are unacceptable.

They prove that Oda is not committed to promoting the interests of Canadian women.

The Minister refuses to face the fact that women have not yet achieved equality in Canada, study after study and report after report have all come to this conclusion, but the Minister refuses to acknowledge the importance of the work that women’s advocacy groups do. “Instead, she shuts down organizations or cripples them by cutting their funding. She does not represent women in this country.

If she can not show justification than she must step down, Oda released the new federal guidelines for funding to women’s programs. These guidelines will eliminate federal funding for research programs and cut all advocacy and lobbying activities on behalf of women. This is an outrage! These absurdly restrictive guidelines will mean the end of essential research relating to women in Canada. Long-term and national initiatives will no longer be eligible for the crucial funding they rely on.

The Minister’s dedication to the Status of Women file is shaky at best. The new mandate was released recently a week after the last mandate expired. This is a clear attack on women’s rights in this country. The Conservatives are trying to silence Canadian women. We are moving backwards. Instead of promoting women’s equality in Canada, the Conservative government is abandoning its obligation to 52% of the population. If the Minister fails to follow through with her obligations and responsibilities to her more than 16 million female constituents, then we as a national community must demand that she show complete accountability and transparency to taxpayers with respect to the public accounts , so that the public can see where those ‘alleged’ savings are going and who they are going to in terms of funding immediately.

In another related attack on the valuable contribution by women especially for seniors, the elimination of Volunteer Canada program is disgraceful as a good portion of these well trained multi-service volunteers are senior women who bring to their jobs a wealth of life-time wisdom people-skills and experience. . The non-profit and voluntary sector makes an enormous contribution to Canada’s economy and job market -- 6.8 percent of the nation’s GDP, more than the mining, oil and gas sector combined!

“Only Conservatives in their right ideological minds would do this. Canadians value the importance of the non-profit and voluntary sector in providing social, cultural, and recreational benefits.�
The Canada Volunteerism Initiative, serving 161,000 non-profit agencies, was axed as part of $200 million in the $1 billion Conservative cuts. The highly respected Muttart Foundation in Alberta, says the cuts hurt the most vulnerable citizens and create social deficits that will cost more than $1 billion dollars to repair. Every community in Canada is harmed. In Sault Ste. Marie, an Algoma University study valued the non-profit sector at more than $78 million per year with overall employment exceeding 1400 employees. Which the majority, over 75 % are women.
This is an invaluable service and must be re-instated.
Additional Programs cut or eliminated are

Canadian Policy Research Network / provides excellent cutting edge research together with NGO’s on critical public policy issues: vulnerable workers. Promoting public involvement and democracy, labor market and skills, health care reform and child & family policy. A $3 million dollar cut.

Environment: $ 7.6 million dollar cut to grants and contributions to environmental groups.

Canadian Volunteerism Initiative: $9. 7 million dollar cut.
Foreign Affairs Public Diplomacy program will be acutely felt by Canada’s academics and cultural organizations who have played an increasing role in the promotion of Canadian studies and culture abroad.

Health Canada Policy Research Program: $ 7.5 million dollars complete elimination of program.
Youth International Internship Program; $10.2 million dollars/ program eliminated.
School of Public Service; $ 9. 1 million dollars cuts to train programs for federal employees.
__________________________

For backgrounder information:

I wish to include a recent report from official Liberal MP Status of Women Canada critic Maria Minnia

Subject: Standing Committee on the Status of Women Canada-A continued report from Maria Minnia MP
Friday October 13th 2006
Maria Minnia, MP
October 5, 2006

The following is a continuation of a journal of the meeting proceedings of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women, as prepared by the Hon. Maria Minnia, M.P., Official Opposition Critic for the Status of Women.

Much of what I want to talk about today has already been in the press, for this was the day that Minister Oda finally appeared before the Standing Committee. I intend to add my impressions and observations about what I can only say was an extremely frustrating experience. The Minister's rationale for changing the "terms and conditions" of the Women’s Program to exclude organizations involved in capacity building and advocacy activities defies all explanation.

Insisting that the Charter has been in place for 25 years, the Minister claims that women's organizations are demanding "concrete actions". It would be interesting to know what organizations she has talked to - perhaps her friends at REAL Women and other similar right wing groups!

The new mandate of the Women's Program is to "facilitate women's participation in Canadian society by addressing their economic, social and cultural situation through Canadian organizations."

Reference to the participation of women in political and legal aspects of society has have been removed. In addition, under the program objectives, achieving social justice has been deleted. One can, then, conclude, that this government thinks social justice issues are not important or, have all been achieved. Finally, under the former mandate it was clear that emotional, spiritual, personal or professional development projects would not be funded.

This criterion has been totally removed leading the way for REAL Women and such groups to be approved for funding. As appalling as the new exclusions are, it is almost more distressing to learn that for-profit groups will now be able to qualify for funding under the program.

Really, what ever could be the reason for permitting this, especially from a government that thinks we should be pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps? She totally ignores the realities of women's lives and quite frankly, dismisses the important work done by Status of Women over the years. Files, critical to the equality of women, i.e., pay equity, have benefited from support from Status of Women.

However the Minister insists that: "After over 30 years of existence, Status of Women Canada must deliver real, measurable results directly affecting women and their families." I wonder what she thinks they have been doing all this time? Calls for her resignation go unheeded, but I can assure you that I, and my Liberal colleagues, will continue to fight hard on behalf of the women of Canada. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with my office with your concerns and suggestions for action. We must all work together to increase the public's awareness of what is really happening at Status and pressure the government to rethink its position.
Nancy Baroni
Special Assistant
Office of Hon. Maria Minnia, P.C, M.P.
Beaches- East York
Room 406 West Block
House of Commons

In a recent report launched in September 2006 from the World Bank entitled Gender Equality as Smart Economics /the World Bank Group Gender Action Plan (fiscal years 2007-10). The World Bank recognizes the importance of advocating and lobbying for continued research of Gender Equality policies as a way to further Women’s Economic Empowerment.
For further information, check out the Canadian Social Research site.

See World Bank press release:
Giving Women Economic Opportunity is Smart Economics
World Bank Launches New Gender Plan

Singapore, September 16, 2006—The World Bank today launched a new four-year, US$ 24.5 million plan to spur greater economic potential for women in key areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, and finance in developing countries.

Called ‘Gender Equality as Smart Economics,’ the initiative will make the World Bank’s operations in poor countries more receptive to issues of women’s economic opportunity. Announcing the plan at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group in Singapore, World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz, said that communities and countries in the developing world pay a high price for not allowing women to live up to their full economic potential.

“While women’s economic participation is one of the key drivers of development, it’s often discounted as contributing to growth,� said the President of the World Bank Group, Paul Wolfowitz. “The international development community has made considerable progress in enabling women to acquire more flexibility and developmental job skills. We have not, however, made the same level of progress in creating more opportunities for women to use their education and skills in the workplace.�

Women continue to suffer from persistently higher unemployment rates compared to men. Even in the developed areas of North America, but even worse in the Middle East and North Africa for example, women are almost twice as likely as men to be unemployed: 19.2 percent of women are unemployed compared to 10.2 percent of men.

Even when they are employed, women face barriers in breaking into the better-paid non-agricultural job market.
In Sub-Saharan Africa only 36 percent of the non-agricultural wage workers are women. This number drops to 22 percent in North Africa, and 18 percent in South Asia .

The plan will finance new measures to increase World Bank Group operations on gender equality in development sectors that do not traditionally address women’s empowerment.

“Although we see women front and center in areas such as education and health, we need more of it in those areas that support shared economic growth—such as infrastructure, finance, private sector development and agriculture. These are critical areas: women’s ability to benefit from investments in roads, energy, water, extension and financial services will profit not only women, but also men, children and society as a whole, as economies grow and poverty is reduced,�

Using examples from developing and developed countries, the new plan says that investing in women is already showing results, but needs to go much further, as women gain the tools and expertise to go into business on their own, and buy land in their own names. In Vietnam, a legislative change that allowed for two names to appear on land-titles enabled women to use land for collateral in borrowing money; and in South Asia and other parts of the world where women are given access to formal credit markets, it is well documented that they have better repayment records than men.
The new Gender Action Plan has received strong support from donor partners, and the Bank expects to finance about half the US$ 24.5 million budget through donor contributions.

Germany has been a key partner in its development, and the Minister for Economic Cooperation and International Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, who joined Paul Wolfowitz in announcing the launch of the new gender plan in Singapore, has agreed to champion the initiative, and will host a high-level conference on the plan in early 2007.

“The Gender Action Plan is a milestone both for the World Bank and the international community. It represents an active appeal to enhance efforts towards gender equality and draws international attention to an aspect of gender equality that has received far too little attention in the past from discriminatory government policies that continue to victimize women: This new Gender Action plan should help to alleviate past wrongs and help to advance the economic empowerment of women �, said Minister Wieczorek-Zeul.

###

For more on the World Bank’s work in development and gender, visit the Gender & Development Website.

______________________________________

In Canada

Tel: (613) 992-2115
For up-to-date information and for further help in providing more public support, please checkout the new website www.statusreport.ca, This has been just created to lend support and give people who wish to support the work of the Status of Women in Canada for continued advocacy /lobbying and provides valuable resource tools.
____________________________

My fourth and final point is, I have several additional questions, regarding the real reason for the cancellation of the BC Fall Legislature and I wonder about any real connection?

I believe that Gordon Campbell and his Finance Minister Carol Taylor received an advance, heads up on what was coming sometime in August, possible shortly before the public announcement come out about the legislature session being cancelled.

When did Gordon Campbell find out about these changes and cuts by the Feds?

Since there were no consultations with service providers and users or with the majority of taxpayers I must ask these additional questions.

Will the Federal government adopt an Anti-poverty strategy as Quebec adopted a law in 2002 and Newfoundland did in the spring of 2005?
With respect to the Federal “fiscal imbalance� B.C. citizens should be making the same demands as Quebec; if not we as taxpayers and voters will bring an end to Harper’ brand of political, cultural and social-economical ‘terrorism’ that he has wrecked on this province and the rest of the country.
With respect to youth and adult literacy and education outreach programs.

Since you have cut the above programs; that supposedly are costing Canadians millions and it has made been reported that these savings will go to reduce the national debt, but our taxes have not gone down. Why?

Where is a full and complete public accounting of where that money is going?

Did you consult with the majority of taxpayers, service providers and users before you made these decisions?

From the savings (for Canadian taxpayers), that are supposed to be realized by the cutting or elimination of these programs and services, where is the money really going?

Although invariably an answer will come back “that I am an elected official� A good example of a counter-point question would be is: How does that negate your accountability to the taxpayers in your specific riding?

For educators and the users who will be impacted by these changes, these questions should be addressed and answered.

Will the BC government follow suit in adopting an anti-poverty strategy for low-income citizens of B.C who are affected by the elimination of these Federal programs and service cuts?

How will this impact others, such as those on welfare and suffer from homelessness to improve their knowledge, so that they can a get a decent job and affordable housing?
Will the provincial government enhance these programs that the Feds have cut? Or will more services be cut or eliminated?

How will this impact the service delivery of these programs and services to all British Columbians? Especially for those who live in smaller /rural communities, as now Literacy B.C. will be impacted by the Federal government cuts of over $2 million dollars nationally?
How will the reduction of the Federal Social Transfers, to the provinces (especially here in B.C.) impact literacy and educational outreach services to our regional (rural) and urban communities?
Will we see more cuts to services and programs, as was the case in 2002, when the BC government claimed big debt /but was not true and this would be a perfect excuse for the Liberals to do more, with respect to the Federal cuts and further elimination of programs and services?
How will this impact those residents, who depend on these services with respect to rural libraries and community centers in the smaller communities in B.C.?
With the result of program and services loss to communities across the country, how many millions of our disadvantaged citizens who depend on and use these services on a regular basis, be effected by these changes?

Thanks in advance
Marilyn Young, (lizalligator)
# 5 1962 West 1st Ave
Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6J-1G6
e-mail address contact information / meybc2@yahoo.ca

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