Presentation 20150210 Transfer of HEU, Highly Enriched Uranium, from Chalk River to Savannah, Georgia

THE ST. CATHARINES AND DISTRICT COUNCIL OF WOMEN

        February 10th, 2015

Transfer of HEU, Highly Enriched Uranium, from Chalk River to Savannah, Georgia

 

My name is Susan Pruyn. I am the President of the St. Catharines and District Council of Woman, a group comprised of 18 affiliated  and 22 individual members. We have existed for 97 years with the mission “to empower all women to work towards improving the quality of life for women, families and society through a forum of member organizations and individuals”.

What follows are some facts about HEU transfer followed by some questions.

-Patrick Robson, former  Commissioner of Integrated Community Planning, said the Region will have to add the shipments to its’ risk profile. And while he said federal agencies would have to take the lead if there’s an emergency, “depending, we may be the first on the scene.” (“Liquid nuclear waste could pass through Niagara” Jeff Bolichowski of the St. Catharines Standard on Nov. 6, 2013.)

-Joan Millard, head of decommissioning and waste management for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), has pledged to return U.S. origin HEU to lessen the risk of nuclear terrorism. The move, as well as reprocessing it is going to cost Canada $60,000,000.00. Joan said “No one has ever attempted to move a lethal brew containing an estimated 161 kilograms of HEU, containing 93 per cent uranium-235, the isotope that sustains a fission chain reaction. Also present are plutonium, tritium, other fission products and mercury.” ( “AECL defends plans to transport liquid waste from Chalk River to South Carolina” Ian MacLeod of the Ottawa Citizen on Dec. 12, 2013.)

-The transfer has been delayed by 17 months. There is “extended questioning about the design of the steel caskets. Nuclear activist are upset that regulators on both side (sic) of the border are not holding public environmental safety hearings.” (“U. S. delays moving armed convoys carrying nuclear waste through eastern Ontario”, March 21, 2013 by Ian MacLeod.)

-New York Congressman, Brian Higgins, called on the Department of Energy to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) before the contentious shipments are allowed to proceed. (“High-Level Radioactive Waste Chalk River nuclear shipments opposed in Washington.) ”.

2

-In opposition to this transport a resolution was produced. It is available at Http://ccnr.org/resolution-CRL-SRS-2013.pdf. There were just under 100 groups that signed onto this.

– over 300 Quebec Mayors have signed on to a resolution opposing the transport. (pers.com. Gracia Janes,  PCWO VP Environment, from Dr. Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility)

-On April 2, 2014 a letter was sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne from Mary Potter, our Provincial President, expressing grave concern on this issue. (copy attached)

-At the end of January 2015 the transport  cask design was approved by the NRC, and US Lawyer Terry Lodge and  several US groups and individuals along the proposed route are filing a law suit.   (pers. Com. G Janes,)

Regrettably, there has already been a spill in the Niagara Region. Sulphuric acid spilled in the Town of Pelham in 1972. Seven years later Ray Haggerty, MPP for Niagara South said  “That was seven years ago and it’s still not settled. People have not been compensated for the damage to private land. The municipalities were compensated for the damage to roads, but the private landowners have never had a settlement.” (Provincial Legislature Hansard, May 15, 1979 in a discussion about the environmental act.)

There are many questions the SCDCW has in relation to this issue:

  • Who can guarantee the safety of the transfer of HEU from Chalk River to Savannah Georgia?
  • Will there be public forums so that the community can raise their concerns?
  • Why would this toxic liquid brew  even be transported through our precious fruit lands, the highly populated GTA , and other rural or urban centres, when it could be solidified and stored as was planned  before the US/Canada agreement was made
  • What is the safety plan if a spill occurs? This is the first time this has ever been considered; we are the guinea pigs.
  • Will the Region, being what Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission terms “first responders”,    look more closely into who would be responsible in case of an accident, how fast could they react, and would our Great Lakes, rivers, streams, ground water, people, soils, fruit crops be at risk?
  • To conclude, we would ask the Region to  pass a resolution opposing the  transport of this very dangerous liquid nuclear waste through urban and farm communities in Ontario  and then circulate it to other municipalities , including local Niagara municipalities, for support.

 

Susan Pruyn, President, St. Catharines and District Council of Woman




Letter 20150901 Deep Geologic Repository Project for Low and Intermediate Level Waste

Letter 20150901 NCWC response to Recommendations by Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on #17520 Deep Geologic Repository Project for Low and Intermediate Level Waste

 

September 1, 2015

 

National Programs

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

22nd Floor, 160 Elgin Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H3

CEAA.Conditions.ACEE@ceaa-acee.gc.ca

Re: #17520  Deep Geologic Repository Project for Low and Intermediate Level Waste-Response to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Joint Review Panel’s Recommendations to the Minister of Environment

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) write to strongly support the position of our Federate the Provincial Council of Women of Ontario (PCWO) against the Canadian Environmental Assessment  (CEAA) Joint Review Panel’s (JRP) recent recommendation to the Minister of Environment. This project would allow Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to bury hundreds of thousands of tons of low and medium, very dangerous, nuclear waste (some of it extremely long–lasting) near the shore of Lake Huron.  We believe this project to be unwise in the extreme, with the strong probability of an outcome most dangerous to the health, safety, and environment of millions of people.

NCWC also agree with PCWO that the JRP’s advisory staff have raised very troubling issues re the long-term safety of the  geology of the site, such as the evidence of a “previous breach in the Upper Ordovician rock facies by hot fluids, which they noted have moved through the area  possibly along the as yet unmapped deep-rooted faults and fractures.”  We are shocked that the proponent, and now the JRP, have ignored these staff views and many other warnings from independent scientists and the public, and accepted an “observational find out as you build” method which, if their deep geologic repository is approved by the Minister of Environment, means OPG will only learn more about this and other risks during and possibly long after it is built.

NCWC note with grave concern that this is a precedent-setting initiative, as there have been no successful deep-geologic sites for nuclear waste globally. The previous ‘first-of-a-kind’ in New Mexico has been closed due to a very serious accident caused by “human” error, something OPG, with the support of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), cannot prove will not happen in this case.

NCWC would like to state unequivocally that we find this a non-precautionary and reckless proposal, and the JRP’s recommendation for its approval, completely unacceptable. NCWC strongly urge Minister Aglukkaq to reject this in the interest of the public health, safety, and environmental well-being of generations to come.

 

National Council of Women of Canada

Karen Monnon Dempsey, President

 

Cc: Minister Leona Aglukkaq

Leona.Aglukkaq@parl.gc.ca

 

Founded in 1893, the National Council of Women of Canada is a non-profit and non-partisan organization of women, representing a large number of Canadians of diverse occupations, languages, origins and customs, and reflecting a cross-section of public opinion. NCWC is a non-governmental organization (NGO) composed of Local Councils, Study Groups, Provincial Councils, Nationally Organized Societies, and individuals.  NCWC was incorporated in 1914 by an Act of Parliament, amended in 1946.  NCWC has Consultative Status (General) with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and is an Affiliate of the International Council of Women.  We have been given ‘national historic significance’ status by the Government of Canada in recognition of the major contributions NCWC has made.

 




Letter 20150604 Canada’s Role in Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Letter 20150604 Canada’s Role in Nuclear Non-Proliferation

 

June 4, 2015

 

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.

The Prime Minister of Canada

House of Commons

Ottawa ON, K1A 0A6

 

Dear Prime Minister:

Re: Canada’s Role in Nuclear Non-Proliferation 

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), in effect since 1970, is the only binding multilateral treaty with the goal of nuclear disarmament by the nuclear-weapon states.

In order to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and work toward complete disarmament, 190 parties have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States. The United Nations states that “More countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.” Every five years NPT talks take place to assess what progress has been made over the past 45 years, after which a document which details future action is signed.  At the 2015 Review Conference recently held in New York, Canada was among those countries which declined to sign this document.

The National Council of Women of Canada strongly urges the Government to reconsider its position and to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons. The 1996 ruling of the International Court of Justice stated that all countries have an obligation under international law to conclude negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Sincerely,

National Council of Women of Canada

Karen  Monnon Dempsey, President

 

 

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Policy 2015

Policy 2015

PDF version of Policy for 2015

2015.01             MAXIMIZE REMOVAL OF CHEMICALS & PHARMACEUTICALS FROM WASTEWATER BEFORE RELEASING WASTEWATER INTO THE ENVIRONMENT 

2015.02             MEAT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

2015.03             MEDICALLY ASSISTED DEATH

2015.04             REGULATION OF TOXINS AND BANNING OF ANTIBACTERIALS IN PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS

2015.05             THE REGULATION OF ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES

2015.06             REDUCTION IN SUGAR CONTENT IN PROCESSED FOOD, FRUIT DRINKS AND SODA POP

Policy Update

2015.01PU        MISSING AND MURDERED ABORIGINAL WOMEN

2015.02PU        ASBESTOS EXPOSURE A HEALTH HAZARD

 

2015.01             MAXIMIZE REMOVAL OF CHEMICALS & PHARMACEUTICALS FROM WASTEWATER BEFORE RELEASING WASTEWATER INTO THE ENVIRONMENT 

Whereas 1        technology has evolved to such a point that it now allows scientists to note extremely small amounts of substances in the water; and

Whereas 2        there are increasing risks around the potability of water because of ingestion and elimination by an increasing number of people who rely on medication to deal with health issues; and

Whereas 3        Environment Canada informed the Senate in February 2014 of the fact that 164 chemicals have been identified in trace amounts in the water of Canadian lakes and waterways for the first time in North America; and

Whereas 4        a report on a river in Southern Ontario showed the feminization of fish due to trace amounts of hormones from birth control medications found in the water; and

Whereas 5        the possible toxic cocktail caused by the infinite number of potential interactions between many compounds exacerbates the risks of toxicity; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as policy that wastewater be treated to maximize the removal of toxic chemicals and pharmaceuticals before releasing wastewater into the environment; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that NCWC urge the Government of Canada to:

a.   require all communities to treat wastewater to maximize the removal of toxic chemicals and pharmaceuticals before releasing wastewater into the environment;

b.   have the cost borne by the industry responsible for the toxin; and be it further 

Resolved 3       that NCWC urge the Local and Provincial Councils of Women to lobby their respective levels of government to prioritize effective treatment of their community‘s wastewater to maximize the removal of toxic chemicals and pharmaceuticals before releasing wastewater into the environment; and be it further 

Resolved 4       that NCWC raise the issue with the International Council of Women so that the ICW/CIF can address the issue with its federates.

PLAIN LANGUAGE FORMAT 

Policy Statement

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopts as policy that wastewater be treated to maximize the removal of toxic chemicals and pharmaceuticals before releasing wastewater into the environment. 

Request of Government

NCWC urges the Government of Canada to:

a.   require all communities to treat wastewater to maximize the removal of toxic chemicals and pharmaceuticals before releasing wastewater into the environment, and

b.   have the cost borne by the industry responsible for the toxin. 

Request of Other Councils

NCWC urges the Local and Provincial Councils of Women to lobby their respective levels of government to prioritize effective treatment of their communities’ wastewater to maximize the removal of toxic chemicals and pharmaceuticals before releasing wastewater into the environment.

NCWC will raise the issue with the International Council of Women so that the ICW/CIF can address the issue with its federates. 

Rationale

Technology has evolved to such a point that it now allows scientists to note extremely small amounts of substances in the water. There are increasing risks around the potability of water because of ingestion and elimination by an increasing number of people who rely on medication to deal with health issues. Environment Canada informed the Senate in February 2014 of the fact that 164 chemicals have been identified in trace amounts in the water of Canadian lakes and waterways for the first time in North America; and a report on a river in Southern Ontario showed the feminization of fish due to trace amounts of hormones from birth control medications found in the water.  The possible toxic cocktail caused by the infinite number of potential interactions between many compounds exacerbates the risks of toxicity.

 

2015-02 MEAT AND CLIMATE CHANGE 

Whereas 1        global populations are rising and tastes are shifting toward meat-heavy diets; and

Whereas 2        raising more meat makes it necessary to bring more land into cultivation resulting in more deforestation and increased fertilizer use; and

Whereas 3        increased methane emissions from livestock combined with the increased deforestation and fertilizer use will likely cause greenhouse gas emissions from food production to increase by almost 80% by 2050; and

Whereas 4        reducing meat consumption, particularly beef, in favour of plant-based eating would help reduce environmental damage; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as policy that Canadians be encouraged to eat less meat, particularly beef, as a means of reducing climate change; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that the NCWC urge the Government of Canada to encourage Canadians to eat less meat, particularly beef, by educating people on the beneficial effects of reducing meat consumption and of increasing the use of sustainable agriculture practices, i.e., less deforestation, fertilizer use and methane production and thereby reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

PLAIN LANGUAGE FORMAT 

Policy Statement

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopts as policy that Canadians be encouraged to eat less meat, particularly beef, as a means of reducing climate change.

Request of Government

NCWC urges the Government of Canada to encourage Canadians to eat less meat, particularly beef, by educating people on the beneficial effects of reducing meat consumption and of increasing the use of sustainable agriculture practices, i.e., less deforestation, fertilizer use and methane production and thereby reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Rationale

Global populations are rising and tastes are shifting toward meat-heavy diets.  Raising more meat makes it necessary to bring more land into cultivation resulting in more deforestation and increased fertilizer use.

Increased methane emissions from livestock combined with the increased deforestation and fertilizer use will likely cause greenhouse gas emissions from food production to increase by almost 80% by 2050.  Reducing meat consumption, particularly beef, in favour of plant-based eating would help reduce environmental damage.

 

2015-03 MEDICALLY ASSISTED DEATH 

Whereas 1        voluntary euthanasia and physician assistance to end one’s life are illegal in Canada; and

Whereas 2        84% of Canadians support medically assisted death; and

Whereas 3        palliative care is sometimes not enough to reduce pain and maintain dignity, and

Whereas 4        jurisdictions where assisted death is legal, with safeguards, include the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Montana, Oregon, Vermont Washington and Quebec; and

Whereas 5        since assisted death takes place in all jurisdictions even if illegal, it is better to have it legal with safeguards; therefore be it 

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as policy that medically assisted dying comprised of voluntary euthanasia and doctor-assisted death, with safeguards, be legal and the person must be a consenting adult having reached the age of majority; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that NCWC urge the Government of Canada to:

a.   remove doctor-assisted death and voluntary euthanasia from the Criminal Code of Canada, and

b.   set up safeguards through an Act permitting medically assisted death including the following criteria:

i.     the person must be terminally ill or have a life-limiting illness/condition

ii.    no person shall qualify solely because of age or disability

iii.  the person must make two oral requests and one written request for assistance in dying, or by using alternate communication methods for those with verbal or physical challenges

iv.    two physicians or two senior health care professionals in cases where a person has no regular doctor must verify that the patient is capable, is acting voluntarily and has made an informed decision

v.     the person must not be suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression causing impaired judgement or be developmentally disabled

vi.    the person must be informed of the feasible alternatives such as comfort care, hospice care and pain control

vii.   the person is given 15 days to rescind the request

viii.  ensure there are provisions for health care professionals to withdraw participation on personal, religious or ethical grounds.

PLAIN LANGUAGE FORMAT 

Policy Statement

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopts as policy that medically assisted dying comprised of voluntary euthanasia and doctor-assisted death, with safeguards, be legal and the person must be a consenting adult having reached the age of majority. 

Request of Government

NCWC urges the Government of Canada to:

a.   remove doctor-assisted death and voluntary euthanasia from the Criminal Code of Canada, and

b.   set up safeguards through an Act permitting medically assisted death including the following criteria:

i.     the person must be terminally ill or have a life-limiting illness/condition

ii.    no person shall qualify solely because of age or disability

iii.   the person must make two oral requests and one written request for assistance in dying, or by using alternate communication methods for those with verbal or physical challenges

iv.    two physicians or 2 senior health care professionals in cases where a person has no regular doctor must verify that the patient is capable, is acting voluntarily and has made an informed decision

v.     the person must not be suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression causing impaired judgement or be developmentally disabled

vi.    the person must be informed of the feasible alternatives such as comfort care, hospice care and pain control

vii.   the person is given 15 days to rescind the request

viii.  ensure there are provisions for health care professionals to withdraw participation on personal, religious or ethical grounds

Rationale

Voluntary euthanasia and physician assistance to end one’s life are illegal in Canada, but 84% of Canadians support medically assisted death.

Palliative care is sometimes not enough to reduce pain and maintain dignity.

Jurisdictions where assisted death is legal, with safeguards, include the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Quebec.

Since assisted death takes place in all jurisdictions even if illegal, it is better to have it legal with safeguards.

 

2015-04             REGULATION OF TOXINS AND BANNING OF ANTIBACTERIALS IN PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS 

Whereas 1        the ingredients in personal care products are mostly untested and largely unregulated; and

Whereas 2        some of the toxic chemicals found in cosmetics are carcinogens, reproductive and developmental toxins, allergens, and endocrine disruptors, and antibacterial cosmetics may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria; and

Whereas 3        there is a lack of data on the long-term or combined health effects of the majority of cosmetic ingredients; and

Whereas 4        contaminants and residues do not have to be listed on a label even if they are known to be harmful, and manufacturers are not required to disclose specific fragrance ingredients; and 

Whereas 5        manufacturers are required to send Health Canada a list of ingredients but not until 10 days after a product goes on the market; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as policy the regulation of toxins in personal care products and the banning of antibacterial cosmetics and soaps; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that the NCWC urge the Government of Canada to:

a.   test personal care products for their potential health effects before they are put on the market;

b.   ban antibacterial cosmetics and soaps;

c.   enact strict regulation that can be legally enforced for cosmetic ingredients, including contaminants and residues;

d.   require manufacturers to disclose specific fragrance ingredients and list all product ingredients on the label;

e.   require that labels warn of risk hazard with long term exposure.

PLAIN LANGUAGE FORMAT 

Policy Statement

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopts as policy the regulation of toxins in personal care products and the banning of antibacterial cosmetics and soaps. 

Request of Government

NCWC urges the Government of Canada to:

a.   test personal care products for their potential health effects before they are put on the market;

b.   ban antibacterial cosmetics and soaps;

c.   enact strict regulation that can be legally enforced for cosmetic ingredients, including contaminants and residues;

d.   require manufacturers to disclose specific fragrance ingredients and list all product ingredients on the label;

e.   require that labels warn of risk hazard with long term exposure.

Rationale

The ingredients in personal care products are mostly untested and largely unregulated.   Some of the toxic chemicals found in cosmetics are carcinogens, reproductive and developmental toxins, allergens, and endocrine disruptors, and antibacterial cosmetics may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

There is a lack of data on the long-term or combined health effects of the majority of cosmetic ingredients.  Contaminants and residues do not have to be listed on a label even if they are known to be harmful, and manufacturers are not required to disclose specific fragrance ingredients.  Manufacturers are required to send Health Canada a list of ingredients but not until 10 days after a product goes on the market.

 

2015-05 THE REGULATION OF ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES 

Whereas 1        introduction of electronic-cigarettes has proliferated despite the fact that the sale of these products is currently not compliant with the Food and Drugs Act; and

Whereas 2        no electronic smoking products have been granted market authorization in Canada; and

Whereas 3        Health Canada is advising Canadians against the purchase or use of electronic smoking products, as these may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy by Health Canada; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as a policy that

a.   the sale of e-cigarettes be banned until long-term research has been conducted and informed regulations are established;

b.   ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors permanently; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that NCWC urge the Government of Canada to:

a.   ban the sale of e-cigarettes until long-term research has been conducted and informed regulations are established;

b.   enforce the Food and Drugs Act related to the non-compliance of retailers of e-cigarettes;

c.   fund research on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes;

d.   ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors permanently; and be it further 

Resolved 3       that NCWC urge its federates to lobby their respective governments to establish informed regulations to reduce the health risks related to inhaling nicotine vapours and other noxious substances via electronic cigarettes as well as establish regulations for the distribution of electronic cigarettes; and be it further 

Resolved 4       that NCWC urge the International Council of Women to urge its federates to research the risks related to the distribution and use of electronic cigarettes in their jurisdictions in order to inform their respective governments about the importance of establishing regulations.

PLAIN LANGUAGE FORMAT 

Policy Statement

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopts as a policy that

a.   the sale of e-cigarettes be banned until long-term research has been conducted and informed regulations are established;

b.   the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors be banned permanently. 

Request of Government

NCWC urges the Government of Canada to:

a.   ban the sale of e-cigarettes until long-term research has been conducted and informed regulations are established;

b.   enforce the Food and Drugs Act related to the non-compliance of retailers of e-cigarettes;

c.   fund research on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes;

d.   ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors permanently.

Request of Councils

NCWC urges its federates to lobby their respective governments to establish informed regulations to reduce the health risks related to inhaling nicotine vapours and other noxious substances via electronic cigarettes as well as establish regulations for the distribution of electronic cigarettes.

NCWC urges the International Council of Women to urge its federates to research the risks related to the distribution and use of electronic cigarettes in their jurisdictions in order to inform their respective governments about the importance of establishing regulations. 

Rationale

The introduction of electronic-cigarettes has proliferated despite the fact that the sale of these products is currently not compliant with the Food and Drugs Act. No electronic smoking products have been granted market authorization in Canada.

Health Canada is advising Canadians against the purchase or use of electronic smoking products, as these may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy by Health Canada.

 

2015-06             REDUCTION IN SUGAR CONTENT IN PROCESSED FOOD, FRUIT DRINKS AND SODA POP 

Whereas 1        foods containing excessive amounts of sugar, fructose and other caloric sweeteners contribute to the consumption by Canadians of unhealthy food causing a high incidence of unhealthy weight, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and dental problems; and

Whereas 2        the cost of health care for Canadians suffering from these health problems continues to soar; and

Whereas 3        Canada’s food, fruit drink and soda industries continue to aggressively advertise their heavily sugar-sweetened products; and

Whereas 4        a medium sized bottle of soda pop (571 ml) contains about one-quarter cup of sugar (or 57 grams) and a 250 ml fruit drink contains 30 grams of sugar; and

Whereas 5        the amount of sugar in most heavily sweetened foods, fruit drinks and soda pop can be reduced by a minimum of one-third without a noticeable difference in taste; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as policy that the amount of sugar, fructose and sweeteners in all heavily sweetened processed food, fruit/energy drinks and soda pop be reduced by a minimum of one-third; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that NCWC urge the Government of Canada to pass legislation to reduce, by a minimum of one-third, the amount of sugar, fructose and other sweeteners in all heavily sweetened processed food, fruit/energy drinks and soda pop.

PLAIN LANGUAGE FORMAT 

Policy Statement

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopts as policy that the amount of sugar, fructose and sweeteners in all heavily sweetened processed food, fruit/energy drinks and soda pop be reduced by a minimum of one-third.

Request of Government

NCWC urges the Government of Canada to pass legislation to reduce by a minimum of one-third, the amount of sugar, fructose and other sweeteners in all heavily sweetened processed food, fruit/energy drinks and soda pop.

Rationale

Foods containing excessive amounts of sugar, fructose and other caloric sweeteners contribute to the consumption by Canadians of unhealthy food causing a high incidence of unhealthy weight, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and dental problems.  The cost of health care for Canadians suffering from these health problems continues to soar.

Canada’s food, fruit drink and soda industries continue to aggressively advertise their heavily sugar-sweetened products.

A medium sized bottle of soda pop (571 ml) contains about one-quarter cup of sugar (or 57 grams) and a 250 ml fruit drink contains 30 grams of sugar. The amount of sugar in most heavily sweetened foods, fruit drinks and soda pop can be reduced by a minimum of one-third without a noticeable difference in taste.

 

2015-01PU        MISSING AND MURDERED ABORIGINAL WOMEN 

Whereas 1        in 2012 the National Council of Women of Canada urged the Government of Canada to investigate and resolve unsolved cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, bring perpetrators to justice and address systemic violence that affects aboriginal communities; and

Whereas 2        Aboriginal women and girls continue to be disproportionately victims of violence according to Statistics Canada in relationship to their non-Aboriginal counterparts; and

Whereas 3        Human Rights Watch Canada reports higher numbers than Statistics Canada because there is no current comprehensive date collection process and no precedent exists for the standardized collection of ethnicity data by police forces in Canada; and

Whereas 4        homelessness and inadequate shelter are widespread problems facing Aboriginal families; and

Whereas 5        the majority of Aboriginal people face dramatically lower incomes and a shortage of, and inadequately funded, culturally appropriate support services; and

Whereas 6        the most frequent motive in homicides of Aboriginal women was “argument or quarrel” followed by “frustration, anger or despair”; and

Whereas 7        the link between racial discrimination and violence against Aboriginal women has not yet been adequately acknowledged or addressed; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as policy that all cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women be investigated effectively and immediately, and that the systemic violence against Aboriginal women be eliminated; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that NCWC urge the Government of Canada to immediately address the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, including a national enquiry, and to work with the provinces, territories and with Aboriginal governments to fund and to implement programs that do the following:

a.   enhance efforts on unresolved cases

b.   increase public awareness, including programs that address racism

c.   strengthen and improve data collection including DNA analysis of unidentified bodies

d.   include gender based analysis of all legislation and programs related to missing and murdered Aboriginal women

e.   focus on prevention efforts, specifically addressing the following:

i.     providing safe, secure, affordable housing

ii.    eliminating poverty

iii.   increasing access to services for Aboriginal women

iv.    restoring funding to Aboriginal women’s groups

v.     providing basic quality education within Aboriginal communities

vi.    supporting community capacity building

vii.   providing antiviolence programs

PLAIN LANGUAGE FORMAT 

Policy Statement

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) will adopt as policy that all cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women be investigated effectively and immediately, and that the systemic violence against Aboriginal women be eliminated.

Request of Government

NCWC urges the Government of Canada to immediately address the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women including a national enquiry and to work with the provinces and territories, and with Aboriginal governments to fund and implement programs that do the following:

a.   enhance efforts on unresolved cases

b.   increase public awareness, including programs that address racism

c.   strengthen and improve data collection including DNA analysis of unidentified bodies

d.   include gender based analysis of all legislation and programs related to missing and murdered Aboriginal women

e.   focus on prevention efforts, specifically addressing the following:

i.     providing safe, secure, affordable housing

ii.    eliminating poverty

iii.   increasing access to services for Aboriginal women

iv.    restoring funding to Aboriginal women’s groups

v.     providing basic quality education within Aboriginal communities

vi.    supporting community capacity building

vii.   providing antiviolence programs

Rationale

In 2012 the National Council of Women of Canada urged the Government of Canada to investigate and resolve unsolved cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, bring perpetrators to justice and address systemic violence that affects aboriginal communities.

Aboriginal women and girls continue to be disproportionately victims of violence according the Statistics Canada in relationship to their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Human Rights Watch Canada reports higher numbers of missing and murdered Aboriginal women than Statistics Canada because there is no current comprehensive data collection process and no precedent exists for the standardized collection of ethnicity data by police forces in Canada.

Homelessness and inadequate shelter are widespread problems facing Aboriginal families.

The majority of indigenous people face dramatically lower incomes and a shortage of, and inadequately funded, culturally appropriate support services.

The most frequent motive in homicides of Aboriginal women was “argument or quarrel” followed by “frustration, anger or despair.” The link between racial discrimination and violence against Aboriginal women has not yet been adequately acknowledged or addressed.

 

2015-02PU        ASBESTOS EXPOSURE A HEALTH HAZARD 

Whereas 1        in 2010 the National Council of Women of Canada adopted as policy

a.   the inclusion of Chrysotile Asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention

b.   a Ban on Mining and Exports of All Forms of Asbestos

c.   the need for a Central Registry of Asbestos; and

Whereas 2        Canada’s last asbestos mine closed in 2011 and Canada no longer exports asbestos, but the importation of products containing asbestos is permitted; and

Whereas 3        although some provinces have brought in stricter standards for exposure to asbestos, many thousands of Canadians have suffered and died from the effects of  direct or secondary contact with asbestos, or asbestos residue, and asbestos is the top cause of workplace death; and

Whereas 4        the World Health Organization has declared that no level of exposure to asbestos is acceptable; and

Whereas 5        there is still no Central Registry of Asbestos, Canada has failed to support the inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention, and Health Canada still fails to warn the public of the health risks for Canadians who are exposed to asbestos; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as policy that the importation and use of products containing asbestos not be allowed and that the public be made aware of the dangers of primary and secondary exposure to asbestos; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that the NCWC urge the Government of Canada to:

a.   establish a Central Registry of Asbestos

b.   support the inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention

c.   ban the importation and use of products containing asbestos

d.   alert the public to the dangerous nature of primary and secondary exposure to asbestos that spans several generations.

PLAIN LANGUAGE FORMAT

Policy Statement

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopts as policy that the importation and use of products containing asbestos not be allowed and that the public be made aware of the dangers of primary and secondary exposure to asbestos.

Request of Government

NCWC urges the Government of Canada to:

a.   establish a Central Registry of Asbestos

b.   support the inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention

c.   ban the importation and use of products containing asbestos

d.   alert the public to the dangerous nature of primary and secondary exposure to asbestos that spans several generations.

Rationale

In 2010 the National Council of Women of Canada adopted as policy:

a.   the inclusion of Chrysotile Asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention

b.   a Ban on Mining and Exports of All Forms of Asbestos

c.   the need for a Central Registry of Asbestos.

Canada’s last asbestos mine closed in 2011 and Canada no longer exports asbestos, but the importation of products containing asbestos is permitted.  Although some provinces have brought in stricter standards for exposure to   asbestos, many thousands of Canadians have suffered and died from the effects of direct or secondary contact with asbestos, or asbestos residue, and asbestos is the top cause of workplace death. The World Health Organization has declared that no level of exposure to asbestos is acceptable.

There is still no Central Registry of Asbestos, Canada has failed to support the inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention, and Health Canada still fails to warn the public of the health risks for Canadians who are exposed to asbestos.

 

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Notes 20070602 Climate Change

Dr. David Sauchyn, Professor University of Regina: Notes for National
Council of Women of Canada AGM, June 2nd, 2007, Regina Inn,
Regina

Climate changes projected for the mid 21st century are outside the range
of recent experience with natural variability. These changes include
higher temperatures in all months, higher precipitation in January to
May, but less precipitation than present during June to August, when we
need the water most.

Climate includes natural cycles, plus a recent rapid increase in global
temperature that can be simulated and fully explained only by increases
in the concentration of greenhouse gases.

The European history of the prairies is short and therefore nonaboriginal
Canadians have limited experience with climate – at most 120
years. This is a small window on the variability of our climate system.
Paleoclimate records indicate that just before Saskatchewan was settled
by Europeans, there were droughts of longer duration than the 1930s, the
longest dry period experienced by Canadians of European descent. Thus
there is a good chance that future climate will include events, droughts
and wet years, unlike any that we have experienced, simply because we
have not seen the full extent of climate variation. In addition to this
natural variability, we have virtually guaranteed a more variable future
climate by modifying the earth’s atmosphere and land cover; one of the
more certain impacts of global warming to cause both more severe
precipitation and drought.

Most impacts of climate change are adverse, largely because our
economies and activities are adapted to a short history of climate
variation that does not capture the full range of climate cycles and
extremes. Prairie communities and economies are adapted to the climate
of the twentieth century. From this short perspective, climate and water
seem rather consistent and thus resource management practices and
policies reflect a perception of relatively abundant water supplies and
ecological resources, within a relatively stationary environment. Future
water and ecosystem management will have to abandon the assumption
of a stationary environment.

The major impacts of climate change are changes in the distribution of
water availability and ecosystems. One of the most certain projections is
that winter and spring will be wetter and summer will be longer and
warmer and, therefore, tend to be drier. The net result later in this
century is on average less surface and soil water by the end of the
summer. The only way of realizing these drier summers is to have more
warm dry years than wet cool years.

A clear and major impact of global warming in Canada is a shorter and
warmer winter. There are obvious advantages to our economy, health
and safety. There are disadvantages, however. Pests, like the pine beetle,
have begun to survive winter. The major advantage of a cold winter is
snow, our most abundant, predictable and reliable source of water.
Increasingly we will depend on episodic rain storms as the source of our
renewable water supply.

Warming would continue for centuries, even if greenhouse gas
concentrations were to be stabilized. The climate system has memory
and momentum. Humans already have influenced the climate of the next
several decades.

Therefore some adaptation is required to minimize the impacts of
climate change and to take advantage of opportunities provided by a
warmer climate. The degree of adaptation required will depend on the
degree and effectiveness of mitigation, the policies, and technologies to
reduce and capture greenhouse gases.

We have relatively high level of adaptive capacity but it is unevenly
distributed and must be mobilized to reduce vulnerability. Government
should develop policy and programs to enable individuals, industry,
communities and government agencies to build resilience to climate
change and variability.

The elderly, aboriginal and immigrant populations are the fastest
growing and also among the most vulnerable to health impacts.
Economic vulnerability often precedes negative health outcomes
associated with extreme weather.

Rural communities, especially isolated ones with limited economic
diversity, are most at risk due to limited emergency response capacity
and dependence on climate-sensitive economic sectors (agriculture,
forestry). Rural aboriginal communities will experience these same
stresses, in addition to threats to a subsistence-based livelihood.
We should take advantage of a warmer climate and the opportunity to
improve our institutions, infrastructure and communities to build
resilience and lower risk. Planned adaptation is a component of
sustainable economic development. Relevant existing policy instruments
include sustainable community initiatives, infrastructure renewal,
environmental farm plans, watershed basin councils and principles of
adaptive forest management and integrated water resource management.
Strategies for sustainable urban growth and for sustaining rural
economies need to include the evaluation of climate risks and
opportunities. For example, rural economic development will be
strongly influenced by the impacts of climate change on natural
resources, especially water supplies.

Adaptation to climate change will involve not only the development of
appropriate technologies and a more efficient use of existing resources,
but also the need for new institutional arrangements. There is a gap in
understanding the extent to which existing policy might discourage or
even prevent adaptation. There is a need to incorporate climate change
considerations into existing policy instruments. Current policies might
be inappropriate and “harbour risk”.

To accommodate climate change and variability, we need to create a
buffer by using energy and natural resources more effectively and
efficiency; nature is governed by laws of the conservation of mass and
energy; we have much to learn from natural systems; we should work
towards decoupling rates of economic growth from water and energy
consumption.

Potential climate change impacts need to inform public policy and
decision-making processes; we should incorporate climate change
considerations into existing policy instruments; apply adaptive strategies
to policy review and renewal and to business plans that include
performance measures, and auditable statements about adaptation targets
(losses and damage avoided)
We should avoid creating fear about climate change; this tactic produces
only short-term motivation; while learning, sound policy and building
networks sustains long-term change




Policy 2014

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF CANADA

LIST OF POLICY:

Policy

2014.01             ACCESS TO MIFEPRISTONE (RU486): FOR USE IN MEDICAL ABORTIONS 

2014.02             EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM REGARDING TIPS

2014.03             IMPACT ON LOCAL POPULATIONS OF GLOBAL RUSH TO AQUIRE FARMLAND

2014.04             MORATORIUM ON THE USE OF NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDES ON FARM CROPS

Policy Update 

2014.01PU        Curriculum of Medical Faculties Pertaining to Elective Early Termination of Pregnancy

 

2014.01 ACCESS TO MIFEPRISTONE (RU486): FOR USE IN MEDICAL ABORTIONS 

Whereas 1        in 2009, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada released a policy statement in support of “the approval and availability of Mifepristone and other anti-progestins…for appropriate research and clinical use in Canada”; and

Whereas 2        the medical abortion pill Methotrexate, which is available in Canada, can be used only within the first seven weeks of pregnancy, while Mifepristone can be used up to the ninth week of pregnancy, and has demonstrated greater efficacy compared to methotrexate; and

Whereas 3        Mifepristone was introduced in France in 1988, in Britain in 1991, in the  US in 2000 and is available in 57 countries and has not been made available for use in Canada; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada adopt as policy availability of, and access to, the use of Mifepristone (RU486) by women requiring a medical abortion of early-term pregnancy; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that the National Council of Women of Canada encourage Health Canada to approve Mifepristone (RU486) if an application for a New Drug Submission is received; and be it further 

Resolved 3       upon federal approval of Mifepristone, that the National Council of Women of Canada urge Provincial Councils of Women to advocate that their governments include Mifepristone (RU486) in the formulary for provincial health care.

 

2014.02 EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM REGARDING TIPS

Whereas 1        Canadian workers in the hospitality industry receive lower Employment Insurance (EI) benefits than most employees because of an inconsistency between the federal Income Tax Act and Regulations and the EI Regulations; and

Whereas 2        the Government of Canada includes only controlled tips, that is, controlled by the employer, as insurable earnings in the calculation of EI premiums but not direct tips from the client; and

Whereas 3        the Government of Quebec requires that all tips be declared to the employer as income for the purposes of calculating EI premiums; and

Whereas 4        this inconsistency particularly affects employees in the hospitality industry who already work for less than minimum wage, and who are primarily women and more likely to need adequate and fair maternity benefits; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as policy the reform of the Employment Insurance (EI) Act and regulations to eliminate the discrimination against workers who receive a portion of their income as direct tips; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that the NCWC urge the Government of Canada to modify the EI Act and regulations to include all declared tips as insurable earnings for the purposes of calculating EI premiums.

 

2014.03 IMPACT ON LOCAL POPULATIONS OF GLOBAL RUSH TO AQUIRE FARMLAND 

Whereas 1        since 2008 there has been an unprecedented rush to buy up farmland in Africa, South America and Asia with countries wanting to feed their populations and produce bio-fuels; and

Whereas 2        few of these land investments benefit local people with small local farmers, who produce most of the developing countries’ food, being relocated and the land either being left idle or growing crops for export; and

Whereas 3        Oxfam claims that since 2008, 21 formal complaints have been brought by communities affected by World Bank investments in which they claim that their land rights have been violated; and

Whereas 4        sales of land in developing countries have been led by farm conglomerates but are backed by western hedge and pension funds, and speculators; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as policy that any land takeover by a foreign investor not be detrimental to the indigenous farmer, rural communities or the local food supply; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that NCWC urge the Government of Canada to:

  1. urge the World Bank to design polices for its investments in large scale land acquisitions to ensure a more equitable benefit to local farmers and/or rural communities;
  2. promote land investments that are collaborative such as joint venture or outgrower schemes;
  3. insist that Canadian investors conduct impact assessments on their activities to avoid adverse effects on local farmers and/or rural communities; and be it further 

Resolved 3       that NCWC urge the International Council of Women to urge its national members to:

  1. urge the World Bank to design its investments in large scale land acquisitions to ensure a more equitable benefit to local farmers and/or rural communities;
  2. promote land investments that are collaborative such as joint venture or outgrower schemes;
  3. insist that their investors conduct impact assessments on their activities to avoid adverse effects on local farmers and/ or rural communities;
  4. where applicable urge their governments to enact laws to protect local farmers and/or rural communities from being relocated.

 

2014.04 MORATORIUM ON THE USE OF NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDES ON FARM CROPS 

Whereas 1        a third of our food supply relies on pollinators, particularly bees; and

Whereas 2        numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies have concluded that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a significant threat to bees and other wildlife and Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (CPMRA) has documented that extensive losses in 2012 of honey bees and other pollinators can be attributed to their use on farm crops; and

Whereas 3        neonicotinoid pesticides leach into soils, groundwater and  waterways, can accumulate on clay soils and can persist for years, killing bees, and other pollinators such as aquatic insects and birds; and

Whereas 4        while farmers believe neonicotinoids bolster crop yields, there are no studies to prove that this is true over the long term and some scientific studies have proven otherwise; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopt as policy that neonicotinoid pesticides not be used on farm crops; and be it further 

Resolved 2       that NCWC urge the Government of Canada to place a moratorium on the use of neonicitonoid pesticides for use on farm crops.

 

Policy Update

2014.01PU        Curriculum of Medical Faculties Pertaining to Elective Early Termination of Pregnancy 

Whereas 1        National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) policy, first stated in1971.7 and reiterated in 1975.18 EM, holds that abortion is a medical and not a legal matter and supports a woman’s right to choice; and

Whereas 2        the most recent data available indicate that there are between 95,000 and 100,000 abortions performed each year in Canada and that nearly one third of Canadian women will have an abortion during their lifetime; and

Whereas 3        currently the approach of Canadian medical schools in preparing students to deal with the elective early termination of pregnancy is inconsistent across Canada, with some schools providing little or no preclinical or clinical training on this subject and little or no preparation for dealing with other aspects such as consultation, referral, and possible later health complications; and

Whereas 4        many young physicians and surgeons entering the profession therefore have limited training or even none in how to deal with elective termination of pregnancy, and their lack of knowledge may have serious negative consequences for some of their patients, especially young female patients; therefore be it

Resolved 1       that NCWC adopt as policy that the pre-clinical curriculum of all Canadian medical schools include courses concerning the elective early termination of pregnancy; and 

Resolved 2       that NCWC urge the Government of Canada to work with the College of Physicians and Surgeons to ensure that the pre-clinical curriculum of all Canadian medical schools includes courses concerning procedures and practices relating to the elective early termination of pregnancy.

 

 

 

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Statement NCWC and ICW

JOINT DECLARATION

PREAMBLE

The National Council of Women of Canada (The “NCWC”) is a member of the International Council of Women, accredited with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council’s Commission on the Status of Women. NCWC is linked with seventy-seven Councils and member groups in Canada and is committed to improving the well-being of women, families and communities.”

WHEREAS Individuals in attendance at NCWC’s 118th Annual Meeting held in Winnipeg, June 2nd to June 4th (The “Delegates”) bear witness to the critical, tragic and inequitable issue of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls in Manitoba, and across Canada; and

WHEREAS Delegates unequivocally affirm their commitment to actively working together towards complete protection of, respect for and fulfilment of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples’ human rights; acceptance and affirmation of their cultural identity; and their declared Right of Self-Determination; and

WHEREAS Delegates are committed to encouraging the Government of Canada to implement a National Task Force leading to federal legislation that prevents further missing and murdered women/girls, and that addresses the systemic and inequitable access for culturally appropriate services at the community level and enacts a paradigm shift in how policies are designed that govern such programs and services;

THEREFORE, Delegates affirm, assert and recognize Inherent and Treaty Rights of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and seek to support the full and equitable participation of Aboriginal Peoples, in particular Aboriginal women and girls, within Canadian society intrinsically addressing the systemic issues of violence against Aboriginal women and girls and eradicating social, cultural, economic and spiritual inequalities encountered by Aboriginal women and girls in Canada;

AND, FURTHER, Delegates support the second annual “Walk for Justice” for murdered and missing women starting June 21, 2011, and encourage others to support the walk as it moves across Canada.

WHEREAS In November 2008, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) reviewed Canada’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and issued its Concluding Observations in Geneva where the Committee asked Canada to report back in one year on steps taken to address inadequate social assistance rates across the country and the failure of law enforcement agencies to deal with the disappearance and murder of Aboriginal women and girls; and

WHEREAS In February 2009 Canada was told by the UN Human Rights Council it is not doing enough in areas such as aboriginal rights, violence against women, poverty and racism; and

WHEREAS CEDAW recommended Canada develop a specific and integrated plan for addressing the particular conditions affecting Aboriginal women, both on and off reserves, including poverty, poor health, inadequate housing, low school-completion rates, low employment rates, low income and high rates of violence; and

WHEREAS NCWC continues to urge the Government of Canada to develop, fund and implement an integrated plan, in collaboration with the NWAC, to address the systemic conditions affecting Aboriginal women, specifically insufficient services and resources, and to continue collaboration and partnership with Aboriginal communities in addressing systemic issues of violence against women and children; and

WHEREAS NCWC in solidarity with the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) continues to urge the Government of Canada to engage in open and meaningful dialogue with NWAC, in reporting back to CEDAW, with particular attention to addressing the disappearance and murder of Aboriginal women and girls.

THEREFORE, NCWC and the undersigned members of the Aboriginal community are committed to working together to encourage the Government of Canada to draft an Aboriginal Human Rights Code in consultation with First Nations governments in compliance with the UN Human Rights Conventions; and to ratify and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with particular attention to addressing the inequalities encountered by Aboriginal women and girls in Canada;

AND FURTHER, NCWC and the undersigned members of the Aboriginal community declare their continued commitment in cooperation, engagement, and support of Aboriginal women, to urge open and meaningful public policy dialogue between the Government of Canada and Aboriginal communities on critical issues needing immediate resolution in addressing the systemic issues of violence against Aboriginal women and girls.

NCWC, NWAC, AMC, and Members of the Aboriginal Community

NCWC, President                               MARY SCOTT

NWAC, President                               JEANNETTE CORBIERE-LAVELL

AMC                                                    CHIEF FRANCES MEECHES

(Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs)

[Members of Aboriginal Community] BARBARA HOULE (MOTHER OF CHARISSE HOULE)

[Members of Aboriginal Community] AUNT OF CHARISSE HOULE

[Members of Aboriginal Community] SISTER OF CHARISSE HOULE

[Members of Aboriginal Community] AUNT OF KELLY MORISSEAU

[Members of Aboriginal Community] AUNT OF CHARISSE HOULE

Delegates (OVER 100 SIGNATURES)

 

Background of NCWC Policy

Since 1997 the National Council of Women of Canada has adopted as policy and has urged the Government of Canada to

  1. Work with provincial and territorial governments and with aboriginal organizations and governing bodies to develop and fund more safe houses/shelters, on and off reserve, including programs and services that respect aboriginal culture and traditions, for aboriginal women and their children who are victims of family violence. Engage stakeholders to successfully address the underlying issues contributing to the high rate of family violence within the Aboriginal community, and to increase the capacity of Aboriginal women to break the cycle of family violence;
  2. Collaborate with Provincial and Territorial governments and with aboriginal organizations and governing bodies, and to consult with civil society to develop anti-poverty legislation that includes a strategy to eliminate poverty by addressing the systemic barriers to full social participation by all Canadians and which contains accountability measures for government, in support of the UN Millennium Goals;
  3. Provide more effective prenatal care for aboriginal women, as they are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, so that their children are less likely to be born HIV+;
  4. Study the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and undertake appropriate action using a conciliatory process to create a new and better relationship between the Government of Canada and Aboriginal Peoples;
  5. Remove section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act1 as quickly as possible and to draft an Aboriginal Human Rights Code in consultation with First Nations governments in compliance with the UN Human Rights Conventions;
  6. Sign2 and Ratify the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  7. Establish a national comprehensive child care policy designed to facilitate the development of child care services and resources which would, inter alia, be sensitive to the particular cultural requirements of aboriginal and immigrant families;
  8. Enter into partnership with Aboriginal communities and organizations to review and identify barriers to the use of Section 81 and 84 of the Correctional and Conditional Release Act3, and create and implement an action plan to encourage its use for Federally Sentenced Aboriginal Women. This partnership should include financial resources for those communities wishing to undertake the responsibility of assisting in the reintegration of Aboriginal women offenders; and Ensure that Federally Sentenced Aboriginal Women are fully aware of Sections 81 and 84 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and encouraged to apply under these sections;

 

 

1     This section was repealed in June 2008:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/LegislativeSummaries/bills_ls.asp?lang=E&ls=c21&Parl=39&Ses=2&source=library _prb

2     Canada has signed on as of November 2010 but has yet to ratify the declaration through domestic legislation or enforcement.

3     The sections on ‘Aboriginal Offenders’ are below and the Act can be found at: http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/sc-1992-c-20/latest/sc-1992-c-20.html

  1. In sections 80 to 84,

“aboriginal”

« autochtone »

“aboriginal” means Indian, Inuit or Métis;

“aboriginal community”

« collectivité autochtone »

“aboriginal community” means a first nation, tribal council, band, community, organization or other group with a predominantly aboriginal leadership;

“correctional services”

« services correctionnels »

“correctional services” means services or programs for offenders, including their care and custody. Programs

  1. Without limiting the generality of section 76, the Service shall provide programs designed particularly to address the needs of aboriginal offenders.

Agreements

81. (1) 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 services.

Scope of agreement

(2)   Notwithstanding subsection (1), an agreement entered into under that subsection may provide for the provision of correctional services to a non-aboriginal offender.

Placement of offender

(3)   In accordance with any agreement entered into under subsection (1), the Commissioner may transfer an offender to the care and custody of an aboriginal community, with the consent of the offender and of the aboriginal community.

1992, c. 20, s. 81; 1995, c. 42, s. 21(F). Advisory committees

82. (1) The Service shall establish a National Aboriginal Advisory Committee, and may establish regional and local aboriginal advisory committees, which shall provide advice to the Service on the provision of correctional services to aboriginal offenders.

Committees to consult

(2) For the purpose of carrying out their function under subsection (1), all committees shall consult regularly with aboriginal communities and other appropriate persons with knowledge of aboriginal matters.

Spiritual leaders and elders

83. (1) For greater certainty, aboriginal spirituality and aboriginal spiritual leaders and elders have the same status as other religions and other religious leaders.

Idem

(2) The Service shall take all reasonable steps to make available to aboriginal inmates the services of an aboriginal spiritual leader or elder after consultation with

(a)   the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee mentioned in section 82; and

(b)   the appropriate regional and local aboriginal advisory committees, if such committees have been established pursuant to that section.

Parole plans

84. Where 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 inmate’s parole application; and

(b)   an opportunity to propose a plan for the inmate’s release to, and integration into, the aboriginal community. Plans with respect to long-term supervision

84.1 Where an offender who is required to be supervised by a long-term supervision order has expressed an interest in being supervised in an aboriginal community, the Service shall, if the offender consents, give the aboriginal community

(a)   adequate notice of the order; and

(b)   an opportunity to propose a plan for the offender’s release on supervision, and integration, into the aboriginal community. 1997, c. 17, s. 15.




Statement International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day – Celebrating our Great…. Progress?

The UN Charter states that gender equality is a fundamental human right, and much work has been done in the UN and in its States Members to work toward that noble goal. In Canada, we have the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as the foundations for women’s legal rights; and we rejoice in the progress we have made in such areas as maternity and parental benefits.

Good progress, legally, perhaps. But what about progress in our daily lives – in practice?

In our daily lives, women still are not equal to men in Canada – not able to make and carry out the basic decisions that affect our lives. Those maternity benefits – marvelous in theory and law -are so restricted that about half the women who should receive them cannot do so.

The weight of custom hangs heavily on Canadian women – traditionally and currently the caretakers of the young, the old and the sick. Our government says our population must grow and seeks ways to encourage families to have more children. Why, then, do women face penalties at every stage of their lives for having and caring for those children which are so important to the growth of our country? These penalties occur with maternity care, maternity leave, income stability, taxation and other important issues.

Our entire health care system is based on the presupposition that every patient has someone who can give primary, follow-up and on-going care at home at no cost to the State. This caregiver usually is a woman. Again, she is penalized in income, taxation policies and pension benefits for doing this vital work.

In every area of our society, women still are seen as “lesser males”, not-quite-as-good-as, and “merely” women. The work we do – although vital to our nation – is not valued at all or is undervalued because the work can be and is being done by a “mere woman.” Our “lesser value” is seen in all sorts of ways: a Gardener (female) and a Groundskeeper (male) do the same work with the same training and experience for a company, but the Groundskeeper gets higher pay. Clerk 1A (female) and Clerk 1B (male) do the same job, but Clerk 1B has access to career development classes that Clerk 1A does not; and the result is higher pay and career advancement for Clerk 1B. Most school systems have policy stating that the mother is the person to call in case of emergency; hence, the mother gets called to the school/clinic/ hospital to attend to her child’s emergency. Hence, the mother/female worker is viewed as “unreliable” by her supervisor and may be rejected for advancement in favor of her male co-worker.

On March 8, 1917, women demonstrated for “bread and peace.” Today, we still are striving toward bread (alleviation of poverty which is overwhelmingly female at every age) and peace (in our world and in our homes). We see the many problems of our world and our nation, but, as “mere” women, we are excluded from helping to find the solutions – not seen as partners in building our nation. The nation is depriving itself of the brains and skills of about half its population, with all their education and experience and innovative energies.

The progress of the women of a nation toward equality mirrors the progress of that nation toward solving its social, political and economic problems. Without the full participation and empowerment of women to help make the decisions, no lasting solutions to any of these problems can be found.

Women’s progress? Let us celebrate the progress we have made and pledge ourselves and each other to work harder for further progress toward true equality – for the benefit of our nation and our world.




Statement Girls and Violence

Girls/Young Women and Violence Project

An initiative of the National Council of Women of Canada

Funded by Status of Women Canada

Prepared by the Core Advisory Committee:

Ruth Brown, Joyce Ireland, Annette Werk, Helen Saravanamuttoo (Chair)

The Forum, generously sponsored by Status of Women Canada, occurred on 5 June 1999 in Winnipeg, in conjunction with the Annual General Meeting of the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC). The intention of the Forum, the first step of a national initiative, was to gather together NCWC members, youth representatives from across Canada and informed professionals for a one day event which would inform members on issues of girls and young women as victims and perpetrators of violence.

September 1999

Why Advocacy/Program Support and Development are Necessary

We live in an increasingly violent society. The consequences for girls / young women experiencing violence are, invariably long lasting and devastating to their life chances. The socialization of girls and young women, combined with the frequent portrayal of violence and objectification of girls / young women in the media, may result in a negative or poorly developed sense of identity.

The result for some young women is that they are conditioned to not to pay attention to their own needs and experience. This can result in depression, low self-esteem and a learned sense of powerlessness. Harassment and other forms of violence affect not only victims of abuse, but also have long standing consequences for bystanders.

This project addresses the needs of girls and young women, who are much more likely to be victims of violence. Research shows that girls/young women who are perpetrators of violence share the common characteristic that they have been victims of violence themselves. There has been little gender-based research on perpetrators of violence and the programs that have been developed are not generally viewed as filling the needs of these girls and young women. There are, therefore, gaps in service in this area.

What is Violence?

There are many different ways in which violence can be experienced by girls and young women. The following are some of the most common.

§          Verbal abuse

§        Gender intimidation or harassment (domination of boys / young men over girls / young women)

§          Exclusion from their peer group

§          Bullying

§          Sexual violence, including rape and dating violence

§          Physical violence

Project Goals

We hope that your council will be part of this project by undertaking advocacy on this issue or developing a community program. The goals of your project may include some of the following:

§          To build awareness and understanding of the issue among council and affiliated organization members, as well as among the general public;

§          To ensure that local community programs address the distinct and different needs of girls / young women experiencing violence in their lives;

§          To improve services for girls / young women involved in violence;

§          To forge new ties and partnerships between councils and community agencies and professionals.

Getting Started

Below you will find several categories of programs to help you better assess what exists where you live and where you might want to put some efforts. Since abuse exists on a continuum from harassment and bullying to physical and sexual violence, different programs are required to address different problems. There are three general phases of the process:

§          Violence prevention

  • Treatment to deal with behaviour resulting from exposure to violence
  • Crisis intervention

§          School Programs that exist at all levels from elementary to college and university, including:

  • Classroom programs emphasizing ways to get along with each other
  • Assertiveness training
  • Conflict resolution and anger management programs
  • Peer mediation programs
  • Same sex small group discussions on such topics as violence, sexual harassment
  • Harassment and date rape prevention
  • Counselors who are trained to help, both victims and perpetrators deal with the consequences of violence, are an important resource

§          Community Agencies:

  • Agencies include YM-YWCA, Youth Services
  • Prevention programs, teen groups
  • Counseling for victims of violence
  • Youth shelters and safe houses
  • Hospital emergency programs
  • Rape Crisis Centres
  • Education programs
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Crisis lines
  • Police Services
  • Education programs

At the same time, it is necessary to change attitudes. The following are examples of initiatives in this category.

§        Education programs for the public and for service providers

§        Public service announcements and pamphlets on taking violence against women seriously

§          Police/physician awareness training designed to ensure professionals respond to the needs of women and girls.

The foregoing are only a few of the main categories. Perhaps you know of others.

People to Involve

§          Councils, NOSs have been asked to name a local project representative to coordinate contacts

§          Youth delegates to Forum, other interested young women from your area and young women’s groups

§          Local professionals working in the field

Project Parameters

§          Projects may include community support of existing services, development of new services or sponsoring of education programs (e.g. a discussion series in your community).

§        Status of Women Canada funding is conditional on the continued involvement of young women.

§        We encourage councils to engage in a project between now and June 2000. This project may be on- going after the 2000 AGM, but we will need to report to Status of Women Canada by that time.

§          Jenny Robinson, Project Coordinator will be available to work with you in the early stages of your  project. In addition, there will be a small sum (up to $200) available to reimburse out of pocket expenses that you incur in running this project. Receipts will be required.

§          A short report will be necessary on the activities your council / organization takes part in and how  the goals are met.

We hope that your local council will choose to develop an advocacy or action program to address abuse that best suits the needs of your community. Good luck!

SUMMARY FORUM REPORT: GIRLS / YOUNG WOMEN AND VIOLENCE PROJECT

An initiative of the National Council of Women of Canada
Funded by Status of Women Canada
Prepared by the Core Advisory Committee:
Ruth Brown, Joyce Ireland, Annette Werk, Helen Saravanamuttoo (chair)
September 1999

Who Attended

There were 160 participants: 95 Council members, 20 youth from across the country, 15 youth from Winnipeg and 30 public attendees. In addition, there were a number of presenters. Volunteers helped to pull the day together.

Also in attendance were Barbara Riley, Program Officer from Status of Women Canada, and the Honourable Hedy Fry, Minister for the Status of Women, who took part in a news conference and was interviewed by several media representatives, and who met many of the youth delegates at the luncheon.

Goals of the Forum

The goals of the Forum have been met, as follows:

1.         To give participants (members, youth delegates and general public) a knowledge base about girls/young
women as victims and perpetrators of violence.

  1. Resource material was included in the program.
  2. The keynote presenters, Dr. Sybille Artz from the University of Victoria and Kelly Gorkoff from RESOLVE (one of the Alliance of Five Research Centres involved in a project on violence against women) gave brilliant presentations on the very complex issues of girl/young women and violence.
  3. Experienced and well-informed facilitators led participatory workshops.
  4. Dr. Hedy Fry delivered an impassioned and informative speech.
  5. A youth panel discussed their first hand experiences of violence and the need to heal.
  6. The Forum evaluations showed that these presentations were effective. Respondents reported that their understanding had been increased.

2.       To listen to and record regional concerns of council members from across the country.

a.       Small group discussions, grouped by region, enabled all participants to share their views.

3.         To raise energy levels, awareness and commitment among participants on issues related to girls/young women and violence.

a.         Ninety percent (90%) of respondents indicated that they were interested in participating in further  action. This number is very significant in view of the fact that 50% were not currently involved in the issue of girls/young women and violence.

4.         To develop material on which action and advocacy by local councils will be based.

a.         The recommendations developed by the small groups will be sent out to local and provincial councils, grouped by region.

The youth delegates who completed this questionnaire indicated awareness of the issues re violence although most were not involved in initiatives in this problem area. They stated that their ideas that violence perpetrated by girls/young women was on the rise came from the media, mainly TV, and not from their own experiences. Since only 9 of the 30 youth delegates completed the questionnaire it is impossible to generalize from these data.

There was almost universal agreement that the day was a resounding success with excellent presentations and workshops, which led to increased understanding and awareness of this serious problem area. A number of respondents stressed the importance of having the opportunity to share ideas with others, to hear from the youth delegates and to participate in inter-generational dialogue.

A fairly significant number of respondents felt that there were important topics, which had not been discussed at the Forum. These included Aboriginal and Gay and Lesbian issues. Several delegates also felt that sessions on strategies for intervention, solutions and causes of gender-based violence would have improved the Forum. One interesting response suggested that a clearer definition of National Council’s mandate including funding issues was needed.

Recommendations By Province

Top Two Selections from each Province with the numbers signify the ranking given by the total Forum Assembly.

Manitoba

  1. Provincial council to provide a forum for young women to speak out about experiences and concerns. ASK THEM WHAT THEY WANT – solution based
  2. Identify at risk children and provide early intervention

30      Provide a haven for young girls in your own neighbourhood

9.Provide opportunities for youth. Run programs run by youth

10. Encouraging educational system to provide resources and time – to include in its curriculum age and developmentally appropriate life skills (listening and communication skills toward peer supporters) – including healthy sex education and abuse awareness

11. Need appropriate preventative programs dealing with anger, self esteem, self worth, the justice system and everyday living for youth and by youth

12. Support childrens programs through media and school to value qualities attributed to women in girls and boys (IE. Trusting intuition compassion and love and community service respect)

15. Listening and mentoring

160      Council to include young women in activities discussion and decision-making (personal invitations
to young women)

Ontario

4. Develop youth councils in High Schools that mirror the model of Council and act in partnership with the local council

5. Facilitating workshops with young women in partnership with YW +20 in partnerships with other community groups, IE. School boards to 3, RAFT (youth drop ins)

6. Link girls and young women with mentors

7. Advocate for programs in school to facilitate children revealing abusive situations

8. Have speakers at council meetings to help us to know how to recognize symptoms of abuse

180    Implement a viable policy against harassment in the school

20. Council support – Head start programs – for children at risk with parental involvement.

Maritimes

13. Local sessions/meetings every 2 months

14. Consult and listen with young people about what they would do in a violent situation and offer choices

Quebec

17. To inform young women of services help available in Montreal in both languages, (collect and publish). 19. An integrated program in the schools – starting at an early age – to promote gender equality and respect

British Columbia

21. Formal and informal celebrations and instruction and mentorship programs for girls moving into adolescence

22. Build high self esteem among young women)

23. Develop theatre program written and performed by students for community

24. School program as part of curriculum that involves youth working with youth including all children addressing violence, anger management, drugs and alcohol, empowerment of youth

First Choice: 10. Encouraging educational system to provide resources and time – to include in its curriculum age and developmentally appropriate life skills (listening and communication skills toward peer supporters) – including healthy sex education and abuse awareness (Manitoba)

Second Choice: 19. An integrated program in the schools – starting at an early age – to promote gender equality and respect (Quebec)

Third Choice: 22. Build high self-esteem among young women (British Columbia)

Understanding the Connections: Girls and Young Women as Victims and Perpetrators of Violence

Prepared for the National Council of Women of Canada Prepared by Jenny Robinson, Forum Co-coordinator 907 Dominion Street

Winnipeg, Manitoba R3G 2N7

Funded by Status of Women Canada

August 15, 1999

Dear Advisory Committee Members,

Re: National Forum Report – Understanding the Connections: Girls and Young Women as Victims and Perpetrators of Violence

I am pleased to send you the attached report, Forum Report – Understanding the Connections: Girls and Young Women as Victims and Perpetrators of Violence. You requested this report in our meetings in Ottawa in June of 1999.

This report reiterates the key areas of this issue as they were presented at the Forum on June 5th, 1999, in Winnipeg by the invited experts. It then offers a description of the evaluation and an analysis of the data collected through those processes.

You will also find attached recommendations made by the regions of your organization, concluding with suggestions for the Next Steps, the second and third phase of this project.

I hope that the report will be helpful to you and your colleagues in guiding the future plans for this project. Sincerely,

Jenny Robinson

Forum Co-coordinator

Summary

In 1999, a girl in Canada has a one-in-two chance of experiencing some form of violence against her before she reaches the age of sixteen. Does this have a connection to the rage and anger that we see in the faces and actions of so many girls and young women in Canada? Is the continued objectification of females and constant public sexism in our culture working to deplete the self-respect of the young women and girls of this nation? Are these issues all tied together in a culture that does not value the experience of women?

The keynote presenters at the National Council of Women’s Forum – Understanding the Connections: Girls and Young Women as Victims and Perpetrators of Violence – said an emphatic yes, there is a clear connection between all of these things, and that we must unravel this picture through solid gender-based research and a concerted public education and advocacy program that will turn the tables on violence of all forms.

This report attempts to address the above questions, and dispel some myths around girls and young women’s use of violence using the information, which was presented by the experts who were involved in the Forum on June 5th, 1999, in Winnipeg. It also includes the next steps – some programming, funding and partnership ideas.

As well there is an examination of the information collected in the evaluation process, which gives a picture of what the many regions represented at the Forum have to say about their community’s needs and desires in addressing this complex issue. The group who attended the Forum was overwhelmingly in favour of taking action against the violence that young women and girls in Canada are experiencing in their lives.

Acknowledgements

I want to thank the following persons who assisted in the development of this project: the members of the Core Advisory Committee – Helen Saravanamuttoo, Chair, Joyce Ireland, Ruth Brown, Dorothy Hodgson and Annette Werk, and also all the members from across the nation who participated on the Advisory Committee.

The Forum would not have been a success without the wisdom of the Winnipeg Council Members, in particular, thanks to Mary Scott and Beryl Eyford. Thanks to Hannah Service, Executive Director of the National Office for her endless hours of commitment to the future of women in Canada. To the Honourable Minister Hedy Fry, a thank you for her impassioned words and commitment to ending violence against women in Canada.

And most importantly I would like to thank all the youth delegates who came and openly shared their stories with us. I hope we do you justice and find a way to diminish the violence in our homes, schools and on our streets so your future is brighter and safer.

Thank you to Status of Women Canada for the financial support for this project.

I. INTRODUCTION

A national forum – Understanding the Connections: Girls as Victims and Perpetrators of Violence, the first step of a national initiative sponsored by Status of Women Canada, occurred on June 5th, 1999, in Winnipeg. The intention of the forum was to gather together National Council of Women members, youth representatives from across Canada and informed professionals for a one-day national event to educate members of the Council and to make further plans to investigate and understand this complex issue.

The impetus behind the project, as described by the Chair of the Advisory Committee, Helen Saravanamuttoo, was the culmination of many years experience of members of the Ottawa- Carlton Local Council of Women (LCW) working in the field of child welfare and how they had observed violence blighting the lives of youths, and they realized, through these observations, that there was a link between victims and perpetrators.

Approximately 160 people attended the one-day national event. There were 95 Council members, 20 guest youth delegates from Councils across the country, 15 youth delegates from the Winnipeg area and 30 public attendees. As well, there were a number of presenters, volunteers and workers to help pull the day together.

Also in attendance was Barbara Riley, project officer from Status of Women, and the Honourable Hedy Fry, who delivered an impassioned speech at the luncheon and met with the youth delegates and members of the media.

A.      Background

There has been a recent spate of media coverage concerned with girls or young women who have engaged in acts of violence, and Statistics Canada recently reported that violent crime by young females is growing. It is important for the future of such young women that this phenomenon be acknowledged and investigated within an equality-seeking framework, so that treatment principles can be built on effective violence prevention measures instead of on punitive ones. It is even more important to understand the connection between being the victim and the perpetrator of violence, in order to ensure social justice for these young women.

differences be acknowledged, so that girls and young women, either victims or perpetrators of violence, be given effective help.

The statistics regarding girls and young women and violence are staggering. The chance that a young women or girl will be a victim of some form of violence before she reaches 16 is 50%. Furthermore, girls from marginalized groups tend to experience violence at heightened levels; these are girls and young women of the First Nations, refugees and immigrants, lesbians, bisexual and trans-gendered youth ().

The chance that young women or girls will perpetrate violence is statistically low in a gender comparison to young males; however, in recent years young female involvement in violent crime has been statistically growing and it has changed its face (Stermac, 1998, p.18). Whereas young female offenders were once principally involved in crimes of property, they have become increasingly involved in crimes against persons. Professor Lana Stermac theorizes, as do others, that this increased involvement in violent crimes may be a response to feelings of low self-esteem. She writes, “A girls’ self-reports reveal that physical aggression may increase feelings of empowerment, dominance and self-importance.” (Stermac, 1998, p.19)

A recent discussion paper released by Health Canada’s Interim National Expert Advisory Committee for the Centres of Excellence for Children’s Well-Being states, Children who witness their mother being abused by their father or another male partner display increased rates of withdrawal, low self- esteem, depression and emotional problems (Peggy Edwards, Health Canada and the Fostering Knowledge of Children in Canada, 2-23-99, p. 18).

Sibylle Artz, in her study of violent school girls, concludes that two of the central patterns emerging which prepare them for involvement in violence are their extensive personal experience with emotional, physical and sexual abuse… and internalized notions of being female that assign low general worth to women (Artz, 1998, p. 195-96).

This supports the research coming from the , a tri-province initiative which has just completed a study to be used as development material for a national action plan on the prevention of violence and the girl child. Their findings are compiled in a paper entitled Violence Prevention and the Girl Child, February 1999.

They observe that responses to violence manifest themselves in many forms, and we can not use a narrow definition; rather the definition must encompass all of its manifested forms such as eating disorders, sexual exploitation, self-harm, depression, suicide and delinquency. Findings in the AFRCV report suggest that there is a direct connection between these behaviours and the experience of violence.

B.      Intervention and Research

There are interventions available to youth; however, it is difficult to determine the effectiveness of existing programs as the many evaluations of particular approaches do not deal with gender issues and frequently the evaluated programs do not even serve girls (Artz, 1998, p. 191). Artz explains that many programs which focus on delinquency were originally designed for males and for the most part do not address the needs of young females (Artz, 1998, p. 196).

Also with regard to intervention, youth need to be made aware of the continuum of violence, which encompasses many of their lives, and to know that violence is not normal. It must be made clear that girl children have the right to live in a non-violent society (AFRCV, 1999, p.2). This is a challenging task and one that is perhaps guided best by the young people who are living or have lived through violence and are willing to share their sensitive observations.

To develop appropriate and significant intervention it is important to understand and address all the factors that put children at risk of violence. The following is a combined list of risk factors from the AFRCV and Investing in Children: A National Research Conference, 1998: poverty, homelessness, lack of knowledge about human rights, prostitution and trafficking, eating disorders, depression, suicide, self-harm, date rape, the impact of witnessing violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse, gangs and girl-on-girl violence, media violence, sexual harassment in schools, teen pregnancies, hate crimes, racism, homophobia and cultural exclusion and insensitivity (AFRCV, 1999, p. 2, and Investing in Children: Workshop Paper 6, 1998, p.8).

One might surmise that as girls are at the greatest risk for violence, there should be priority given to gender-specific research and development of effective intervention programs; however, this is not the case, and

in fact, gender-specific inquiry is scarce. Kelly Gorkoff, in a Review of Child Abuse Affects, Interventions, Prevention and Legal Issues: A Focus on Canadian, Female and Aboriginal Literature concludes that a review of the literature on child abuse has revealed that although girls are most at risk of all forms of abuse, they are not prominent in research, theory or law.

C.      Next Steps

Understanding the connection between girls as victims and perpetrators of violence requires a thorough examination of the gaps that exist in research and intervention for both victims and perpetrators. This examination must be guided by an overall gender sensitivity that does not presently exist. Put succinctly by the AFRCV:

“…Violence against girls is common and endemic in Canadian society. That such violence is becoming normalized and increasingly accepted, as a way of life is indicative of the need for urgent action. Safe gender-specific spaces, programs and services for girls are necessary and more effective in the long term.” (AFRCV, 1999, p. 16)

II.       THE FORUM – PROGRAM OF EVENTS
The Forum began with a sharing circle. During this ceremony, the group of 160 was reminded that violence is not an individual issue but truly an issue that pervades our society. This set the tone for the day by encouraging all present to examine the painful reality of violence involving young women and girls and using their experience and strength to explore possible solutions.

Presenters at the Forum included Dr. Sybille Artz from the University of Victoria, and from the University of Manitoba, Kelly Gorkoff, MA, from Resolve, one of the Alliance of Five Research Centres on Violence (AFRCV).

They addressed the audience with an informed presentation on the complex issue of girls and young women as victims and perpetrators of violence. This was followed by concurrent workshops: Model for Intervention; Prevention and Early Detection; Conflict Resolution; and Self Defense which all explored the nature of violence in society and offered new alternatives for intervention based on holistic, self-esteem building, community development methods.

A youth panel after lunch with the Hon. Minister Hedy Fry gave all who attended a first-hand look at the violence that young women and girls face with little or no resources. The day ended with small group work, which allowed the regions to focus in on the needs of their communities.

III.    THE FORUM – CONTENT ANALYSIS
A.      Gender-Based Research: Acknowledging Women’s Value

The importance of gender-based research and programming emerged as a central theme of the Forum. All of the presenters highlighted it as a significant area in need of development, which will help in understanding the true experience of violence. They all posit that the experience of violence, be it as a victim or perpetrator, is based in gender, and that gender and how one is socialized in that gender affects how one experiences or uses violence.

The panelists revealed this as a basic premise from which to assess the issue of violence among and against young women and girls. The experiences of women and how women live their lives differently from men must be recognized to further the understanding of how violence affects society. Artz explained that gender-based research must be a starting point rather than an afterthought.

Both Gorkoff and Artz advocated further research in the field, which would be gender-specific; in other words, we must begin to clearly examine female experience, in general, from a gendered perspective. As Reitsma-Street, PhD., from the University of Toronto explains, the experience of women is not adequately examined in social science research: The pattern of seeing females as similar to, equal to, different from, less than, better than the standard of male behaviours, thoughts and theories is pervasive in all of our sciences, in all of our laws and in all of our practices (Reitsma-Street, 1996, p. 252).

This gender bias manifests itself in the lives of young women and girls. It is seen most clearly in how girls and young women define equality as sameness rather than an acknowledgment and a respect for difference, explains Artz. Women will not be autonomous until they recognize their own identity. Sibylle Artz, PhD:

This became real to me when I started spending a lot of time interviewing girls from elementary school to senior high and especially when I did my ethnographic study. Their definition of equality had turned into sameness- they had no idea that equality meant that one had the ability to define one’s own terms- that one wasn’t truly autonomous until one understood that one could create the world in a way that fit with one’s values and one’s creed. Therefore their sense of equality was really still that of an oppressed group (Appendix – Opening Panel, 6-5-99).

Here Artz quotes Paulo Ferreira, One of the basic elements of the relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed is prescription. Every prescription represents the imposition of one individual’s choice upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed into one that conforms to the prescriber’s consciousness. Therefore, as long as we see ourselves as attempting to attain the standards and qualities of life that someone else has, we are not yet taking control of defining the quality of life that we see is the quality of life that is in the best interest of all.

Gorkoff asked the participants to be mindful of their own experiences as women and how truly different women are and how this is not reflected nor respected in much of the research done which examines the lives of girls and young women. The research that has been done to date on violence has used a very narrow definition of violence; focused mainly on the mainstream; has not distinguished between boys and girls; has examined violence as an individual problem; and has not included the manifestations of abuse, such as eating disorders, self-harm, prostitution, depression and suicide. What has been revealed is that girls tend to experience abuse at the hands of family and friends and that boys tend to experience abuse at the hands of strangers.

Family violence, the sexual objectification and abuse of female bodies, dominance of one gender over another and the stereotypical characterization of males and females are pervasive and lie at the root of violent action. As a result of this reality, young women and girls from across Canada have a similar experience. Often they accept the assumption that they are stupid and the inferior sex. They are often the brunt of sexist jokes and this sexism defines how they must behave in their families and at their schools. They are commercialized and convinced by a market-driven culture that they are nothing unless they are skinny. These are all examples offered in the research presented by Gorkoff and Artz.

Artz’s research indicates that young women and girls who have identified themselves as being involved in violent acts, had been abused physically and sexually more than all other people who participated in our study – and that they are in constant fear of being abused and that they are in competition for male attention. In order to be noticed and valued by males they feel compelled to utilize tactics often associated with males, such as violence. In fact, male desire is so important that young women and girls may even fight to excite them, as was described by Sibylle Artz in the story of Molly, one of the young girls that participated in her study and is documented in her book Sex, Power and the Violent School Girl.

Their experiences are compounded by the sense young women and girls have, that they are constantly watched and assessed according to what activities they do and the behaviour they display. Mary Pipher, PhD, author of Reviving Ophelia calls this imaginary audience syndrome; it is attached to their mental developmental phase, which, at adolescence, is steeped in concrete thought. Therefore, they see things in black and white; for example, young women might believe that if they take the initiative sexually that they are sluts and deserve abuse. This is linked again to the need for self-identification and a need for the freedom to define one’s own person- physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually. Girls, generally, rely on prescriptions that society gives them. In this regard they are continually oppressed and pressured into well- defined sexist roles. This leads to the development of surface or manifest behaviours, which can be linked directly to depletion of self as a result of the experiences with violence.

B.      Dispelling the Myths

The opening panelists presented five myths that surround girl violence. Much of the research regarding the myths comes from a study by the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies in Calgary. Myths are emerging because of media distortion and our distorted understandings of why girls use violence. So I want to present these myths to you as a way to open a dialogue as to why girls use violence from a gendered perspective, Gorkoff explained.

Myth #1 Violence committed by young girls is skyrocketing

As mentioned in the background information, statistically girl violence is increasing and both Gorkoff and Artz explain that this is erroneous and has to do with how statistics are compiled. It was clarified that although the rate of violence among young women and girls has increased, it is neither statistically significant nor is it more so than the overall rate of violence in Canada.

Myth #2 Violence by girls is becoming more violent

In 1965 women were responsible for 2% of all homicides, where as in 1995 that dropped to 1%. For sexual assault we see the same drop from 2 to 1%. Robbery seems to be increasing and this includes robberies with weapons. Female involvement in assault has actually dropped.

Myth #3 – It is not appropriate for girls to use violence because it is a male aggression characteristic

Research would indicate that this is judging by a male standard and that there is a big gender difference between the way women use violence and the way men use violence even physiologically. This argument is supported with social and physiological data as it relates to female use of violence. Gorkoff explained that violence is socially acceptable for boys and not for girls. In the AFRCV focus group study the girls said, “My brother can fight and get into trouble and he is a big man.” If I do it I’m a terrible girl, a terrible person. But it is socially acceptable for my brother.

Physiologically, Artz said there is new data emerging that would indicate that females experience the use of violence differently in their bodies than males. Ann Cameron, a Canadian researcher, is looking at the physiological underpinnings of what happens in anger and the differences between males and females. When at-risk females reach a certain level of stress that is brought on by anxiety they disassociate from their bodies. They are slipping out of consciousness, which is typical for abuse survivors, again reaffirming the need to move outside the notion of measuring everything according to a set standard.

Myth #4 Poor parenting: working mothers and liberal parenting styles have caused violence to increase

Suggestions that single-parent families, working moms, or income levels have a causal relationship in the development of at-risk children was firmly refuted in Artz’s study of 1500 British Columbia students. Furthermore, this myth blames women and does not implicate men. Men are also parents and play a role in how parenting should be structured.

Myth #5 – There is a gang problem with young women

This is an under-researched media-hyped issue, Gorkoff explained. In a current AFRCV study they found that although girls affiliated with gangs are considered members of the gangs, their membership is that of a worker, usually as a prostitute, who makes money for the gang; they do not actually have the same kind of involvement or status as male gang members.

C.     Panel Recommendations

The Alliance of Five Research Councils (AFRCV), investigating family violence and violence against women across Canada, undertook background research on the development of a national action plan on the girl child. The goal of the research was to begin to understand the range and types of violence experienced by girls, as well as to understand what Canadians are doing to prevent and stop violence. They did an extensive search of the current literature in Canada and the United States. These are the recommendations that came from the national study from the AFRCV and that Gorkoff and Artz presented at the Forum:

  1. There is a need to conceptualize violence on two interconnected levels: at the individual level and at the societal level. The individual level is within the family context- within personal experience. The contribution of the larger societal forces must be understood in relation to issues such as racism and poverty, unemployment, lack of support for parents (for example, the lack of a national day care program) and how these intersect with the patriarchal beliefs, which are widely held about women and men.
  2. There must be a clear coordinated government mandate on violence prevention and this mandate should embrace a gender-specific as well as a culturally sensitive perspective.
  3. Services need to be co-coordinated and service providers have to be given the forum and the resources to be able to communicate with one another.
  4. There is a clear need for a community development approach. In the survey conducted by the AFRCV, the more successful existing programs had a strong community base. Artz’s data supports this. In the Suek School District, just outside of Victoria, B.C., Artz has been working since 1994 on a community-based violence prevention program. It is a grassroots-driven program. In each of the participating schools there is a team of parents, teachers, administrators, youths (even at the elementary school level) and agency workers, and the result thus far has been a 40-50% drop in incident rate in violence in the schools and an overall 50% self-reported drop in violence among young girls and a 22% drop in violence among boys.
  5. There has to be a holistic approach. In some way there must be a connection made between mind, body, spirit and action. Our complex human relations must be reflected in law, policy and program development.

D.          Prevention and Early Detection

The workshop on Prevention and Early Detection of Violence presented by Nanci Burns, MSW, of Ottawa, focused on the need for educators to recognize the impact of sexism on the development of girls and young women. Burns offered an array of program ideas. One in particular engaged the youth to carry out research and depict the results of their research in a video.

Burns recommended that students, educators and parents should be educated on the full range of violence-to learn that violence can be subtle, verbal, even silent, and that any form of discrimination hurts and is unacceptable. Furthermore, the school curriculum must be bias-free.

E.           New Models for Intervention
Following the recommendation from the AFRCV, the workshop entitled New Models for Intervention featured three innovative, holistic, community-based approaches to assist communities and individuals to negotiate with and reintroduce perpetrators into a less violent culture.

The Winnipeg School District Number One and the Community Education Development Association (CEDA) have partnered in the Youth Opportunity Program. This innovative youth-driven program encourages young people to take responsibility for their own actions and identify what they would like to see happen for themselves and their community. Meeting certain expectations in order to be involved in this innovative school program, they develop leadership skills and formulate plans to access resources in order to address their identified issues and projects. Blair Robillard of CEDA presented this program.

Cathy Denby from the First Nations Centre at the University of Northern British Columbia described a program for young women and girls who have experienced violence, which emphasized the need to consider the whole person, and used the aboriginal medicine wheel as a focal point for healing.

The Leave Out Violence Program (LOVE) provided a visual outlet of photography for young women and girls whose lives have been affected by violence. Participants in the program talked about the healing effect of this model.

All of these programs are steeped in the community. Their success is directly linked to the whole of the community being involved and also that the youth have a voice within the process of healing.

F.           Conflict Resolution
The third workshop How to Use Conflict Resolution described how to dissipate the escalation to violence and to promote the art of truly learning to understand different points of view. Mediation specialist Susan Gibson led participants through learning scenarios, which were designed to broaden their understanding of conflict. The major focus was the acknowledgment that conflict does occur but it need not end in violence; in human relations there are always non-violent choices.

G.          Self Defense

 

in defense but also in their self-esteem building. This was a powerful and loud workshop, which included women from a number of generations.

H.     Conclusions

The most common element that came out of the information presented was the lack of true equality girls and young women experience, and inside this the diminished respect for self and one’s own identity. The young women who were present talked at length about their desire to stop violence. Many of them are working as social advocates already and are seeking resources to augment their endeavors. A number of them spoke about a need for respect and space that is safe and girl-run, from which it can be concluded that they do not feel safe in the communities in which they live, work and learn.

This assumption is supported with evidence from many of the presenters, for example, in this quote from Nanci Burns’ presentation on prevention: Girls avoid certain hallways, classrooms, courses and even school, to free themselves from sexual harassment. Their life experience is being hampered by the actions of others, mostly males in their schools. They are not free to choose. Larkin and Staton’s studies of 500 girls in Ontario schools indicated that sexual harassment was virtually an everyday reality.

The opening Panel examined the main theme of girls and young women as victims and perpetrators of violence. Sibylle Artz, PhD, Director of the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, and Kelly Gorkoff, MA, research associate at the University of Manitoba with (one of the Alliance of Five Research Centres investigating family violence and violence against women in Canada) laid out the challenges for the day. They offered a clear picture of what it is to be a girl in Canadian society, how young women are affected by violence and what the outcome is of their experiences with violence.

They both expressed the need for a concerted political will to act; that is, a co-coordinated approach in service provision at all levels- community-based and holistic in nature. Their most important point was that the voices of girls and young women must be heard. It is their stories that will lead to understanding the tangle of violence that engulfs many of their lives and it is through this information that solutions will be found. As one participant said, “We are not the future, we are the now.”

IV. EVALUATION

A.     Goals of the Forum

The following are the goals set out by the NCWC Advisory Committee, which guided Phase One-, the National Forum on Girls and Young Women as Victims and Perpetrators of Violence.

1.      To give participants (members, youth delegates and general public) a knowledge base about the

connections of girls/young women as victims and perpetrators of violence from the following perspectives:

  1. Research
  2. Effective programs
  3. What youth think is important

1.      This was accomplished at the Forum through:

  1. Panel discussions, workshops and small group work
  2. The resource material presented

2.      To listen to and record regional concerns of council members from across the country:

i.       This objective was the key to the small group work that occurred in the afternoon and the survey/questionnaire which asked the participants what resources they need in their communities to become a part of a national education campaign regarding girls and young women as victims and perpetrators of violence.

3.        To raise energy levels, awareness and commitment among participants on issues related to girls and young women and violence,

4.        The small group work allowed the regions to focus on their community needs. It is hoped that the presence of the youth delegates acted to invigorate the Council members and their commitment to the youth in their communities.

5.      To develop material on which the first stage of a public education campaign will be based:

a.        Using all the information collected from the Forum, the Advisory Committee will be able to develop effective and relevant information, which will assist in determining the focus and direction of the public education campaign.

To evaluate these goals, four tools were used. Three surveys were completed; one to the youth delegates prior to the Forum, a general attendance survey which was administered during the afternoon small group work, and one to all the Local and Provincial Councils prior to the Forum.

All of the out-of-town Youth Delegate surveys were completed and returned prior to the Forum, and 115 general surveys were completed and returned the day of the Forum. All Councils responded to the information requests prior to the Forum.

The small group work, the fourth tool, was designed to assist the NCWC in the evaluation of this phase of the project and as a base of information for the future, as each of the regions was asked to focus in on their community and identify areas of concern regarding the issue. The information collected here gives a picture of some of the interest areas of the regional councils, and this information will be useful in evaluating the next steps. It will be used as a basis of comparison to see whether or not the regions acted on this issue in the area that they identified at the Forum.

These four evaluative tools have provided a picture on where the group at large is sitting with the issue.

B.           Local and Provincial Council Update
This brief questionnaire asked each Local and Provincial Council to provide information on activities that they had initiated regarding the Common Program Speak Out for Children, which was the catalyst for this current project. All the Councils responded and thirteen indicated that they had completed some programming concerning this. There was a broad range of issues indicated, from parenting to gambling. The list of activities was included in the program, which was distributed the day of the Forum. This information about the Councils will act as a baseline of comparison for the follow-up evaluation.

C.          General Survey
Here is a summary of analyzed data collected from the general survey.

For Question 1: Did you increase your understanding of the issue?

§          50% responded that their understanding was substantially increased and 49% responded that their
knowledge was increased.

§          Eighty percent of the group rated the quality of the information as very good or excellent and 99%
evaluated the program of events as clear and easy to follow.

§        As far as rating the overall day, there is a 100% response that it was a rewarding experience.

The response to Question 6, which dealt with the willingness of the participants to pursue this issue in their home communities, is encouraging with 90% of the group saying yes they are interested in further action. This is made even more significant when compared to the information revealed in Question 7, which indicates that 50% of the participants are not currently involved in the issue of girls and young women and violence. Examples of the support needed to assist in the public education campaign were: information; make strategy information readily available; provide money for programming; and choose it as the Common Program for National.

Question 8 asked participants to identify the three most significant things that came out of the Forum. The responses have been organized in similar groups to give a picture of where the larger group was focusing.

D.          Youth Delegate Survey
Thirty-five young women under the age of 25 attended the National Forum. Twenty of the delegates were selected from Councils across the country. Fifteen delegates attended from the Winnipeg area. All were asked to respond to a pre-Forum survey, which allowed for the assessment of background knowledge and their involvement in their home community on this issue. It will also provide a baseline of information for comparison for follow-up in the months to come.

Ninety-nine per cent of the respondents said that they were somewhat aware or well aware of the issues of girls as victims and perpetrators of violence. When asked to define the source of their awareness, many (75%) cited American television as their major source. Seventy-seven per cent indicated that they were not aware of any initiatives in their communities that deal directly with girls or young women as perpetrators of violence.

Those that responded positively to this question indicated that their awareness was limited to punitive initiatives. Regarding victims, 44% said they were aware of community programs, and all of these were crisis-based programs.

One-third of the youth delegates are involved in initiatives which work to reduce violence in their communities; women’s centers, girl guides and teen support groups were some examples cited.

Twenty- two per cent indicated that they were somewhat aware of the National Council of Women of Canada and 78% indicated that they were completely unaware. None had ever attended a Council event of any kind.

E.     Small Group Work

The challenge here was to find a way for everyone to participate. The Forum participants were a diverse group coming not only from the varied regions of Canada, but also from different generations, and political and social backgrounds. A process called the nominal group process was used as a facilitation tool during this two-hour workshop.

Dr. Sid Frankel of the University of Manitoba, as an efficient way to generate ideas, a democratic process controlling status and communication differences, describes the nominal group process. It is useful in situations, which are broadly defined and lack certainty. The goal was to provide a process whereby the regional councils and youth delegates could comment and collect information for planning and programming and begin a community development process.

Forum delegates were asked to break into groups by region – 12 groups of 12. A facilitator and a recorder were present with each group to guide them through the process and collect information. The following question was asked: A What do you think your local or provincial council can do to help decrease violence in your community?

The twenty-four items listed below represent the top two selections from each of the twelve groups. They focus predominantly on public education and Local Council internal or partnership initiatives, such as educating group members)

Top Two Selections from each Group

  1. Provincial council to provide a forum for young women to speak out about experiences and concerns. ASK THEM WHAT THEY WANT- makes it solution-based.
  2. Identify at-risk children and provide early intervention
  3. Provide a haven for young girls in your own neighbourhood
  4. Develop youth councils in high schools that mirror the model of Council and act in partnership with the local council
  5. Facilitate workshops with young women in partnership with YW CA+20 in partnerships with other community groups, i.e. School boards to 3, RAFT (youth drop-ins)
  6. Link girls and young women with mentors
  7. Advocate for programs in schools to facilitate children in revealing abusive situations
  8. Have speakers at council meetings to help us to know how to recognize symptoms of abuse
  9. Provide opportunities for youth. Establish programs run by youth
  10. Encourage the educational system to provide resources and time- to include in its curriculum age and developmentally appropriate life skills (listening and communication skills toward peer supporters) – including healthy sex education and abuse awareness.
  11. There is a need for appropriate preventative programs dealing with anger, self-esteem, self- worth, the justice system and everyday living- for youth and by youth.
  12. Support children’s programs through media and schools to value qualities attributed to women in girls and boys (i.e. trusting intuition, compassion and love, community service, respect).
  13. Conduct local sessions/meetings every 2 months.
  14. Consult and listen with young people about what they would do in a violent situation and offer choices.
  15. Listening and mentoring.
  16. Council to include young women in activities discussions and decision-making (personal invitations to young women).
  17. To inform young women of services/help available in Montreal in both languages (collect and publish).
  18. Implement a viable policy against harassment in the schools.
  19. An integrated program in the schools- starting at an early age- to promote gender equality and respect.
  20. Council to support Head Start programs- for children at risk, with parental involvement.
  21. Formal and informal celebrations and instruction and mentorship programs for girls moving into adolescence
  22. Build high self-esteem among young women
  23. Develop theatre program written and performed by students for the community
  24. School program as part of curriculum that involves youth working with youth including all children addressing violence, anger management, drugs and alcohol, empowerment of youth.

a.      Final vote – small group process

Each participant chose two priorities from a list of 24 generated from the larger group. First Choice:

Encouraging the educational system to provide resources and time- to include in its curriculum age and developmentally-appropriate life skills (listening and communication skills toward peer supporters) including healthy sex education and abuse awareness.

Second Choice:

An integrated program in the schools- starting at an early age- to promote gender equality and respect. Third Choice:

Build high self-esteem among young women.

F.     Evaluation Conclusions and Recommendations

Information gathered from all four-evaluation tools indicate a high interest in education and advocacy work. From the general survey one can surmise that there is a desire to take this issue back to their communities and do some kind of work. There is certainly a range of activities indicated- from inviting speakers to Council meetings to lobbying school board for curriculum development. In general, there is a strong indication that each of the regions have grasped the need for work to be done in the area of girls and young women and violence. The Advisory Committee can be certain that the topic is of interest to Council members.

The Forum and the information presented were well received, and the major goals of the Forum were accomplished.

From the wide range of topics suggested in both the small group work and from the area of significant impact indicated in the general survey, it would be advisable to allow the local councils to direct their own action at this point. It would be wise to direct the information disseminated, however, and heed the words of the experts who presented, especially regarding the myths.

It is very important, as the presenters indicated, to examine this issue in an equality framework- to acknowledge that more often than not young women who use violence are acting out their own struggle with living in a society that does not value them. Their behaviours are manifestations of the violence they have experienced and females in Canada are responsible for less than 2% of all violent crime.

V. NEXT STEPS

A.     Phase Two Project Description

The National Council of Women of Canada is a well-established organization with a credible and admirable lineage of public service. To use the momentum of this organization to address the issue of girls and young women and violence on a local, provincial and national level would be an effective and efficient use of the organization’s reputation and expertise.

The second phase of this project will:

  1. Include LCW, PCW and youth in the development and implementation of local and regional public education and advocacy initiatives regarding the issue of girls and violence. Each PCW and LCW will select a project representative to act as a liaison between their council colleagues and the Co-coordinator and Core Advisory Committee.
  2. Project Representatives will receive this report. They will also receive a pamphlet, which will echo the information presented by the experts who participated in the Forum and the extensive survey of programs that was completed by the Alliance of Five Research Centres on Violence early in 1999. The Project Representative will consult with their Council colleagues and decide on an activity. They will report back to the Co-coordinator through a prepared form. These initiatives may take the form of lobbying school boards for zero tolerance, hosting a workshop on alternative models of prevention (such as the programs presented at the Forum- Leave Out Violence, and the Youth Opportunities Project) or organizing a mini film festival to screen films such as the NFB’s Taking Charge, part of the Teens Against Violence Collection. It is intended to suit each council’s need.
  3. Resources will be made available from the remaining budget.
  4. The program’s effectiveness will be evaluated by measuring the rate of involvement.

B.                   Time Line
The following is a suggested time line and activity description for the completion of this project. August- September 1999

Information collected at the Forum will be used to created a framework and to give direction regarding interest areas of the PCW and LCW. This information will be presented in the form of a pamphlet and accompany a brief needs assessment which will be used as a guide for community involvement.

September 1999

A project rep from each of the LCW and PCW will be identified. They will receive the report, which includes the major areas of interest identified at the Forum and suggestions on the way we might initiate a local or regional activity.

September 1999

Preparation of funding applications

October 1999

Funding Applications made to Status of Women and the Millennium Fund for second stage funding

November 1999

Feedback from the local Reps to the Co-coordinator regarding the initiative to be undertaken by the LCW or PCW

April 2000

LCW and PCW will have completed their local project and report back to the National Office

April 2000

Final report to Status of Women Canada

Project continuation is contingent on future funding.

C.                   Future Considerations
A future stage may include the development and distribution of a national education tool that will assist the general public in understanding the issue. This tool will follow the research of the AFRCV, which focuses on the six behaviours identified as manifestations, which result from the experience of violence.

The NCWC could create information packages on each of these issues (delinquency, depression, suicide, prostitution, self-harm and eating disorders) linking them to the experience of violence. These info packs will include a framework for understanding the issue, for example, how each of these manifest behaviours is connected to violence; resources available across the country; activity suggestions (i.e. which organizations are doing work in the area and might make good partners for initiatives); and examples of exceptional models of intervention and prevention that already exist and might be implemented in their communities or be given the backing of the NCWC if they already exist.

A publication that is clearly making the link between violence and the lives of young women does not yet exist. The companion piece to this education tool would be film vignettes. These vignettes would be produced on the same themes as the educational tool. Partnering with a broadcaster and the AFRCV would allow for wide public distribution and a chance to reach youth through a medium they understand. And would it not be great for one moment between the barrage of sexist, violent images on TV to see a self-esteem building piece that might educate youth on their self-worth and human potential?

D.      Funding and Partnerships

Status of Women would be the ideal funding partner for the educational tool.

  1. Initiate a partnership with the Alliance of Five Research Centres and a broadcaster for application to the Millennium fund for the vignettes.
  2. Other funding possibilities are the Canadian Women’s Foundation and United Nations Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

Further develop relationships with collaborators such as the Alliance of Five Research Councils, the Elizabeth Fry Society, the Canadian Psychological Association, etc. These partnerships are part of the original Status of Women proposal.

Last revised:ÊJune 20, 2000

Questions?Ê Please email:Ê

Copyright © 2000ÊNCWC All Rights Reserved




Statement Common Program 2002

NCWC Common Program: 2002-2003

Theme: Health

Title: “Responding to the Romanow Commission Report”

Rationale: The Report and recommendations of the Romanow Commission is due in Nov. 2002 and will likely be released late in 2002 or early in 2003. NCWC submitted a brief to the Commission and appeared before the Commission in Ottawa. It is available on the NCWC website or can be obtained from the national office.

The report and recommendations will likely contain much that we can support and perhaps much that will cause us concern. We need to study the Report and respond to it at the local and regional levels.

Halifax LCW has planned and provided an excellent full day forum at AGM 2002 that will serve as an excellent launch for this Common Program. Thank you, Halifax LCW!

Suggestions: Common Programs should be held late in winter or early spring of 2003, after the Report has been released and you have had a chance to study it in light of NCWC policy. Try to focus on aspects of the Report of special interest or concern in your community or region. NCWC Health Convener will be responding on our behalf at the National level. Some ideas for programs or activities that you might want to follow or adapt are as follows:

  1. Sponsor a public meeting at which health care professionals share their “brickbats or bouquets” in response to the Report. Perhaps you could co-sponsor with another organization or with one or more federates. 
  2. Ask Chairperson of a local hospital board or health district to speak at your Council meeting or at a luncheon or breakfast. 
  3. Plan an all day Health Fair with panel discussions, special speakers, luncheon speaker, discussion groups, sharing as a wind-up. Report findings, responses to local paper. 
  4. Interview several young people who are training in the medical health field in order to get their reaction to the Report. Try to seek out responses that will indicate the impact it will have on their lives and careers. This interview can take place at your regular meeting, at a public forum or in consultation with your local cable TV station. 
  5. Have your Health Convener and Committee study the Report in depth ( or create an ad hoc committee to do so). Ask them to present their findings at your regular meeting; prepare similar presentations to be given to other organizations and to your federates. Write articles for local newspaper and send letters to the editor. Encourage involvement of as many members as possible; use special skills. Seek help of those not involved at present. 
  6. Use this as an occasion to make contacts and to find new members. Ask representatives from health-type organizations, etc. to speak at a meeting and to share their reaction to the Report and its recommendations. E.g. nurses’ union, VON, etc.

Follow-up: Send a report to NCWC Health Convener immediately following the event. She may also request that it be submitted for compilation into a joint report. You may also be asked to share your project with others at AGM 2003.

Funding will be available from NCWC upon submission of a copy of the report submitted to the Health Convener and your receipts for expenses up to $100 for this program.




Statement 20121005 Universal Periodic Review NCWC CFUW

 

Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) and National Council of Women Canada

(NCWC)

Joint Submission on the Occasion of Canada’s Universal Periodic Review
Submitted October 5, 2012

About CFUW: Founded in 1919, CFUW is a national, non-profit, self-funded, non-governmental, women’s equality-seeking organization of close to 9, 000 women graduates, students and associate members in 110 Clubs across Canada. CFUW/FCFDU is committed to improving the lives of women and girls by advancing the status of women, human rights, justice and peace, and promoting quality public education. In 2011, the founding of CFUW was proclaimed an event of national historical significance by the Government of Canada for CFUW’s role in Canadian women’s history. CFUW/FCFDU is the largest of the 61 affiliates of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) www.ifuw.org. CFUW/FCFDU was granted UN ECOSOC status in 1998; it is also represented at the Sectoral Committee on Education at the Canadian Sub-Committee for UNESCO and has participated in the UN Commission of the Status of Women since 1999.

Contact: Executive Director, Robin Jackson at cfuwed@rogers.com Telephone: (613) 234-8252 (102) Fax: (613) 234-8221

www.cfuw.org

About NCWC: The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) is an NGO (non-governmental organization) that is self-funded, and was founded in 1893. It was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1914, and given national historic significance status on April 30th, 2001 by the Government of Canada for its role in Canadian women’s history. Since 1893 NCWC has been working to improve the lives of women, children and communities in Canada. Today there are Local Councils of Women and Study Groups in 20 Canadian cities and Provincial Councils of Women in 6 Canadian provinces, along with 27 National Organizations affiliated with NCWC. NCWC is a member of the International Council of Women, which represents the National Councils of Women in more than 70 countries. NCWC has accreditation with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and regularly attends meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women. On June 4th, 2011, NCWC signed a Joint Declaration with the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC). NCWC declared continued commitment in cooperation, engagement, and support of Aboriginal women, to urge open and meaningful public policy dialogue between the Government of Canada and Aboriginal communities on critical issues needing immediate resolution in addressing the systemic issues of violence against Aboriginal women and girls.

Contact: President, Denise Mattok at ncwc@magma.ca Telephone: (613) 1.613.232.5025

www.ncwc.ca

CFUW/NCWC UPR Submission: Canada

Introduction

  1. Since Canada’s last Universal Periodic Review in 2009, little action has been taken to improve the rights of women. Notably there has been a lack of effective measures to prevent violence against women, particularly Aboriginal women, and extreme forms of violence such as torture in the private sphere. Housing insecurity, poverty, access to justice and programs and services, and pay equity also remain issues for many women, in particular, those who are Aboriginal, racialized, living with disabilities, or single mothers. Gender equality in Canada has been further eroded in recent years due to several measures initiated by the Government of Canada, such as the cuts to women’s organizations, programs and services (see Annex I), changes to the licensing and registration of long guns, weakening the measures to enforce pay equity, and the cancellation of key data-collection tools to support the development of policies, programs and services for women.

Violence against Women (VAW)

2. Although rates of violent crime have generally declined in Canada, including intimate partner/spousal violence, homicides and sexual assaults, violence against women still remains a persistent issue. The overall rate of self-reported spousal violence for instance has remained steady since 2004 at 6.2% according to the General Social Survey (GSS) on victimization1. Women who experience intimate partner/spousal violence continue to report more serious forms of violence than men. Women are more likely than men to report being physically injured, experience chronic violence and fear for their lives as a result of violence. Although rates of homicide for women have also declined to approximately one third of the levels witnessed in 1979,2 as of 2009, women are still nearly three times as likely as men to be killed by a spouse.
3. Many shelters for women fleeing violence across the country continue to operate at full capacity. The latest data available through the Transition Home Survey shows that annual admissions of women to shelters have remained relatively stable, with over 64,000 admissions annually across Canada; 71% seek shelter because of abuse.3 On April 15th, 2010 alone there were a total of 426 women who were turned away from shelter facilities. The most common reason (50%) for not providing admission to women was that the shelter was full.
4. The overall rate of sexual assaults has also declined according to latest reports from police, with over 21,800 sexual assaults recorded in 20114; down 3% since 2010 and 19% since 2001. It is estimated that 86% of sexual assault victims are women and women under 25 are at the greatest risk of being sexually assaulted. Declines in reported sexual assaults are likely grossly underestimated, as self-reported victimization data from the GSS consistently shows that the majority of assaults are not brought to the attention of police. It is estimated that only 10% of sexual assaults are reported to the police.
5. Not all women experience violence equally in Canada. Aboriginal women experience far higher rates of violence, at approximately three to five times that of non-Aboriginal women. Young women, women with disabilities, and women belonging to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Two-spirited Queer (LQBTTQ) community are also more vulnerable to violence. 
6. Canada accepted several recommendations on VAW in its 2009 Universal Periodic Review (UPR), including 27 and the underlying principles of 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38 and other related recommendations. Although funding to end violence against women represents the largest proportion of Status of Women Canada’s budget, this funding has been cut by over one third since 2007, and represents less than 0.0002% of Canada’s overall federal program spending. Since Canada lacks a national action plan to address VAW, funding supports a piecemeal approach to programing and service provision. The submitting organizations deem this inadequate to meet Canada’s obligations under the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and commitment to the recommendations accepted during the 2009 UPR to address VAW. The submitting organizations ask that the Government of Canada take immediate action to collaborate with provinces, territories, in order to develop a comprehensive and coordinated national action plan to end VAW, which includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Mechanisms for meaningful and substantial participation by community and other civil society organizations, including adequate support for those organizations to participate in the implementation of the national action plan;
  • Strategies that address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of different communities (such as women with disabilities, Aboriginal women, young women);
  • Strategies and policies for addressing the socio-economic factors contributing to VAW.
  • Clear benchmarks and goals for measuring progress based on the collection of data on levels of violence against women over time;
  • A clear and broad definition of gender-based violence;
  • Distinct strategies for different types of violence (such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and violence that amounts to torture); and
  • Adequate human and financial resources earmarked specifically to carry out the program of action set by the plan

7. On April 5, 2012 a law removing key licensing and registration provisions for non-restricted firearms was brought into force in Canada, without taking into account women’s disproportionate vulnerability to gun-related intimate-partner violence and homicide. Mandatory license checks were legislated in Canada to address a major flaw in Canada’s gun controls.5 Registration reinforced the licensing process as guns were only sold or transferred to those with valid gun licences. These are the safeguards that were removed by the new law; without them it will now be possible for individuals with cancelled/revoked licences, such as those with histories of intimate/spousal violence, to easily and legally acquire a firearm. Furthermore, through firearm registration police knew exactly how many firearms were in a home and could take precautions to enhance the safety of women and children living with violence. By removing the requirement to register non-restricted firearms and deleting the data on the over 7.1 million non-restricted firearms already registered, the Government of Canada has impaired the ability of police to remove all firearms from dangerous individuals, to enforce prohibition orders including in cases of domestic violence, to trace non-restricted firearms, and to undertake investigations. The Government of Canada has changed the regulations and the provinces and territories can no longer require merchants to keep records of sales on non-restricted firearms; a provision that has been in place in Canada since 1977. Given that non-restricted firearms are the guns most often used to kill or threaten women in Canada, by removing the requirement to register non­restricted firearms and verify the validity of Firearms Licences upon transfer of non-restricted firearms, the new law will put women’s safety at risk, and significantly infringe on their rights to life liberty and security of the person. The submitting organizations recommend that the Government of Canada take action to repeal this law and accompanying regulations.

VAW: Specifically Torture by Non-State or Private Actors

8. The defining elements of torture by non-state or private actors are listed in Article 1 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Protection from torture is considered a non-degradable human right of all human beings—women and girls as well as men and boys. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights made this clear 64 years ago in 1948. Besides CAT, the Committee on the CEDAW, General Recommendation 19, 7 (b); the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, Article 3(h), and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights all reinforce that no one shall be subjected to torture irrespective of who the torturer was/is.

9. The 1993 report of the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women first established that women are victims of torture in the private sphere.6 The Canadian Centre for Child Protection also published a study that revealed website images involving dehumanizing acts of (a) torture, bestiality and bondage, (b) necrophilia, degradation, children being urinated and defecated on, (c) weapons being used, and (d) children forced to inflict sexualized harms against each other. Most of the victimization images were of children less than eight years of age; 83% of the images were of girls. Previously in 2006, an RCMP officer noted that approximately 20% of the pedophilic sexualized violent images involved torture and that there was a demand for pedophilic torture images in Canada.7

10. Even though the Government of Canada is aware of the occurrence of non-state torture, and acknowledged this fact to the CEDAW Committee in 20088, it has failed to take effective action to remedy this human rights violation, which amounts to acquiescence and a failure to meet its human rights obligations and commitments. For instance, Section 269.1 on torture in the Criminal Code of Canada is discriminatory, as it only permits persons who have endured torture inflicted by State actors to name the torture they suffered as a crime in Canadian courts. Persons—women and girls—who have endured the same or similar acts of torture in the private sphere, an extreme form of violence against women and girls, cannot seek equal access to justice before the courts. Such discrimination is a violation of Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, Canada has not taken all necessary measures to prevent and address all forms of violence against women and girls, which includes torture in the private sphere by non-state actors.

11. Since torture by non-state actors or private individuals is not criminalized as a specific offence, no reliable data on its occurrence exists in Canada. Statistics Canada has confirmed that data on non-state actor torture is not collected through any existing data collection tools, such as the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey9 or the General Survey (GSS) on victimization. Without such data it creates the illusion that the issue does not exist, which further nurtures serious and ongoing gaps within the judiciary, social services and civil society. Invisibility also prohibits the development of informed educative, protective, investigative, legal, reparative, supportive, and rehabilitative interventions for victims of torture in the private sphere.

12. The Concluding Observations of the 48th sessions of the Committee against Torture (CAT) delivered to Canada the acknowledgement that torture inflicted against women and children by non-state actors is under the mandate of CAT and recommended that it be incorporated into Canadian national law, and steps be taken to end all forms of violence against women. Canada spoke against such recognition; perpetuating invisibility and inaction is a substantial impairment of women’s and girls’ fundamental human rights.

13. In its 2009 UPR report Canada states that Canadian courts have jurisdiction to determine if laws and practices violate human rights. According to Gabriela Knaul, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, this is true; there is indeed judicial responsibility to point out legal inequalities and gaps.10 Recently in the province of Nova Scotia, a judge stated that a victim had suffered acts of torture by non-state actors, acts that the judge differentiated from and identified were beyond the crimes of abuse or assault.11 Although the judge’s statements identified a legal gap, it ultimately remains the responsibility of the Government of Canada to amend the Criminal Code of Canada so that the perpetrators of non-state torture can be held criminally responsible for the acts of torture they inflict.

14. Many recommendations made to Canada by other countries in the 2009 UPR are applicable to specifically incorporating into Canadian law the criminalization of the non-state torture. For instance, State parties recommended that national legislation be implemented to prohibit and criminalize all types of violence against women and children in accordance with the corresponding Conventions. Canada accepted this recommendation in principle, but stated that the range of offences covered under the Criminal Code was comprehensive enough to address violence against women. The Concluding Observations of CAT and the legal gaps identified by aforementioned Canadian judge (point 13) demonstrate that this is false.

15. Recommendations by other countries during the 2009 UPR also included implementing Human Rights Committee recommendations to effectively implement United Nations treaty bodies’ to promote and protect all human rights. This cannot and will not happen until the Government of Canada specifically amends the Criminal Code of Canada to include the criminalization of torture perpetrated by non-state or private actors, and takes action to end all forms of violence against women.

16.  The submitting organizations therefore recommend the following actions be taken by the Government of Canada to meet its international human rights obligations and commitments related to the torture of individuals by non-state actors:

  • The Government of Canada, within twelve months, amend the Criminal Code of Canada
    to include torture by non-state actors as a specific and distinct criminal offence; and
  • The Government of Canada strengthen and enhance efforts to end all forms of violence against women and girls by developing a coordinated and comprehensive national plan of action to end violence against women12.

VAW: Aboriginal Women13

17. Canada has not implemented recommendations from treaty bodies or from the 2009 UPR regarding violence against Aboriginal women and girls and, in particular, recommendations regarding the hundreds of murders and disappearances. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN)14, approved by consensus, a Resolution in July, 2012 on the topic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which states (inter alia): Canada has failed to take effective action on this national and international human rights crisis despite the fact that the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women has increased.

18. In response to the evidence developed and submitted by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA), in October 2011 the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) decided to initiate an inquiry procedure under article 8 of the Optional Protocol of CEDAW regarding disappearances and murders of Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. The submitting organizations recommend that Canada invite the CEDAW Committee to visit Canada in order to carry out this inquiry effectively and with the participation of Aboriginal women, and organizations that support them.

19. In addition to the CEDAW inquiry, a national inquiry in Canada is needed. In June 2012, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Southern Chiefs Organization called on Manitoba and Canada to conduct a provincial and a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women to include: hearings to listen to issues that affect Indigenous families of missing and murdered women and girls; a review of police policies and procedures on searches and investigations, including procedures respecting the initiation and conduct of investigations in Canada of missing women and suspected multiple homicides; the examination of communications and notifications between officials, police and the families of missing and murdered women; and, the examination of the socio-cultural and socio-economic risk factors affecting Indigenous women and girls. The submitting organizations recommend that Canada establish a National Inquiry, with criteria agreed to by the NWAC, the AFN, and other organizations representing and supporting the interests of Aboriginal Women.

20. As recognized by the AFN, there is an urgent need for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to establish a National Integrated RCMP and Police Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in order to coordinate the several specific initiatives being carried out between the RCMP, other police services, First Nations and government officials, including those in Vancouver, the ―Highway of Tears‖ in northern British Columbia, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Whitehorse. The submitting organizations recommend that an integrated RCMP and Provincial Police Task Force be established, including representations from First Nations Police Forces.

21. The Government of Canada has denied funding for women’s organizations, including the NWAC, for advocacy and research about violence against Indigenous women; and in particular to maintain its national database on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The submitting organizations recommend that Canada restore funding to the NWAC to maintain its database on the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls, and give adequate funding to ensure proper facilities and services are available within communities for those who are victims or have lost their loved ones through acts of violence.

22. A recent court case in the North West Territories of Canada resulted in a review (April 26, 2012) by the CEDAW. Canada is a signatory to the Optional Protocol of CEDAW making access to the Committee possible to those seeking justice. The case dealt with the handling of property, by government authorities, following a marital breakup. The Committee found that the authorities responsible had not dealt with the plaintiff appropriately15. Canada is to report back to the CEDAW Committee by October 26th, 2012. The submitting organizations recommend that Canada follow the General Recommendations of the CEDAW committee:

Recruit and train more aboriginal women to provide legal aid to women from their communities, including on domestic violence and property rights; and review its legal aid system to ensure that aboriginal women who are victims of domestic violence have effective access to justice.

23.  The submitting organizations also recommend that Canada take immediate action to implement the Concluding Observations of the 48th session of the Committee Against Torture, which states:

that the State party enhance its efforts to end all forms of violence against aboriginal women and girls by, inter alia, developing a coordinated and comprehensive national plan of action, in close cooperation with aboriginal women’s organizations, which includes measures to ensure impartial and timely investigation, prosecution, conviction and sanction of those responsible for disappearances and murder of aboriginal women, and to promptly implement relevant recommendations made by national and international bodies in that regard, including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and the Missing Women Working Group.

Access to Justice

24. Access to justice is important for women who face discrimination and frequent violations of their rights. Women need civil legal aid in order to deal with separation and divorce, division of assets, child custody, tenancy, social assistance, employment issues, among other issues.

25. Publicly-funded legal aid programs started in Canada almost 40 years ago. Their purpose was to ensure that everyone, regardless of income level would have access to legal representation when necessary and access to effective remedies – provide the poorest residents with access to a lawyer and the justice system. It was generally recognized that Canada could not claim to be a fair and just society if some of its members were denied an opportunity to seek justice. Today however, the legal aid system in Canada is facing great challenges.

26. The federal government has retreated from being an initial strong supporter and founding partner of legal aid programs to a much more limited role. This retreat has had an immense impact on the availability of legal aid. The renewal of the federal role in funding legal aid and in establishing national legal aid policy is the sine qua non step to ensure the viability and sustainability of this vital social program. Thirty years ago, legal aid in the province of Manitoba was shared 50-50 between the Provincial and Federal governments. In 2011, the Manitoba Government funded legal aid with a total of $24,666,304 or 89% of the overall budget, while the Federal government’s contribution was $132,130 or barely .5%16. The submitting organizations recommend that Canada revitalize its commitment to legal aid, recognizing that legal aid is an essential public service necessary to ensure access to justice for women and uphold their rights to equal benefit of the law.

27. The Court Challenges Program, introduced in Canada in 1978 to support legal challenges related to language rights in Canada, was expanded in 1985 after the equality sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms became law. As several sections of the Charter applied specifically to women’s equality rights, it was an important source of financial support for women to legally challenge the Government of Canada if they felt there rights had been denied. In 2006 the Government of Canada announced that it would no longer provide financial support for Charter Challenges pertaining to equality rights; now this is the responsibility of the individual(s). The submitting organizations recommend that Canada reinstitute the Court Challenges Program so that Canadians are not denied the ability, due to finances, to ensure their rights are being upheld under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Housing and Homelessness

28. The United Nations has described housing and homelessness in Canada as a ―national emergency”. An estimated 250,000 people are homeless in Canada, with another 1.5 million individuals either unable to access satisfactory housing, or experience serious financial burden to keep their housing. Aboriginal peoples, newcomers, lone parents, women, people living with disabilities, and seniors are all disproportionately affected. Women and children, particularly women of colour and Aboriginal women, are the fastest growing group using shelters in Canada17. Many studies conclude that affordable housing, adequate incomes from employment and income assistance programs, and appropriate, accessible supports such as childcare and harm reduction initiatives are necessary to end women’s and families’ homelessness.18

29. Homelessness and inadequate housing places women at higher risk for chronic and infectious diseases and premature death. Women are often homeless or housing insecure because of a history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. When pregnant, they are less likely to get prenatal care or family planning advice or services. Many suffer from mental health problems and substance abuse disorders. They are three times more likely than men in the same housing conditions to commit suicide, and six times more likely than women with adequate housing.

30. Violence against women is deeply interconnected19 with women’s homelessness and housing insecurity, as many women may stay in violent and dangerous situations to avoid becoming homeless.

31. In the 2009 UPR of Canada, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called upon ―federal, provincial and territorial governments to address homelessness and inadequate housing as a national emergency by reinstating or increasing, where necessary, social housing programmes for those in need, improving and properly enforcing anti-discrimination legislation in the field of housing, increasing shelter allowances and social assistance rates to realistic levels, and providing adequate support services for persons with disabilities”. The CESCR has also called on Canada to ―implement a national strategy for the reduction of homelessness that includes measurable goals and timetables, consultation and collaboration with affected communities, complaints procedures, and transparent accountability mechanisms, in keeping with ICESCR standards‖. Canada has not yet implemented these recommendations.

32.  The submitting organizations recommend that the Government of Canada provide leadership and financial supports to develop a national housing and homelessness strategy, with a community focus that would increase, and improve the number of affordable, suitable, adequate units (new or existing) and that includes transitional and supportive housing with a focus on recovery and community integration for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

33.  The submitting organizations further recommend that the Government of Canada provide sufficient funding and support to ensure that housing for First Nations communities is supported by the necessary infrastructure, is of sufficiently high quality to ensure healthy living, is sufficiently plentiful to eliminate overcrowding, takes into account the special needs of vulnerable women and their families on reserves, and meets the standards of the National Building Code.

Poverty and Economic Security

34.  Women in Canada continue to be more vulnerable to persistent poverty and economic insecurity than men. The latest data available in Canada shows that the overall rate of poverty increased in 2009 to 9.6%, the second straight year that poverty grew after more than a decade of decline. Aboriginal women continue to experience some of the highest rates of poverty (36%); women of colour (28%); women with disabilities (26%); and single mothers (21.5%). While some measures have helped to improve the situation for low income women, particularly the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), socio­economic factors still contribute to women disproportionate vulnerability to poverty, including a significant pay gap between women and men.

35.  Poverty has very gender-specific consequences, which infringe on women’s fundamental human right to life, liberty and security of person. Women who are poor are less able to escape violent living situations, or experience poverty as a result of leaving an abusive relationship. They are also more likely to experience sexual exploitation, including turning to prostitution as a means of survival.

36.  Canada refused to accept recommendation 17 of the 2009 UPR and other related recommendations to develop a national strategy to eliminate poverty. The submitting organizations reiterate the importance of this recommendation as a means to meet Canadian commitment to women’s economic and social rights, as well as life, liberty and security of person.

37.  Women’s overall economic well-being and ability to participate in the labour force is also constrained by significant unpaid care responsibilities for children and the elderly, as well as prohibited care costs. Although women’s labour market participation has increased significantly over the last few decades, the employment rate for women in Canada is still below men’s20, with women more likely to work part-time21. Cross-country studies conducted by the OECD and others, have found that subsidized childcare boosts women’s participation in the work force22. Among industrialized countries Canada has one of the lowest child care access rates and invests significantly less in childcare than most OECD countries23. The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) implemented by the Government of Canada in 2006 does not address the root causes limiting access to childcare in Canada; the rising cost and the lack of quality childcare spaces. To meet the economic and social rights of women the submitting organizations recommend that the Government of Canada dedicate sufficient funds to implement a nationally regulated universal early learning and childcare program.

38. Access to affordable home care and long term care are essential to ensure that younger generations, and particularly women, are not unduly burdened with unpaid care responsibilities of aging parents and friends. According to Statistics Canada, in 2007 2.7 million adults between the ages of 45 and 64 were providing unpaid elder care. Most of these caregivers juggle employment with family and eldercare tasks. Nearly six out of 10 of these caregivers were women, and seven out of 10 requiring elder care were women24. Elder care has been shown to have particularly negative effects on the financial, mental and physical health of women. As the population in Canada ages, this is an issue that will become more widespread and requires the Government of Canada to take action. To promote women’s social and economic rights the submitting organizations recommend that the Government of Canada increase investments to public home care and long term care.

Pay Equity

39. Canada has not implemented recommendations from treaty bodies or from the 2009 UPR pertaining to pay equity. In 2009, Canada accepted recommendation 44 of the UPR, which called on Canada to “take the necessary measures to end discrimination against women in workplaces and implement International Labour Organization (ILO) and Convention on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CERSC) recommendations to ensure equal remuneration for work of equal value in public and private sectors”.

40. Although the wage-gap between women and men has narrowed over the last decade in Canada, women working fulltime still earn on average 21% less then men. The disparity is greater for women of colour and Aboriginal women, who earn 36% and 54% less respectively. Several provinces have adopted pay equity legislation and frameworks over the last few decades, however not all workers are covered, particularly in the private sector. The provinces of Ontario and Quebec are the only provinces with comprehensive proactive pay equity legislation covering both private and public sectors. Some provinces have pay equity legislation for public service employees, while others have no laws in place. The lack of national proactive pay equity legislation for all workers in Canada has created disparities in meeting women’s rights to pay equity across the country.

41. In 2009, the Government of Canada introduced the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. This legislation has made it more difficult for women to claim pay equity in the public sector by redefining a “female predominant” job-group to require that such groups are made up of 70% women. The law has also changed the criteria used to evaluate whether jobs are of “equal” value and transformed pay equity into an issue that must be dealt with at the bargaining table. Pay equity is a fundamental human right that should not be traded away at a bargaining table.

42. The submitting organizations recommend that the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act be repealed, and the following recommendations from the 2004 Pay Equity Task Force be implemented immediately:

  • Adopt of a new proactive pay equity law;
  • Expand pay equity coverage to include women and Aboriginal workers, workers with disabilities, and workers of colour;
  • Ensure that all employees in the federal jurisdiction be covered by new pay equity legislation, including non-unionized employees, part-time, casual, seasonal and temporary workers;
  • Include workers and their unions in developing pay equity studies and in maintaining pay equity over time; and
  • Set up a Commission to assist employers, employees and unions, and establish an expert Tribunal to quickly decide pay equity disputes between parties.

Data and Research

43. In 2010, Statistics Canada announced the cancellation of the mandatory Long Form Census, to be replaced by a voluntary Short Form Census. This change poses a serious threat to the reliability and breadth of data available in Canada. For instance, the only question in the census about unpaid work has been removed. Using census data in the past, it has been calculated that women do two-thirds of all unpaid work, accounting for 30 to 45 percent of Canada’s GDP. Given the aging population and the Government of Canada’s lack of commitment to the improvement of access to childcare spaces, women will continue to do the majority of care work. Elder care has negative impacts on the financial, mental and physical health of women. Without reliable information on this issue, the effects and consequences of unpaid work on women will be unknown. The submitting organizations see this as a substantial impairment to all levels of Government’s ability to develop policies, programs and services for women’s equality. The submitting organizations recommend that the Government of Canada reverse its decision to cancel the Long Form Census and, in particular, the deletion of the question on unpaid work.

44. Statistics Canada in 2012 announced the cancellation of University and College Academic Staff System (UCASS), an annual survey that collected national comparable information on the number and socio-economic characteristics of full-time teaching staff at Canadian universities and colleges. The information from the survey has been used in system-wide studies of employment patterns, gender-based analyses, salary analysis for contract negotiations, and more. The loss of the UCASS will result in information gaps pertaining to employment equity and pay equity in Canada’s universities and colleges, which will impair effective policy and programming responses to promote women’s rights. The submitting organizations recommend that the Government of Canada reverse its decision to cancel the UCASS.

Annex I

Major Government of Canada Cuts Impacting Women in Canada Since 2006

  • Funding for Status of Women Canada (SWC) was cut significantly in 2006, resulting in the closure of 12 of 16 offices across the country. The mandate of SWC was changed to exclude ―gender equality and political justice‖ and to ban advocacy, policy research and advocacy. The Women’s Program of SWC previously funded women’s groups to undertake research and advocacy to promote women’s active participation in policy development and systemic change. The program now focuses on training oriented projects and service provision. It no longer funds advocacy or research. The cuts and change in focus of SWC left many women’s organizations without funding. (See the list of organizations below).
  • Implementation of a National Child Care Program was cancelled in 2006. Instead the Universal Child Care Benefit was introduced, which only provides a small monthly benefit to families with children under 6. A National Child Care Program, with affordable regulated child care spaces would better address the accessibility of child care.
  • Ended the Court Challenges Program in 2006, which provided an essential source of financial assistance for important court cases that advance equality rights guaranteed under Canada’s Constitution.
  • Ended the Mandatory Long Form Census, which provided a vital source of data about unpaid work, among other data that was used for social policy development.
  • Eliminated the Long Gun Registry in 2012 through Bill C-19.
  • Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (Eliminated with 2012 Budget).
  • Federal Contractors Program (2012 Budget will eliminate the Minister’s responsibility to ensure that Employment Equity programs for federal contractors are comparable to those enacted in the federal public service. The outcome is still unclear, but it may mean that Compliance Reviews for federal contractors will be eliminated).
  • Eliminated funding for the National Council on Welfare (NWC) in the 2012.
  • Announced cuts to the public service in 2012 that will disproportionately affect women.
  • Discontinued the University and College Academic Staff System (UCASS) from which useful data is gleaned to negotiate salaries and track the progress towards gender equality among faculty and staff in Canadian universities and colleges.
  • Eliminated the Women’s Health Contribution Program (WHCP), which provided funding to 6 research programs in 2012.

List of Women’s Organizations and Programs whose funding has been cut or ended by the Government of Canada since 2006

  • Aboriginal Healing Foundation (cuts affected several healing centres that focused on providing support to abused women, such as the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal)
  • Action travail des femmes
  • Alberta Network of Immigrant Women
  • Association féminine d’éducation et d’action sociale (AFEAS)
  • Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (ACEWH) (WHCP cut with budget 2012)
  • British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (BCCEWH) (WHCP cut with 2012 Budget)
  • Canadian Child Care Federation
  • Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW)
  • Canadian Women’s Health Network (Funding cut as a result of 2012 Budget and end of Women’s Health Contribution Program)
  • Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition féminine
  • Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
  • ChildCare Resource and Research Unit
  • SpeciaLink the National Centre for Child Care Inclusion
  • Conseil d’intervention pour l’accès des femmes au travail (CIAFT)
  • Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women Toronto (funding cut by CIC in December 2010)
  • Feminists for Just and Equitable Public Policy (FemJEPP) in Nova Scotia
  • First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
  • International Planned Parenthood Federation
  • Marie Stopes International, a maternal health agency, has received only a promise of ―conditional‖ funding IF it avoids any & all connection with abortion
  • MATCH International
  • National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL)
  • National Network on Environments and Women’s Health (2012 Budget cuts)
  • Native Women’s Association of Canada (Health funding cut as a result of 2012 Budget)
  • New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity (lost funding for advocacy and research)
  • Older Women’s Network
  • Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)
  • Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
  • Pauktuutit, Intuit Women of Canada (Health funding cut as a result of 2012 Budget)
  • Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence (WHCP cut with 2012 budget)
  • Réseau action femmes
  • Réseau des Tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec
  • Le Réseau québécois d’action pour la santé des femmes (RQASF) (WHCP cut with 2012 budget)
  • Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre, Toronto
  • Sisters in Spirit
  • South Asian Women’s Centre
  • Tri-Country Women’s Centre Society
  • Womanspace Resource Centre (Lethbridge, Alberta)
  • Women and Health Protection
  • Women for Community Economic Development in Southwest Nova Scotia (WCEDSN)
  • Women’s Innovative Justice Initiative – Nova Scotia

1 Data for the GSS is collected every 5 years from a random sample of Canadian women and men aged 15 years and older, and represents data not reported to the police. The last survey was conducted in 2009, which means that new data will not be available until after 2014.

2 These statistics are taken from the annual Homicide Survey.

3 Shelters for abused women in Canada, 2010. Statistics Canada.

4 Data comes from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey, taken from police annually. It does not however include data on unreported victimization, as does the GSS.

5 A finding of the coroner’s inquest into the murder of Arlene May,k who was shot and killed by her former partner with a legally acquired rifle

6 Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women. (1993). Changing the landscape: Ending violence ~ Achieving equality Executive summary/national action plan (Cat. No. SW45-1/1993E) p. 5. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.

7 Caswell, J., Keller, W., & Murphy, S. (Producers). (2006, July 26).Supervisor of RCMP child exploitation unit, Ottawa, Earla-Kim McColl speaking about child pornography

[Television broadcast]. Atlantic Canada: CTV News.

8 CEDAW/C/SR.855 (A), para. 46.)

9 Since 1962, Statistics Canada has conducted the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey, which collects data on all criminal incidents reported to, and substantiated by, Canadian police services.

10 A/66/289.

11 R. v. C.S., 2012, p. 2

12 Specific details of the recommended national action plan to end VAW are listed under point 7.

13 Aboriginal is used here to describe First Nations, Non Status, Metis, and Inuit.

14 The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national representative organization of the First Nations in Canada.

15 For further details on this case, see the submission from FAFIA, re: Cecilia Kell

16 Annual Report Legal Aid Manitoba 2011-2012

17 Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context – February 2009

18 We’re Not Asking: We’re Telling. An Inventory of practices promoting the dignity, autonomy, and self-determination of women and families facing homelessness. http://homelesshub.ca/ResourceFiles/goodpractice_report.pdf

19 Violence against Women & Women’s Homelessness: Making the Connections YWCA, 2010

20 HRSDC (2011). Work – Employment Rate. Retrieved from:http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/.3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=13#M2

21 Statistics Canada (2011). Full-time and Part-time Employment by Sex and Age Group. Retrieved from:http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/labor12-eng.htm

22 Daly, K. (2007). Gender inequality, growth and global ageing. Goldman Sachs Global Economics Paper

23 Shaker, E. (2009). Beyond Child’s Play: Caring for and Education Young Children in Canada. Centre for Policy Alternatives.

24 Kelly Cranswick and Donna Dosman. (2007). Elder care: what we know today. Statistics Canada. Retrieved fromhttp://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-008-x/2008002/article/10689-eng.htm

 

 




Statement 20070731 Two Tier Care

Statement from NCWC

In response to the article in The Globe and Mail, “MDs launch fresh bid for two-tier care,” Tuesday 31 July 2007.

Universal Health Care

The National Council of Women of Canada, founded in 1893, is strongly committed to Canada’s one-tier health system. Our universal health care system is one of which Canada can be very proud. NCWC have continuously urged that the universality and excellence of the medicare system in Canada be maintained. This universality has guaranteed equality of service to all citizens regardless of financial circumstances or provincial or territorial location.

The Canadian Medical Association is obviously testing the waters by initiating a debate on the right to practice in both public and private systems. The Globe article mentions that in a policy paper delivered on July 30th by the CMA, it states that governments should consider contracting publicly funded services to the private sector, that Canadians should have more access to private insurance for private care, and that doctors should not be limited to working within one system or the other.

If a two-tier system were implemented, how many doctors would stay in the medicare system? How many would devote a majority of their time to private patients who will pay a premium? Who has first dibs on surgery time? Would the medicare patient have to wait even longer for surgery because private patients have filled the queues?

We do not understand how any two-tier system could be anything but discriminatory, and it would be just another example of “the haves” having it all, and “the have-nots” falling between ever-widening cracks.

While we acknowledge that our system of healthcare is not perfect, we and the CMA should be looking for viable ways of improving it, not dismantling it. If doctors are in short supply, train more, and actively work to have physicians with foreign credentials integrated more readily into the system. We also need shorter wait-times, but there are new projects in place which are aimed at solutions.

This sort of debate, which the outgoing president of the CMA has initiated, seems frivolous and annoying. His time would be better spent working to improve what we have, and what many other countries envy, instead of looking for ways to dismantle and demolish.

Karen Dempsey

President

National Council of Women of Canada

 

 




Statement 20060721 Life Extensions of Nuclear Plants

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF CANADA

(established in 1893)

Administrative Assistant,

Regulatory Standards and Research Division,

Directorate of Safety Management and Standards,Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission PO Box 1046 Station B 280 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario KIP 5S9

July 21, 2006

Re: Life Extensions of Nuclear Power Plants, Draft Regulatory Document G-360

As a Vice President of the National Council of Women of Canada, with responsibility for environment, I am pleased to have the opportunity to comment on Draft Regulatory Document G-369, regarding the regulations around life extensions of nuclear power plants, on behalf of our President Carla Kosak.

National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), which represents many thousands of Canadians from cities and towns across Canada, through its 19 Local Councils of Women, 5 Provincial Councils of Women and 24 diverse Nationally Organized Societies, has researched nuclear issues and developed strong policies related to public health and safety and environmental protection for over 50 years.

From this strong base we have commented on government legislation, regulations, programs and policies as they relate to nuclear issues – the most recent being our comments on Draft Regulatory Policy P-290, Managing Radioactive Waste ( August 14, 2003); the Elimination of “Insignificant “Nuclear Projects from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act ( February 3rd, 2006); and, the Draft Scoping Document for Ontario Power Generation’s Proposal for a Deep Geologic Repository at Kinkardin, Ontario (July 17th, 2006.) In all of these comments we have stressed the need for a precautionary approach that protects the public and the environment over the very long term future.

In this respect, NCWC finds Draft Regulatory Document G-360 quite weak. Our over-riding concern is that the regulations allow nuclear plant extension applications to avoid an automatic extensive assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Instead, according to the CNSC back grounder of May /06, an EA “may be required.”

This directive seems to be contrary to other information in the back grounder, which states that The CNSC expects the licensee to demonstrate that the following objectives are met for any life extension project: 1. The technical scope of the project is adequately determined through a Safety Improvement Plan that takes into account the results of an Environmental Assessment (EA)In the Glossary to the Draft Regulation page 15, an environmental assessment is described as An assessment of the environmental effects of the project conducted in accordance with the CEAA and its regulations.”

It is also of concern to NCWC, that an environmental assessment of the project may not be allowed by the CNSC if it meets the “Exclusionary List requirements.” As we stated in our comments of February 3rd, 2006,

“ Expansions, restarts and refurbishments of aging nuclear plants are not insignificant. There are many potential dangers involved, to the workers, the public, and the environment.”…” An environmental assessment allows for close scrutiny of the risks involved and acts as a precautionary way to ensure public health and safety, as well as micro and macro-environmental integrity.

Further to this, even if the project undergoes an EA, the draft regulation does not guarantee public appraisal of the EA guidelines and EA Screening Report, or the EA process, rather saying that the public “maybe involved, as well as “it is highly likely that life extension applications will be considered in the context of public hearings of the Commission…” Given that the public is the most affected by the project, in both the long and short term, it is imperative that they be automatically allowed input

All of these problems with the draft appear to underline an unwillingness of the CNSC to consider itself as a vigilant protector of the public interest, but rather an facilitator for nuclear plant life extensions. In our view, this is backed up by CNSC actions over the past year or so, whereby the Point Lepreau, Gentilly 2 life extensions were guided towards approval without EA.s, and the Bruce Plant life extension was granted without an EA- just prior to the deadline for public comment on this draft regulatory document G-360.

These three approvals by CNSC have drawn questions and criticisms from knowledgeable environmentalists. For example, the Point Lepreau plant was excluded, using the exclusion list regulation, and it appears Gentilly-2 was allowed to go forward due to economic arguments made by Hydro Quebec. This latter, despite the fact that according to Greenpeace, the plant needed a major retubing,” which involves highly radioactive pressure tubes in the reactor core.”

To conclude, the National Council of Women of Canada urges the Commission to strengthen G-360, so that all significant repairs and life extensions of nuclear plants are subject to Environmental Assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and that the public is allowed input at all stages of the process. Only in this way may the public be assured that due diligence is done by the Commission, as the protector of the broader public interest in its health, safety and environment.

Gracia Janes VP Environment NCWC jrjanes@sympatico.ca Box 1590 NOTL LOS IJO c.c. Carla Kosak President NCWC c/o ncwc@magma.ca




Statement 20020621 Pay Equity Task Force

Submission to the Pay Equity Task Force National Council of Women of Canada June 21, 2002

Introduction

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) is pleased to participate in the Pay Equity Task Force’s review of the federal pay equity legislative provisions.

Founded in 1893, NCWC is a non-partisan, non-profit organization of women representing a large number of citizens of diverse occupations, languages, origins and cultures, reflecting a cross section of public opinion. NCWC is comprised of twenty local councils, five provincial councils, two study groups, and twenty-eight nationally organized societies. NCWC works to improve conditions of life for women, families and communities.

NCWC policy is developed at the grass roots level and is voted on by the general membership, thereby being reflective of the views of women across Canada. By its Constitution, NCWC is committed to work for improvement in the status of women and their families, as well as working to better the general conditions of society.

NCWC enjoys consultative status (general) with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), and is a federated member of the International Council of Women (ICW). NCWC is also a member of the International Council of Women’s Regional Council of the Americas.

NCWC is on the verge of releasing the results of our important national community consultation on women’s economic security called Securing Our Future. Women are still an economically disadvantaged population, earning only 63% of men’s after-tax income. The Securing Our Future project showed that addressing this inequality will require a multi-faceted approach. Women’s financial security throughout their life will not happen if women’s economic status is examined with too narrow a focus. There are too many variables to consider, such as occupation, economic welfare in regions, professions, and citizenship status. The Securing Our Future Strategy Guide shows the diverse issues and concerns of our members and community partners and is designed to activate hundreds more women in the discussions and advocacy on their economic security. This Guide will be distributed nationally at the end of this month.

Pay Equity

In fact, NCWC first asked for equal pay in 1907! It is only in the last quarter century that the issue has come back to centre stage on the women’s policy agenda in Canada. As the Chairperson of the Securing Our Future Advisory Committee reports, “Women still fare worse than men overall by virtually every economic measure, from taxation to wages and workload to retirement income. Young women of today face an uncertain future. Women will grow old in poverty without the proper tools for strategic life planning.”i We hope that the review of the current pay equity provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act (s.11) will make strategic

i Margaret MacGee (London, Ontario), NCWC Media Release, June 4, 2001 recommendations for improving pay equity implementation and use multiple lenses in addressing the unequal economic scenario for women in Canada.

Women in the paid workforce today still face barriers to equal advancement. Men outnumber women in a selection of ten of the highest paying occupations in Canada. Statistics Canada National Tables (1996) report that in the case of senior managers of goods production, utilities, transportation, construction, men outnumber women by more than 11: 1. The women in this field earn only 56% of men doing the same work. In every occupation, men are paid substantially more than women. Women outnumber men in all of the lowest paying occupations in Canada except service station attendants. As babysitters, nannies and parents’ helpers, all low wage occupations, women outnumber men by 47:1. In every occupation, men are paid more than women. This suggests that the pay equity policy currently in place does not begin to narrow the gap between male and female wages.

Non-Standard Employment

A new pattern of employment through short-term contracts and part time employment (sometimes involving multiple part-time jobs) seems to be emerging as the norm for many women in Canada. Contract and part-time employees face barriers to forming or joining unions and often have to pay for their own supplemental medical insurance, as well as save for their retirement when they have no employer-provided benefits. NCWC is currently finishing the first phase of an important project (The Economics of Later Life). During the first phase of NCWC’s Securing Our Future project, with funding from Status of Women Canada and Human Resources Development Canada, NCWC held a series of roundtables across the country. From our members and community partners, we learned that women’s economic security is precarious, a fragility that crosses regions, classes, cultures, and generations.

NCWC members are concerned that women who are currently in or entering the paid workforce will not have sufficient savings to ensure a standard of living above the poverty line when they are older. The incidence of poverty in later life is not confined to women in the retirement years (age 65 or over), but can affect women in the middle year of life as well. NCWC policy has consistently encouraged the Canadian government to work for de facto equality in the workplace in Canada. The Canada Labour Code must ensure that part-time workers are provided with the same protection, rights and benefits on a pro-rated basis to those guaranteed to full-time workers.ii The majority of part-time workers are women. Canada, as well as all the provinces, has agreed to support and implement the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

NCWC has adopted as its policy the principle of full protection, rights and benefits to all types of part-time workers as well as the principle of women’s economic equality. NCWC asks that the government define and regulate through legislation and regulation the various types of work including but not necessarily limited to: full-time, part-time, temporary and contract work and ensure all workers receive the same protection, rights and benefits on a pro-rated basis as those afforded full-time workers.iii

ii 82.2: Equal Benefits for Part Time Work

iii 01.4PU Reiteration and Update: Equal Benefits for Part Time Workers

The Securing Our Future project identified four key areas of concern raised by the women who participated in the community think tanks and roundtables: Economic Security, Health, Social Services and Education. In this submission we will concentrate on the issues surrounding Economic Security and Social Services. Priority issues and concerns raised for future advocacy included the following:

ECONOMIC SECURITY

Recognize the Contribution of Older Women:

  • Gender analysis of the tax system, including older women’s needs;
  • Increase the minimum wage and tie it to the Consumer Price Index;
  • Pay Equity should include pension contributions;
  • Tax relief on mortgage payments;
  • Simplify tax and other financial forms.

Rising Number of Older Women in Poverty

  • Women over the age of 80 have difficulties living within means, with the high cost of retirement home living, and a lack of extended family support;
  • Pension Plans for part time, non-standard workers.

Mentor Immigrant Women

  • Develop a mentorship program for immigrant women, including empowerment and support;
  • Reform the immigrant point system and create mechanisms for skills recognition.

Guaranteed Annual Income

  • Provide a guaranteed annual income that allows a livable income for seniors.

How to Live Longer on Less

  • Develop a program to teach financial skills building for older women;
  • Develop social mechanisms for support and resource sharing for older women.

SOCIAL SERVICES

Gender Analysis of Social Policy

  • There is an urgent need to acknowledge the value of unpaid work such as caring for relatives in the home and volunteer work;
  • Combat poor-bashing;
  • Eliminate the stigma associated with receiving social assistance;
    • There is an urgent need to ensure that those caring for their children / elders at home receive financial compensation.

Affordable Housing

  • Implementation of a national housing policy;
  • Address the needs of homeless women and children.

National Child Care Strategy

  • There is a need for a childcare strategy that integrates programs for children at all levels. (Local, Provincial and National);
  • The government must support publicly funded education.

Maintain Strong Women’s Networks

  • Establish ongoing local women’s networks for a variety of age groups;
  • Reduce the barriers to women participating in politics;
  • Support women’s efforts to work together in spite of barriers such as racism, sexism, homophobia and classism;
  • Institute programs for older women to assist in overcoming isolation and transportation barriers.

Unpaid Work

In addition to working in the paid labour force, women continue to fulfill the majority of domestic and family responsibilities, including pregnancy and birth and care for children, the sick and the elderly. These are unpaid, uncounted contributions are not acknowledged in spite of Canada’s commitment (Beijing PF A) to publish auxiliary accounts annually showing the value to the Canadian economy of this work. NCWC has been asking the government since 1974 to institute household surveys of a substantial size and complexity in order to establish the economic value of housework and volunteer community service for the purpose of inclusion in the Canadian Classification and Dictionary of Occupations.iv Cuts to social services are especially damaging to the standard of living of the women who make these huge contributions all the time and this is particularly evident when cuts to social services increases the feminization of poverty.

Recording the annual value of the unpaid worker’s contribution would validate entitlement to social plans and services presently available to the paid worker only. Due to the demands of the unpaid workload, women may be prevented from establishing long-term economic security, such as adequate supplementary pension plans. Statistics Canada has estimated that in 1992 the value of household work was between 31 % and 46% of the Gross Domestic Product. According to Statistics Canada, the consultation and testing process in preparation for the 2001 Census indicated that 7% of 115 submissions contained references to unpaid work. Many indicated that

iv 74.9: Economic Value of Home and Volunteer Work

the “situation of those spending very long hours in unpaid work, especially care to children and care to seniors, was not adequately represented by the answer categories. In 1996, 2.1mil1ion Canadians were providing unpaid care for elderly or disabled family members. Sixty percent of these caregivers were women and women averaged 5 hours of care for every 3 hours given by men.v In 1999, the Conference Board of Canada reported that during the 1990s, the number of Canadians who were providing unpaid care for both children and elders increased from 9.5% to 15% of the population. Sixty-seven percent of these caregivers were women and 44% men.vi

Pension Plans

A number of studies along with the 1978 NCWC survey on “The Financial Situation of Older Women” have shown that women of retirement age are generally financially disadvantaged. Many women working outside the home do not have adequate earning years to build up RRSP funds that are substantial enough to provide a sufficient annuity and homemakers are excluded from most public pension plans. NCWC recommends that RRSP annual limits be increased for any person over forty-five years of age, who has an incomplete or non-existent Canada/Quebec Pension Plan record. In addition, the Canada Pension Plan should be opened to non-income earning homemakers who could apply for pension purposes 50% of their spouses’ earning, with the total contributions to be allowed as a tax deduction from the income of the earning spouse.vii

Human Rights Act

In 1977 the Federal Government passed the Human Rights Act guaranteeing equal pay for work of equal value and set up the Human Rights Commission to administer the Act. The length of time required by the Human Rights Commission to process a case makes it expensive and discouraging to the client and each case must work through the same process regardless of the outcome of a similar, preceding case. The Commission needs to ensure that the settlement of a complaint addresses the overall issue of systems discrimination against a category of persons.viii

Gender Analysis

The Commission has proven ineffective in controlling the continuing wage gap between male and female employees. It does not encompass the situations in a company where there is no comparable position held by a male.ix The advancement of women includes understanding their reality and the unique constraints that they face, particularly with respect to the amount of unpaid work they perform. Bureaucrats and politicians are often unaware of the different realities of women and statistics are not always disaggregated by gender, which leads to blindness on the part of policy makers to the contributions and the needs of women. Data on women is usually presented in a comparison with data for men, which hides the different constraints women face and tends to emphasize an adversarial rather than a co-operative framework. NCWC recommends that Statistics Canada and other government departments consult with diverse

v Statistics Canada Elder Care in Canada Ottawa, Statistics Canada 1996.

vi Conference Board of Canada: Caring About Caregiving: The Eldercare Responsibilities of Canadian Workers and the Impact on Employers 1999

vii 81.2 Improving Pensions for Women

viii 90.7 Improving Human Rights Commission

ix 79.1: Equal Pay of Work of Equal Value

women’s groups about the types of data collected, including publicizing the value to the GDP of the unpaid, uncounted work done by both men and women. In addition, NCWC urges that gender-based analysis be utilized in all government departments, laws, policies and programmes.x




Statement 201102 Bill C46

NCWC Response to Federal Ombudsperson’s Request on Bill C-46, Production of Records in Sexual Offence Prosecutions February 2011

Discuss the impact this Bill has had on victims since its implementation in 1997 particularly regarding victims’ likelihood to report a crime, the process of interacting with the criminal justice system, and their ultimate healing journey in overcoming these traumatic events. Do NCWC’s points of view and information remain consistent today as they were in 1997?

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) is of the current opinion that a victim’s likelihood to report a crime would not have increased substantially as a result of the enactment of Bill C-46. The reasons are systemic as evidenced by the numerous policies adopted since 1981 through 2009 by the NCWC relating to the treatment of women under the rule of law in Canada’s legal institutions: police, medical forensics, criminal justice, mental health, immigration, family justice, and the court system. Gender sensitivity training for key players – social workers, doctors, police, in-take staff personnel, mediators, facilitators, arbitrators, lawyers, and judges – in sexual offence prosecutions is crucial for women to develop trust in the rule of law system in protecting women’s privacy interests while serving the interests of justice.

The NCWC’s views in 1996 and 1998 regarding this issue remain. In 1996 the NCWC adopted an emergency resolution to urge the government to “to introduce legislation as quickly as possible which will guarantee the confidentiality and privacy of the therapeutic records of rape complainants.” Bill C-46 attempts to do so by instilling specific procedural requirements in the trial judge’s in camera consideration of allowing such records to be produced during trail. However, while a trial judge who decides in favour of records production under Bill C-46 can impose conditions on the production of records to ensure the confidentiality and privacy of the individuals concerned, there is no requirement in Bill C-46 for oversight and disclosure of a trial judge’s expertise, or at the very least, training, in gender sensitivity to ensure an understanding of gender analysis in court orders under Bill C-46 towards guaranteeing a sexual assault survivor’s confidentiality and privacy. In 1998 the NCWC adopted an emergency resolution to “urge the government to pass enabling legislation to ensure that gender analysis is applied throughout the government in relation to all laws, policies and programs, and that the reports on such gender analysis be made widely available to the general public.” In 1990 the NCWC adopted as policy to urge the Government “to appoint women in proportionate numbers to Federal decision-making bodies.”

In 1990 the NCWC urged the Government and the Ministry of Justice to:

1. Ensure that all judges, legal counsel and police under federal jurisdiction receive education which focuses on

a. The context of women’s lives and the impact of violence in homes across Canada;

b. The various aspects of sexual assault including the nature of the crime of sexual assault, the psychology of abuse, the prevalence and seriousness of sexual assault by acquaintances, the long-term psychic injury to sexual assault survivors and the difference between vigorous cross-examination that protects the defendant’s rights and questioning that includes improper sex stereotyping and harassment of the victim;

c. Gender, class, and race differences in order that they better understand and deal with the crime in the context within which it is committed;

2. Include in the criteria for the selection/appointment of judges for all federally appointed courts, a demonstrated understanding of gender equality issues.

That same year, 1990, the NCWC urged the Government to appoint a national task force to:

  1. Investigate the extent to which gender discrimination exists in the Canadian legal system;
  2. Make recommendations to eliminate any gender discrimination found in that system; and further,
  3. Urge the provinces and territories to promote the status of Canadian women in the legal system and the legal profession by providing education on gender equality for judges, law students, law professors and lawyers.

Most recently, in 2009, the NCWC adopted policies on the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court of Canada; a national mental health strategy, and ensuring police accountability through effective civilian oversight. The NCWC has highlighted the negative role played in sexual assault reporting by female prostitutes due to the Government’s criminalization of sexual solicitation by female prostitutes. We have highlighted issues with HIV-AIDS; mental health; and societal stigma in sexual assault healing. Policy statements on further issues in Canada have been adopted by our national council – such as 1) inadequate support for mothers in encouraging them to report sexual assault and leave abusive-partner relationships including support to ensure child-support payments and provision of child-care, 2) unchecked sexual exploitation of women in media through explicit advertising and pornography, 3) unfettered polygamy, 4) lack of prosecution for sexual violence against prostitutes without safeguarding the prostitutes, themselves, and 5) lack of prioritization and investigation into missing women, particularly aboriginal women. The continued persistence of such issues, among many others, without clear and determined action on the part of our government does not engender women in Canada with a sense of safety from female exploitation within Canada’s legal and social systems and does not enable public trust in Canada’s rule of law..

 

APPENDIX

81.5 Battered Wives

Whereas, Thousands of Canadian women are battered by their spouses every year; and,

Whereas, The majority of women do not seek formal aid for the problem, nor do they press charges against their spouses; and,

Whereas, The law now states that a married woman is not compellable to testify against her spouse; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to amend the Canada Evidence Act to provide that married women are both competent and compellable witnesses against their spouses in cases of marital assaults.

81.7 Rape Legislation

Whereas, The Department of Justice is currently considering alterations to the Criminal Code, pertaining to rape; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada express to the Government of Canada its strong opposition to any proposed legislation which would allow a defence lawyer, at trial to claim consent, or to use as evidence a victim’s past sexual history.

Long-term policy of the National Council of Women is developed over a period of years by the adoption of resolutions on issues of concern. At the time that the 1981 resolutions were submitted to the membership for study, Bill C-53 had not yet been tabled. As there was concern that forthcoming legislation might considerably lessen penalties for rape, a resolution on rape legislation was submitted to the Council and affiliated associations.

At the 1981 Annual Meeting, the Council adopted the following resolved clause, in addition to the clause above, keeping in mind that long-term policy was being developed and that the particular clauses were not relevant at the moment because of the provisions in Bill C-53. The text is included for information.

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada express to the Government of Canada its strong opposition to any proposed legislation which would:

1. Decrease the penalties associated with rape; and,

2. Reclassify the crime of rape to sexual assault if such reclassification would mean that this act would be decriminalized.

82.9P Support of Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Centres

Whereas, A number of studies clearly show that existing legal, medical and police systems do not adequately serve the needs of Rape and Sexual Assault victims; and,

Whereas, There is a requirement for resource centres to provide immediate advice and follow-up assistance for victims of rape and sexual assault; and,

Whereas, Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Centres require continuous financial assistance which cannot be fully provided by voluntary contributions or municipal funding; be it,

RESOLVED, That the National Council of Women of Canada request the Provincial Councils of Women to urge their respective governments to provide continuous financial support for Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Centres.

83.2 Pornography

Whereas, The Criminal Code, Section 159(8) stating “… Any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence shall be deemed to be obscene”, is not sufficient to protect all persons from pornography;

Whereas, The Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulations for AM, FM Radio and TV stating “…No broadcaster shall broadcast any obscene or indecent audio or pictorial material”, do not protect all persons from pornography; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That the National Council of Women of Canada:

a)   Urge the Government of Canada to enact legislation that will protect all persons, including children, from verbal or pictorial material which presents or describes sexual behaviour that is degrading or abusive to one or more of the participants – often using violence: The material is presented in such a way as to endorse the degradation, with the prime purpose of entertainment or selling products;

b)   Urge the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission and the Canadian Film Development Corporation to strengthen their regulations to protect all persons, including children, from verbal or pictorial material which presents or describes sexual behaviour that is degrading or abusive to one or more of the participants – often using violence: The material is presented in such a way to endorse the degradation, with the prime purpose of entertainment or selling products; and be it,

RESOLVED, That the National Council of Women of Canada:

a)   Ask their Provincial Councils to urge their respective provincial governments to enact legislation appropriate to their jurisdiction, that will protect all persons, including children, from verbal or pictorial material which presents or describes sexual behaviour that is degrading or abusive to one or more of the participants – often using violence: The material is presented in such a way as to endorse the degradation, with the prime purpose of entertainment or selling products; and be it,

b)   Ask their Provincial Councils to urge that Provincial Departments of Education include the study of the pornography issue in their health and family studies curriculum, beginning at the grade nine level; and be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada ask its federated associations to urge all their members to approach their local municipal councils to implement by-laws, limiting access to pornography by children.

83.15 Pornography

This Provincial Resolution is presented for approval for requesting that Provincial Councils urge their respective Provincial Governments to take action –

Whereas, Any extended visibility of pornographic material is completely unacceptable to women insofar as it belittles them; it works against the movement for equal social, financial and cultural equality of the sexes; and it encourages wife battering and other violent acts; and,

Whereas, It is difficult to define pornography and to legislate against it. The line between pornography and art becomes subjective and prohibitive legislation runs counter to the area of human rights; be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada asks its federates to urge all their members to take part in an immediate move to stamp out pornographic material in Canada – books, magazines, advertising, displays, videos, etc., particularly any displays that might be visible to children.

87.4 Sexual Abuse of Children

Whereas, The sexual victimization of children constitutes a significant social problem in Canada, and has the potential for inflicting long-term emotional trauma on victims and their families; and,

Whereas, The federal government has recognized the need to attack this problem primarily by changes in the criminal law but also by social and educational means; and,

Whereas, Present treatment resources available to victims and their families, as well as to perpetrators, are already inadequate, and may well be further strained as a result of new legislation and government plans for a public education campaign; and,

Whereas, The agencies primarily responsible for treatment are within provincial jurisdiction; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge:

1. The Government of Canada to:

a) Work with provincial governments to develop the necessary services across the country to meet the needs of sexually abused children, their families and the perpetrators of sexual offences;

b) Use the provisions of the Canada Assistance Plan to transfer to provincial governments funds sufficient to provide the necessary services; and,

c) Strongly urge the provinces to provide education courses advising the criminal justice system of problems faced by child and adult victims of sexual assault.

2. The Provincial Councils of Women to press provincial governments for:

a) The provision of programs and services for child victims and adult survivors of sexual abuse and their families; and,

b) The provision of compulsory treatment for perpetrators of sexual offences against children, without absolving the perpetrators of their criminal responsibility.

88.6 Guidelines for Sexually Explicit or Violent Advertisements

Whereas, Many ads and program promotions which contain violent or sexually exploitive and/or explicit materials are shown during the hours when children are watching; and,

Whereas, Some children are sensitive to the images presented and are frightened; and,

Whereas, It is not always possible for parents to monitor these momentary interruptions in what is considered acceptable programming; and,

Whereas, The Canadian Association of Broadcasters has adopted a voluntary code on television violence;

therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the CRTC to monitor for such advertisements and program promotions on a regular basis, notify broadcasters of perceived deviations from the voluntary guidelines, and consider the findings of the monitoring when broadcasters’ licenses come up for renewal

88.10 Hate Propaganda

Whereas, Canada is a country which has been built by citizens of many racial and religious backgrounds;

and

Whereas, The Government of Canada recognizes and supports the multi-cultural nature of Canadian society; and,

Whereas, Recurring propaganda attacks on racial or religious groups in this country subvert the harmonious relationships existing among Canadian citizens of various backgrounds; and,

Whereas, The Criminal Code of Canada under sub-section 281 is provided to protect all citizens from the effects of hate propaganda and the spreading of false news; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to ensure that charges under the Criminal Code are laid promptly whenever the generating of hate propaganda or the spreading of false news occurs against an identifiable group in Canada; and be it further,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to take all necessary steps to ensure that the world “sex” be added to the definition of an “identifiable” group in the sub-section 281.1 of the Criminal Code.

88.11PU Update of Policy Regarding: Reproductive Rights

Whereas, The Government of Canada has agreed to, and signed, the recommendations of the ‘Forward Looking Strategies of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace’; and,

Whereas, The National Council of Women of Canada has petitioned the Government of Canada since 1972 to remove the sections pertaining to abortion from the Criminal Code: abortion is a matter of personal, rather than public morality; abortion should be considered a medical, not a legal procedure; and,

Whereas, On January 28, 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that section 251 of the Criminal Code limiting abortions violated the constitutional rights of women; and,

Whereas, The Government of Canada is currently reviewing this issue; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada:

  1. To uphold the January 28, 1988 ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada;
  2. To ensure that abortion is considered a medical rather than a legal procedure by having any legislation concerning abortion remain outside the Criminal Code;
  3. To show leadership and commitment through increased financial support to family planning organizations working to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

The Salvation Army abstained from voting on this updating and asked that their abstention be noted in NWCW records and in speaking to the issue.

88.13RE Reiteration 1983 Policy on: Prostitution and Soliciting

Whereas, There appears to be a double sexual standard used in the enforcement of prostitution laws. If the soliciting is done by a female prostitute, she is prosecuted. The soliciting male customer is rarely brought into court, except to testify against her, even though participation in soliciting is illegal for both; and,

Whereas, Although the practice of prostitution is generally repulsive to most of our society, it is a victimless crime while, on the other hand, prostitution-related activities such as pimping, procuring and running common bawdy- houses may regularly exploit other persons; and,

Whereas, While soliciting is a crime, prosecution does little to discourage prostitutes from further offences

(may even encourage it be giving fines beyond the ability to otherwise earn) and places a heavy burden on the legal process; be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to:

1)   Amend the Criminal Code to remove the prohibition of soliciting (except in the case of adults soliciting from minors) from the code; and,

2)   Increase penalties for procuring and living wholly or in part on the avails of prostitution of another person.

89.8 Protection of Society from Dangerous Offenders

[Whereas,] Rationale:

NCWC supports the decision by the Parliament of Canada not to reinstate capital punishment. However, NCWC also supports the right of society to protection from those persons classified as ‘dangerous offenders’. Taking Responsibility, the report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Solicitor General on its review of sentencing, conditional release, and related aspects of corrections (the Daubney Report, 1988) addresses the concerns of NCWC with regard to ‘dangerous offenders’.

[RESOLVED,] NCWC urges the Government of Canada to adopt Recommendations 54 and 56 of the Daubney Report (1988)

Taking Responsibility:

#54 That the detention provisions of Bill C67 (1986) which provides the National Parole Board with legislated authority to detain dangerous offenders eligible for mandatory supervision in custody until their sentence expiry date, be retained and that these provisions be applied in appropriate circumstances;

#56 that violent, recidivist offenders on conditional release be placed in community correctional centres operated by the Correctional Services of Canada with access to appropriate programmes and supervision.

89.9PU Policy Update: Welfare of Women Prisoners (1981)

[RESOLVED,]

NCWC requests the Government of Canada:

1) To take immediate action on recommendation 96 of the Daubney Report:

a) That the Solicitor General convene a Task Force on Federal Female Offenders, composed of representatives of appropriate federal government departments and agencies, the Canadian Elizabeth Fry Societies and

other relevant private sector agencies and interested provincial/territorial correctional authorities, to:

i) Plan for and oversee closure of the Prison for Women within 5 years;

ii) Propose at least one plan to address the problems related to the community and institutional accommodation of and programming for federal female offenders; and,

iii) Develop a work plan for implementing the plan accepted by the Minister;

2) To take immediate action on recommendation 97 of the Daubney Report:

That such a Task Force consult with inmates, women’s groups and private sector correctional agencies, as well as with provincial correctional authorities, across the country at various stages of its work;

3) To continue to improve education, rehabilitation and recreation programs for female prisoners at the Prison for Women while it remains open, with special emphasis on:

a) Educational training to prepare inmates for realistic employment in the 1990’s;

b) Specialized programs focused on self esteem and assertiveness, substance abuse education, counselling and self help, and sexual/other abuse education and counselling;

4) To ensure that all programs and services for federal female offenders are equal to those received by federal male prisoners.

90.1 Unequal Treatment of Women in the Canadian Court System

Whereas, Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states the “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination…”; and,

Whereas, Paragraph 76 of the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies, accepted by the Government of Canada in 1985, calls for action to address the special needs of women as victims of violence and degrading crimes; and,

Whereas, The Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies also stressed the need for training of enforcement personnel to ensure sensitive and sensible treatment of victims and that such training be enforced through legislation; and,

Whereas, Biases and inequality with respect to women still exist in Canadian courts where judges are responsible for making decisions that impact on the lives and future of women who are victims or who have come into conflict with the law and as such are a primary target of concern; and,

Whereas, Education is the best way to ensure that bias and attitudes do not drive the Canadian justice system; therefore  be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Justice to:

1. Ensure that all judges, legal counsel and police under federal jurisdiction receive education which focuses on:

a. The context of women’s lives and the impact of violence in homes across Canada;

b. The various aspects of sexual assault including the nature of the crime of sexual assault, the psychology of abuse, the prevalence and seriousness of sexual assault by acquaintances, the long-term psychic injury to sexual assault survivors and the difference between vigorous cross-examination that protects the defendant’s rights and questioning that includes improper sex stereotyping and harassment of the victim;

c. Gender, class, and race differences in order that they better understand and deal with the crime in the context within which it is committed;

2. Include in the criteria for the selection/appointment of judges for all federally appointed courts, a demonstrated understanding of equality issues; and be it further,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge its Provincial Councils of Women to urge their respective Provincial Governments to take action at the provincial level of jurisdiction to ensure women receive just and equal treatment by making sure those working the legal system are educated so that they are able to understand the issues.

90.2 Gender Equality in the Courts

Whereas, The report of the National Association of Women and the Law entitled ‘Gender Equality in the Courts’ identifies gender inequalities within the Canadian legal system; and,

Whereas, The courts often fail to recognize the disadvantaged economic position of women when ruling on Spousal Maintenance, Child Custody, Access and Support, Marital Property Division and Personal Injury Awards; and,

Whereas, Women in the legal profession face discrimination in their day to day work with regards to job placement, university tenure, sexual harassment, lower pay scales, and lack of reasonable accommodation in working conditions during child bearing years; and,

Whereas, The appointment of qualified women to the judiciary, government boards and committees would demonstrate gender equality in practice; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to appoint a national task force to:

1. Investigate the extent to which gender discrimination exists in the Canadian legal system;

2. Make recommendations to eliminate any gender discrimination found in that system; and further,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to urge the provinces and territories to promote the status of Canadian women in the legal system and the legal profession by providing education on gender equality for judges, law students, law professors and lawyers; and further,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada reiterate its 1980 Resolution to appoint women in proportionate numbers to Federal decision-making bodies.

92.5 Shield Laws

Whereas, There is a need to encourage victims to report sexual assaults and to preserve their privacy during the criminal prosecution process; and,

Whereas, Legislation defining consent and limiting judicial discretion as to questioning the victim about past sexual history has been introduced in the House of Commons; therefore, be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to give priority to the passage of this legislation.

92.6 Appointment of Judges

Whereas, The whole area of judicial appointments, how they are made, the selection criteria, who makes the selection, required study and debate; and,

Whereas, Judicial appointments in Canada have not reflected the diversity of the population although recent provincial appointments have included women in rising numbers; therefore, be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to set in a place a review of the judicial appointment procedure and that a system be placed in motion to ensure that 50% of all newly appointed judges be women.

92.7 Gender Unfairness

Whereas, Gender inequality presently exists in the courts and in the treatment of women as professionals, as witnesses, as accused persons, and as victims; therefore, be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada in cooperation with the Canadian Bar Association to establish a national task force on gender equality in the courts; and be it further,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge its provincial and local Councils of Women to request their respective provincial governments to take similar action.

93.10EM Emergency Resolution: Battered Women?s Defence

[Whereas,] Rationale:

NCWC recognized the inequalities of Canada?s justice system for women in resolutions passed in 1989 and 1991. In 1989, it supported alternatives to incarceration for non-violent women offenders. It has advocated strongly for change in the area of violence against women, most recently in 1992. It was a member of the Steering Committee of the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women and subsequently fully supported the Report of the Task Force, ?Creating Choices?.

In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the battered women?s syndrome defence in the Lavallee decision. Approximately 12 women are currently incarcerated in Canada for having killed their abusive partners. They have not been able to avail themselves of the battered women?s defence because of the timing or particular circumstances of their cases. The sentences imposed upon them vary widely, from community disposition to life imprisonment. NCWC supports the request of its federate, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, that an en bloc review of these cases be undertaken.

[RESOLVED,]

The National Council of Women of Canada urges the Government of Canada to undertake an en bloc review with a view to the release of women currently imprisoned as a result of their involvement in the death of abusive partners.

93.11RE Reiteration of Existing Policy: Institution of Ombudsman

[Whereas,] Rationale:

No formal procedure exists in Canada which allows an individual to raise his/her grievances when treated unjustly by an official with discretionary powers, or where he/she complains of maladministration or official misconduct. Nor is it always possible for individual members of Parliament to raise such grievances effectively, or obtain a remedy expeditiously. An ombudsman could ensure fair treatment from the federal government in matters such as tax, unemployment benefits, pensions and immigration.

The institution of ombudsman has proved effective in many Canadian provinces and in other countries, such as New Zealand, Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries.

NCWC first passed a resolution in 1968 urging the government to adopt the institution of ombudsman.

[RESOLVED,]

The National Council of Women of Canada urges the Government of Canada to adopt the institution of ombudsman to meet our specific needs and to pass legislation to provide for such an official.

94.1 Pornography Prevention

Whereas, Pornography can be defined as verbal, audio, written or pictorial material which represents or describes sexual behaviour that is degrading or abusive to one or more of the participants in such a way as to endorse the degradation and abuse; and

Whereas, Clinical research, social science, personal testimony and statistics have clearly linked to exposure to pornography;

and

a) Instances of sex crimes against children and adults, both male and female;

b) Attitudinal changes which accept violence against anyone, sexual child abuse, rape, degradation, dehumanization or inequality; and,

Whereas, Pornographic materials have escalated tremendously in volume, theme, availability and mediums, especially magazine, video, computers, dial-a-porn, television; and,

Whereas, Pornographic materials with their addictive, progressive desensitizing and their potential for acting out, remain largely unregulated and easily accessible to children and youth; and,

ADD:

Whereas, It is recognized that inmates while serving in correctional institutions are more susceptible to addiction of pornography while in confinement and that the availability of this material will weaken the effects of any counselling program; therefore it be,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to work will with all levels of government to commit to:

1. a. Strict regulation of violent, degrading, dehumanizing, objectifying pornography in Canada,

b. Strict enforcement and increased consequences for the violation of these regulations in the production, distribution and possession of pornographic materials in Canada, including cross border traffic,

c. Strict enforcement of the new Child Pornography Law and the elimination of all messages which represent children as sexually available to adults, youth and children;

2. Support education on the harms of pornography and its victims in production, consumption and society;

3. Assistance for therapy programs for pornography addictions and support groups for families of addicts or users;

4. Enactment of policies to prohibit the use of pornography by sex offenders serving in any correctional institution.

94.2a Improving Situation of Children in Cases of Separation and Divorce (Part 1)

Whereas, The Divorce Act (1985) does not require the guarantee of minimum child support; and,

Whereas, Provisions exist in bankruptcy law to protect creditors from fraudulent conveyance of monies, but such provisions do not exist for monies for child support payments which may be moved out of reach of enforcement agencies;

and,

Whereas, Reciprocal enforcement of judgements may be required between provinces of Canada and the United States of America and other countries to recover transferred monies designated for child support payment; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to:

a) amend the Divorce Act (1985) to include in the Act minimum obligations for the non-custodial parent with regard to child support; and,

b) Amend the Criminal Code to:

i.) include as a criminal offence, for any conveyor and the recipient by they corporate or private

individuals, the hiding of assets, inside or outside of Canada, with the aim of escaping the

responsibilities of child support; and,

ii) Ensure that reciprocal enforcement and extradition agreements are established with other countries, where similar laws apply.

94.2b Improving the Situation of Children in Cases of Separation and Divorce (Part 2)

Whereas, Although grandparents are an important resource for growing children, the Divorce Act (1985) does not mention grandparents’ rights; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to amend the Divorce Act (1985) in order to ensure that the mutual and reciprocal rights of visitation of children and grandparents are recognized in cases of separation and divorce, when this is in the child’s best interest.

94.3 Amending Canada Assistance Plan (CAP) Agreements with the Provinces

Whereas, At present, in cases of non-payment of child support, the custodial parent is forced to pay the legal cost of enforcing divorce or separation agreements, and, as a result, is often obliged to go on welfare; and,

Whereas, In some provinces Legal Aid is not available until the custodial parent is on welfare; and,

Whereas, If the children in such cases were to be declared as ‘special needs’ children and given the needed protective and preventative measures, such as free legal representation, much stress and hardship could be avoided; and

Whereas, It would be far less expensive to cover the shared cost of legal representation in child support cases, through amended Canada Assistance Plan agreements, than to pay welfare costs; and,

Whereas, One of the aspects of the Canada Assistance Plan was to cost-share civil legal aid for social assistance clients; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to ensure that Federal/Provincial programs such as CAP include the extension of legal aid facilities to children and/or custodial parents in cases where support payments are in default and the recipient incomes are below a certain cut-off level, and that this is provided for within a two-year time frame; and be it further,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada request its Provincial and Local Councils to urge their respective governments to provide Legal Aid facilities to children and/or custodial parents in cases where support payments are in default, and the recipient incomes are below a certain cut-off level, and that this is provided for within a two (2) year time frame.

94.4 Incentives for Workplace Childcare

Whereas, Statistics show that 42% of all children under the age of thirteen require childcare; and,

Whereas, While some of these children are cared for in informal arrangements, a substantial number need places in licensed childcare centres; and,

Whereas, Some parents prefer centres that are close to where they work, and to which they could give some input; and,

Whereas, The provision of adequate facilities is quite costly; therefore be it,

RESOLVED, That The National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to establish incentives for employer-supported child care centres whether on site or close to the workplace, operated with parental input, and/or through a childcare resource and referral service.

95.5 Resolution Regarding the Needs of Immigrating Women, Victims of Spousal/Family Violence

(Note: Whereas clauses not dealt with at AGM).

Whereas, Some immigrating women, residing temporarily in Canada while waiting for Canadian Immigrant status, are married to Canadian Citizens or landed immigrants who sponsor them; and,

Whereas, It does happen that some of these women are victims of spousal/family violence that remains unreported because the immigrating women fear the loss of their sponsorship; and,

Whereas, Immigration officers are not required to provide appropriate services for these women, therefore be it,

RESOLVED, that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to provide sensitivity training for immigration officers in order to prepare them for more humane processing of cases concerning women who are not landed immigrants and who are victims of spousal/family violence; and be it further,

RESOLVED, that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to make it mandatory that the files of such victims of reported spousal/family violence be processed separate and apart from those of their spousal/family sponsors.

96.16EM Emergency Resolution: The Release of Confidential Therapeutic Records of Rape Complainants

Whereas, The December, 1995 ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada which allows the release of confidential therapeutic records of rape complainants feeds the most destructive myth surrounding sexual assault, that those women who report rape (as opposed to other crime) are peculiarly likely to be liars, discreditable, or easily duped; and, Whereas, The release of therapeutic records will jeopardize the essential ingredient of counselling; the establishment of a sense of safety and containment for women; and,

Whereas, The therapeutic records of rape complainants are not scientifically gathered or tested for purposes of crime detection; and,

Whereas, The guidelines set by the Supreme Court of Canada decision to limit cases in which personal files can be uses are vague; and,

Whereas, Although there has been much improvement in the ?sensitivity? of judges in Canada, this sensitivity cannot be assumed; therefore, be it,

RESOLVED, that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada and Justice Minister, Allan Rock, to introduce legislation as quickly as possible which will guarantee the confidentiality and privacy of the therapeutic records of rape complainants.

98.1 VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Whereas, everyday in this country women are subjected to violence; and

Whereas, women will not be free from violence until there is equality; and

Whereas, the financial cost of abuse of women in Canada, in the health/medical, social services/education, labour/employment and criminal justice systems exceeds $4.2 billion per year; and

Whereas, despite the financial cost of abuse of women, the Government of Canada has failed to intervene in support of women’s human rights as set forth in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and

Whereas, the Government of Canada has not fully enacted the recommendations of the Zero Tolerance Policy and Equality Action Plan for violence against women as set out in the “FINAL REPORT OF THE CANADIAN

PANEL ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN,1993”; and

Whereas, the Government of Canada should take the necessary steps from denial of abuse to acknowledgement o abuse; from tolerance of violence to commitment against violence; from institutional violence to zero

tolerance of violence; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to:

a) Enact fully the recommendations of Zero Tolerance Policy and Equality Action Plan for violence against women as set out in the “Final Report of the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women, 1993” which asks the Government of Canada to:

  • Recognize violence against women as a human rights issue; and
  • Include violence against women as an issue in all human rights decisions and initiatives, both nationally and

internationally; and

  • Include violence against women as an issue in all international aid and development activities; and
  • Create guidelines for the establishment of any future inquiries, task forces or commissions; and
  • Implement a Zero Tolerance Federal Contractors’ Programme whereby any organization, national or international,

which receives a government contract, grant of funding of $1000,000 or more, must agree to put in place zero tolerance processes and practices to support women’s equality and safety within the recipient organization and through its substantive work; and

b)   Ensure that contract compliance also applies to subcontractors; and

c)   Establish the recommended accountability mechanisms; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the National Council of Women of Canada urge its Provincial Councils, Local Councils and Study Groups to refer this resolution to their respective Provincial Governments.

98.1EM ECONOMIC GENDER EQUALITY INDICATORS AND GENDER ANALYSIS

Whereas, The advancement of women includes understanding their reality and the unique constraints they face, particularly with respect to the amount of unpaid work they perform, and the varying needs of women across the country; and

Whereas, bureaucrats and politicians are often unaware of the different realities of women; and

Whereas, statistics are not always disaggregated by gender, which leads to blindness on the part of policy makers to contributions and needs of women; and

Whereas, data from Statistics Canada and other departments are not often available to women’s and community groups because of the cost and complexity of presentations; and

Whereas, data on women are usually presented in a comparison with data for men which not only hides the different constraints women face but also tends to emphasize an adversarial rather than a cooperative framework; and

Whereas, although the Government of Canada has committed to doing gender analysis of all new federal programs, this commitment is qualified by the statement “where appropriate” and the results of such gender analysis are not always readily available; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to ensure that:

a) Statistics Canada and other government departments consult widely with diverse women’s groups about the types of data collected; and

b) Gender sensitivity training be conducted for bureaucrats and politicians, and resources be allocated by the federal government for such training; and

c) Data be disaggregated by gender wherever possible; and

d) Data be made accessible without charge to women’s and other community groups; and

e) Funding be provided for capacity building of organizations to ensure a strong voice for women, and that the government partner with such organizations to provide public information, which emphasizes women’s distinct contribution and needs rather than the inequities between men and women; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the National Council of Women urge the Government of Canada to pass enabling legislation to ensure that gender analysis is applied throughout the government in relation to all laws, policies and programs, and that the reports on such gender analysis be made widely available to the general public.

98.4EM CHILD CUSTODY AND ACCESS

Whereas, experiencing separation or divorce in the family can have a prolonged negative impact on children, which studies showing a high incidence of depression where there is disrupted or diminished parenting by one or both parents; and

Whereas, contact with abusive parents or parents with serious mental illness may not be in the best interests of the child and may indeed, put the child/children at risk, or may require supervised access; and

Whereas, abuse is not always obvious and may not be easily recognized; and

Whereas, female-led single families have a tremendously high rate and depth of poverty, compared with families where there are two parents; and

Whereas, mediation and other alternatives to court litigation have a high rate of success in helping parents to recognize their on-going roles and responsibilities for providing a nurturing environment for children; and

Whereas, the court system is often costly and may result in an escalation of hostilities between parents which in turn may increase the psychological and sometimes even physical risk to the children; and

Whereas, there is a small number of cases where mediation is neither practical nor recommended, especially where there is abuse or severe mental illness; and

Whereas, the effects of depression are lessened where children feel they have some control over their own lives, particularly with respect to custody and access decisions; and

Whereas, father’s’ rights groups are increasing their demand that access be tied to support payments, giving, as their rationale, the fact that they have been denied access; and

Whereas, hostile parents have been known to use custody and access as a pawn in the conflict with ex- spouses, to the detriment of the child/children’s well-being; and

Whereas, judges are predominantly male and often unaware of the dynamics of abuse and control, and guidelines for the training of mediators are not fully developed; and

Whereas, without counseling, the effects of separation and divorce on the mental health of children and their parents can be prolonged and adverse; and

Whereas, contact with grandparents can add an important dimension to children’s lives, but contact can also result in escalated hostilities in the family; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to ensure that legislation relating to custody and access of children in cases of separation or divorce of parents:

a. Be base on the best interests of children which, in most cases, includes regular and on-going contact with both parents; and 
b. Consider shared parenting as a serious alternative where appropriate; and
c. Develop a careful procedure for investigating the possibility of abuse and/or sever mental illness in a cases where custody and access is an issue; and 
d. Make the safety of children the priority in cases where there has been, or there is, the possibility of abuse and assume that, as a matter of course, it is not in the child’s best interests for custody to be granted to abusive parents or those who are severely mentally ill; and
e. Ensure that provisions are made for supervised access and exchange, where indicated; and
f. Continue to ensure that the payment of adequate support payments by non-custodial parents is a priority; and
g. Promote the use of mediation and other alternatives to court litigation for setting family disputes; and
h. Develop guidelines where mediation is contra-indicated; and
i. Ensure that children of 12 and over have an important voice in determining outcomes on matters of custody and access; and
j. Seek effective way of ensuring access for a non-custodial parent, where the custodial parent is in contravention of an access order; and
k. Ensure that custody and access are kept entirely separate from support payments; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to urge the Provincial and Territorial Governments to mandate:
a. That all family court judges, prior to their sitting on the bench, be given extensive training on the dynamics of family abuse, particularly abuse against women and children; and
b. That upgrading courses dealing with family dynamics be offered at regular intervals in order that judges be kept up to date with costs shared by both levels of government; and
c. That training for mediators be standardized to include training on the dynamics of family abuse, particularly abuse against women and children; and be further
RESOLVED, that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to urge the Provincial and Territorial Governments to provide resources for counseling, where appropriate and particularly in cases where there is suspicion of abuse or severe mental illness, to be offered without charge to parents on a separate basis; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to undertake a study to determine the suitable ways of facilitating contact between grandparents and their grandchildren, while protecting the well-being of the grandchildren.

01.5 PROSTITUTION AND TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN AND CHILDREN

Whereas adult (over age 18) prostitution is legal in Canada, and child prostitution is not; and

Whereas the Criminal Code of Canada makes soliciting a criminal offence; and

Whereas there has been an increase world-wide in trafficking of women and children for purposes of prostitution carried out inside nation states including Canada and across national and continental boundaries; and

Whereas this trafficking is against the law in most countries and prostitution is dealt with through criminalization of the act of prostitution as well as the act of solicitation; and

Whereas women and children (under age 18) are usually driven into prostitution as a means of livelihood by the multiple effects of violence, child sexual abuse, racism, poverty (i.e. hunger, homelessness, lack of education and employment opportunities), and/or indebtedness; and

Whereas prostitution and trafficking exist because there is a ready market for the sexual services of the women and children;

and

Whereas this trafficking is criminal with the perpetrators acting in contravention of:

  • Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); and
  • The intent of Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW – 1979); and 
  • The intent of Articles 34 and 35 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989); and 
  • The intent of the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography adopted by the UN General Assembly 25 May 2000 (A/Res/54/2263); and 
  • The intent of Articles 1 (s 1&2), and 2 (s1) of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (1949); and 
  • The intent of Articles 1,2,7,15 and 28 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and

Whereas court-ordered diversion of other transitional programs which assist women in addressing their issues are either short term or not available in many jurisdictions, with the result that many women charged with selling sexual services are processed through the justice system with insufficient attention given to their long term needs; and Whereas court ordered diversion programs for men, such as “John School” in spite of its limited eligibility (first time offenders but not with a minor, no criminal record, cost about $400.) show a low rate of recidivism, are now accessible in major cities across Canada and include education about the role these men play in victimizing women and children;

therefore be it

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada:

a. Adopt as its policy on Prostitution and Trafficking in Women and Children, the principles and purposes set out in the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW – 1979), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Convention for the Suppression on the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of Prostitution of Others (1949); and

b. Reiterate NCWC policy (1983) that prostitutes should not be criminalized for soliciting except adults soliciting from minors; and be it further

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to:

a. Repeal the pertinent section of the Criminal Code of Canada; and

b. Strengthen and enforce the provision of the Criminal Code dealing with all those persons trafficking in women and children, and also living off the avails of prostitution; and

c. Address the multiple effects of sexual abuse, violence, racism and the problems of poverty (e.g. homelessness and lack of education) that contribute to driving women and children into prostitution, with emphasis on establishing, in cooperation with the provincial governments, comprehensive child care programmes to prevent desperate young persons from seeking to support themselves through prostitution; and

d. Ensure that there is adequate funding for rehabilitation and education programmes, arranged in cooperation with the provinces, for all women and children seeking to leave prostitution with protection from their exploiters.

01.6 STRENGTHENING AND ENFORCING CANADA’S IMMIGRATION POLICIES, INCLUDING GENDER SENSITIVITY

Whereas Canada’s Immigration Policies, set in consultation with provincial and territorial governments to mesh with their employment and settlement policies, have set targets for the three main categories of immigrant (independent/business, family reunification and refugee); and

Whereas Canada needs more younger immigrant families of child-bearing age who will contribute to the economy and will ensure a better population ratio between young and old as their families grow; and

Whereas the targets, particularly for independent in business category immigrants, have generally been set with the economic needs of Canada being given priority over the needs of the aspiring immigrants. Meanwhile, there is a growing need for economic opportunities through emigration from countries which are suffering increasing economic inequities stemming from current inequitable international trade and investment policies; and  

Whereas women and girls experience particular problems when applying to Canada for refugee status because they face threats of persecution, violence or physical abuse which are more likely to occur in the private spheres of their lives rather than in the public spheres, where men’s fears of persecution are more often located; and

Whereas women and children often are the most vulnerable and are increasingly subject to being drawn into sweatshop employment or prostitution; and

Whereas gender-sensitive guidelines currently exist in Canadian Immigration Policies but lack the authority of legislation or regulation, and the application of these guidelines is not systematically monitored; and

Whereas Canada is a signatory to the 1995 UN Beijing Platform for Action for the Advancement of Women which includes references to gender-sensitive treatment of women refugees (Para. 147.f which refers to the “need for special treatment of refugee women to ensure equality, prevention of sexual violence the responsibility of the states”; and Para. 226 which states that “factors causing flight of women and men differ”); and

Whereas the 1990 UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants and the Members of Their Families: Article 64 calls for the promotion of equitable treatment of migrants and the members of their families; and

Whereas an Immigration and Refugee Protection Act introduced to Parliament in February 2001, fails to address gender equity as promised by the Minister in the initial press release; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada adopt as its policy the strengthening and enforcing of Canada’s Immigration Policies by the promotion of equal treatment of women and men as in Articles 64

and 64.2 of the 1990 UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants and Minorities; and be it further

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to further strengthen and enforce its Immigration Policy by:

a. Ensuring targets for all types of immigration are reached; and

b. Ensuring, within any target group, that the number of women and children admitted as refugees and immigrants is proportional to their number in that target group; and

c. Encouraging adequate funding of the necessary settlement services for immigrants and refugees through the provinces and territories; and

d. Raising the gender-sensitive guidelines to the status of legislation and regulation; and

e. Giving special treatment to refugee women to ensure equality, their safety and the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation in accordance with Para. 136 and 147 of the UN’s 1995 Beijing Platform for Action for Women to which Canada is a signatory; and

f. Instituting better training for refugee hearing boards including race and gender sensitivity and awareness of events in other countries around the world.

02.7PU DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – SHARED PARENTING

WHEREAS in 1998 the National Council of Women of Canada urged the Government of Canada to ensure that legislation relating to custody and access of children in cases of separation or divorce to consider shared parenting as a serious alternative where appropriate; and

WHEREAS the Special Joint Committee on Custody and Access was created in 1997 and released a report entitled For the Sake of the Children with recommendations to amend the Divorce Act; and

WHEREAS the Committee recommended that the terms “custody” and “access” no longer be used in the Divorce Act and instead, the meaning of both terms be incorporated in the new term “shared parenting”; and

WHEREAS as studies have shown, shared parenting, also referred to as joint custody, increases the opportunity for abusive spouses to harass their partners; and

WHEREAS the use of court-related procedure by abusive partners to harass their ex- spouses is already a widespread problem; and

WHEREAS when domestic violence is or has been present in the relationship, shared parenting arrangements may increase the danger to children and to the non- violent partner; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada adopt and add to the policy in 98.4EM the rejection of shared parenting in cases of domestic violence;

and be it further

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to amend to the Divorce Act and to recognize that joint custody  or shared parenting should be considered only where:

1.       both parties agree freely to such an arrangement,
2.       it is in the best interests of the children, and
3.       there is an amicable relationship between the parents
04.03 PREVENTING ABUSE OF WOMEN AND FEMALE CHILDREN IN POLYGAMOUS COMMUNITIES

Whereas

a) Polygamy is a violation of section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada;

b)  Sexual assault, having regard to section 273.1, is a violation of section 273 of the Criminal Code of Canada;

c)  Procuring or knowingly aiding in procuring a feigned marriage is a violation of section 292of the Criminal Code of Canada;

d)  Sexual exploitation of a young person by a person in a position of authority is a violation of section 153 of the Criminal code of Canada; and

Whereas one or more older males have controlling authority in polygamous communities and are using such authority to make demands on women and female children for sexual and breeding purposes”; and

Whereas reports from women who are ex-members of polygamous communities indicate the immigration and emigration of women and female children is taking place across the Canada-United states of America border under threat to their physical and spiritual harm while proper authorities fail to act; and

Whereas sections 15 and 28 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees females equal protection, and benefit “before and under the law” and that “not withstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to both male and female persons”, and

Whereas the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion as set out in section 2 (a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, often cited as a defence or reason not to intervene to help these female children, is subject to section 1 of the said Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states: “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society; and

Whereas polygamy has already been condemned as a contravention of women’s equality rights by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights under the document entitled the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), such document having been ratified by the Government of Canada on October 18, 2002: therefore be it

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada adopt as policy opposition to:

a)  polygamy in Canada:

b)  the immigration and emigration of women and female children for sexual and breeding purposes;

c)  the abuse of women and children in polygamous communities; and be it further

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to:

a)    improve policies and practises so as to prevent immigration and emigration of female children for sexual and breeding purposes under the pretext of “celestial marriages”;

b)    encourage all provinces to enforce the relevant sections of the Criminal Code of Canada so as to end polygamy in Canada and to immediately prevent the abuse of female children in what are presently polygamous communities;

c)    take all steps necessary to ensure the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) having been ratified, is complied with in Canada, and to encourage other nations to do the same;

d)    ensure the protection, rights and freedoms of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are available so as to end polygamy in Canada and to immediately prevent the abuse of women and female children in what are presently polygamous communities; and be it further

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the International Council of Women to vigilantly pursue action against the abuse of women and female children in polygamous communities world-wide; and be it further

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada urge all Local and Provincial Councils to:

a)  alert authorities (as required by law) to possible cases of abuse in their own communities; and

b)  encourage letter writing campaigns by individual citizens to all levels of government drawing attention to the plight of women and female children subjected to polygamous practises, and urge that the Criminal Code of Canada relevant to polygamy be enforced; and

c)  to offer support to other organizations dealing with this issue consistent with NCWC policy .

04.08 SUPPORTING WOMEN PRISONERS THROUGH RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

Whereas in 2000, Canada was successful in introducing a resolution at the United Nations (UN) in New York entitled “Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters”, and in 2002 achieving consensus support for a Declaration of these principles at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna; and Whereas Restorative Justice treats criminal offences as against the state (or in Canada, the Crown), to be dealt with not so much by punishment as by processes that promote healing, reparation and restoration for both the offender and the victim; and

Whereas some progress has been made since the release of the Arbour Report in 1996 – The Commission of Inquiry into certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston; and Whereas these basic principles governed the approach taken by the National Council of Women of Canada in Policy 88.17EM on Sentencing Reform; therefore be it

Resolved that the National Council of Women of Canada adopt as policy full support for the United Nations document entitled “Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters”; and be it further

Resolved that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to:

a)    reaffirm its support for the “Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters” and to provide adequate funds to implement Restorative Justice in the Federal Corrections System; and

b)    urge the Provincial and Territorial Governments to adopt support for the “Basic principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters” and to provide adequate funding for its implementation in the provincial correctional system; and be it further

Resolved that the National Council of Women of Canada request its Local and Provincial Councils of Women to urge their respective governments to adopt support for the “Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative

Justice Programmes in Criminal matters” and to provide adequate funding for its implementation.

2007:06 INDEPENDENT EXTERNAL ACCOUNTABILITY MECHANISM FOR FEDERAL WOMEN’S PRISONS

Whereas women prisoners are being subjected to sexual harassment but are unable to properly address this due to lack of an effective complaint mechanism as confirmed at an October 2003 and an October 2006 Stakeholders Meeting with Correctional Service Canada and the Canadian Human Rights Commission; and Whereas judicial oversight is more likely than administrative tribunal to provide a meaningful sanction and redress for rights violations in prison including an independent Canadian inspectorate of women’s prisons; and

Whereas in October 2006, the stakeholders’ organization, of which the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) is a member, was unanimous in the proposal that an independent external accountability mechanism for federal women’s prisons be put in place; and

Whereas the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), in reviewing Canada’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, called  upon Canada to implement the recommendations of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (2003) and, in particular, to establish external redress and adjudication processes for prisoners (UNHRC 2005); therefore be it

Resolved that the National Council of Women of Canada adopt as policy the establishment of an external, independent and autonomous mechanism of oversight for correctional institutions for federally sentenced women, with accountability to the Parliament of Canada; and be it further

Resolved that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to establish an external, independent, autonomous mechanism of oversight for correctional institutions for federally sentenced women which has a capacity to order and enforce meaningful remedies and compensation and which is accountable to the Parliament of Canada.

2007:01UP WOMEN AND HIV/AIDS

WHEREAS in 1992, the National Council of Women of Canada urged the Government of Canada to increase research into HIV/ AIDS in women, allow women access to clinical trials; and ensure that women have equal

access to treatment for HIV/AIDS; and

WHEREAS in 1999 the National Council of Women of Canada urged the Government of Canada to increase funds for HIV/AIDS programs for women; develop educational programs for the public, physicians, healthcare workers and other professionals to identify and support women with HIV/AIDS; and requested Provincial Councils of Women to develop educational programs for women, pre-teens, physicians, healthcare workers and other professionals; and support women with HIV/AIDS and those at risk of infection, which are often their children, through counseling and financial help; and

WHEREAS women continue to be under-diagnosed and anonymous testing is not

consistently offered in all provinces and territories; and

WHEREAS women continue to be unable to negotiate safer sex because of situations of domestic violence and gender inequality; and 8

WHEREAS medical care and treatment continues to be inaccessible and unaffordable for many women; and

WHEREAS many women become infected due to risky drug use practices combined with risky sexual behaviours; and

WHEREAS Aboriginal Canadian women are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada adopt as policy that the needs of women with HIV and AIDS be fully addressed; and be it further

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada reiterate to the Government of Canada the need for research, clinical trials and equal access for treatment for women with HIV/AIDS; and to provide

education programs for the public and professionals to identify and support women with HIV/AIDS; and be it further

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada urge the Government of Canada to:

a)  provide anonymous HIV testing in all areas under its jurisdiction

b)  continue promoting the equality of women so that abused women are not vulnerable to HIV infection from their partners; and

c)  provide funding for targeted programs that address drug use and its risks which acknowledge sex trade as the ripple effect of

addictions; and

d)  be more proactive in the global efforts to provide Anti-Retroviral Treatment for AIDS; and

e)  provide more effective prenatal care for aboriginal women, as they are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, so that their children are less likely to be born HIV+; and

e) strengthen the penalties for knowingly infecting a partner; and be it further

RESOLVED that the National Council of Women of Canada request Provincial Councils of Women and, where appropriate, Local Councils of Women to urge their respective Provincial Governments to:

a) provide anonymous HIV testing in all provinces; and

b) provide funding for more treatment centres and training for more HIV specialists; and

c) provide funding for needle exchange programs, detox centres and addiction centres; and

d) provide more effective prenatal care for aboriginal women, as they are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, so that their children are less likely to be born HIV+.

2008.1 Appointment of Judges to Supreme Court of Canada

2009-1 Ensuring Police Accountability Through Effective Civilian Oversight

2009-3 National Mental Health Strategy




Statement 200811 Dempsey Firm the Foundation

Message from President Karen Dempsey, Firm the Foundation

November. 2008

National Council of Women of Canada Celebrates 115 Years of Service

On October 27th 1893, at a public meeting in Toronto, over 1,500 women joined forces to form the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), knowing that by working together and speaking with a united voice, they would be much more effective. Looking back over the last 115 years, NCWC has played a pivotal role in advancing the status of women in Canada. In the 1990’ s, the Government of Canada recognized NCWC as having National Historic Significance, and in 2005 Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada formally unveiled a plaque to this effect in Allan Park in Toronto, site of that first NCWC meeting.

One hundred and fifteen years later, our mission continues to be: “ To empower all women to work together towards improving the quality of life for women, families, and society through a forum of member organizations and individuals”.

Today NCWC represents many thousands of Canadian women from extremely diverse backgrounds, through our membership which consists of 17 Local Councils, 24 Nationally Organized Societies, and 5 Provincial Councils. Some of the issues that we are currently focusing on include: advocating for a National Water Strategy and a National Energy Strategy; reform of the Employment Insurance system; and the need to maintain and strengthen one-tier universal health care.

“This is a pivotal time in history for women in our country,” said President Karen Dempsey. “There is still much more work to be done, and most importantly, we have to be vigilant to ensure that what we have accomplished is not “undone.”

To commemorate this historic occasion, we have launched the NCWC Firm the Foundation Fund. Monies raised will enable the Council to continue their efforts on behalf of women, families, and society. For information, please call 1-613-232-5025, email ncwc@magma.ca , and visit our website at www.ncwc.ca .

Karen Dempsey NCWC President November 2008

 

 




Statement 200611 Perspectives of Families and Clients

The Way We See It:

A Discussion Paper
which examines
Perspectives of Families and Clients
within the
Current Mental Health System in Manitoba

November, 2006

 

Acknowledgements

This discussion paper is respectfully submitted by the Ad-hoc Committee on Mental Health to the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba, Inc.

Co-chairs:

Beverley Goodwin spearheaded, in 1997, the formation of the study and action group known as Concerned Citizens for Mental Health. As Chairperson of this Committee she has been an outspoken advocate for the mentally ill and their families within many committees appointed by Manitoba Mental Health and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. She has presented briefs to government and organizations. Beverley was a Board Member of the Canadian Mental Health Association (Manitoba). She is currently a member of the WRHA Regional Mental Health Ethics Committee.

Dr. June Menzies is a founding member of Concerned Citizens for Mental Health. The strength of her scholarship in research and analysis has been expressed in a number of areas, recently in the mental health area. Her work has been both professional and volunteer and her policy analysis in different areas has always been innovative and practical. June is a veteran of World War II. She is a Member of the Order of Canada; recipient of the Governor General’s Person’s Case Commemorative Medal and recently received a Volunteer Recognition Award from the Council of Seniors of Manitoba.

Members of the Ad-hoc Committee:

Win Gardner is a founding member of Concerned Citizens for Mental Health. She has been a strong supporter of Mental Health Reform.

Louise Smendziuk is a founding member of Concerned Citizens for Mental Health. She is a retired nurse and activist in human rights nationally and internationally and currently a member of the Peace & Justice Committee of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus & Mary.

Mary Scott: President of the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba. Retired Board Member, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Carol Hiscock: Advocate for Mental Health Reform. Executive Director, CMHA, Manitoba Division

Johanna Jonker: Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus & Mary; Coordinator, Micah House, Catholic Centre for Social Justice.

Linda Murray: Retired Minister, The United Church of Canada; Couple & Family Therapist.

Heidi Loewen: Private Citizen; Advocate for Mental Health Reform; Retired Board Member, Canadian Mental Health Association (Winnipeg).

Deloris Ankrom: Private Citizen; Advocate for Mental Health Reform.

Annette Osted: Executive Director, College of Psychiatric Nurses in Manitoba. Linda Gervais: Advocate for Mental Health Reform. Teacher, St. Mary’s Academy.

Jane M. Smith: Advocate for Mental Health Reform; Past President, Board Member of Friends Housing Inc.; Retired Board Member, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Our appreciation and thanks to the many people who have advised, shared stories and encouraged us with this project. Your support and encouragement over the past ten years has broadened our experience and understanding of the complex issues of mental health. Introduction

This discussion paper attempts to provide the background needed to discuss the issues and assess our interpretation of the failure to progress towards mental health renewal in Manitoba in spite of the assertion by the Manitoba Government and Manitoba Health that it is at the heart of all new activity in the mental health field.

We (the Ad Hoc Committee on Mental Health, Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba) are writing about the issues from the perspective of individuals and families suffering from mental illness and dealing with the mental health system. This is a limited perspective undertaken initially with the intention of playing a positive role in mental health renewal in Manitoba. We are trying to understand why the system has so alienated the families of those suffering from mental illness and why there is toleration for so many failures to serve adequately those who suffer from mental illness.

Our objective and our perspective lead us to conclude that we are faced with a massive systems problem. It is not unique to Manitoba, nor is it unique to mental health. However, our focus is mental health and the families and individuals in that system. Our analysis makes us realize the futility of making recommendations under the current system. Under this system the government may make a policy, and may appear to reflect new techniques and new thinking, but it has no authority to make its will effective. It has given away its authority to administer and has built no accountability into that delegated authority. At the same time it has legislated so much protection for actors within the system that the system serves itself and those working within it, not the public. There is no-one to regulate the regulators. There is privacy legislation, ostensibly to protect the public but which is used to protect the regulators. No-one, including the government, is accountable and a corporate loyalty and secrecy has been allowed to flourish at the cost of the mentally ill.

We are particularly indebted to the reports of judicial inquiries into the system. It gives us our only opportunity to understand what happens within that system.

It is our responsibility to inform ourselves and others about the issues in this paper. Recommendations from this ad hoc committee to the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba for further action are on page 19.

Section One: Background

There has been a fundamental shift in the theory of treatment of the mentally ill from the 1970’s and continuing today. The shift and development are well articulated by the Provincial Inquiries into the deaths of Sharon Joyce Horn (Provincial Court Judge John H. Combs, June 8, 2006); and Ms Anna Maciocha (Provincial Court Judge A. Catherine Everett , March 6, 2006). Prior to the 1970’s people who suffered from mental illness, particularly serious mental illness, were traditionally ostracized from society and institutionalized. In such mental hospital settings the patients were expected to line up for all activities. They would be awakened at the same time, line up for the bathroom and be handed their clothes for the day. They would line up for meals, all at the same time, and line up for medications. The wards were always locked. The mentally ill, even those living in the community, would be marginalized and stigmatized. This narrow approach to the treatment of the mentally ill has since been labeled the “treatment model”.

In the late 1970’s it began to be recognized that mental health patients could manage in the community and efforts were made to close the mental hospitals and treat people suffering from mental illness as much as possible in the community. Manitoba was one province among others that began studying and acting on moving patients into the community with the intention of developing services available to them in their own communities. Both the conservative and NDP governments accepted the philosophy and worked towards these goals. It is against this background that the Manitoba Government and its health ministry, now called Manitoba Health, developed the vision and policies, with special emphasis on re-training and re-integrating persons suffering from mental illness into the community, with hospital services available on a temporary basis to deal with crisis situations. From the beginning of the change in approach, family and client participation, family consultation, family caring and family feedback, were considered to be an essential element of its success. This policy is called the “recovery model” and is, according to the Manitoba Government, the approach which lies behind all new initiatives in mental health in the province.

It must be re-emphasized that a central theme throughout ministry statements is the involvement of the family and informed participation of the patient/client.

This study looks at the actual experience of users and family members within the system through the inquiries carried out by a Provincial Court Judge under the

Provincial Medical Examiners Act. The two inquiries cited above are examined from the perspective of the family and client. We also refer to an inquiry which reported ten years earlier on March 28, 1996 under The Fatality Inquiries Act. This inquiry, conducted by the Hon. Judge Howard Collerman, discusses the developing role of the judicial inquiries themselves as well as the evolving research, practices and controversies within psychiatry.

Challenged concerning his role during the judicial inquiry into the death of Sharon Dawn Kelly, in his report issued in March, 1996, Hon. Judge Howard Collerman stated:

A separate and wider function is becoming increasingly significant; the vindication of the public interest in the prevention of death by the public exposure of conditions that have threatened life. This separate role of the (public inquiries) in recommending systemic changes to prevent death is becoming more and more important. The social and preventive function of the inquest which focuses on the public interest has become, in some cases, just as important as the distinctly separate function of investigating individual facts of individual deaths.

Similarly, when he was challenged ten years later as to his jurisdiction, Judge John H. Combs, reflecting the change stated by Judge Collerman in 1996, in his inquiry report dated June 13, 2006 into the death of Sharon Joyce Horn emphasized that:

the scheme of the Fatal Inquiries Act is to establish an inquiry for the purpose of improving the practices and procedure of government or public agencies and institutions without attributing blame. The inquiry is not focused on culpability but on facilitating change. For this reason the Inquiry Judge should be free to make recommendations even if the circumstances surrounding the death cannot be determined on a balance of probabilities.

We are indebted to these inquest reports, as well as other inquest reports, for throwing some light into a closed, silent, world.

Section 2: Two Lives Two Inquests

Sharon Joyce Horn

Sharons Story:

Sharon Joyce Horn was born on Sept 12, 1946, the fourth of five children. Her frozen body was discovered in Brandon on January 3rd, 2004. Ten months later (October 6, 2004) the Provincial Chief Medical Examiner, called an inquest into her death. The Inquest was requested by her family, in particular Mabel Woolridge and MLA Leanne Rowat. It was conducted by Provincial Court Judge John H. Combs, and the report was released June 13, 2006.

Sharon was a patient in the mental health system in Brandon from the time she was 19 until her death at age 58. She had been diagnosed as having schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and low intelligence. She would never be declared mentally incompetent under The Mental Health Act and so her support came from social security, not mental health. Since her illness could be managed in the community, she lived in residential care homes in Brandon from 1970 until three months before her death. She lived in the same home from 1970 to 1996. The Inquest heard that when she moved into the second home 26 years later she had no personal skills. She ate primarily with her fingers and did not know how to effectively use a knife and fork. She was afraid of taking a bath and had been used to sponge bathing. The care provider within the home supervised her medications which she was taking for depression, anxiety and some physical problems. At her new home, where the care provider was a former nurse, she was encouraged to take baths, was taught to clean her room, to use cutlery, to dress herself appropriately and suitably for the weather. She learned to take the bus or walk on her own to appointments or other activity. The “other activity” appears to be participating in programming arranged by the Community Mental Health Worker where her level of interaction with others was improving.

The help she received in that new placement appears to have been taken at the initiative of the individual providing the residential care. It did not appear to be the result of instructions to residential care providers from the Brandon Community Mental Health authorities in response to the mental health renewal approach adopted by the Brandon Regional Health Authority. It was the intention of the Community Mental Health authority to close their private home accommodation in the near future and such homes were being phased out of the system.

Two years later, the home provider was unable to continue due to ill health and Sharon was moved to her third residential care placement. The same support was provided to her in her third residential care placement. Describing Sharon Horn’s daily activities the Inquiry was told she would make her way on a daily basis to the Welcome Inn, a gathering place for people within the Mental Health System in Brandon where she would play games, read and have coffee or tea. She would attend evening events including a weekly visit to a local United Church where she would participate in some meal preparation such as peeling potatoes. At this time a proctor was assigned to assist her with her integration into the community. They would sometimes go to movies or for walks in the Mall.

The major anxiety Sharon Joyce Horn suffered in these years occurred when she was being moved from one residence to another. Although she was doing well in her recent placement, three months prior to her death, without warning, discussion, or explanation, she was removed from her home by a decision of staff of Community Mental Health. The decision was made by the Program Manager for Adult Community Mental Health (supervisor of mental health workers); another program manager in charge of residential services; and the person in charge of residential care licensing. Sharon Horn was met on her way home and told she could not go back to her home. The decision to remove her from this home was made because of an incident with another mental health resident in the home, although Sharon was happy and receiving good care and there was not another residence available.

Object of Inquest

The object of the Inquest (s.125 of Inquest) was ‘to establish an enquiry for the purpose of improving the practices and procedures of government or public agencies and institutions without attributing blame.”

Inquest Report Findings

Even after her death the committee said they believed they made the right decision. However, from this point on, the Inquest Report finds (p. 68 & 69) that:

.. it is evident that Sharon Horn did not receive the level of service that she was entitled to from her care providers. Decisions were made regarding her care without the resources to support those decisions or, alternatively, with resources being available and not being fully utilized. …. The fact that nobody from Community Mental Health had any contact with Ms. Horn for a period of about ten days prior to her death at such a high risk time period was unfortunate and not appropriate. This gap in service was due to problems with communication between care providers and lack of a specific service plan during this risky transition period.

Myrtle Woolridge, her sister, reported a phone call from Sharon expressing her hope that God would see her through this frightening period.

In the discussion following, we note, as did the Inquiry, that the Brandon Regional Health Authority had been an early supporter of the concept of Mental Health Renewal and is held up as an example for Canadians by Senator Kirby of what can be accomplished in the field of Mental Health Renewal. But even here there are serious problems, perpetuated, we believe, by the culture of secrecy and non-accountability inherent in the system. The points listed are principles and policies (presumably being followed) from formal documents of Manitoba Health which we discuss in part 3 of this paper.

1. Inclusion of the Family as an integral port of the system.

There is no evidence of the involvement of Sharon Horn’s family with the mental health system other than her initial admissions to it in 1964 and in 1970. There was some connection between Sharon Horn and her family but none with the family and the Brandon Mental Health System. At the time Sharon Horn became a user of the system in 1970 this was not unusual. But when Brandon adopted the new mental health renewal policy in the 1980’s, still no initiative was taken to involve the family.

2. Inclusion of the client in decision making and working towards greater independence.

Contrary to the stated vision and policy, executive decisions were made without either consultation or explanation. No attempt was made to involve Sharon Horn in decisions regarding her residence or personal development from the time she entered the system in 1970 until September 2003, when without consultation with her or her mental health worker, and without any preparation or explanation, she was abruptly torn by executive decision from the life she had been living for thirty three years.

3. Working with the client to develop the capacity of the individual to lead a fuller life for reintegration into the broader community.

Sharon Horn had lived all her adult life as a client of the mental health system in a residential care home where the licensed care worker provided the necessities of life but was not expected to become a part of the new mental health renewal system. It was the intention of the system to discontinue that type of service and at no time was the residential home care worker instructed to teach the client in her care. Her only support for life in the community appears to have come from the community mental health worker whose responsibility was to introduce her to the mall and to drop-in services which were available in the community.

4. Provision of resources within the community to permit clients in the mental health system to live in different types of housing as their capacities improved.

There was no place to which Sharon Horn could move. As mentioned above the residential care homes were being phased out of the system and Sharon did not qualify for, or was not ready for, other types of accommodation available.

5. Cooperation between government departments and agencies.

As a stop gap measure, Sharon Horn was sent to the only facility in Brandon for training and assessing skill development to move into independent living. She was removed when another government department refused to fund the service. She was caught between competing agencies.

6. Understanding by workers within the system of their own responsibilities

Sharon Horn’s mental health worker was only recently employed, had not previously held a position in mental health and was not aware of his responsibilities. He was not part of the decision making, did not know that he would be responsible for finding accommodation, or that Sharon was not eligible for certain services to assess her capability because she was receiving social assistance.

7. Sharing knowledge about a client within the system.

Fear of divulging information prevented sharing of even the most rudimentary and necessary information with care workers within the system.

Anna Maciocha Annas Story

The second inquest we examined was that of Ms Anna Maciocha who committed suicide on April 5, 2004, while a patient at the PsychHealth Unit, Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. Anna was in the system as an involuntary patient from February 9, 2004. She was brought in and admitted by her alarmed family. She committed suicide 57 days later – still an involuntary patient.

Six months after Ms Maciocha’s suicide, the Chief Medical Examiner of the Province of Manitoba called for an inquest to be held, pursuant to section 19(2) of the Fatality Inquiries Act. The Inquest sat from October 6, 2005 to December 15, 2005. In the acknowledgments in that report, A. Catherine Everett, notes the Court was assisted by a committee of representatives from the Health Sciences Centre “who took the time to meet and suggest recommendations to address the concerns raised by the evidence.”

However, the report also states: “that because of time limitations on the committee their recommendations were not subjected to the same level of review and scrutiny that would usually take place through the hospital organization and that further review of these recommendations would be necessary” upon the receipt of this report. (We take that to mean that the hospital organization may reject any of the recommendations made by the Inquiry report).

Anna’s story, after she was brought into the mental health system by her family on February 9, 2004, during a psychotic episode is short, and is best understood from excerpts of the evidence taken from the report of the Inquest.

The following paragraphs numbered (13) to (20) are directly from the Inquest Report in a section called Communication with the family. They are subdivided into Evidence, and Issues.

Evidence:

(13)       It was clear from the testimony of Ms Wisniewski that the family felt “out of the loop” when it came to Ms Maciochas care. The family often felt they were imposing on medical staff when they made inquiries about Ms Maciocha and felt powerless to press their concerns and questions. The family feared that attempts on their part to pursue information about Ms Maciocha from nursing staff might impact negatively on Ms Maciochas care.

(14)       When the family met in person with Dr. Eunice Gill, Ms Maciocha was present and in a manic state so the conversation was very interrupted. The family had no communication at all with Dr. Kenneth Zimmer, Ms Maciochas attending physician when Dr. Gill was away on holidays. The family was not advised beforehand when Ms Maciocha was about to receive weekend passes and did not receive any instructions about appropriate care of Ms Maciocha when she was out on escorted passes. For example, they were not advised about Ms Maciochas medication needs and received no instruction about what to do if Ms Maciochas condition worsened while out on a pass. The court was advised that there is no policy in place for providing families of patients with information regarding passes or for receipt of information from the family upon the patients return.

(15)       On this point, the night before Ms Maciochas death, her sister, Ms Wisniewski, brought her back early from a weekend pass as she was concerned about Ms Maciochas deteriorating condition. She urged staff to revoke Ms Maciochas passes, as she feared for Ms Maciochas safety and that she would harm herself. This critical feed back from the family resulted in no formal action by primary staff. Her primary nurse took no action to revoke Ms Maciochas passes that night. This failure to revoke Ms Maciochas passes will remain an issue that will be discussed at greater length throughout this report.

Issues:

(16)       It remains unclear from the evidence how a family is best able to

exchange information with the medical team. Some very general informational

materials are available on the ward for families, although the Maciocha family was never given these materials.

(17)       In many cases, the family is a valuable source of information about the patients condition, especially if, as in this case, the patient was an involuntary patient. The familys input into Ms Maciochas case was critical for obvious reasons. Consent for her treatment was provided by Ms. Wisniewski. Despite the obvious need for communication with the family in a situation like this, the health care professionals who testified appeared unsure how much information about the patient could be shared with family members.

(18)       In Ms Maciochas case, her attending physician went on holidays and her primary nurse changed often. It appears that the Maciocha family was not made aware of these staff changes so they were often unaware of who best to speak to about Ms Maciochas progress.

(19)       Dr. Zimmer was unsure in his testimony as to whether he could even tell Ms Maciochas family that he was Ms Maciochas attending psychiatrist while Dr. Gill was away on holidays. Failure to share such fundamental information results in an untenable situation. Given that Ms Maciocha was an involuntary patient the entire time that she was in the hospital, it is unclear why the medical professionals involved in her care would feel unable to discuss Ms Maciochas treatment with her sister who was, in fact, the relative providing consent for Ms Maciochas treatment.

(20) The last, and perhaps most distressing, example of failure to ensure appropriate communications with the family occurs at the time of Ms Maciochas death. Despite existing hospital policy requiring the attending physician or resident to notify the next of kin of a patients death (Exhibit 2, C11), no physician initiated contact with Ms Wesniewski to inform her of her sisters suicide. Instead, the police were apparently dispatched to Ms Maciochas fathers residence. Even after Ms Wesniewski phoned the ward and learned unexpectedly of her sisters suicide, it appears no one from the medical team attempted to call her back to see if she required assistance when she became overwhelmed and had to hang up.

Studying this part of the evidence from the Report of the Inquiry we can only conclude that at no point was the service provided by the PsychWard at the Health Sciences Centre to Ms Anna Maciocha or to her family adequate. By choosing to ignore the family, they ignored the danger signals that could have prevented the death of Ms Maciocha. The approach can be described as nothing other than irresponsible, the treatment provided, careless, the level of knowledge of policy and protocol, inadequate, understanding by individuals of their own job descriptions (requirements) inadequate, communications between staff negligible.

This case appears to be judicial confirmation of personal life experiences told to us by many other families and users caught powerless and silenced within the mental health system of Manitoba.

Access to Physicians and Patient Requests for Treatment

Since our focus is on family involvement and client participation, both central to the new mental health recovery approach adopted by Manitoba Health, and not with recommendations made by the Inquiry, we move next to the section in the Inquiry Report entitled: Access to Physicians and Patient Requests for Treatment. The numbered paragraphs following are taken directly from the report.

(60) Ms Maciocha was in the hospital 57 days from February 9 until the day of her death, April 5. Dr. Gill was Ms Maciochas attending psychiatrist. Between February 9 and March 26, she met Ms Maciocha eight times. Dr. Gill was on holidays from March 26 to April 5. During this time Ms Maciocha was under Dr.Zimmers care. Ms Maciocha never saw Dr. Zimmer throughout the period while he was responsible for her care despite the fact that Ms Maciocha asked to see Dr. Zimmer and that the request was apparently brought to Dr. Zimmers attention. From reading the chart it is clear that Ms Maciocha was deteriorating during the time period when she requested to see Dr. Zimmer. It remains unclear to the Court why Dr. Zimmer did not evaluate Ms Maciocha even though she requested it, was decompensating and, further, had not been seen by an attending psychiatrist for days.

(61)     In fairness, it should be noted that Ms Maciocha was seen frequently by a resident or medical student. In the last week of her life, the medical student was the only medical staff, other than the nurses who was seeing Ms Maciocha regularly. This student (a second year med student) had not even been on the ward a week and had received no specific suicide risk training. Ms Maciocha also requested the staff to contact her former psychiatrist who had some familiarity with her condition, to consult about her case. She advised that she had spoken to this psychiatrist and he was expecting their call. No one ever called him.

(62)     Lastly, Ms Maciocha was aware that Wellbutrin had helped with her depressive episodes in the past and she made more than one request to be put back on this drug. Despite the fact that she was becoming more and more depressed as the days wore on, no one prescribed this antidepressant for her. Although the Court heard evidence that an antidepressant would have to be monitored carefully to ensure that the drug did not trigger a manic episode, given that Ms Maciocha was hospitalized, clearly she could have been monitored. This potential side effect should therefore not have been a bar to receiving the drug. The resident at one point did suggest another drug to Ms Maciocha for her to consider….. Yet still, all of the medical staff who heard Ms Maciochas  requests and knew that she wanted to start antidepressants simply deferred the medication decision until Dr. Gills return. The delay was unfortunate, given Ms Maciochas extreme depression and need for treatment.

Other issues dealt with in the report are Granting or Revoking Passes; The Pass Book; Suicide Assessment Process and Training; Charting; Resources; and Critical Occurrence Procedures but again, although we recognize all the issues are inter­related, we are concentrating on events that impact directly on the family or the user. The issue of passes is crucial because of its look into the system, the client, and family participation.

The evidence received from Dr. Yaren and Dr. Gill was that passes are critical in helping restore patients to full autonomy and that to grant or revoke a pass is a matter of clinical judgment for health care professionals. The exercise involves a risk-benefit analysis by the treating psychiatrist and the rest of the medical team. The role of the passes is to help both the medical team and the family assess the realistic progress of the individual and how the patient is responding to treatment. However, the whole process broke down in the case of Ms Maciocha. Not all staff were aware of the theory, the sign in and sign out were not enforced, there was no assessment done either before or after use of the pass, alarms from the family to rescind passes because of the seriously deteriorating condition of their sister were not heeded, and there was conflicting evidence from staff concerning events and knowledge of either protocol or policy.

It is not necessary to list, as we did in the first case of infringements of the vision and policy of mental health renewal claimed to be directions to RHA=s in Manitoba, since none of the policies seem to have been understood, and certainly none were in evidence. The disturbing question from this inquiry is AWhy?@ And why are the experiences of the patient and her family so clearly parallel with those of others caught within the system of Manitoba Mental Health. For that we turn to the section, AThe Never, Never Land of Mental Health Reform@ after looking at the growth and development within the Manitoba Government, of mental health renewal.1

1 ( While we have called our discussion AThe Never Never Land of Mental Health Reform@ , it is revealing to see the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority presenting an all day program entitled AFamily Involvement in Mental Health…The Impossible Dream?@ On November 23, 2006. )

Section Three: Evolution of the Theory, Vision and Policy of Mental Health Renewal

The fundamental shift in the treatment of the mentally ill from the late 1970’s has been discussed briefly above (pages 4-5)

In May 2005 a policy paper issued by Manitoba Health entitled Family Member and Natural Support Participation in Mental Health Service Planning, Implementation and Evaluation, applicable to all Manitoba Regional Health Authorities and Selkirk Mental Health Centre, was approved (Review Date May 2007). It states this policy built on work that was done during the process of reform of mental health services in Manitoba beginning in 1988 and keynotes significant developments as follows:

            1988: process began and according to the background to this policy paper this

period marked the beginning of significant implementation of the proposed elements of family member participation and collaboration between Manitoba Health, self-help groups, Regional Mental Health Councils, the Advisory Committee on Mental Health Reform, service providers and recipients of mental health services and their families.

            1990: document Vision for the Future: Guiding Principles and Policies for

Mental Health Service Providers. This included the fundamental principle that mental health services shall augment and reinforce helping networks in the community such as family, friends, clergy and self-help groups as well as other government departments and agencies=.

            1992: document Building the Future of Mental Health Services in Manitoba

emphasized the principle that local citizens, consumers and communities shall participate in the planning, development and delivery of mental health services to community members.”

            2002: In February 2002 Manitoba Health issued a Vision Statement for Mental

Health Renewal which outlined the values and beliefs of the mental health system and the direction in which the system is moving and stipulated that Mental Health Renewal activities will be aligned with this vision statement.

Note: the statement was made by Manitoba Health in consultation with consumers of mental health services, family members and friends of consumers and service

providers. There is no mention of participation by the psychiatrists an omission that seems to be critical.

2005: Policy Title: Family Member and Natural Support Participation in Mental Health and Service Planning, Implementation and Evaluation. Policy is applicable to Regional Health Authorities and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. Date approved May 2005; date of review May 2007. The purpose of the policy is to provide direction to Regional Health Authorities (RHA’s) and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre in the development of their plans for meaningful family members and natural support participation that will:

(a)        Offer support to family members and other natural supports;

(b)        Enhance opportunities to work towards authentic working relationships between consumers, family members, other natural supports, service providers, mental health managers, system planners and policy makers; and

(c)         Improve the quality of services and consumer satisfaction through effective mental health services and consumer satisfaction through mental health service planning, implementation and evaluation.

Further, plans developed by the health authorities for the enhanced participation of families and natural supports will be based on the core values of

(a)        respect;

(b)        collaboration and participation; and

(c)         shared responsibilities.

In addition resources are to be made available to both for an effective strategy for family/natural support and for client participation, as well as a communications plan to make sure all are aware of the services available to them.

Section Four: The Never Never Land of Mental Health Renewal

Our observation, as we try to understand why Mental Health Renewal appears to have been doomed, is that it is not possible to achieve a workable policy if the wrong people are around the table. Without the cooperation of all players, it is not going to happen.

We look now at two Statutes assented to during the very time mental health renewal was being espoused by Manitoba Health.

(1) The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) became law on December 11, 1997 with a review to take place in December 2004. The review discussion paper issued by the Minister of Health in January 2004 for the information of the public states that:

The PHIA protects Manitobansrights to access their own personal health information and to have that information protected from inappropriate collection, use, disclosure, retention and destruction.

A brief summary for Health Professionals explains the penalty for its violation is a fine of up to $50,000, which can be imposed each day that a violation continues. There are strict limits as to who, within the system is entitled to receive information gathered under the Act.

The Act provides for an Ombudsman whose role is to supervise compliance with the Act generally and to deal with complaints about specific violations of the Act. However it stipulates that Trustees have no general duty to assist the Ombudsman but that they must comply with orders or requests from the Ombudsman.

(2) The Mental Health Act was assented to June 29, 1998. It was proclaimed in force October 29, 1999. Section 118 of this act is called Protection from Liability and reads:

No action for damages or other proceeding lies or may be brought personally against the director, a medical director, a psychiatrist, a physician, a member of the Review Board established or designated for Manitoba under Part XX.1 of the Criminal Code(Canada), or any other person acting under the authority of, or engaged in the administration of this Act or the regulations for anything done or omitted in good faith in the performance or exercise, of any duty or power under this Act or the regulations, or for any neglect or default in the performance or exercise, or intended performance or exercise in good faith of such a duty or power.

The two Acts, PHIA and the Mental Health Act have the effect of silencing the system and creating barriers even between paid workers within the system. Any one in authority within the system or anyone under the purview of that authority is absolved from any responsibility in law*. There appears to be no accountability in the system for misjudgment, for neglect, even abuse. In short, these laws are incompatible with the attempt to introduce the new policy of Mental Health Renewal. Mental Health Renewal is a Vision and an Approach–it is not law. Even the self-help agencies, because of the source of some of their funding, and because of their relationship (for example paid services for clients of the mental health system) with their particular Health Authority, are constrained in their response. It forms part of employee dependency within a closely controlled corporate system.

*It is true that a person or a treatment team ought not to be penalized if they make an honest mistake and the liability section recognizes that. However, the system most often closes rank to protect itself. This makes it almost impossible to get to the truth of the matter. It has also led to more acts,

[see for e.g. Public Interest Disclosure (Whistle Blower Protection) Act] recently introduced to protect whistle blowers to help create some protection and openness in the system. It is also true, however, that within the system the acts are interpreted as being more restrictive than necessary – both by government officials and by authorities and workers within the health system.

Central to the whole system is the separation of the Health Ministry from the Administration of the health services in Manitoba. The government and the citizen have lost control. The Government is no longer politically responsible or accountable for the administration of the system. The Regional Health Authorities and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre are not held responsible for impeding policy initiatives advocated by the Manitoba Health Ministry to renew the Manitoba mental health system. Judging from events related in this document, the Regional Health Authorities are not accountable for hospital administrations presumably under their aegis.

Central also is the exemption from public scrutiny of the legal and medical associations who have been given power of regulation, control and oversight of their professions. No one, it appears, regulates the regulators. One serious outcome of this is that it impedes public debate, and even the informed public’s right to know. Neither legal nor medical professions appear to have provided input into the legislative review and amendments to The Mental Health Act in 1997. We have not heard either the College of Physicians and Surgeons or psychiatrists within the mental health system express opposition to family and patient involvement espoused by Manitoba Health. They obviously have objections considering the lack of progress in this area. Yet they do not speak publicly. They continue to dominate the direction of the public system without accountability.

We are faced with a dilemma that is a part of government and public life today. That is the corporatization of government services through regulation and delegation of authority without adequate monitoring or accountability. Our task is to attempt to make changes in one area only – bringing about change that will make effective practice of the vision of mental health renewal in Manitoba regarding family/client awareness, respect, collaboration, participation, shared responsibilities and open communication.

Section Five: Recommendations to the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba

1. THAT the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba and its many federates, talk with others about their experiences within the mental health system, and collect the stories, so all will hear.

It is only through our mass public involvement in the process that we can hope for dialogue that will include all parts of the system – policy makers, regulators, monitoring bodies, the public. Open dialogue is the first step to mental health renewal as action, not only vision.

2. THAT the members and federates concentrate on this project during the period January 2007 to March 2007.

This time-frame would allow us to be well prepared to appear at the legislative review of the Policy of Mental Health Renewal at the target date of May 2007.

3. THAT the Provincial Council receive stories of experiences from individuals and organizations who may not be associated with a group but who may wish to participate. The responses could be received by mail, fax or e-mail. The stories may include recommendations, but is the story itself that will have the most impact: good and bad.

4. THAT the Provincial Council of Women in Manitoba recommend an expanded use of inquiries since the judicial inquiries under The Fatality Inquiries Act, seem to provide the only source of untainted information to citizens. Their objective, as is ours, is not to blame, but to improve the system.

Address:

Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba, Inc. 630 Westminster Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 3S1

FAX: (204) 783-3882

E-mail: pcwm-mentalhealth@mts.net

Available from the PCWM web site: http://www.mts.net/~pcwm

Bibliography

The Manitoba Courts Web Site includes an index and texts of recent Inquest Reports issued by the Provincial Court of Manitoba pursuant to the provisions of The Fatality Inquiries Act of Manitoba. To obtain a print copy of an Inquest Report on the list or of an older Inquest Report, contact the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manitoba at 945-2088 or 1-800-282-8069.

The web site is:http://www.manitobacourts.mb.ca/inquestreports.html

Library Resources and Services: The Legislative Library (200 Vaughn Street, Winnipeg MB R3C 1T5) Phone 945-4330 or 1-800-282-8069; Fax 948-1312; e-mail LegislativeLibrary@gov.mb.ca; Webhttp://gov.mb.ca/chc/leg-lib

Legislative Reading Room (260 Legislative Building, 450 Broadway, Winnipeg MB.) The Legislative Reading Room provides legislative reference services for individuals outside the Legislature.

 

December 11th, 2006




Presentation 20110604 Peters Popular Culture Mental Health

Popular Culture’s Influence on the

Mental Health and Body Image of Girls and Women

The following is a summary of the panel presentation given by Lori Peters
at the NCWC on June 4, 2011

Every day we are inundated with information that has the potential to influence our thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. Within minutes we have the ability to access the latest breaking news, most popular music video, or fashion trends.

The average young person spends a total of 6 1/2 hours each day with the mass media (APA, 2010) and is exposed to about 3000 advertisements (AAP, 2006). Some of these are sought out; while many others are unwanted but strategically placed into our visual path as we walk to work, wait for the bus or in line at the grocery store.

Almost every aspect of popular western culture is about marketing, and the beauty ideal being sold to girls and women everywhere is that to be beautiful you must be thin, sexy, young, and light skinned. The promise sold along with this ideal is that once it’s achieved you are guaranteed happiness. What the mass media fails to warn us of is the collateral damage that occurs in the pursuit of this unrealistic and unobtainable ideal.

The majority of the images bombarding us portray women as unnaturally thin, flawless, and in positions of vulnerability. Women’s bodies are often dismembered, objectified and sexualized. Women typically serve as decorative sexual objects in advertisements, music videos, and even sports. Popular culture has also sexualized girls and women by dressing girls to look like adult women and adult women to look like young girls (APA, 2010).

Seeing women portrayed in these ways leads to the internalization of limiting and damaging standards, with girls and women believing that appearance and sexualized behaviour are their most valued attributes (APA, 2010).

Eighty to ninety percent of girls and women are dissatisfied with their body. Research has found that exposure to mass media images depicting the “thin ideal” is associated with greater body related concerns and anxiety (APA, 2010). This is not surprising when the majority of images we see are so photo-shopped and digitally enhanced that they no longer accurately reflect the model being used in the image.

Sexualization and objectification undermine confidence and comfort with one’s own body, and lead to shame, anxiety, and self-disgust (APA, 2010). Studies have found that only three minutes of viewing fashion magazines left 70% of women feeling depressed, guilty and ashamed (APA, 2010) while 10 minutes of watching a music video portraying ultra thin models left adolescent girls feeling dissatisfied with their bodies (Bell, Lawton & Dittman, 2007). The women in these images have become increasingly thinner with girls getting the message to take us less space in the world as they strive to become a size 0.

A recent study out of the Centre for Appearance Research in the UK found that 95% of the women surveyed had negative thoughts about their weight during the past week, often several times a day. Thirty percent of the women surveyed said they would trade at least one year of their life to achieve their ideal body weight and shape. As well, 26% said they would sacrifice either a promotion, salary, spending time with their partner, friends, family, or their health in order to achieve their ideal weight and shape (Diedrichs, 2011).

In 2007, the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls compiled a report that linked sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems found among girls and women. These include eating disorders, depression, and low self-esteem.

The APA reported that frequent media exposure to cultural beauty ideals is associated with higher rates of eating disorders (APA, 2010). A study of 12,000 children ages 9-14 found that media involvement actually preceded the onset of weight concerns and increased girls’ efforts to look like their media ideals (Tiggemann, 2004).

Particularly strong evidence for the media’s role in shaping girl’s body image can be seen in Ann Becker’s research on how television affected the cultural norms in Fiji. In 1995, without television, girls in Fiji appeared to be free of the body image concerns that were common in the West. Food was enjoyed and girls aspired to the traditionally robust body shape that was normative for their culture. By 1998, after just a few years of viewing television shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, girls living in Fiji began to internalize the body ideals of the West, describing their bodies as “too big and too fat”. Dieting and eating disordered behaviours followed (Becker, 2002).

The APA (2010) also reported the causal connection between exposure to ads featuring idealized women and the significant rise in depression scores. In addition, they found girls who had a more objectified relationship with their body were more likely to experience depression and lowered self-esteem.

Popular culture’s obsession with thinness has also led to weight bias involving stigma and discrimination of people of size. Rarely do we see fat people depicted favorably in the mass media and children as young as five have learned to fear and dislike fat. Numerous studies document harmful weight based stereotypes of fat people as lazy, weak willed, unsuccessful, unintelligent, and lacking self-discipline. Images of fat people in the media are frequently objectified and dismembered. These harmful stereotypes lead to stigma and discrimination in many areas of life and affect people’s employment, income level, relationships, and access to medical care. Weight based stigma remains a socially acceptable form of prejudice and is often justified for two reasons. Firstly, people believe that everyone should be able to control their weight through diet and exercise and secondly, people believe that stigma and shame are useful ways to motivate people to adopt healthier lifestyle behaviors (Puhl & Heuer, 2010).

Popular culture encourages the assumption that body shape and size determines health when in fact the determinants of health are multi-factorial and complex with weight only accounting for 9% (Bugard, 2009). Weight, like height is a human trait that varies across any population in a bell curve. An individual’s weight is determined largely by genetic predisposition and only marginally by environmental factors like eating and physical activity. Height and weight also vary between populations due to changes in economic development, access to food, and advances in medicine and immunization (Wann, 2009).

Research demonstrates the harm caused by weight based stigma, putting people at greater risk for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction. Studies also indicate that children who experience weight based teasing are more likely to have psychological distress, engage in binge-eating, and unhealthy weight control behaviours like bulimia. Weight based stigma is also linked to children feeling more negative about sports and being less involved in physical activities. Findings are similar in adult populations (Puhl & Heuer, 2010; Wann, 2009).

Popular culture encourages and supports the pursuit of weight loss often prescribing the same practices for heavier people that are diagnosed as eating disordered in thin people. This pursuit of thinness supports a 55+ billion dollar dieting industry which in reality is not effective and harmful to the physical and mental health of many. In short, continuing the “war against obesity” encourages the damaging cycle of body loathing which just keeps people at war with themselves (Wann, 2009).

Creating Positive Change So what can we do?

We need to increase awareness and take action. Our efforts to create change will not only help girls and women living here but also those living in countries where we have exported our harmful cultural ideals.

We need to equip children and adolescents with media literacy skills. Young people benefit from learning to be critical thinkers and how to deconstruct the images and messages being presented to them. This needs to begin in childhood, before beauty ideals are internalized. Girls who participate in media literacy programs have less internalization of the thin ideal and increased skepticism about the realism of images (APA, 2010).

Social activism is required to directly change our socio-cultural environment. Fashion and Advertising industries have long alleged that models who reflect the general population are not used because “thinness sells” and there is no consumer demand for larger models. However, Dove’s 2004 Global Report on “The Real Truth about Beauty” interviewed 32,000 women from ten countries and found that the majority (75%) of women wished that the female beauty ideal did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness, age, shape and size. In response, Dove started to include “real women” in their advertising campaigns.

Research has found that advertisements using average weight models were equally effective as ads using thin models, therefore challenging the belief that “only skinny sells” (Halliwell & Dittmar, 2004). A second study released this year had similar findings, but also reported that women who internalized culture’s beauty standards actually felt better about their bodies when they viewed advertisements containing “average sized models”. This suggests that advertising can be both socially responsible and still make a profit (Diedrichs & Lee, 2011).

Social activism helps girls and women identify and strengthen the characteristics necessary to resist personal objectification and sexualization. It also provides a forum to use our voices and purchasing power to influence the media’s portrayal of girls and women (APA, 2010).

About-face is a media activism website you can become involved in. About-face encourages people to become involved in letter writing, petition, and boycott campaigns to actively challenge the negative and harmful portrayal of girls and women in the media. Many of these campaigns have had advertisements successfully removed from billboards and print. About-face also has creative ideas for how to get girls active in your own community. Examples include creating love your body scales and sticking body affirming messages onto mirrors in fitting rooms.

About-face also promotes and celebrates advertisements that show diverse images of girls and women portrayed in positive, confident, active, and natural ways. Girls and women’s self-esteem and well being are enhanced when they see images that reflect their own ethnicity, race, ability, and body shape and size. We can all contribute to this by posting diverse images in our schools, workplaces, and homes.

The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) in Toronto also encourages people to actively seek social change. Their campaign used the tagline “Cast responsibly. Retouch minimally” and featured a tiny T-shirt which was sent to fashion editors and press with instructions to “Please try this on to experience how your ads make us feel.” NEDIC’s online petition to fashion leaders and marketers is still available for you to sign. Also part of the campaign was a series of interactive transit posters located in the fashion district that asked women to shed their weight problems by trashing their fashion magazines.

Changes to legislation are another avenue for change. Governments in Australia, France, and the UK have emphasized the need for changes to current media imagery, including greater regulation, reduction or notification when airbrushing is used and an increase in models body shape and size to promote more diversity. This suggests promise that it is not just about the individual needing to learn how to resist these influences but that larger social structures have to ensure that the media, fashion and advertising industries have a responsibility to promote positive body image.

We must also work collectively to end weight stigma. This will indeed promote a healthier environment for all. Adopting a Health at Every Size Approach to health promotion for everyone regardless of body shape and size has been shown to have positive health outcomes (Association for Size Diversity and Health).

Health at Every Size promotes:

1.    Health enhancement through paying attention to the emotional, physical, and spiritual well being without focusing on weight loss or achieving a specific “ideal weight”.

2.    Size and self-acceptance – This refers to respecting and appreciating the wonderful and natural diversity of body shapes and sizes, rather than pursuing an idealized weight or shape.

3.    The pleasure of eating well – involves eating based on internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite; eating based on individual nutritional needs and enjoyment, rather than on external food plans or diets. It is important that we continue advocate for affordable and accessible food options for everyone regardless of income level.

4.    The joy of movement – involves encouraging all physical activities for the associated pleasure and health benefits, rather than following a specific routine of regimented exercise for the primary purpose of weight loss or management.

5.    An end to weight bias – recognizing that body shape, size, or weight are not evidence of any particular way of eating, level of physical activity, personality, psychological issue, or moral character; and confirming that there is beauty and worth in every body (written by Karin Kratina and Ellen Shuman).

Presenter Bio:

Lori Peters received a Master in Social Work degree with a clinical focus on the treatment and prevention of weight preoccupation and eating disorders. Lori is currently employed as Program Coordinator of the Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program located at Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

References:

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). (2006). Children, adolescents, and advertising. Pediatrics, Vol. 118 (6) pp. 2563-2569.

American Psychological Association (APA). (2010). Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls.

http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf

Becker, A. (2002). Eating behaviours and attitudes following prolonged exposure to television among ethnic Fijian girls. British Journal of Psychiatry , 180, pp. 509-514

Bell, B., Lawton, R. & Dittmar, H. (2007). The impact of thin models in music videos on adolescent girls’ body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 4, pp. 137­145.

Bugard, D. (2009). What is “health at every size”? In E. Rothblum & S. Solovay (Eds.), The Fat Studies Reader (pp. 42-53). New York: New York University Press.

Diedrichs, P. (2011). The Centre for Appearance Research News Release http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/UWENews/news.aspx?id=1949

Diedrichs, P. & Lee, C. (2011). Waif goodbye! Average-size female models promote positive body image and appeal to consumers. Psychology and Health, pp. 1-19.

Etcoff, N., Orbach, S. Scott, J. & Agostino, H. (2004). “The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global report”.

http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.com.au.

Halliwell, E. & Dittmar, H. (2004). Does size matter? The impact of model’s body size on women’s body-focused anxiety and advertising effectiveness. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23 (1), pp. 104­122.

http://www.about-face.org

http://www.nedic.ca

http://www.sizediversityandhealth.org

Kratina, K. & Shuman, E. (2003). Adapted from the original Tenet published in Moving Away from Diets (1996).

Puhl, R. & Heuer, C. (2010). Obesity stigma: Important considerations for public health. American Journal of Public Health, 100 (6), pp. 1019-1028.

Tiggemann, M. (2004). Media influences on body image development. In T.

Cash & T. Pruzinsky (Eds.), Body Image (pp. 91-98). New York: The Guilford Press.

Wann, M. (2009). Fat studies: An invitation to revolution. In E. Rothblum & S. Solovay (Eds.), The Fat Studies Reader (pp. ix-xxv). New York: New York University Press.




Presentation 20110604 Goodwin Suicide

National Council of Women of Canada Presentation

My experience with mental health began in 1996 when my daughter, Carolyn, first attempted suicide. Six months later she died – March, 1997.

Immediately, two friends and I set out to find out what went wrong. Reading notes and meeting with her doctors we knew within weeks that the system was flawed’ and that we weren’t being told the truth.

Within a few months we began by forming a group. Each person I approached agreed to become involved. We had a psychiatrist, nurse, social worker, economist, professor and family members, and so began our daunting task of breaking the code of silence’ which permeates the mental health system.

This is our journey……….

The route we took……….

Some of our discoveries …….

Some of our suggestions ….

No where were we discouraged in our pursuit of uncovering the flaws’. We did, however, have to ask the right questions to seek the truth. This need for us to take the initiative was most evident when we were pursuing the initial work on the issue of safety of patients on psychiatric wards.

With each new piece of evidence we always uncovered another issue. So our

research became never ending.

Without the families, who were always most forthcoming in the sharing of their stories, we could not have accomplished our research. Thank-you!

The journey begins with our focus on “family involvement during the care and treatment of a family member with mental illness”.

Some of the points we investigated were:

1. Understanding the Mental Health Act, Personal Health Information Act, Mental Health Review Board, Human Rights, and the many other policies and legislation which govern the mentally ill.

2. Understanding the funding for mental health; from the federal government, through transfer payments; provincial government; RHA’s and, determining who holds the purse strings and how that money is distributed. One of our members said: If there is a problem, “follow the money” and, this has proven to be so true.

3. And also, understanding the mental health system, uncovering the maze’.

We met with or requested documentation from:

  • The Medical Examiner’s Office;
  • Two Ministers of Health and other politicians;
  • The hospital, where my daughter, Carolyn, was admitted;
  • Self Help Organizations;
  • Manitoba Health, Mental Health; and the
  • Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

In the spring of 1998, two of our members presented to the Mental Health and Law Amendments Committee on Bill 35, where the Committee amended the age of consent for treatment of mind altering drugs’ from age 18 down to age 16. We were aghast!; politicians,passing legislation that usurped the authority and responsibility of the parents. Our children cannot vote, join the military, buy cigarettes or liquor however, they can make decisions for their treatment at a time when their judgment is often compromised’! We were also concerned about the Certificate of Leave issue and other matters being considered during the Hearings.

We then moved on to develop a resolution on the Safety of Patients in Psychiatric Wards which we presented to the Canadian Mental Health Association (Manitoba Division) AGM, it was passed unanimously. I presented a Brief to the Review Committee at St. Boniface Hospital regarding safety of patients, and became a member of the Manitoba Health Committee to develop a protocol on Safety of Patients. I also sat on a Committee on Mental Health Strategic Planning for Manitoba and, became a member of the Psych Ethics Committee at the Health Sciences Centre.

We visited the Eden Mental Health Centre in Winkler; the Brandon Regional Health Authority (Mental Health), “a RHA worth watching, because of their willingness to try new, innovative approaches to care”, and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. No RHA’s are the same; in fact each of the 11 RHA’s in Manitoba establishes its own community standards for mental health treatment/services.

In 2006 we wrote “The Way We See It” a discussion paper which examined perspectives of families and clients within the current mental health system in Manitoba. This is available on the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba web-site.

In 2009 we went on to make a DVD titled, “ The Way We See It” , which tells the stories of four families dealing with mental illness.

Here is what we discovered and recommend:

  • Despite stated policy, the mental health system is system centred and, to serve the community/families and the mentally ill, it must become patient centred.
  • Manitoba has 11 RHA‟s and decisions are made from the top-down‟ rather than through the experiences of the front line workers, making it difficult to meet community and patient/family centred standards.
  • There is little or no transparency or accountability in mental health services.
  • The system defaults to the medical model, with focus on symptom management and quick fix‟ use of pharmaceuticals and, inadequate therapeutic supports.
  • There is no guarantee that medications provide a positive outcome.
  • There is no guarantee that a diagnosis is accurate because mental illness, although very real, is not scientifically based, due to a great lack of research resources.
  • Funding priority has been on primary health care ahead of mental health care.
  • Within the clinical practice the medical model continues to run as a hierarchy; psychiatrists hold all the power, then psychiatric nurses, social workers, therapists …. down the line.
  • Psychologists are often not a part of the Treatment Team.
  • A tremendous amount of professional time is spent at meetings with little or no apparent positive outcome for the benefit of the patient.
  • Patients are often discharged from the hospital without family/natural support being advised.
  • Access to mental health psychiatric services are by referral through a General Practitioner. Waiting times may be up to 4 – 6 months.
  • Hospital Emergency Departments are often the gateway to access mental health services. A more up-to-date model, the Mental Health Crisis Response Centre, is emerging at the Health Sciences Centre, Psych Hospital in Winnipeg.
  • Early access of services often will mean a better chance of recovery and yet, there is no medical coverage for all but the most seriously mentally ill patients to access a psychologist, psychiatric nurse practitioner or social worker, to provide therapy outside of the hospital setting.
  • Social issues such as homelessness, poverty and malnutrition often co-exist with mental health issues and go hand-in-hand with serious mental illness.

What we suggest:

  • A family/patient centred system must be realized in practice and not just be the subject of rhetoric.
  • Family/natural support should be a part of the Treatment Team.
  • A holistic approach, treating the whole person rather than only the symptoms of the disease should become a reality; body, mind and soul.
  • Community provision needs to be implemented for adequate housing, income and nutrition through programs specific to the wellbeing of the mentally ill, and where possible, encouraging the involvement of family/natural supports to sustain healthy well being outside of the hospital.
  • To sustain healthy wellbeing outside of the hospital, incentives for individuals to become independent of the system must be encouraged and the practice of claw-backs on income earned to improve one’s standard of living should be discontinued.
  • Negotiating the maze’ of the mental health system poses a real challenge and serious problems for the patient and family. We believe this to be an appropriate opportunity for family/natural support to become involved and where possible, to advocate or take on a mentor role.

One topic I want to touch upon is professionals working within the system. Professionals are well aware of the issues. They too have family and are part of the larger community however, they are expected to adhere to department policy and to their superiors. This often causes disquiet when the political agenda is counter to the employee’s personal value system. Because of the hierarchical working environment the employee becomes silenced and disillusioned. This creates a systemic powerlessness that discourages positive change.

The hospital/community services are but a microcosm of the community. To the politicians; their lack of political will’.

As I come to an end, I want to emphasize the following:

  • Since depression is often referred to as a disease experienced by greater numbers of women, and since you are focusing on women and mental health for the coming two years, I want to share the following:
  • Many of the issues appear to bare the seeds of inequality, such as power and control.
  • Apparently, depression can begin with some form of trauma(s) e.g. bullying, rejection, abuse, sexual orientation, recreational drug use, rape, divorce, death, financial problems and/or genetic background. Yet the family who are the custodians of the family history are seldom consulted to share their family stories, if in fact this information has been shared with them, because of the code of silence that often exists within families about such matters.
  • Please keep in mind, that all patients are legally entitled to a second opinion. In the case of the elderly, it is wise to seek the second opinion of a Geriatric Psychiatrist if the treatment outcome has not been satisfactory.

You are undertaking a very important task, through the National Council of Women of Canada’s commitment to research Women and Mental Health during the coming two years. We all applaud you for taking on this ambitious task.

To validate the importance of your work, I want to mention that Roy Romonow commented as Chairman of the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, that “mental illness is the poor cousin of the Health Care System in Canada”.

Also, and most relevant, Michael Kirby, Chairman of the Mental Health Commission of Canada has dedicated his life to the reform of mental health in Canada. There are reports available on the Commission’s website, which you will find enlightening.

I told my dear friend and a Council Woman, before her death, that I intended to organize and work to reform the mental health system in Manitoba. Her response was, “don’t, because they will only hurt you”.

They have not hurt me, Ladies and gentlemen, but I understood my friend’s pain. I consider amongst my friends the mentally ill and mental health professionals, the  families with their stories, the Council of Women, and yes, the politicians.

Somehow, we have to come together, to gather a consensus and to bring the mental  health system into the 21st Century.

Let’s eradicate fear, isolation and silence and bring forth dignity, respect and compassion for the mentally ill and their families.

Thank you.

Presented by: Beverley A. Goodwin

To the National Council of Women of Canada AGM June 4, 2011

 

 




Presentation 20110604 Amir Who Cares for the Caregivers

National Council of Women of Canada
118th Annual General Meeting, Winnipeg
June 4, 2011

WHO CARES FOR THE CAREGIVERS?

Ella Amir
Executive Director, AMI-Quebec
Chair, Family Caregivers Advisory Committee,
Mental Health Commission of Canada
ellaamir@amiquebec.org

Caregiving is a major preoccupation that needs to be shared not only by caregivers and care-recipients, but by everyone concerned with the health, social, and economic consequences associated with caregiving. This includes practically all of us, because When, rather than if one is likely to become a caregiver, may well become the appropriate question in coming years.

In more than twenty years I have encountered many hundreds of caregivers. Their binding commonality is the challenges they have face, often under very trying circumstances. My experience with caregivers is mainly in the context of mental illness, and I will refer to it later in my remarks. However, caregiving is caregiving, and while there may be some unique characteristics associated with different contexts, the commonalities are many.

I was asked to talk about family caregiving, women, and mental health. We can

approach it from different perspectives. For example:

Women as caregivers (paid or unpaid);

Mental health of women (caregivers or not);

Mental health of women who are caregivers;

Women caregivers to someone with mental health challenges…

This is a vast field. It can be viewed as a triangle in which each side is important and intriguing in its own right. Putting it together is a challenge that cannot be under-estimated. The inter-relations between women, caregiving, and mental health can create a potent construct. To understand it we should start by exploring one parameter at a time.

I. Let’s start with caregiving, or more precisely with family caregiving. Unlike paid caregivers, family caregivers are members of the family who provide care and assistance for spouses, children, parents and other extended family members and friends who are in need of support because of age, disabling medical conditions, chronic injury, long term illness or disability.

  • Statistics Canada reports that in 2002, more than 1.7 million adults aged 45 to 64 provided informal care to almost 2.3 million seniors with long­term disabilities or physical limitations. 7 out of every 10 caregivers in this age range were employed, and many were women.
  • A 2006 survey of health care in Canada found that 26% of all Canadians reported having cared for a family member or close friend with a serious problem in the last 12 months. 22% of these people missed one or more months of work and 41% used personal savings.
  • A Health Canada report from 2002 suggests that the intensity and length of unpaid caregiving can be significant. Over 700,000 caregivers provide more than 10 hours of care per week and 60% of caregivers provide care for more than three years.
  • More than one third of caregivers report extra expenses due to their caregiving responsibilities. Two-thirds of these caregivers spend more than $100 per month on caregiving. This conservatively translates to an annual cost to Canadians of $80 million.
  • The same Health Canada report suggests that unpaid caregivers provide more than 80% of care needed by individuals with ‘long-term condition.’
  • The economic value of caregivers’ unpaid eldercare to the Canadian economy is estimated to be over $5 billion and between $6-9 billion for all caregivers (chronic and palliative care) unpaid work.

The concept of family caregiving is not new. However it is taking on a more urgent role with the changing infrastructure of families and communities. Families are smaller and more dispersed; more women are involved in the formal workforce; families often start later in life; retirement is delayed; the population is aging; and the increased life expectancy is likely to be coupled with an increased rate of disability.

II. Now let’s add to this equation women as caregivers. Women provide most informal care. They play many roles, such as hands-on health providers, care manager, friend, companion, surrogate decision maker and advocate.

  • A US study from 2002 found that between 59% and 75% of unpaid caregivers are women
  • A 1997 study of the National Alliance for Caregiving found that the average caregiver in the US is 46 years old, female, married and working outside the home, earning an annual salary of $35,000.
  • Although men also provide assistance, female caregivers may spend as much as 50% more time than male caregivers providing care.
  • Additionally women live longer than men, tend to outlive their spouses, and have less access to retirement savings such as pensions.
  • Women who were 65 in the year 2000, can expect to live another 19 years to age 84;
  • In 2000, almost 40% of women age 65+ were living alone; 51% of women age 80 were living alone
    • Interestingly, most elderly care-recipients are also women. A 1997 survey reports that 70% of older persons ages 75+ who needed assistance with daily activities were women.
    • As workforce participation increases, caregiving could pose even greater financial challenges to many women workers, due mostly to lost wages from reduced work hours, time out of the workforce, family leave or early retirement.
    • Caregiving has a significant economic impact on a family. A 1998 study found that 49% of Baby Boomer women caregivers suffered ‘financial hardship’ as a result of caregiving.
    • Apart from the economic cost, the demands on caregivers’ time are also substantial. Working women don’t abandon their caregiving responsibilities because of employment. Instead, they cope with the combined pressures of caring for a loved one, their need for income, reliance on often-inadequate public programs, and fewer employment related benefits.
    • Women caregivers are significantly less likely to receive a pension and when they do, it is about half as much as those that men receive.
    • Women are likely to spend an average of 12 years out of the workforce raising children and caring for an older relative or friend.
    • To complicate the picture even further, it was found that once the caregiving stops, women who reduced their working hours because of it do not return to full time employment.
    • Caregiving also has a substantial impact on the work place. Absenteeism and replacing employees who quit in order to provide care can have serious financial consequences to employers.

 

III. This brings us to the third part of the triangle, which is mental health. The toll that caregiving exacts is not just financial. Depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges are common among women caregivers.

  • A 2002 US-based study found that middle-aged and older women who provided care for an ill or disabled spouse were almost 6 times as likely to suffer depression or anxiety symptoms as those who had no caregiving responsibilities.
  • Women who cared for ill parents were twice as likely to suffer depressive or anxious symptoms.
  • Additionally, women caregivers were found to have a higher level of hostility and a greater decline in happiness as a result of caregiving. They demonstrated less ‘personal mastery’ and less self-acceptance, as well as higher caregiving-related stress.
  • Physical health problems are also evident: more than one-third of caregivers providing intense and continuing care to others suffered from poor health themselves. A US study found that as many as two out of three older women caregivers do not take advantage of preventive health services due to lack of information and high out-of-pocket costs.
  • A 2003 study found that health problems such as coronary heart disease, elevated blood pressure, increased risk for hypertension, poor immune function and increased risk of mortality were evident in 25% of women caregivers as a result of their caregiving activities.
  • Despite the physical and emotional tolls of caregiving and risk factors for disease, women caregivers are less likely to have their own health needs met.
  • A 1999 study that compared women caregivers to non-caregivers found that:

25% (vs. 17%) rated their own health as fair or poor

54% (vs. 41%) had one or more chronic health conditions

51% (vs. 38%) exhibited depressive symptoms

16% (vs. 8%) were twice as likely in the past year not to get needed medical care

25% (vs. 16%) had difficulty getting medical care.

***

THE SPECIAL CASE OF CAREGIVING
TO A LOVED ONE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.

You may have noticed that my remarks have so far referred primarily to caregiving to older adults. It’s not a coincidence: With an increasing life span the proportion of older adults requiring help is growing, and the ramifications are substantial. No wonder then that much of caregiving research is related to this segment of the population.

I would like to make some comments, however, about caregiving in the context of mental illness, because despite the evidence that such caregiving can exact a heavy toll on the caregiver’s well-being, this group is often under-estimated and not explicitly included in policy recommendations. Here I refer to caregivers in general, both men and women; but since we have already seen that the majority of caregivers are women, you can infer from the comments I made earlier to this special case.

The burden associated with the role of family members as caregivers to a loved one with mental illness has been widely documented in scientific literature and reflects the overall level of distress associated with this role. Mona Wasow (1995) observed: “As with a large stone skipping across water, the ripple effect of mental illness on the entire family is enormous”. A typical trajectory of mental illness includes cycles of crises and remissions, often over many years, and subjects family members to ongoing burdens and stress that can become chronic.

The notion that families cause, precipitate, or exacerbate mental illness in a loved one was common a few decades ago. This perception is gradually changing, and there is a growing recognition that families are co-victims of what is widely viewed today as a biologically-based illness that affects their relatives. However, while the blame is gradually lifting, families continue to be entrusted with the role of caring for their ill loved one. This role often lasts a lifetime and carries a significant level of burden.

Here is an interesting observation: While caregiving to elderly adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia, for example, is usually limited to the latter part of the person’s life, caregiving to a mentally ill relative can last for a long time, often for life. Another difference is that caregivers to the elderly are perceived by the healthcare system as an extension of the system; there is an expectation that families would support their elderly relatives. In mental illness, despite the gradual lessening of the blaming attitude towards families as the cause of their relatives’ illness, families are still commonly excluded from the treatment process. This does not free them from their caregiving responsibilities, just makes it that much more difficult.

Family members are often involved with providing care and support, regardless of the illness severity. However, families with relatives suffering from a severe mental illness (SMI) are most likely to assume long-term, often life-long, caregiving responsibilities. This accounts for an estimated 1.8 million families in Canada alone.

It is estimated that between one third and one half of adults diagnosed with mental illness live with their families. A study from the early 80s found that of those who were not living in their family home, 90% were in contact with their families if they lived nearby. Overall it is estimated that regardless of their living situation, 70% of adults with severe mental illness have family members who can or will be involved in their care.

The living situation of adults with mental illness is not necessarily indicative of the caregiver’s burden. Many family members whose loved ones live on their own (or in supported settings outside of the family home) provide assistance that is associated with high levels of burden. Therefore separate living arrangements do not necessarily imply less caregiver burden.

In the context of caregiving to a mentally ill loved one, researchers have distinguished between objective burden and subjective burden. Objective burden refers to the actual hardship and disruptions associated with caregiver duties; subjective burden reflects the personal suffering endured by the caregiver. Grief, chronic sorrow, a roller coaster emotions and empathetic pain are central themes in describing the subjective burden of families. These experiences are difficult to quantify but their impact on the caregiver is often dramatic, traumatic and life changing.

For these reasons, the importance of adequate support for families caring for a mentally ill relative cannot be over-estimated. The cost of NOT responding to the needs of families, I believe, is likely to be much higher than the cost of promoting and offering proper services.

Caregivers – and here I refer to all caregivers, not only for mental illness – require support by virtue of their caregiving role, in order to mitigate the consequences of that role. The consequence of NOT supporting caregivers with adequate services is a double whammy, because it can translate not only into worse outcomes for their ill relatives, but also into negative outcomes for the caregiver’s own health. Long-term caregiving is a high risk factor for the caregivers’ health, both physically and mentally.

The last point I would like to make is about the rewards associated with caregiving. We talked about hardship and the negative outcomes, but it is important to note that although caregiving can exact physical, emotional, and financial tolls, it can also be rewarding.

  • In a study on family resilience in the face of mental illness, 88% reported some positive consequences to the family, which included stronger bonds and commitments, resourcefulness, pride and satisfaction, as well as growth and adaptation.
  • In addition to the rewards for the family as a unit, most individuals reported some benefits for themselves as well, such as a stronger sense of purpose in life, increased tolerance, empathy, compassion and understanding. They also talked about their contribution to their ill relatives and to their family, and felt they have gained a clearer sense of priorities. More autonomy, and more self-acceptance were also mentioned.

It is important to recognize that, because proper supports can do more than minimize the risks associated with caregiving; they can also enhance the benefits and rewards associated with this role.

In conclusion, we see that caregiving, especially long-term caregiving, is associated with significant burdens for the caregiver, and in many cases can be qualified as a chronic stressor. If not addressed, chronic stress can be harmful for the caregiver’s health, can affect the recipient’s quality of care, and could have wide spread economic and social ramifications. To reduce the risks and enhance the benefits caregiving can provide to the caregiver, adequate supports are vital. And if not for humanitarian reasons, than certainly for social and economic reasons.

 

References:

Canadian Caregiver Coalition: Caregiver Facts (August 2008)

Fast, J., Niehaus, L., Eales, J., and Keating, N. 2002a, A profile of Canadian chronic care providers).

Health Canada 2002, National Profile of Family Caregivers in Canada – Final Report

Marsh, D. T. (1992b). Working with families of people with serious mental illness. In L. VandeCreek, S. Knapp. & T. L. Jackson (Eds.), Innovations in clinical practice: A source book (Vol. 11, p. 389-402). Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press.

Marsh, D. T. (1998). Serious mental illness and the family: The practitioner’s guide. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Spaniol, L., & Zipple, A. M. (1997). The family recovery process. In L. Spaniol, C. Gagne, & M. Koehler (Eds.), Psychological and social aspects of psychiatric disability (pp. 281-284). Boston: Boston University Centre for Psychiatric Rehabilitation.

Statistics Canada 2002, Balancing career and care

Women and Caregiving: Facts and Figures

http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=892 Wasow, M. (1995). The skipping stone: Ripple effects of mental illness on the family. Palo Alto, CA: Science & Behavior Books.




Presentation 20041125 Sly Status of Women

A PRESENTATION TO
THE PARLIAMENTARY STANDING COMMITTEE
ON
THE STATUS OF WOMEN

NOVEMBER 25, 2004

FROM

THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF CANADA

PRESENTED BY

CATHARINE LAIDLAW-SLY, PRESIDENT

Thank you for the opportunity to appear today and identify some issues of concern to the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), together with some forward-looking suggestions for action.

NCWC is Canada’s oldest federated organization for women, founded in 1893, with the Mission Statement “ to empower all women to work together towards improving the quality of life for women, families and society through a forum for member organizations and individuals.” This mission still informs all our work and our regular recommendations to all levels of government. However, members are constantly aware of the fiscal constraints that are part of life for all those citizens whose status is not equal in all respects. Women are still not equal in our society which is why the establishment of this Standing Committee was long seen as necessary. NCWC commends Members of the House of Commons for establishing this Committee.

Today, women still face real inequality in society in spite of the many initiatives undertaken to improve their status in many ways. Because these measures have often been small steps that were not necessarily integrated, or developed with the use of sound gender dis-aggregated statistics, the advancement of women has not been equal for all women. In fact, Aboriginal women, visible minority women, and disabled women still experience real discrimination that has a negative effect on their economic and personal security and well-being. There are two fundamental areas of action and interaction that could be undertaken by this Committee.

One of the underlying causes of inequality seems to be that women still do not count. The members of this committee will recall that in 1995, at the Beijing Fourth World Conference for Women, there was an agreement which Canada supported without reservation to publish Auxiliary Accounts annually, showing the value to the Gross Domestic Product of the uncounted and unpaid work done mostly by women. This has still not happened here in Canada. The effects of this public ignorance range all the way from the simple fact that women are still presented in our media more as sex objects than as contributing citizens, to the present low number of women standing for and elected to the House of Commons.

Sadly, business, especially men in businesses of all sorts, are seen as the vital spark-plugs for the engine of the national economy even though it is known and

acknowledged that it is women entrepreneurs who have a better track record of success in starting and succeeding in developing new enterprises that are also recognized as a real engines of growth in our communities. However, women, doing the unseen and uncounted unpaid work of our society, are the invisible lubrication of that engine but their importance and value receives only lip service acknowledgement. Proof of this bias is seen in the time allocated to business interests appearing before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance when compared to those organizations representing the voluntary sector working to enhance Canada’s Social Infrastructure.

NCWC, supporting the initiatives adopted at the Beijing Conference and stated in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, would recommend that this committee assemble the information presently available through the figures obtained by Statistics Canada and the values established by the Department for the Status of Women and publish these as a preliminary step to having the Department of Finance include these figures in their yearly reports. This would go a long way to clarifying what the value of Home Care giving of all kinds really is. It would also cut out all sorts of incremental mini-measures currently being offered for some sorts of unpaid work without the benefit of a comprehensive understanding of the real value in and to our society.

NCWC members are also concerned that women’s elected representation at the national level seems stalled in the range of 20% plus. This is a far cry from equal representation for the group that is in fact a majority in Canada according to the last census. NCWC has called for Electoral Reform, recommending that a Royal Commission be established, with 50% of the Commissioners drawn from women’s stakeholder organizations to examine all the possible ways in which more equal and fair representation both of public opinion, and of male and female candidates could be achieved, presenting their conclusions to the public and the government for decision.

Accordingly, NCWC would urge that this Parliamentary Standing Committee start this process by holding hearings designed to assist Canadian women in learning of all the possible reforms, with the possible advantages and disadvantages of each electoral system, in preparation for a public plebiscite on reforms designed to achieve equal representation for women. In particular, NCWC would hope that this committee would have as its self-imposed mandate, the responsibility to see that women’s organizations had the necessary resources to participate in the research necessary for informed appearance before hearings on Electoral Reform.

NCWC’s other on-going issues of concern calling for action include measures designed to maintain or strengthen Canada’s Social Infrastructure, development and implementation of measures designed to enhance economic equality for women throughout their lives, and the on-going stability, continuity, and predictability of funding that enables non-profit and voluntary organizations to fulfill the missions for which they were created.

The first category, Canada’s Social Infrastructure includes Health Care, Child Care including early childhood education, women’s economic security (including pay equity and income security for the disabled, the elderly, and those who have done unpaid work to the detriment of their own personal long-term income security), Education including life-long learning opportunities, Homelessness (especially the invisible homeless and those working poor who cannot find safe affordable housing) and last but not least, the elimination of all forms of violence against women in Canada.

With reference to women victims of violence, NCWC is supporting the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) in their work to improve the situation and treatment of a relatively few women (probably less than 500 all told). Federally Sentenced Women include a disproportionate percentage of Aboriginal women (which indicates a racial bias in Canadian society) while no longer in Kingston Penitentiary, are still not benefiting from the implementation of the recommendations made over a decade ago. The United Nations CEDAW Review specifically recommended that their treatment be improved.

CAEFS, supported by other women’s equality-seeking organizations, has appeared before the Canadian Human Rights Commission, recommendations were forthcoming, but it is the regretted conviction of all who are consulting with Corrections Canada that the recommendations for classification and treatment of these women, most of whom have suffered from a lifetime of all sorts of violence, will not be implemented. There is little political advantage or will it seems to act on behalf of these women. Yet all of us who have worked to overcome violence against women and female children know that the sorts of abuse these FSW have suffered differs only in degree from the abuse that many of us have seen or even experienced personally. This is an area where this committee by its interest and inquiries could effect a real improvement.

The Canadian Government has a commendable record of consulting widely on social infrastructure questions. However, there is a problem due to the fact that all too often, these consultations are arranged as if all organizations had professional representatives present in Ottawa. Therefore there is no allocation of funds to defray the costs of bringing in the best representative of a non-profit organization. NCWC has experienced this as have many other women’s organizations. It would be most helpful if this committee could work to convince all consulting departments that funding the presence of the best and most knowledgeable representative would ensure that the Government would have the benefit of the best information available. This seems more cost-effective in the long-run.

A second area of concern is the earlier mentioned stability and viability of women’s non­profit and volunteer organizations. The withdrawal of all core funding in favour of project funding has not worked to improve the quality of work done by organizations, particularly those who are not allowed to have a tax number because they do not deliver services. In fact, it even cripples attempts to produce documents in both official languages, do adequate and unbiased research, and improve public education and outreach. Project funding does not implement the recommendations in the Beijing Platform for Action for Institutional Arrangements – National Governments (Chap 5 A Beijing PfA). Further it does not respect the intent of the recommendations for National Governments as set out in the Beijing PfA Chapter 6, Financial Arrangements (Articles 346 – 350). NCWC would recommend that this committee assimilate these recommendations in its mandate.

Lastly, NCWC is concerned that the participation of NGO Women’s organizations representatives in international conferences and consultations, or their presence as Observers at Trade Negotiations is severely constrained. In fact. All too often delegates must use their own after-tax income to participate. There is no recognition in the tax system of this expense, although it reflects well on Canada’s reputation that there still is

a body of experienced women whom the Government can enlist as delegates when it need to. Both government departments and organizations should be concerned that this cadre relies on women with financial resources and excludes the working poor, and those who have little disposable income. We would hope that this committee would examine ways in which more women active in the NGO community and therefore well-informed on issues which could affect the long-term viability for Canada’s Social Security Network, are presently unable to be present as they should be and as business interests can afford to be at these international conferences and trade treaty negotiations.

NCWC wishes the Committee well in its work and looks to forward copies of all our Briefs and Reports to this committee on a regular basis. We regret not having had either the time or the income to permit translation of these recommendations. The National Council of Women of Canada looks forward to productive and positive interactions with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Status of Women and thanks all those Members of Parliament who have agreed to serve, especially the Chair and the Vice-Chairs. This can be a positive development for Canadian Women.




Notes 20111027 Comments on Bill S-2

Comments on the proposed Bill S-2 – An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves

Prepared by Mary Scott, on behalf of the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), and the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba, Inc. (PCWM), with input from Marilyn McGonigal, Past President, PCWM, and in consultation with the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC).

October 27th, 2011

Background

In September 2003, PCWM prepared a Brief to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights on the topic of On-Reserve Matrimonial Real Property on the Breakdown of a Marriage or Common Law Relationship and the Policy Context in which they are Situated. NCWC and PCWM both prepared Briefs on the Bill C7, First Nations Governance Act in February 2003, highlighting the need to address the issue of protection of Human Rights for First Nations peoples on Reserve. We were pleased to see that Bill C-21 did just that, and was given Royal Assent in June 2008.

Both these earlier Briefs identify our history with the issues, particularly as they affect First Nations’ women. We are aware of and acknowledge the harmful effects of colonization and the impact of the 135 year old Indian Act. “From the aboriginal perspective, it (colonization) refers to loss of lands, resources, and self-direction and to the severe disturbance of cultural ways and values” (Larocque, 1994). The Indian Act has contributed to the exclusion of First Nations’ women from decision making bodies pursuant not only to a discriminatory membership practice, but to the importation of European governance practices.

In June 2011, NCWC signed a Joint Declaration1 with the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC). This Declaration was particularly concerned about the missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, but also addressed the systemic issues facing our Aboriginal sisters:

Delegates affirm, assert and recognize Inherent and Treaty Rights of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and seek to support the full and equitable participation of Aboriginal Peoples, in particular Aboriginal women and girls, within Canadian society intrinsically addressing the systemic issues of violence against Aboriginal women and girls and eradicating social, cultural, economic and spiritual inequalities encountered by Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.

Further, we would highlight the work of PCWM and others on Matrimonial Property law in Manitoba and Canada, (not applicable to reserves) and taken from our earlier Brief:

The lobbying of women’s organizations was critically influential in bringing about changes to the marital property laws in the 1970’s; among them, the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba, the Manitoba Branch of the Canadian Federation of University Women and the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women. The Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba cites today the contribution of Council member, June Menzies, whose tireless efforts to bring equality and just laws to Manitoba women are widely known and recognized with the Order of Canada. June has shared on many occasions, that `her awakening to the reality for women had been such a revelation to her that she naively thought that all one had to do was

1 The entire Declaration is found at http://ncwcamcnwac.blogspot.com/

to tell those in authority what was wrong, and the necessary changes would be made.” A Partnership of Equals, by Bernice Sisler, p.19.

The cruel inequalities imposed upon Mrs. Murdoch in the infamous 1973 Supreme Court of Canada Murdoch decision and thus upon all Canadian married women, followed shortly thereafter by the Saskatchewan Rathwell decision (a successful appeal in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal was upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada) brought home to all Canadian women the stark reality that gender privilege enjoyed by men in marriage and society required more than raised awareness to displace it. When then Chief Justice Bora Laskin was later asked why he had sat only five justices to hear Murdoch, he replied that if he had been aware of the significance of the case at the time, he would have sat nine justices. He added that he was surprised to find himself in the minority when judgment was rendered three to two for Mr. Murdoch.

The outcome galvanized a sleeping Canadian population of women to whom it was a surprising revelation that it was virtually impossible to become entitled to a share in marital property by her `expected contribution’ of labour to the marriage because what Mrs. Murdoch did, according to Mr. Murdoch, was “just about what the ordinary rancher’s wife does. Most of them can do just about anything.” Sisler, p.40. Without a monetary contribution, no right to property could be established. In the Rathwell decision, a Saskatchewan farmer, Helen Rathwell, worked as did Irene Murdoch at all the farm chores and in addition contributed off-farm earnings to the household and farm expenses. The lower court denied her a share of the farm because her labour did not contribute to the assets and there was no evidence of an agreement to share ownership. This decision was overturned and a `constructive trust’ found by the higher courts. To deny Mrs. Rathwell her interests in the assets would result in the unjust enrichment of her husband. The Kowalchuk case was like the other two in that Mrs. Kowalchuk contributed substantial labours to the home and farm work but in addition she had brought two cows into the herd at the time of the marriage and her family had given two more. She was held entitled to half the assets, which sounded like progress but the significance to women was that it was not her marital status or devoted labours that did it but the four cows.

When women in Manitoba discovered that they were not equal partners in marriage, they were incensed because they were never told the law did not value women’s contribution in marriage and Murdoch was erroneously decided in their view. If Murdoch held, it did not reflect the reality of marriage in 1973 and the law needed to be changed to reflect the real expectations of marrying couples in that era. The affected population did not need to be persuaded to change. The oppressors had to be forced to change the law.

After a massive and doggedly persistent lobby by hundreds of women in Manitoba, on July 21, 1978, an exhausted crew of six women who led the fight, watched in the gallery of the legislature in the wee hours of the morning as family laws were passed that substantially reflected equality of partners in marriage. For all who had been subjected to and bitten by the previous law it was too late but for the future, the very nature of marriage and the role of women in the family was changed forever.

Our advancement toward law reflecting justice and equality for women goes back to within living memory. Our shared experiences of patriarchal oppression may be instructive of the steps for others to take but the traditional law of Aboriginal people goes back hundreds of years before living memory. Injustices, including legal gender inequality on reserves and unconscionable expulsions and exclusions of women based on marital status, have been imposed on them and must be removed. Canadian women who shared the callousness of patriarchal property law may recommend gender equality and an equal division of marital property on reserves as a principle. As a nation however it may be that we have little to teach Aboriginal people about justice and equality.

NCWC and PCWM do not have the authority of specific approved policy resolutions regarding MRP on First Nations Reserves to support or oppose Bill S-2, however we can speak out about the need to work closely with the First Nationswomen, NWAC, in terms of implementation and recognize it will be the communities that will need to comply. In order for them to do that, resources will need to be provided. Further, it is important to address the serious situation of violence against our Aboriginal sisters. Safety is an issue, as is housing. These must be addressed if Bill S-2 proceeds.

Comments and Observations

  1. Since the original PCWM Brief, done in 2003, there has been considerable review, analysis, proposed legislation, consultation on the topic of Matrimonial Real Property (MRP). Unlike the situation that changed matrimonial real property and family laws for most Canadians back in the 70’s, it is not clear that it is the First Nations’ women who are agitating to see the regime proposed in Bill S-2 become law.
  2. In 2007 Wendy Grant-John wrote in her Report of the Ministerial Representative Matrimonial Real Property Issues on Reserves:

From legal, financial, social and cultural perspectives, landholding and housing arrangements on reserves are diverse and very different and in many ways have no parallel off reserves.

Her report describes in detail the many forms of rights to use and occupation by Band Members of collectively owned reserve lands.

  1. The words “real property” in the MRP designation refer to Certificates of Possession and Certificates of Occupation which is not an entirely accurate description, as reserve land is not individually owned (in fee simple) as off-reserve land is, and the rights contemplated can only deal with use and occupation of the home and the movable property (personal property) and not the land they sit on.
  2. The issue of Band Membership, and Indian Status are extremely important, and determine the right to ‘matrimonial real property’ rights created in Bill S-2. We agree with the inclusion of statements that respect the inherent right to self government by First Nations communities. Possibly it could be stronger. NCWC and PCWM have consistently supported meaningful consultation and participation of First Nations peoples in the development of any changes in issues touching upon the inherent right of self governance in each autonomous community.
  3. Membership codes are an issue – do all 633 First Nations have them? Are they current? Will a year be long enough to bring them up to date?
  4. Adequate housing on reserves is a long standing issue, as well as access to safe shelters on reserves. The occurrence of domestic violence does generally seem to result with the woman leaving the reserve, due, in part, to the gendered membership rules and distribution of the right to use and occupation of land on which the matrimonial home sits, as well as the lack of safe alternative housing. We agree there must be protection for her, and the children, and access to housing. Access to the resources that will support and enforce this must be in place concurrently with the establishment of MRP rights for such spouses.
  5. Although there is mention of Certificate of Possession or a Certificate of Occupation, there are very few First Nations in Manitoba with this basis of land use. It is the same for those communities in Manitoba that are under the First Nations Land Management Act. There are apparently no records kept of Custom Allotments. Thus, for the most part in Manitoba, there is no reliable system in place for tracking real property on reserve. This is an issue for Peguis First Nation and likely many others.

Recommendations

  1. Although we would prefer delaying the implementation of Bill S-2 until each First Nation has negotiated time to draft legislation, we know the period of time of 12 months is not realistic. Look at extending the period of time in order for Membership Codes to be brought up to date, as well as First Nations determining their own Matrimonial Property laws. There is a need to bring to each of Canada’s 633 First Nations the information necessary for them to comply with this proposed legislation.
  2. Provide resources for First Nations to carry on this work during the period of preparation.
  3. Support NWAC to be the Centre of Excellence as outlined in the Planned Support for  Implementing the Matrimonial Real Property Legislation. NCWC recommends that NWAC be resourced to have the Centre of Excellence as it has the overall network and contact with the women and are aware of the issues resulting from the current structure. NWAC must be the Centre of Excellence as it will be able to act independently and for the benefit of the women, children and families. AMC Chiefs, in Assembly, have passed a resolution which states that Chiefs and Councils represent their citizens regardless of gender or residency.
  4. The result of Bill S-2 must be better protection for women and children. It will come before provincial courts, and will be enforced by First Nations or provincial authorities. Resources to support this process and to enforce the resulting laws must be provided. The development of education materials, and the resources necessary to implement must be provided by the Federal Government in consultation with First Nations, and resourced, as part of its obligation to Canada’s First Nations.

The National Council of Women of Canada is a federation composed of Local Councils, Provincial Councils, as well as National, Provincial and Local Organizations. Founded in 1893, it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1914 and has been designated by the Government of Canada as being of national historic significance for its role in Canadian women’s history. For more information, consult our web site at www.ncwc.ca.

The Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba was formed in 1949 and has grown to represent some 32 Federate members, as well as many individual members and supporters. For more information, see http://pcwmanitoba.ca/

NCWC Policy

Since 1997 the National Council of Women of Canada has adopted as policy and has urged the Government of Canada to Work with provincial and territorial governments and with aboriginal organizations and governing bodies to develop and fund more safe houses/shelters, on and off reserve, including programs and services that respect aboriginal culture and traditions, for aboriginal women and their children who are victims of family violence. Engage stakeholders to successfully address the underlying issues contributing to the high rate of family violence within the Aboriginal community, and to increase the capacity of Aboriginal women to break the cycle of family violence;

  1. Collaborate with Provincial and Territorial governments and with aboriginal organizations and governing bodies, and to consult with civil society to develop anti-poverty legislation that includes a strategy to eliminate poverty by addressing the systemic barriers to full social participation by all Canadians and which contains accountability measures for government, in support of the UN Millennium Goals;
  2. Provide more effective prenatal care for aboriginal women, as they are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, so that their children are less likely to be born HIV+;
  3. Study the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and undertake appropriate action using a conciliatory process to create a new and better relationship between the Government of Canada and Aboriginal Peoples;
  4. Remove section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act i as quickly as possible and to draft an Aboriginal Human Rights Code in consultation with First Nations governments in compliance with the UN Human Rights Conventions;
  5. Sign ii and Ratify the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  6. Establish a national comprehensive child care policy designed to facilitate the development of child care services and resources which would, inter alia, be sensitive to the particular cultural requirements of aboriginal and immigrant families;
  7. Enter into partnership with Aboriginal communities and organizations to review and identify barriers to the use of Section 81 and 84 of the Correctional and Conditional Release Actiii, and create and implement an action plan to encourage its use for Federally Sentenced Aboriginal Women. This partnership should include financial resources for those communities wishing to undertake the responsibility of assisting in the reintegration of Aboriginal women offenders; and Ensure that Federally Sentenced Aboriginal Women are fully aware of Sections 81 and 84 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and encouraged to apply under these sections

i This section was repealed in June 2008:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/LegislativeSummaries/billsls.asp?lang=E&ls=c21&Parl=39&Ses=2&source=libraryprb

ii Canada has signed on as of November 2010 but has yet to ratify the declaration through domestic legislation or enforcement

iii The sections on ‘Aboriginal Offenders’ are below and the Act can be found at: http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/sc-1992-c-20/latest/sc-1992-c-20.html

  1. In sections 80 to 84,

“aboriginal”

« autochtone »

“aboriginal” means Indian, Inuit or Métis;

“aboriginal community”

« collectivité autochtone »

“aboriginal community” means a first nation, tribal council, band, community, organization or other group with a predominantly aboriginal leadership;

“correctional services”

« services correctionnels »

“Correctional services” means services or programs for offenders, including their care and custody.

Programs

  1. Without limiting the generality of section 76, the Service shall provide programs designed particularly to address the needs of aboriginal offenders.

Agreements

81. (1) 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 services.

Scope of agreement

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), an agreement entered into under that subsection may provide for the provision of correctional services to a non-aboriginal offender.




Notes 20030730 Background on Homelessness

Background Information re Homelessness

NCWC’s Common Program this year is Homelessness and Housing for the Homeless. At the AGM, it was decided that Councils may choose whatever they wish to do in this area. As Councils work on the Common Program, they might wish to examine the programs currently in effect in their areas, gather information on initiatives that have been successful, examine how programs are being delivered and if they are reaching the target group. To that end, I have put together some background material including sources for further information.

NCWC Policy:

To begin, if you wish to check NCWC’s Housing Policies, they are on our website

as follows:

1982 (82.13)

1988 (88.1)

1992 (92.1, 92.20 PU)

1999 (99.4)

2002 (02.2 PU)

Federal Government Initiatives

Check out website:http://www21.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/initiative

The following is quoted from that site:

“ In 1999 the Government of Canada announced the National Homelessness Initiative, a three-year initiative designed to help ensure community access to programs, services and support for alleviating homelessness in communities located in all provinces and territories.

“The Government of Canada has renewed the National Homelessness Initiative for an additional three years with an investment of $405 million.”

The following is from website:http://www21.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/partners/community partners:

“The Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) amounts to $305 million over three years and is helping 61 communities across Canada address homelessness at the local level.

“Each of these 61 communities has developed a Community Plan on Homelessness that identifies current community resources and gaps in service and establishes priorities supported by all stakeholders. The Plan also includes strategies for sustaining longer-term projects, communicating with all concerned community groups, and evaluating success.

“Eighty per cent of SCPI funding to targeted to 10 major Canadian cities with serious homelessness problems. These communities are Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax. The remaining twenty per cent is allocated to 51 smaller communities with demonstrated homelessness problems.”

NOTE: This website also provides more on the SCPI (pronounced “skippy” communities across Canada and their projects.

The following quote is from:http://www21.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/partners/community report.

“The Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) is a key component of the Government of Canada’s National Homelessness Initiative that focuses on community efforts to address homelessness. It has been implemented in communities across the country and relies on private and public partnerships at the local level. As the SCPI enters its third year, 61 communities have come together to examine the problem of homelessness and have developed comprehensive plans to mobilize their efforts to assist the most vulnerable citizens in their neighbourhoods.

“In recognition that these communities have now all completed their planning process, the Honourable Claudette Bradshaw, Minister of Labour and Federal Coordinator on Homelessness sought their input for this report. Ten communities were asked for an open and frank review of both the challenges and successes they experienced during the planning phase of the Initiative. They were asked to share their views and experiences. (A summary of their comments are included in the following pages of this report.)

“The ten communities who have participated in this report were chosen because their progress under the SCPI was far enough along to be able to provide examples of best practices as well as other information that could inform others about lessons learned along the way. The communities are Greater Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Sudbury, Hamilton, Ottawa, Halifax and St. John’s.”

References for Further Reading/Research:

Argoni, 2001. Affordable Housing and Smart Growth. 2001. Washington, DC: Smart Growth Network and National Neighborhood Coalition.

Beavis, Mary Ann et al. (1997, January). Literature Review: Aboriginal Peoples and Homelessness. Ottawa: CMHC

Begin, P. et al. (1999). Homelessness. Canada: Parliamentary Research Branch.

Canada Housing and Renewal Association (2002). On Her Own: Young Women  and Homelessness in Canada. Ottawa: Status of Women Canada.

Canada Housing and Renewal Association (2001). The Role of Housing in the  Social Inclusion/Exclusion of Children. Ottawa: Canada Housing and Renewal Association.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. (2001b) Guide to Affordable Housing Partnerships. Ottawa. CMHC.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. (1996). Immigrants and the Canadian Housing Market: Living Arrangements, Housing Characteristics, and Preferences. Ottawa: CMHC.

Cooper, Merrill (2001). Housing Affordability: A Children’s Issue. Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Networks.

Culhane, D.P. and Hornburg, S.P. 1997. Understanding Homelessness: New Policy and Research Perspectives. Washington, DC: Fannie Mae Foundation.

Davies, Libby (2001). Housing and Homelessness: Still an Un-Natural Disaster!  A Report by NDP Housing Spokesperson Libby Davies on the National Crisis in Housing and Homelessness.

Davies, Lorraine; McMullin, Julie Ann; Avison, William R.; and Cassidy, Gale L. (2001) Social Policy, Gender Inequality and Poverty. Ottawa, Status of Women Canada.

DeKeseredy, W.S., Alvi, S., Schwartz, M.D., and Perry, B. (1999). “Violence Against and the Harassment of Women in Canadian Public Housing: An Exploratory Study.” Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology  36: 499­516.

Department of Family Services (Manitoba) (1994).  A Review of Second Stage  Housing. Manitoba: Child and Family Services Division, Family Dispute Services Branch.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities (2000). A National Affordable Housing Strategy.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities. (2001a) The FCM Quality of Life  Reporting System: 2nd Report – Quality of Life in Canadian Municipalities.

Foyer des Cent Abris. Innovative Rooming Houses. A.C.T. Demonstration Project. Prepared for: FCM, CHBA, CHRA, CMHC.

Gardiner, Helen et al. (2002). 2002 Calgary Homelessness Study: Final Report October 2002. Calgary: Calgary Homeless Foundation.

Golden, Anne (1999) “Taking Responsibility for Homelessness: An Action Plan for Toronto.” City of Toronto: Report of the Mayor’s Homelessness Action Task Force.

Hagen, Jan L. (1987) “Gender and Homelessness,” Social Work 32: 312-316. Hartley, Robyn (1991) “Helping Homeless Families,” Family Matters. Dec.11.

Homegrown Solutions (2001) Affordable Housing Ideas at Work in Canadian  Communities.  Ottawa: CMHC.

Hulchanski, D. 2002. Housing Policy for Tomorrow’s Cities. CPRN Discussion Paper F/27 Family Network. Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Networks.

Hurtiz, Mel (1999) Pay the Rent or Feed the Kids: The Tragedy and Disgrace of Poverty in Canada. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

Huttman, Elizabeth and Redmond, Sonjia (1992) “Women and Homelessness: Evidence of Need to Look Beyond Shelters to Long Term Social Service Assistance and Permanent Housing.” Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 19(4) Dec: 89-111.

Jahiel, Rene I. (1992). “Homeless-Making Processes and the Homeless-Makers.” In R.I. Jahiel (ed). Homelessness: A Prevention-oriented Approach. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Johnson, Laura C. and Ruddock, Allison (2000) Building Capacity: Enhancing  Women’s Economic Participation Through Housing. Ottawa: Status of Women Canada.

Kerstetter, Steve (2002) Rags and Riches: Wealth Inequality in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Kraus, Deborah and Eberle, Margaret (1998) New Ways to Create Affordable Housing. Ottawa: CMHC.

Layton, Jack (2000) Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis. Toronto: Penguin Books.

National Low Income Housing Coalition. 2001. Does Design Make a Difference? The NIMBY Report. Fall 2001. Energy Pathways. Inc. 1995.

Rude, Darlene and Thompson, Kathleen (2001) Left in the Cold: Women, Health and the Demise of Social Housing Policies. Winnipeg, MB: Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence.

Shapcott, Michael (2002) Housing for All Canadians: An Additional $2 Billion for a Comprehensive National Housing Strategy – Draft. A Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Discussions for 2002.

Toronto: National Housing and Homelessness Network, Toronto Disaster Relief Committee.

Skelton, Ian (1998) The Shelter Shortage: New Directions for Low-Cost Housing Policy in Canada. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Van Wart, L. 2000. Testing the Limits: An Examination of Family Housing  Affordability in Nova Scotia. Masters Thesis, Dalhousie University – Daltech Department of Urban and Family Planning, Halifax, NS.

Wardhaugh, Julia (1999) “The Unaccommodated Woman: Home, Homelessness and Identity.” Sociological Review 47(1): 91-110.

Whitehead, Christine M.E. (2002) “Response: Housing, Tenure and Opportunity.” Housing Studies 17(1): 63-68.

Wiegers, Wanda (2002) The Framing of Poverty as “Child Poverty” and Its Implications for Women. Ottawa: Status of Women Canada.

Wight, J.D., Rubin, B.A., and Devine, J.A. 1998. Beside the Golden Door.  Policy, Politics and the Homeless. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Wilcox, Paula (2000) “Lone Motherhood: The Impact on Living Standards of Leaving a Violent Relationship.” Social Policy and Administration 34(2): 176-191.

Williams, Jean Calderone (1998) “Domestic Violence and Poverty: The Narratives of Homeless Women.” Frontiers  19(2): 143-165.

Websites/Organizations

Affordable New Home Development Foundation – the result of an initiative to address the affordable housing issue in Saskatoon. It is a registered, non-profit organization created to provide education and support to families and individuals that want to buy their first home, but for various reasons, cannot access the traditional marketplace. An element in the operation of this Foundation is the Building for Home Ownership program which is designed for families and individuals that are ready to make a commitment to work toward home ownership.

Sasknative Rentals Inc. – the first Metis administered, subsidized housing program in Saskatoon.

Crisis Nursery – a residence that provides a second home for children during a family crisis or emergency. If there is no alternate care available, parents may leave their children while the problem is being resolved. The Crisis Nursery in Saskatoon is sponsored by a non-governmental agency, the Saskatoon Society for the Protection of Children, Inc. and is managed by volunteer board members and interested citizens.

Saskatoon Housing Coalition Inc. – exists to meet the needs of those with mental illness through supportive housing.

Raising the Roof http://www.raisingtheroof.org/

Canada’s only national charity dedicated to long-term solutions to homelessness.

Calgary Homeless Foundation http://www.homeless.com

Founded by local businessman Art Smith and supported by Premier Ralph Klein, Mayor Al Duerr, as well as the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Calgary & Areas Foundation Sponsors.

Housing Again http://www.housingagain.web.net/

Websites of sponsoring organizations for this website are also of interest. From this site you can find Finding Room: Housing Solutions for the Future Report of the National Liberal Caucus Task Force on Housing by Paul Martin, MP, and Joe Fontana, MP.

Greater Vancouver Regional District “Homelessness” – http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/homelessness/index/html

Provides info on regional homelessness plan, research data and maps, and some links to relevant local and governmental agencies.

City of Calgary http://www.calgary.ca

University of British Columbia Homelessness Virtual Library www.hvl.ihpr.ubc.ca

The Native Council of Nova Scotia http://ncns.ednet.ns.ca

Has a brief description of a housing project by the Rural and Native Housing Group that helps to improve the housing standards of low/fixed income homeowners. Over the past twenty years, Rural and Native Housing Group has administered a range of well known social housing programs, e.g., Residential Assistance Program (RRAP) and the Emergency Repair Program (ERP).

In Summary

Marilyn Boechler, VP, has sent me much information on work that has been done in Saskatchewan, and I thank her for the following information, as well as some sources previously mentioned. The Saskatoon Council of Women made housing an issue to be studied and promoted in various programs from 1996 to 1998. They invited guest speakers from City Council and the Saskatoon Housing Authority and also organized five public information sessions in an area of the city where good quality social housing was desperately needed. Marilyn also noted these important facts that emerged from their work:

  1. Crisis shelters/housing is essential.
  2. Second-stage housing is the vital next step. Here people can be helped to gradually take charge of their lives and begin to make good decisions.
  3. Good quality affordable housing is also needed not just for families, but for anyone living on a low or modest income – singles, mentally or physically challenged, immigrants, seniors, etc.
  4. Housing co-ops seem to work well for families.

Homelessness is a very broad topic, encompasses so much, and affects so many people. There seems to be a plethora of information available, and many strides have been made toward finding solutions, but we haven’t found all the answers yet. We still have poverty, and hence we still have people who do not have a place of their own that they can call home. I hope the information contained herein is of some assistance as the NCWC Councils find their own approach to homelessness.

Protocol

Councils are asked to report on what have done or will be doing re our Common Program no later than March 31st, 2004. We want to be able to share findings, results, and ideas. These should be sent to Karen Dempsey, VP, in care of our National Office.

Karen Dempsey, VP (Economics) July 30, 2003




Notes 20101103 ICW-CIF Asia Pacific

NOTES FROM DOWN-UNDER- AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

ICW-CIF ASIA-PACIFIC FOURTH SEMINAR AND TRAINING WORKSHOP HOSTED BY THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF NEW ZEALAND

3-11 November, 2010

The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) is an umbrella organization representing 33 nationally organized societies and 14 national members. NCWNZ has 23 branches throughout the country attended by representatives of those societies and some 150 other societies. The Council’s function is to serve women, families and the community through research, study, discussion and action. Much like its Canadian counterpart and Councils in 81 countries elsewhere in the world.

New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. On 19 September, 1893. This day known as suffrage day was celebrated on 19 September by organizations and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. One way New Zealanders are recognized for their achievements is through memorials. Currently there are over 450 memorials registered in New Zealand. The Ministry of Arts and Culture and Heritage looks after historic graves and monuments in over 81 sites throughout New Zealand.

In my role as the newly elected ICW Advisor on Ageing, representing NCWC, I attended this conference to raise awareness about the ageing population. It is an issue whose time has come, based on the huge demographic shift in age not only in Canada but across the world. This role fits well with my previous and personal experience and I hope to share the how and the why this stage of our life cycle is in need of more education and understanding. I hope I did offer some insight. Perhaps I should not have been surprised, but I was, that I did confront some mild resistance from some of the delegates who mistakedly felt that the focus on ageing may diminish the focus on youth. This view of ageism is not unusual, in that I have experienced it many times here in Canada, and elsewhere, in the media, in the workplace, in politics, in institutions, such as health and education, for example. What is a revelation is that when I was younger it was named sexism. Now I understand it is just another ism, that needs to be met with public awareness.

But it is difficult to raise public awareness with a limited budget and few supporters. Nevertheless, I believe that together, young and older, we can gradually influence attitudes so that respect and dignity for an individual’s worth is increased. Behaviour is not shaped by legislation. This became very apparent at the Elder Law symposium I attended before going to New Zealand, which I will report on elsewhere. No, it is shaped by people like you and me with a concern to make this world a better place for all ages. And we must bring the youth with us. Because they will create the leadership of the future. They need to be informed and active so that discriminatory community attitudes and behaviours change. This will not happen by accident. So we need to take every opportunity to dedicate resources to motivate an ongoing younger population to work with us for effective public awareness.

If we do not talk about ageism, if no one hears about it, how can we possibly think its an important thing to do? It makes sense to include ageism among the ‘isms’ because ageing is one of life’s stages that we need to learn about before, during and after we enter it.

In New Zealand, and elsewhere, similar to Canada, when conversation focuses on older adults, there seems to be a kind, simple, straightforward acceptance that yes, we must have more nursing homes, more recreation centres, more palliative care, more respite care for caregivers, and more health dollars must be freed up and..and..and..

Less often is it recognized that older adults want to be accepted as thriving, energetic, skilled, interesting, experienced people who still want to participate in society in whatever capacity they choose – be it paid or unpaid work or policy decision-makers, whatever, to contribute socially, politically, culturally, whenever, wherever, should they choose to do so.

Ageism is a term first used by Robert N. Butler, M.D. in 1968 in the U.S.A. Ageism is another form of bigotry. Although ageism has received relatively little public attention, it has a significant impact on the lives of older adults both in terms of negative attitudes that older persons may face on an individual basis, and as a result of the influence that ageism may have on policies, programmes, and laws. Laws, like government policies and programmes, may be subtly influenced by ageism, and may reflect unwarranted stereotypes, attitudes and assumptions about older adults. As well, neutral law may be administered in an ageist or paternalistic fashion. People often claim, there is no problem, and yet there are daily around us, in various ways, covertly or overtly, ageist thoughts. Here are some:

Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions:

Older Persons are inflexible, resistant to change, and have difficulty learning new things;

Older Persons are chronically ill, dependent, and no longer make a contribution to society;

Older Persons are a burden on their families and loved ones, as well as society at large; Older Persons are depressed, isolated and waiting to die;

Older Persons have declining capacity, are incapable of making responsible decisions and must be protected from themselves.

The task ahead for those of us that believe in the former and not the latter, is to raise this awareness while recognizing both realities of ageing. And to insist, all policies regarding older adults must include input from those affected; in other words, ‘nothing about us, without us’.

In closing, I am reminded of Queen Elizabeth’s comment when upon receiving congratulations on her 80th birthday, this vital, energetic, amazing leader of a vast realm said, “we all get to be 80 if we live long enough” . What she meant is, this is a normal stage of life therefore, we are wise to accept it and plan for it.

Thelma McGillivray, ICW Advisor on Ageing December 3, 2010




Notes 20100809 Pentland Water Policy

Ralph Pentland’s* Speaking Notes – Draft/Check against Delivery
(Including a Contribution from Norm Brandson**)

Midwestern Legislative Conference, Toronto, 9 August, 2010

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS FOR THE SESSION ON WATER POLICY, PROTECTION AND MANAGEMENT

I should note at the outset that I have no current affiliation with any government at any level. So whatever views I express here today are strictly personal. I would propose to do three things before we open things up for discussion: first I will take a very quick look at the evolution of Canada – U.S. water issues; second, I will do a cursory comparison of water policies in our two countries; and third I will describe several current water issues in the Midwest region. I was also asked to offer some specific suggestions along the way, so I will do a bit of that as well.

So, let me start with a very quick glance at Canada – U.S. water relations over the past century, and guess a little about the future. Until about 1965, water resource development was the theme in both countries, and multiple use and coordination were the means most often alluded to. In the context of Canada-U.S. relations, that translated mainly into projects of mutual advantage. Some of the more notable examples included the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Columbia River Treaty.

Between 1965 and about 1990, there was a dramatic change in conventional wisdom about water management. We suddenly realized that one person’s effluent was another person’s intake, and the public interest did not always coincide with the private interest. The high degree of interdependence created by technology suggested the need for a more systemic approach to water management, with mathematical models often serving as the tools. Some examples included a more systemic approach to Great Lakes water level regulation, an ecosystems approach to environmental quality under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and extensive use of mathematical models in examining the downstream impacts of proposals like the Garrison Diversion Unit in the Dakotas.

As we moved into the most recent period after about 1990, the globalism and competitiveness agendas began to overwhelm water managers in both countries. One of the consequences was a significant hollowing out of environmental and water management agencies. Under those circumstances, one would expect Canada – U.S. water relations to suffer, and they have. For example, the significant gains that were made in cleaning up the Great Lakes between 1970 and 1990 have been mostly reversed. On transboundary issues like Devils Lake, traditional forms of binational fact-finding simply no longer take place, leading to a continuing source of friction.

* Ralph Pentland was formerly Director of Water Planning and Management with the Canadian Federal Government

**Norm Brandson was formerly Deputy Minister of Water Stewardship with the Government of Manitoba

In today’s world, it is difficult to look very far ahead without thinking about global issues first. Just a few of the global issues we hear about these days include things like: the growing impacts of climate change; environment-related health issues; price shocks and conflicts brought about by competition for energy and other scarce resources; the impending end of the green revolution in agriculture; and the likelihood of massive migrations of water and environmental refugees. On the other side of the coin, we will likely witness significant movement towards a new greener economy. And if history repeats itself, we will also experience a lot of things we haven’t even thought about yet – some of which will be pleasant surprises, and some of which will be very unpleasant.

All of these things will have implications for regional water resources. Some of the implications are reasonably predictable, and within the control of regional water managers. Others are neither predictable nor controllable. So regional water managers will have to become very ingenious at coping and adapting. One thing they definitely should do is under these circumstances is to maintain as much resilience as possible in aquatic ecosystems, in order to leave enough room to cope with the unknown and the unpredictable.

There are at least three obvious things we can do to maintain that resilience. First, we can keep as much water as possible in its major natural drainage basins. A second is to minimize the impact of water pollution. And a third way is to use water as efficiently as possible. In a very oversimplified sense, those three simple principles constitute a universally sound, 20 word water policy – that is, “keep water in its natural basins, treat it and its watersheds with respect, and use it as efficiently as possible”.

I would now like to do a quick comparison of water policies in our two countries based on those three principles. First, with respect to keeping water in its natural basins, nine of Canada’s ten provinces have now passed laws prohibiting removals of water from major river basins, with minor and well-defined exceptions. The tenth province just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. The federal government has complimentary legislation for boundary waters, and is planning to do the same for transboundary waters.

On the advice of the eight Great Lakes states, the U.S. government has passed a Compact that prohibits bulk removals from the Great Lakes Basin, with exceptions similar to those in Canadian legislation. I think that represents sound water policy. In the long run it also represents sound social and economic policy. If laws similar to your Great Lakes Compact were in place everywhere in the U.S., a few of our minor boundary water frictions would disappear overnight.

Turning to water pollution, things get a lot more complicated. Generally speaking, Canada and the U.S. have somewhat similar pollution control regimes, but the outcomes are quite different. In Canada, there are relatively few national environmental standards, and only a token amount of federal enforcement. The provinces have generally asserted their constitutional prerogative to set and enforce their own standards, even after participating in prolonged exercises in cooperative standard setting.

What we have ended up with is a somewhat “soft’ water pollution control regime , based to a large extent on closed door negotiations, gentlemen’s agreements and very sparing use of actual enforcement. The lack of transparency that accompanies our decentralized system offers very conducive conditions for this approach.

While the U.S. outcome may not be stellar among all industrialized nations, most recent research suggests that it is nevertheless superior to Canada’s. There is a recent book on that topic entitled “Green Leviathan” by Inger Weibust. There seems to be two main reasons for your better overall performance. First, the U.S. does have enforceable and more rigorously enforced national standards. Even though state policies continue to be very sensitive to concerns about competitiveness, federal floor standards seem to modify that concern enough that some states even exceed federal standards. A second reason seems to be that the U.S. system is much more transparent than ours, possibly because your non-governmental sectors are much larger and more vocal than ours.

Several comparisons have been made, based on matching sets of data from the U.S. Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) and the Canadian National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). For example, in 1998, Canadian economist Nancy Olewiler concluded that toxic releases per job and per dollar of output from Canadian manufacturing industries were 50% higher than releases from comparable U.S. manufacturing industries. Earlier this year, Canada’s Pollution Watch looked at data for the Great Lakes basin and concluded that “on a per facility basis, Canadian NPRI facilities emitted to the air, on average, almost three times more known carcinogens and more than twice the reproductive/developmental toxins than U.S. TRI facilities.”

Unfortunately, in both countries regulators are reluctant to regulate, and those being regulated are reluctant to be regulated. That reluctance seems to be based on an instinctive belief that requiring firms to reduce pollution will reduce both the firms’ profits and the jurisdiction’s productivity and competitiveness. But that instinctive belief runs counter to a rich body of empirical evidence assembled over the past twenty years, which suggests that jurisdictions with the strongest environmental regulation also have the highest levels of productivity and competitiveness.

The evidence regarding individual firms is a bit more mixed. Stronger regulation may create small and very temporary losses in jobs and profits, but three to four years later, many of those same firms will have gained in both productivity and profits due to innovation and waste minimization. For example, a recent study of 17 Quebec manufacturing industries demonstrated that environmental regulations have a significantly positive impact on productivity growth rates, using lagged results. The positive effect was most pronounced in those sectors that are most highly exposed to outside competition.

Empirical evidence also suggests that the type of regulation is important. Regulations based on outcomes tend to produce better economic results than technology based regulations. And incentive based approaches like environmental taxes and cap-and-trade work even better. But, it is important to recognize that incentive based approaches have their limitations, especially when it comes to the protection of health and safety.

In any event, if you are looking for one policy shift that may be beneficial in all of your respective jurisdictions, you might want to take a look at the potential economic benefits of more effective environmental regulation.

Our two countries also have somewhat similar policy approaches regarding the management of water uses, but again the outcomes are quite different. In most of the western states, a system of water rights combined with the prior appropriations doctrine reflects the relative scarcity of water and provides a measure of certainty in times of shortage. The riparian doctrine in the eastern states reflects the realities of a region historically blessed with an abundance of water. It does not provide a basis for the allocation of water. Instead, it limits water use to lands adjoining or overlying the water, and requires water to be used “reasonably”. In Canada we also have water rights systems in the western provinces, and a form of riparianism in the east, sometimes including a permitting system for larger users.

In recent years, western states have gradually begun placing more value on environmental and in stream uses, moving them in the direction of a more riparian view. At the same time, some eastern states are beginning to move towards a sort of regulated riparianism, for example under the Great Lakes Compact. That is because in situ uses, contamination of existing supplies, and gradual climate change are all impacting on the perception of overabundance. The same thing kind of policy convergence is beginning to happen in Canada as well, but it is happening at a much slower pace here, so we will have an opportunity to learn from the U.S. experience in our own policy evolution.

Total water use in the United States probably leveled off in the 1980s. Some of the reasons include more realistic pricing of water and wastewater services, the migration of heavy industry offshore, and incentives to encourage more efficient irrigation. Those three trends are common to Canada as well. But there are also other reasons that are more unique to the U.S., including the imposition of more stringent environmental regulations, and market-like arrangements which result in the transfer of water from lower value to higher value uses. For these and other reasons, total water use continues to rise in Canada at the same time as it has stabilized or possibly begun to decline south of the border.

One of the reasons Canada may be more constrained than the U.S. in moving to more market-like approaches to water allocation is the fact that we have weaker counterbalances. For example, every U.S. state has public trust laws, which provide a measure of protection for the broader common good as markets reallocate water. We have no similar laws in Canada. Empirical evidence, for example in some South American situations, suggests that market-like approaches do not work well in the absence of appropriate counterbalances.

Now I would like to turn to a few specific regional examples that some of you may be familiar with. Let me start with a particularly good example, namely Great Lakes diversions and consumptive uses. In that case, roles and responsibilities are clear, and everyone is playing their appropriate part. The International Joint Commission fulfilled its advisory role through Study References about 1980 and again about 2000, the two federal governments have facilitated as necessary but stayed out of the way in day-to-day management, and state and provincial governments negotiated and are jointly managing technically sound umbrella agreements.

There are, and always will be local problems, but those are being dealt with appropriately at the local level under the umbrella of the U.S. Compact and state-provincial agreement. That top-down science/policy and bottom-up decision/action model is one that holds out a lot of promise in many other situations along our common border, as well as within our individual countries.

Great Lakes water quality management is unfortunately much more complex; roles and responsibilities are less clear; and the outcome in recent years has not been good. Today, the Great Lakes face a new set of concerns. New toxic chemicals are showing up in fish and sediments. These include fire retardants, plasticizers, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products that likely pose a risk to human health, fish and wildlife. Many areas around the lakes are re-experiencing nuisance algae growth; and beach closings are becoming more common. Most designated areas of concern have not yet been cleaned up, and mercury from coal fired generating stations appears to be increasing.

Non-native species are threatening to upset the balance in biological systems and water chemistry. Climate change is contributing new challenges, for example warmer waters are leading to longer periods of anoxic conditions or dead zones in bottom waters, and more intense storms are leading to increased erosion and pollution from farmlands. Airborne emissions of potentially carcinogenic chemicals, many of which likely end up in the water, remain very high.

The two federal governments are currently negotiating a revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Two public meetings are apparently being planned for late September, although I suspect that may be delayed. In a joint document dated July 9, thirty-six citizens groups from our two countries expressed serious concerns that the renegotiation process was too shallow, that it lacked rigor, and that it was happening too fast. There are also some good analyses by individual groups such as the Canadian Environmental Law Association. These documents set out very specific recommendations for the consideration of the negotiators.

I would suggest that this negotiation process is critically important to state and provincial governments, who will inevitably be called upon to implement major parts of the resulting agreement. So for anyone interested in this topic, I would suggest that you to take a serious look at the recommendations from the citizens’ groups, communicate with some of their leaders, and engage in both the public and intergovernmental processes.

I will mention just a few of the proposals that I have heard from independent experts:

  1. The agreement should call for the development and implementation of a binational strategy for the elimination and reduction of toxic chemicals of concern, including cancer causing chemicals, endoctrine disruptors, and reproductive and developmental toxicants.
  2. The agreement should commit the two governments to supporting a strong international agreement to eliminate mercury from industrial sources and consumer products.
  3. Recognizing that the surest way to reduce loadings is to ban the most harmful substances, the virtual elimination of persistent toxic chemicals should continue to be an integral part of the agreement.
  4. Current efforts in specific areas of concern should remain focused on contaminant pollution and be accelerated. In addition, watershed plans should be developed and implemented for all parts of the basin. These plans should recognize climate change as a significant factor in increasing non-point sources of pollution.
  5. Specific water quality objectives should be a cornerstone of the agreement in order to judge progress. The full range of regulatory measures, including performance and incentive based regulations should be considered to meet those objectives. Emissions to air, many of which likely end up in the water, should be included in the regulatory regime.
  6. Management and accountability arrangements need to be strengthened. The primary management body should be more inclusive, report through the semi-independent International Joint Commission (IJC), and be held accountable for developing and implementing work plans and meeting specified outcomes. The IJC, with the assistance of the Science Advisory Board should be mandated to report to governments and the public on the adequacy of the efforts.

I would like to touch on just one more Great Lakes issue. The International Joint Commission is currently conducting a review of upper Great Lakes water levels. The problem that should be particularly concerning to some states and Ontario is declining mean water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron. Over the past century, mean levels have dropped by as much as two feet due to a combination of man-made factors, especially dredging in the connecting channels. Over the next few decades, there is a high probability that the decline will accelerate, possibly as a result of ongoing erosion in the connecting channels, but more likely as a result of climate change. Many state and provincial interests would be seriously impacted by any significant drop in levels.

The Plan of Study calls for an evaluation of whether there is “ongoing erosion” in the St. Clair River that has significantly increased the conveyance of the river. It also notes that, even if there is no significant conveyance change, climate warming may affect Lake Michigan-Huron water levels to such an extent that mitigation measures may be desirable to maintain lake levels. Sometime between now and 2012, the end date of the study, a judgment will have to be made about the wisdom of installing control works of some type in the St. Clair River. State and provincial officials have had minimal involvement in the issue to date. However, considering the seriousness of the matter, and the potential impact on state and provincial responsibilities, more involvement would likely be advisable.

While the Upper Lakes Study only impacts on a few of your jurisdictions directly, I wanted to touch on it because the insights that emerge there are likely to be more generally applicable. As climate change intensifies, there will be ever increasing pressures to compensate for changes in the hydrologic regime by building heroic engineering works. My own instincts suggest that would generally be a mistake – that if we tried to do that we would waste a lot of resources and energy, and likely end up making things worse at least as often as we make them better.

It seems to me that we should adapt to climate change by doing all the things we should be doing anyway. I think you all know what those things are – conserve water, conserve energy, control pollution, and make incremental adjustments if and as necessary on a relatively local scale.

Moving a bit further west, just two months ago a new Study Reference was issued to the IJC requesting the Commission to examine and report on new and emerging water quality issues and water management needs in the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River Basin. What is different about this one is that it aims to facilitate a basin wide approach by promoting communications, collaboration and coordination among all stakeholders using an integrated, ecosystem approach.

This new study will fit within the IJC’s relatively new International Watersheds Initiative. To be successful, it will have to build on evolving international experience which recognizes that, as water issues become more complex, more bottom-up decision making and action will become an absolute necessity; but that those bottom-up actions must still take place in the context of top-down policy frameworks and the transfer of knowledge to local citizens in an understandable way. The approach is still in its infancy, and state and provincial governments will no doubt be called on to play their appropriate science and policy roles.

My own experience with Midwestern water issues has been mainly as a federal official and a consultant. To give you a different perspective, the following two examples were contributed by Norm Brandson, a former senior official with the Manitoba provincial government.

Norm’s first example – examples really – is a series of water projects in the U.S. portion of the Hudson Bay drainage basin that could have impacts on Canadian waters. Some of you may be familiar with the Garrison Diversion project, a proposal to move a large quantity of Missouri River water into the Hudson Bay basin for municipal, agricultural and industrial use. This poses a concern as these two basins, unconnected for millennia, contain organisms that could cause ecological disruption if transferred to the other watershed. The IJC examined and reported on this proposal in the late 1970’s and recommended that it not proceed until both national governments could agree that it would not impair Canadian waters.

The project has resurfaced in a somewhat modified form as the Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP), and is proceeding through the process requirements of the NEPA. Another proposal to transfer Missouri River water for municipal purposes (on a much smaller scale than the RRVWSP) called the Northwest Area Water Supply Project is well underway and is being challenged in U.S. Federal court by Manitoba with the support of the government of Canada. They allege that the potential risk to Canadian waters has not been taken into account.

Finally, there is a third project, the construction of a drain from Devils Lake, North Dakota connecting the Lake to the rest of the Hudson Bay basin through the Red River and Lake Winnipeg. This self-contained watershed, not connected to the rest of Hudson Bay basin for several hundred years, is experiencing severe flooding due to a prolonged wet cycle. The drain is intended to reduce this flooding; however there are Canadian fears that it poses a similar threat to the transfer of Missouri River water. Negotiations have occurred between the various parties, but the issue of possible transfer of harmful organisms remains outstanding and several issues have been tested in the courts.

We do not intend to argue the merits of any of these projects. Each has strong support as well as heated opposition for the reasons already noted. What is troubling is that none of these projects, one of which is already operational and another partially constructed, has involved the International Joint Commission in its traditional binational fact-finding role. Instead our two national governments have resorted to a closed door bargaining process, and when that has proved unsuccessful parties who feel threatened by the projects have gone to court.

Hopefully this represents only temporary amnesia and our two countries will recall the many instances of the wise counsel of the IJC in resolving complex and contentious water issues. Neither “let’s make a deal” nor “ talk to my lawyer” is a productive way to resolve differences of opinion relating to shared waters. The Boundary Waters Treaty is the envy of the world. There really is nothing else quite like it. Hopefully our two federal governments will reacquaint themselves with its value which lies in its use.

Norm’s second example is the state of Lake Winnipeg, the 10th largest freshwater lake in the world. Its contributing watershed contains parts of four Canadian provinces and four U.S. states, an area of over 900,000 km.2 This lake is in serious trouble. Its present condition is being compared to the state of Lake Erie in the 1960’s when scientists declared that it was “dying”. The main culprit is nutrient enrichment and the sources are diverse – agricultural, municipal and industrial – and are spread throughout the huge watershed. More than half the nutrient loading comes from outside the Province of Manitoba.

Why should jurisdictions in the Lake Winnipeg basin (outside of Manitoba) care about the state of Lake Winnipeg? Lake Winnipeg represents a natural treasure. Perhaps we can draw a parallel to the U.S. territorial waters of the Gulf bordering Louisiana, Missouri and Florida. Canadians feel a deep sense of loss in the enormous damage suffered from the recent oil disaster, even though at best we might be visitors to that region. Because Lake Winnipeg is really only a sum of what flows into it, it also represents a kind of mirror that gives us an early indication of how well or badly we are doing in preserving lakes and rivers in the several jurisdictions that share the basin. Although it is much more than a symbol, Lake Winnipeg can be a talisman for energizing water management throughout the basin.

The old saw “think global, act local” has no more appropriate application than the restoration of Lake Winnipeg. Lake Winnipeg represents a unique challenge to our bi-lateral relations on water. It is not a “boundary water”. It is wholly contained within one of the jurisdictions in its watershed. Eight sub-national governments contribute inflows. But we all have an interest in its health. Can we work together towards a common objective in this vast watershed? If we can it will make other Canada-U.S. water issues seem less daunting; but if we can’t it may signal the continued erosion of confidence in the Boundary Waters Treaty and further resorting to power politics and litigation in Canada-U.S. relations on water.

I might just sum up with a couple of very general observations based on close to 50 years of dealing with and observing binational water issues of this type. One of the things I have observed over the years is a steady increase in state and provincial involvement in what used to be almost exclusively a federal enterprise. That increased state and provincial involvement has generally been highly beneficial.

The other observation I would make is that the waters that our two countries manage together have historically been better managed than most of the waters in our individual countries. One reason for that may be that they simply get more attention. But, another important reason is the fact that, in individual cases, one country or the other tends to lead and the other follows. For example, at the time of the first Great Lake Water Quality Agreement in 1972, the Canadian commitment was greater, and the U.S. commitment very soon caught up. Today, as the Agreement is once again being negotiated, the level of commitment in the U.S. is very clearly greater than that in Canada. If history repeats itself, we will do the catching up this time around, and the citizens on both sides of the lakes will be better off as a result.

As I understand it, we will now move to an open discussion for the rest of the session. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have, but I am sure you would also like to take this opportunity to share experiences and ideas among yourselves.




Notes 20080530 Pentland 21 Century Energy and Water


1

Ralph Pentlands Speaking Notes May 30, 2008

National Council of Women of Canada

21st Century Energy and Water Policies

I would like to thank you for inviting me to meet with you today. I was pleased when I learned that the National Council of Women of Canada was embarking on an energy-water connections project. I cant think of a subject that is timelier, and which touches more directly on virtually every aspect of the lives of Canadian families. What I will be doing today is exploring several specific policy areas related to energy and water, as well as a few related governance matters. But, before getting into the details, I would like to spend just a few minutes situating energy and water futures in a global and conceptual context.

Western societies seem to be governed by a belief that everyone in the world will eventually adopt our values, and as everyone becomes alike and modern, advancing science and technology will engender a universal morality in which the aim of the global society will be to be as productive as possible. Under that scenario, humanity will extend its power over the worlds resources, and thereby overcome the worst forms of natural scarcity.

While few would disagree that scientific and technological advances are on balance beneficial, the way those advances interrelate with generally slower evolving political, legal and economic systems is very troubling. Far from resource scarcity fading away with economic development, it is in fact becoming a pivotal source of conflict. Early in the 21st century, the pattern of human conflict is being fundamentally reshaped by uneven population growth and consequent migration pressures, geopolitical tensions linked to energy insecurity, widespread regional freshwater shortages, and irreversible climate change.

That should not be surprising. Just think about where we have come from over the 20th century world energy increased by a factor of 12.5, and world water use increased by a factor of nine. Most of that increase occurred in the latter half of the century after planned obsolescence was adopted as a core economic strategy in the western world. And most of the energy increase can be attributed to about 10% of the worlds population.

If everyone in the world started to consume at the same rate as North Americans do, and if exponential increases in consumption were to continue, water and energy use would, for all practical purposes be approaching infinity well before the middle of this century. The notion of infinite resource exploitation on a finite planet is obviously absurd.

Some of you may have seen the very fascinating video on the internet at storyofstuff.com. It explains in very simple laymans language just why we are on unsustainable resource exploitation and consumption paths. It also offers some thought-provoking statistics. For example, did you know that for every bag of garbage you put out on your curb every week, about 70 equivalent bags of waste were created in producing the things that are in your one bag of garbage? Or, did you know that, of all the stuffthat is in the production cycle today, only 1% will still be in use six months from now?

Over the past year or two, there have been several interesting books published on water, energy and related futures. One particularly intriguing book by Richard Heinberg is entitled Peak Everything. The author of that book makes a relatively convincing case that the use of most resources and the production of most material goods will necessarily peak relatively soon, and begin to decline.

Surprisingly, he doesnt view that as an impending tragedy. In fact he argues that our quality of life could actually improve as resource use and the production of stuffdeclines, but only if we accept the inevitable and manage the transition appropriately. On that point, he suggests provocatively that the only real question is whether societies will contract and simplify intelligently or in an uncontrolled, chaotic fashion.

One could of course argue about the timing of the global energy and water use peaks, but I would guess they would nearly coincide. Some parts of the world are already consuming virtually all of their renewable water supplies. Lots of examples are documented in Fred Peases very good book When the Rivers Run Dry.

For example, as many rivers and lakes are drying up in India and China, irrigators are increasingly turning to groundwater. But, those aquifers are becoming depleted and polluted. It has been estimated that in China, as many of 100 million people now depend on food grown with underground water that the rains are not replacing. Probably another 200 million are doing the same thing in India. Half of all hand-dug wells and millions of tubewells have dried up across western India. Whole districts in arid Indian states are emptying of people. In fact, I have heard claims that the world now had more water refugees than war refugees.

At least theoretically, water scarcity can always be overcome by some combination of desalinization, cleaning water up to a very high standard, and moving water over long distances. But, those options are all huge energy destroyers. The further we move down any of those paths, the sooner we will arrive at the inevitable global energy crunch, if we havent already. Of course the opposite is also true. The faster we squander energy resources, the sooner we will hit water limits. A good example of that is the impact of tar sands development on the Athabasca River.

What I would conclude from this brief glance at the global energy and water situations is that current trends and current mindsets simply cannot, and almost certainly will not continue much longer. We will very quickly have to seek out some new form of dynamic equilibrium.

Back about 25 years ago, I participated in something called the World Futures Conference in Washington. Thinking back, I guess most of the presentations, including one I made on water were pretty naïve. But, there was one theme running through several of the presentations that I have often come back to. That theme related to certain things that were inevitable but not necessarily obvious at the beginning of the information age. The first was the inevitable flatteningof the world that would happen as everyone became interconnected. That phenomenon is definitely well underway, and is described well in Thomas Freidmans book The World is Flat.

But, a more disturbing prediction was that the information age would also lead to the accumulation of wealth and power in only a few hands. That has also come to pass. The poorest 20% of the worlds population now receive less than 1% of the worlds income. And of the hundred largest financial entities in the world, less than half are now countries, and more than half are corporations.

The predictions 25 years ago went even further to suggest that by now, even democracies would effectively be governed by non-democratic entities. That is only partly the case. As pointed out by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz in his book Making Globalization Work, a lot of the worlds most important decisions are now being made by undemocratic entities like the World Bank, the IMF and the World Trade Organization. And North American policy, including Canadas, is being shaped to a large extent by Washington-based think tanks and industry-dominated processes like the Security and Prosperity Partnership. Those bodies and processes are all driven by the same single-minded focus on immediate competitiveness, with little attention to the broader public good, or the well-being of future generations.

In his book The Collapse of Globalism, John Ralston Saul argues that globalism is now petering out as nation states begin to reassert their independence. He contends that we have just lived through a period in which elites have been obsessed by abstract theories of how economies must work at the global level. With everything viewed through the lens of international economics, and the influence of domestic voters on the decline, public good issues like health, education and the environment were effectively demoted. Saul goes on to suggest that what we are now witnessing is the emergence of a more assertive sub-national democracy in cities and semi-autonomous regions, and large concentrations of people and political power in urban areas. As these trends accelerate, citizens will insist on organizing their lives around the realities of the local environment in which they live.

Earlier this week, even a major Canadian financial institution, CIBC World Markets predicted that globalism as we know it will wind down over the next few years, because energy costs will make it prohibitively expensive to ship resources and finished products between continents.

I dont know whether these futurists are right or wrong. But, for the sake of speculating on 21st century energy and water policies, I am going to make four optimistic assumptions about governance in the coming decades.

First I am going to assume that we will continue to take advantage of the efficiencies offered by the free market system. Second, I am going to assume that the public good will make a comeback, which will be reflected in more citizen-sensitive constraints on the functioning of the free market system. Third, I will assume that the global society will be forced to recognize that the production and consumption of stuff cannot increase exponentially to infinity on a finite planet. And fourth, I am going to assume that the relative roles of international organizations, various levels of government, the private sector and civil society will evolve in constructive ways.

As pointed out by Stiglitz, international agencies will necessarily have to become more democratic in some way I am not quite sure how. Governance will become very distributed, with senior governments doing more steeringand more local governments doing more rowing. The private sector will continue to be creative, but it will do that at a more local level, and the policy space within which it innovates will be somewhat more constrained. And civil society will lubricate the evolution, by doing the kind of project the NCWC has just initiated, and following through on their findings by influencing voters and consumers.

Taking those assumptions into account, I am going to suggest an even dozen topics and potential policy shifts that the NCWC may wish to consider during its energy-water connections project. Other advisors will no doubt suggest others, some of which may be more pertinent. Not surprisingly, you will find that many of my suggestions are already on your radar screen, as demonstrated by previous Council resolutions.

To line up my suggestions with my assumptions, I am going to place the 12 suggestions in three categories: the first at the level of national vision; the second at the level of appropriate constraints on the functioning of the free market; and the third at the level of providing incentives and opportunities for individuals and local level entities to act on their own behalf in ways that are meaningful and beneficial

1. National Vision

1.1 Look to Europe for Inspiration

My first suggestion on vision is to look to Europe for your inspiration. Europeans are already living the energy and water future we should be striving for. Its obviously difficult to compare quality of life in different countries. But, as I travel around Europe and North America, I dont perceive any perceptible difference in quality of life; except Europeans seem to enjoy life a bit more than North Americans.

The average European supports his or her very good lifestyle with less as than half as much water use and less than half as much energy use as the average North American. He or she also produces less than half the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions. It would take very little for us to match their performance – just a few very minor lifestyle changes.

An equally impressive contrast is in the way Europeans deal with regulations and other measures to protect health, safety and the environment. Here in North America, we are franticly engaged in a race to the bottom under NAFTA and the Security and Prosperity Partnership, by searching out and moving to lowest common denominator regulatory regimes in the interest of theoretical competitiveness. But, the Europeans are doing just fine, and at the same time adopting very strong Union-wide standards. And many member states are moving to even more stringent requirements.

Our race to the bottom will inevitably lead to spectacular market failures. A non-environmental example is the sub-prime mortgage meltdown in the U.S., which is typical of what we will see in the future if we keep putting theoretical competitiveness ahead of the public good. Climate change will soon become a much more spectacular example of a market failure. That one is being caused by a failure to include environmental and social costs in energy decisions.

1.2       Climate Change

That brings me to my second topic under the heading of national vision. Climate change is a key integrator between water and energy issues. Canada has over 600 large dams and 54 interbasin diversions created mainly to produce hydroelectric energy. Two-thirds of all the water withdrawn in our country is for thermal power generation. And we are now witnessing devastating impacts on water caused by tar sands development. But, in the very long run, all the direct impacts of energy development on water may pale in comparison with the indirect impacts by way of climate change.

In a report last month on climate change and water, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted, with a high level of confidence, that by the 2050s, the area of land subject to increasing water stress due to climate change will be more than double that with decreasing water stress. Unfortunately, two of the areas most likely to be severely stressed are our already water-short prairie region, and our critically important Great Lakes Region.

On most major environmental issues over the past half century, from acid rain to eutrophication of the Great Lakes, the U.S. has initially dragged its feet while Canada exercised leadership. Eventually, the U.S. has always come on board, and has become a world leader. The climate change issue is the first major exception to that pattern.

I think there is a pretty broad perception both at home and abroad that both Canada and the U.S. have dragged their feet on this one. Our policies and targets are of course somewhat different, but on the most important strategies like intensity-based targets, our national government appears to be in lock-step with the current U.S. administration. Fortunately, we are seeing more leadership at a sub-national level, for example in California, British Columbia and Manitoba.

In Jeffrey Simpson’s recent book, he predicts that very soon the U.S. will begin to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He is probably right. Even the Republican candidate has called for the U.S. to stop resisting a global cap and trade regime. And with Europe already demonstrating leadership, we could soon become the only laggard among industrialized nations.

I am not an expert on climate change. But, Jim Bruce, who is one of Canada’s leading experts, tells me that Canada should be moving forward much more aggressively in several areas, including: a cap and trade strategy for large industries; a revenue neutral carbon tax; quotas on the proportion of electricity provided from renewable sources; and subsidies for green energy.

1.3       Energy Security

If our national government were to aggressively tackle the climate issue, it could also pay huge dividends with respect to our national energy security. So, my third topic at the level of vision is energy security.

Earlier this month, Canada’s Industry Minister was speaking to the Council of the Americas in Washington. According to his speaking notes he said: “World energy demand will not decrease anytime soon. It will continue to grow”. He went on to say “We also have the infrastructure, the technology and the will to find innovative ways to use energy to build competitive strength”. Both statements are obviously correct. Energy demand will continue to grow, and if we try real hard we can obviously find innovative ways to squander more energy. But, is that a defensible mindset in the 21st century?

The world has already entered a period of energy supply-demand imbalance, which will only intensify over time as the four BRIC countries industrialize. The kind of energy price shock that you are experiencing every time you fill up your gas tank or pay your home heating bill will inevitably happen more frequently in the coming decades, and become much more severe.

Canada is not an island, and can’t insulate itself from the vagaries of the international marketplace. We are still a net exporter of oil, but many millions of Canadians are dependent on imports from potentially unstable regions of the world. We are still a net exporter of natural gas, but the National Energy Board suggests that we may become a net importer within two decades.

I guess North America is sort of an island, but contrary to political spin, it cannot achieve energy self-sufficiency without both major policy shifts, and the passage of a lot of time. The sooner both Canada and the United States get on with those policy shifts, the less vulnerable we will be to circumstances beyond our control.

The necessary policy shifts are relatively self-evident. We need to modernize regulations, incentives and disincentives in ways that will achieve three things – the first is to move us to a “softer” energy path; the second is to diversify away from non­renewable sources; and the third is to take advantage of potentially important synergies between energy and water policy. I will come back to these points in a few moments. I am sure you will have noticed a certain parallel between my energy and climate suggestions. Clearly, solving either of these problems would go a very long way towards solving the other.

1.4       Water Policy

My fourth topic in the vision category is water policy. I think you have already called for a new water strategy, and the current government has even promised to do one. Canada’s last formal federal water policy was one I worked on way back in 1987. Ironically, since that time, the number and severity of freshwater issues has rapidly escalated, while our capacity to deal with them has steadily declined.

We have always assumed that the vast area of Canada and our generous endowment of water would shelter us from the fate of more densely populated nations. But, our perception of overabundance is rapidly fading due to competing consumptive and in situ uses, the contamination of existing supplies, and gradual climate change. And as we are learning with western Canadian energy developments, a combination of even small policy errors and very powerful modern technologies can change a healthy water situation into a potentially tragic one quickly and without warning.

There is still no effective centre of water policy leadership at the federal level. There is very little science anywhere in Canada that is both independent of the political process and independent of the primary abusers of water resources. Data and other water science programs have been severely downsized and degraded over the past two decades.

Clearly, there is an urgent need to rebuild and reinvigorate a national water management capacity, beginning with federal leadership. Last fall, I worked with a number of concerned scientists and citizens under the name Gordon Water Group which developed 25 specific suggestions on how that could be done.

We also have to get beyond federal-provincial turf wars, and move towards a pan-Canadian consensus on water policy. Once again I would look to Europe for inspiration. In 2000, member states of the European Union passed the Water Framework Directive, a legally-binding policy for water management and protection for all of Europe. That framework sets out a comprehensive water management strategy based on integrated watershed management, including transboundary watersheds.

2. Constraints

1.1 Smart Regulation

On public interest constraints, the first topic I would like to touch on is so-called smart regulation, which has major implications for both energy and water. Since about 1990, as an inevitable outcome of declining voter influence, North America has gone through a process of deregulation and the eroding of public interest regulations in an attempt to become more competitive. One of the ways of doing that has been to move in the direction of so-called smart regulation.

That’s a complicated concept, but what it essentially means is that we have moved away from the precautionary principle to a risk assessment approach. And because, whether by accident or design, governmental scientific capacity has been seriously compromised at the same time, the task of risk assessment has fallen mostly to those being regulated.

In North America, that process seems to be accelerating under the Security and Prosperity Partnership. Under that process, governments are taking their direction primarily from a group of corporate executives. Citizens are not being significantly included or consulted. There is always a great deal of secrecy surrounding decisions until they are a fait accompli, and many close observers contend that the regulatory shift is generally in the direction of the lowest common denominator.

Aside from the regulatory process losing its rigor, enforcement has virtually evaporated. For example, in a recent year, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment recorded 1900 water pollution violations and laid only 4 charges. In the same year, Environment Canada noted 3000 violations of pulp and paper mill regulations, and only proceeded with 7 prosecutions.

Your Council may want to take a very close look at how we develop and enforce health, safety and environmental regulations in this country, and if deemed necessary call for a mid-term correction.

1.2 Safe Drinking Water

My second topic under constraints is safe drinking water. I notice that you have already passed an earlier resolution on this topic, which I would like to support and reinforce. In Canada we operate under a system of national guidelines, with provincial regulation. There are few other countries anywhere in the world without enforceable national drinking water standards.

Last month, I was invited to make a presentation to a Senate Committee on this topic. I pointed out that public anxiety is continuing to mount with every new tragedy like those experienced in Walkerton and Kashechewan, and with the thousands of boil water advisories that Canadians face every year.

The Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development has also pointed out a serious backlog in the guideline process itself, which is becoming very troubling when one considers newer forms of pollution like pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and potential human health risks in the vicinity of energy and other major resource extraction projects.

I noted: the fact that only two of the provinces had fully adopted the national guidelines; the fact that requirements for the monitoring of contaminants varied widely from province to province, the fact that few provinces had regulations in place to deal with source water protection; and the fact that a majority of provinces still did not require mandatory reporting on performance.

In calling for enforceable national standards, I pointed out that we expend a lot of time, energy and money on security, and asked what could be more important to the security of Canadians than the dependability and quality of the water they and their families drink every day. We regularly hear about acute medical problems caused by short-term drinking water issues. But, we need to be equally concerned about the chronic effects that may occur if contaminants are ingested at unsafe levels over many years.

This is yet another area where we can look to Europe for inspiration. The Drinking Water Section of the EU Water Framework Directive provides for enforceable union-wide standards for most common substances that can be found in drinking water. While translating the Directive into their own national legislation, the Member States can include additional substances or more stringent requirements, but are not allowed to set lower standards. This ensures a high and consistent level of human health protection throughout the whole of the EU.

1.3 Public Trust

The third area I would like to touch on under the heading of constraints is public trust law, and its relationship with free market mechanisms. Earlier this month, I reviewed a draft report which explored the potential for the marketing of water rights. I have no problem with the concept in principle international experience has suggested that it could be useful in reallocating water to higher value uses, and introducing water use efficiencies.

But, I do have a problem with it in the Canadian context where we dont generally have sufficient safeguards in place to protect the public interest. Water would indeed flow to higher value uses, but the more general public good would take a beating.

I think, before we move very far on water rights marketing, that should be preceded by something akin to public trust laws. We dont have those kinds of laws in Canada, but they do have them in every U.S. state. They are based on the assumption that certain natural resources – like air, freshwater, oceans and the living things dependent on those resources – are so critical to human survival, that governments have a fiduciary duty to preserve their essence for the use and enjoyment of the entire populace, not just the privileged.

Some suggest we dont have that kind of protection in Canada simply because one judge in Ontario made a mistake a few decades ago. But, the Supreme Court of Canada, in a judgment a couple of years ago, hinted that it would now be open to those kinds of argument if they were presented to them.

I think public trust law, or something akin to it, is a topic that could be fertile ground for research under your water-energy connections project. To what extent should we allow energy and other financially overpowering industries to buythe right to use water, without first providing adequate public protection? If you do decide to pursue that topic, I have a detailed paper that I wrote for a Commons Group awhile back that you could use as a starting point.

1.4 Model Act

My final topic under constraints is living within natures limits. On energy it is clear that we cannot depend on non-renewable sources indefinitely. More and more of our energy sources will necessarily have to be renewable, and will be finite unless we find ways to exploit energy from beyond our own planet.

And as more of our energy sources become renewable, those sources will also be closer to home, and their control will shift to more local entities. At the same time, the energy- water linkages will also become clearer, and the need to keep water within its natural watersheds and deal with its many uses in an integrated fashion will also become obvious.

At that point I time, we will hopefully escape the inevitable 20 year cycle when people trot out wild schemes for moving large amounts of water around the continent or the world. That cycle started in the 1960s, repeated itself in the 1980s, and is now showing up again. Last year a Washington-based think tank tried to sell the idea of continental replumbing, using the argument that its better to move water to people than to move people to water. Of course, you dont have to move people to water they naturally gravitate there. But, you would have to move people if you took their water away from them.

Recently, the oil patch has also seemed to develop an interest in piping water all over the place. And last month, I noticed that even the whacky old Grand Canal scheme had resurfaced with a different proponent and a different name. Fortunately, Canadians have always been way ahead of their leaders on this one, and have always rejected the notion of pumping water over continental divides or shipping it across oceans.

There is pretty broad consensus among serious water experts that water should generally be kept within its major natural water basins and used more efficiently. For example, that notion is reflected in Albertas Water for Life Strategy, which calls for a 30% gain in water conservation, and managing within the natural capacity of each basin. And it is reflected in proposed state-provincial agreements to prohibit diversions of water from the Great Lakes Basin.

Last fall, I was a panelist along with two other Canadians and two Americans that reached a similar consensus, leading to a recommendation for federal safety net legislation to ensure it happens. The Canadian Water Issues Council and the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto subsequently developed a Model Act along those lines for the consideration of legislators. I hope you will be able to support the passage of that proposal or something like it during your project.

2. Incentives and Opportunities

1.1 Soft Paths

My first topic under incentives and opportunities is energy and water soft paths, which relates back to my previous discussion under energy security. What society generally does is forecast future energy and water demands based on almost arbitrary exponential increases over time, and then tries to meet them. Without getting into the detail, with soft paths you do the opposite. You decide ahead of time where you want to end up, and by backcasting devise demand management strategies to get you there.

There has been some very good conceptual work done on these ideas at Friends of the Earth and the Polis Project at the University of Victoria. There has also been some limited uptake on a local scale in places like Toronto, Calgary and in the Okanagan Basin. And there have been some broader success stories, for example, water use in the entire United States essentially leveled off around 1985.

But, no senior level of government in Canada has ever taken on soft energy or water paths as a core policy. And it is easy to understand why. They live or die mainly on the basis of outdated measures of economic performance over their 4 year mandate. And a lot of their advice comes from corporate executives who are focused almost exclusively on profits in the next quarter. But, energy and water uses simply can’t keep growing indefinitely, and this kind of short-term thinking is getting in the way of moving to longer-term sustainable solutions.

David Brooks, who has worked a lot on soft path approaches for both energy and water, assures me we have no shortage of opportunities to reduce demand, not only by marginal amounts, but by factors of three or four. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that we can match the Europeans and reduce both energy and water use by a modest half and at the same time preserve our overall quality of life. That seems to me to be quite a reasonable assumption.

Just think of the synergies that would produce. If we reduced energy use by 50%, we would save enormous amounts of water and very significantly improve our aquatic ecosystems, as well as move towards a more responsible climate policy. And if we reduced water use by 50%, we would save enormous amounts of energy which are now used to extract, store, pump, transport, heat and treat that water.

It obviously won’t happen overnight. First, groups like yours need to convince enough voters and consumers that it is in their best interest to force governments and corporations to adopt a longer-term perspective. Then senior governments need to enable the rest of society with the knowledge, policies, incentives and opportunities that they need to make it happen from the bottom up.

1.2 Incentives and Disincentives

My next topic is incentives and disincentives. A few months ago, Alberta raised royalties on tar sands output. There were a few muted complaints from the energy industry. But, I suspect that in corporate boardrooms, there was a lot of loud celebrating going on.

What if federal and provincial governments ever did what pure economic theory suggests they should do which is to include all environmental costs in royalty and taxation regimes? Actually what would happen is that tar sand development would slow to a much more reasonable pace, and both Canada and the U.S. would be forced to move more quickly to more sensible and more sustainable energy futures? Would that really be so bad?

Of course it is impossible to calculate all the environmental costs. What governments tend to do instead is to use various economic incentives and disincentives as proxies. Unfortunately, Canada has been very slow to do even that, and as a result we are missing out on a lot of green industry opportunities. I will just mention a couple of success stories from Europe.

The Danish government has been taxing CO2 emissions since 1991, and it has offered tax incentives to the wind industry since the 1970s. The results range from Denmarks global leadership in renewable power generation and wind turbine manufacturing, to a majority of its chilly climates heat being produced by hyper-efficient combined heat and power schemes, to substantial CO2 emissions reductions during a period of robust economic growth.

In Germany, an approach dubbed a feed-in-tariff has almost single-handedly vaulted Germany to the global forefront in renewable energy. Feed-in-tariffs are a kind of price subsidy which inflates the price of green energy to the avoided costrate the total cost to society if the same power had been produced by fossil fuels. The outcome of this strategy has been a near spectacular boom in German solar energy production.

For more detail on these and many similar successes, I would refer you to a very informative book entitled The Geography of Hope A Tour of the World We Needby Chris Turner.

1.3 Science

I would now like to turn to one of the most important enablers, namely science and knowledge. In the more global, industry dominated economy, strong independent science tends to be viewed in the same way as strong regulation as an impediment to moving along the trajectory towards infinite consumption. I sometimes watch parliamentary committee hearings, and sympathize with credible government scientists who at times appear to be trying to defend the indefensible. Their testimony is of course counterbalanced to some extent by the views of non-governmental experts, but those experts generally dont have the resources necessary to do sound science. I think we do need strong independent science somewhere if the public good is to be protected. I was pleased to see that science was highlighted in one of your previous resolutions.

Last year the Gordon Water Group looked at some trends in environmental science. Personnel working on environmental science in Environment Canada were cut by 26% between 1992 and 2007, and by 21% in Fisheries and Oceans. At the same time as the demands for information are increasing, we are creating huge gaps in our water quantity and quality knowledge base. For example, we used to monitor water quantity at 4000 sites; now we monitor at only about 2500 sites.

Looking beyond just government, Canadas scientific performance is very disappointing. According to Mel Hurtigs new book, out of 30 countries, Canada ranks 25th in research and development, and 30th, or dead last, in patents.

There is an urgent need to both rebuild our national science capacity, and to find institutional models that allow publicly funded scientists to speak out honestly and without fear of reprisal. One possible model you might want to take another look at is something akin to the former Fisheries Research Board. It did outstanding, world class research, and its independence was never in doubt.

1.4 International Assistance

The final topic that I would like to touch on very briefly is the situation in many less developed countries. I will use two countries in the Upper Nile Basin as an example, although I could have chosen any number of others.

Sudan has a population of over 30 million which is growing at a rate of 2.7% per year. A combination of failing rains and civil strife has at times led to starvation or malnutrition for millions of people in the south. Ethiopias population of 60 million is growing at a rate of 3% a year. Forests, which once covered 40% of that country, now cover less than 3%. If no other energy source is developed, further cutting of wood for burning will soon annihilate all of the remaining forests. In the semi-arid zone, desertification is capturing significant areas, and land productivity throughout the region is diminishing due to increasing topsoil erosion and the depletion of nutrients. At the peak of the drought in the mid 1980s, many areas in the Upper Nile Basin were hit by famine, affecting more than 15 million inhabitants. What is further alarming is the fact that global climate change is now beginning to exacerbate the problems.

Canada and other industrialized nations are of course providing some aid through a variety of channels. But, we need to recognize that it is in our national interest to place an even higher priority on these kinds of water and low level energy problems. Those investments will not only improve world-wide health, but they will at the same time reduce the risk of political conflict, and contribute to global security and stability.

In summing up, I would just like to congratulate the Council again for tackling the very challenging topic of energy-water connections. It is certainly a daunting, but very timely and relevant undertaking. To deal effectively with the energy and water challenges of the 21st century, we are going to need at least a modest renaissance of democracy. And groups like yours can play an important role in making that happen. You may not overcome all the worlds ills in two short years, but even if you succeed in changing the tone of the national conversation in Canada that will be a major accomplishment.

Thank you.




Notes 20080530 Jackson Water Energy Nexus

Notes for a Presentation to National Council of Women
on Water-Energy Nexus

John Jackson, Great Lakes United
May 30, 2008

1) Impacts of Our Energy Decisions on Great Lakes:

a.  Hydro Power: Vast limitless waters of Great Lakes are controlled at St.
Mary’s River, Niagara River and St. Lawrence River to allow for hydro production.

  1. St. Mary’s River impact: has slowed the flow of water through the St. Mary’s rapids to a trickle. This disrupts a major fish spawning ground.
  2. Niagara River impact: slowed flow of water over falls to the extent that at night there is hardly any water going over the falls.
  3. St. Lawrence River at Cornwall-Massena impact: Is shredding the endangered American Eel that must swim through the river twice in their lifecycles as they go between their spawning grounds in the Atlantic Ocean and their feeding grounds in Lake Ontario.

b. Coal-generated Power: The two largest air polluters in the Great Lakes basin are coal-fired power plants in Nanticoke, Ontario, and Monroe, Michigan. These are major sources of mercury emissions.

c.  Nuclear-power reactors: Tonnes of radioactive wastes lie around the
shores of the Great Lakes and are seeping into the lakes.

d. Alternative fuel impacts: These are not without concerns for the Great Lakes. Siting wind turbines in the Great Lakes will raise concerns. Growing biofuels such as corn will create problems for the Great Lakes; corn is a heavy water user and also uses a lot of fertilizers and pesticides, which will create a new competitor for scarce water and increased contamination sources.

2) Impacts of Water Use on Energy Demand: We tend to focus on negative consequences of our energy use for water. But it is important to realize that our use of water creates energy issues.

  1. This may be at the point of use: For example, taking long showers results in increased energy use to heat the water.
  2. This may be impacts on our ability to generate power: For example, Ontario Power Generation raises concerns about proposals to divert water for inland use out of places like Georgian Bay because it would reduce the amount of water going to Niagara Falls and reduce their ability to generate hydro power.
  3. But the more important energy issue is getting the water from its source to the place we use it and sending it back through the sewage treatment systems. The decisions we make on that can have significant implications for energy use. The rest of this presentation focuses on that.

3) Energy Demands in Water System: Pumping of water is a major user of electricity. In California, 20% of all electricity use is for moving and treating water. In some Canadian municipalities, 30% of their electricity bill is for the movement and treatment of water. Some of the factors that affect the need to pump are:

  • The more centralized the system is the more that pumping is needed. Unfortunately, there is a movement towards more centralization of systems as a water safety measure, especially in the aftermath of the Walkerton tragedy.
  • Increasingly municipalities are going beyond their local boundaries to find a new water source. This means more pumping of waters through pipelines. Waterloo Region, for example, is planning to build a pipeline 80 kilometres to Lake Erie. But nowhere in the assessment of this option do they address the issue of energy needed to pump the water. Diversions between lakes over the height of land is even more expensive because of pumping costs. London takes most of its water from Lake Huron, which is in a different water basin.
  • Climate change will bring more calls for water pipelines from the Great Lakes.
  • Population growth will also result in increased water demand and calls for more water pipelines from distant places.
  • Agricultural irrigation is predicted to increase in Great Lakes basin

4) Energy-Water conflicts will escalate with climate change:

  • Peak water and energy demand times now coincide – summertime – which will escalate the energy crisis
  • Dropping water levels in the Great Lakes will threaten hydro generation
  • Where do we take into account the needs of wildlife?

5) We can solve this problem through water conservation and recycling:

  • We need a policy that looks at energy and water simultaneously. Water decisions should take into account energy implications just as energy decisions should take into account water impacts.
  • In the 1970’s the Great Lakes were a laboratory for using new methods of addressing toxics, lessons that spread around the world. Let’s now make the Great Lakes be the laboratory for joint planning of water and energy.



Notes 20070602 Peters True Cost of Tar Sands

Speaking Notes Dick Peters/KAIROS NCWC AGM Regina Inn , Regina June 2nd 2007

Oil and Water: The True Cost of Tar

Sands

KAIROS ” Waterworks” Resource

The wealthy, and some not so wealthy, countries have an almost unquenchable thirst for oil: and Canada is rushing to meet the demand through the Alberta’s major oil producing projects—-the tar sands.

These projects are creating good jobs, huge profits for corporations and healthy government treasuries–and we’re told North America’s supply is more secure.

If these are the benefits, what are the costs? The impacts of this massive development is being felt beyond Alberta and the costs include climate change , watershed damage, and concerns about human rights, and the absence of public consultation.

Without water, the tar sands wouldn’t be worth much. The tar sands projects have an enormous impact on water quality, threatening watershed destruction, over extraction, and contamination.

About Watershed Destruction:

The thick black muck that is tar sands lies beneath a layer of boreal forest and bog. This “overburden” –trees, plants,soil, and waterways–must be stripped away from the top of the underlying deposits. Hundreds of square kilometers of forest and streams are vanishing.

The industry claims that total restoration of the original forest is possible but it’s difficult to see how a complex ecosystem , adapted to harsh, cold growing conditions, can be replaced.

David Schindler, Professor of Ecology at the U of A compares the reclaimed land to “a golf course where the lawn mower is broken —- a hard land with a little pond at the bottom” According to Schindler

only about 2% of the wetland area have been reclaimed.

What about Over-Extraction?

Enormous amounts of water are needed to separate oil from sand.

In 2004, 3 of the major corporations were allocated 138 billion liters of water for the year. Once the projects are fully developed, they will use 175 million liters a day in an energy intensive process that until recently was not considered economical.

One of the reasons extraction is so viable is the free access which the government provides to the Athabasca River. Running north through a very fragile ecosystem, it’s the only major river that has no dams, and until now no extensive water extraction.

Steam and water are forced through the sands that have been mined, or are injected into the sands that lie beneath the forest. It takes approx 5 gallons of water to extract each gallon of oil; Water from this primary process is reused where possible, bringing the ratio to approx 2 gallons of water for every gallon of oil.

What about the Contamination?

By the time the water is ready for disposal, it’s filled with silt and contaminated with a wide range of chemicals that cant be returned to the environment. It must be removed from the watershed and stored in enormous ponds, some of which are larger than the natural lakes in the area—-

If you know what used oil looks like, just imagine what these vast stretches of contaminated, dead water must be like —It’s an incredibly devastating experience to actually see these them —–

Whose Land ? Whose Health?

The damage to the land and water is carried out by the oil and gas corporations, aided by the poor long range planning by government. Scrutiny is limited because the oil sands are relatively remote, and lie under Aboriginal treaty land in a fairly thin populated area.

Aboriginal communities are struggling to make themselves heard.

Last year CBC carried stories focusing on the community of Fort Chipewyan on the shores of Lake Athabasca.

The doctor in that community wonders if the large cluster of rare cancers and other diseases occurring among the population there are related to water contamination from tar sands—- after this public exposure by the CBC, the Alberta  government agreed to hold a review.

Whose Responsibility?

The tar sands can’t move ahead without federal oversight and approval, including legally required environmental impact assessments. Many of these have not been carried out —last year The Federal Court of Appeal allowed Petro – Canada to bypass a comprehensive environmental assessment of it’s Fort Hills Oil Sands Project.

Governments are approving expansion so rapidly that the Town of Fort Mc Murray has requested that the pace of development be slowed—-in order to allow for more sustainable development of the tar sands and the infrastructure needed for the workers.

Groups from First Nations and the Province of Alberta are also resisting the pace of development and raising public awareness about the cost to the environment. They remind us that future generations rely on this land, and that Canada’s promise to the international community is being broken largely due to tar sands operations.

We live in an economy and consumer society that relies on oil, and that makes it hard for all of us to acknowledge it’s true price.

(Last week , The Pembina Institute in Alberta released the findings of a independent poll taken recently on tar sands operation & development.)

 

 




Notes 20070602 Panel Presentation on Water

Susan Howatt, Council of Canadians Water Campaigner

Notes: Panel Presentation on Water- National Council of Women of Canada

AGM                   June 2nd, 2007 Regina Inn, Regina Saskatchewan

There is no question that we are facing a global water crisis. Around the world, 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water, and more than 2.5 billion people do not have access to basic water and sanitation services. The twin realities of deeply inequitable access to water and degradation together pose the greatest environmental and human rights crisis of our time.

Canada is not prepared. Canada does not have a national strategy to address urgent water issues. Current water policies, already inadequate, predate our knowledge of climate change, as well as the tragedies of Walkerton, Ontario, North Battleford, Saskatchewan and the Kashechewan Cree reserve in Northern Ontario.

Canada’s freshwater is facing a variety of threats including contamination, shortages and pressure to export water to the United States. Meanwhile, municipalities and First Nations communities are struggling with crumbling infrastructure and private companies are eager to cash in on the problem. In Canada, there is no national strategy to address urgent water issues and to conserve and protect our water.

  1. First Nations suffer the most. In Canada, contamination and inadequate water and sanitation services in First Nations communities pose a huge danger to human health and the environment. There are currently 80 First Nations communities under a boil-water advisory and 21 communities are deemed at severe risk.
  2. Canada needs a National Water Policy. A Canadian plan must include national clean drinking water standards, committed federal funding for municipalities and First Nations communities to upgrade public water utilities, and a full ban on bulk water exports.
  3. The global right to water. Canada was the only country to vote against the right to water at the United Nations in 2002 and has gone on record as being opposed to the right to water. The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights developed General Comment 15, which confi rms that the right to water is implicitly contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  4. The right to water in Canada. Recognizing the right to water in Canada will ensure equal and adequate access to water for all people, irrespective of their province or territory, or the community to which they belong.
  5. Ban bulk water exports. There have been growing calls for Canada to allow bulk water exports. Paul Wihbey, president of a Washington think tank called the Global Water and Energy Strategy Team, told a 2006 business conference in Banff, Alberta that it is “nearly inevitable” that bulk water exports from Canada “will take place, given the political circumstances, within the next two to fi ve years.” Wihbey’s group is suggesting that a freshwater pipeline could be built between Manitoba and Texas.
  6.  A threat to the ecosystem. Bulk water exports would permanently remove water from the ecosystem. With glaciers melting at alarming rates worldwide, and the Great Lakes levels at historic lows due to climate change, Canada’s water security is threatened.
  7. Water and Alberta’s oil sands. Development of Alberta’s massive oil sands will have dangerous and lasting impacts on the quantity and quality of fresh water in the Prairies. It takes between three and five barrels of water to extract just one barrel of oil, and 90 per cent of that water is permanently removed from the hydrological cycle. Water Issues in Canada: Talking Points for Community Activists

INFRASTRUCTURE- PRIVATIZATION THREAT

Contamination and inadequate water and sanitation services in First Nations communities pose a huge danger to human health and the environment.

Kasheshewan made searing headlines in 2005 when the northern Ontario Cree community was forced to evacuate because of dangerous levels of water contamination. This one community awoke the rest of the country to a much larger issue- across the country first nation communities have been chronically underfunded and water services are in some cases not existent and in others boiled water advisories have been in place for years. First Nations communities are the sole responsibility of the federal government and we have simply failed them. There are currently 80 First Nations communities under a boil-water advisory and 21 communities are deemed at severe risk- 78% of the 18 First Nations water systems are on this list.

Across the country, we have aging infrastructure that is crumbling. Private companies see this as an opportunity to make a profit and are angling to cash in on the problem.

Water is a patchwork quilt of jurisdictions with the feds and the provinces playing a role, but the rubber really hits the road at the municipal level where increased responsibility and decreased federal dollars have meant that towns and cities are not able to maintain their water services.

Increasingly, these local governments, under the enormous pressure to treat and deliver clean water, are looking to the private sector for help and privatization is sneaking in through the back door as a “private-public partnership”. Around the world, privatization has been a dismal failure and has meant high water rates, lower environmental and conservation standards, lost accountability but more horrifically, has meant that we allow water, something essential for all life, to be left to a system that sees those that can pay for it will have all they need and those who cannot pay for it will have to go without.

Moncton, New Brunswick is a case study of how the failure to invest in water infrastructure resulted in a controversial public-private partnership (P3) with U.S. Filter, now Veolia, for the design, operation and delivery of water services in 1999.

On Monday, February 12, the Sackville, New Brunswick town council announced it was seeking proposals from private companies to take over the water treatment facility.

BULK WATER EXPORTS

Ban bulk water exports. There have been growing calls for Canada to allow bulk water exports. Paul Wihbey, president of a Washington think tank called the Global Water and Energy Strategy Team, told a 2006 business conference in Banff, Alberta that it is “nearly inevitable” that bulk water exports from Canada “will take place, given the political circumstances, within the next two to five years.” Wihbey’s group is suggesting that a freshwater pipeline could be built between Manitoba and Texas.

Leaked documents, secret meetings and denials from governments. It sounds like tabloid fare, or a plot from a Hollywood movie. But sure enough, this story is taking place in Canada. And what’s the source of all the intrigue? Plans that are underway to export water in bulk to the U.S., under the auspices of greater Canada-U.S. integration.

In April 2007, the Council of Canadians obtained a leaked document produced by a Washington think tank, revealing that business and government leaders in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico were actively discussing bulk water exports. We received notice that an initiative called the “North American Future 2025 Project” was being led by the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Conference Board of Canada and the Mexican Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas. The Project calls for a series of “closed-door meetings” on North American integration dealing with a number of highly contentious issues including bulk water exports, a joint security perimeter and a continental resource pact.

According to the leaked document, a roundtable on the “Future of the North American Environment,” was planned for Friday April 27 in Calgary, and on the agenda was “water consumption, water transfers and artificial diversions of bulk water” with the aim of achieving “joint optimum utilization of the available water.”

The secrecy of the current discussions of bulk water exports is of major concern. There is such a profound disconnect between way that Canadians view water and how water is considered in this document, and my instinct is that this is the very reason this process is unfolding behind closed doors- because Canadians would be outraged.

Polls regularly show that at least 80% of Canadians are strongly opposed to bulk water exports, even if there is an opportunity to earn royalties. The vast majority of Canadians do not believe that water is a commodity that can be bought and sold.

Water shortages are very real- and common thinking is that two-thirds of the US states may run dry very soon. But artificially withdrawing water from one watershed and shipping it to another is not the answer and will not address shortages, but rather ensure that those who can afford it can have all the water they want, where as those who cannot will have to go without.

The Council of Canadians is very concerned about this discussion of bulk water exports and we believe that bulk water exports must be banned and any discussion of water must take place with full public scrutiny.

RIGHT TO WATER

The global right to water. Canada was the only country to vote against the right to water at the United Nations in 2002 and has gone on record as being opposed to the right to water. The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights developed General Comment 15, which confirms that the right to water is implicitly contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In 2002, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stated, “the human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.”

One hundred and forty-five countries endorsed this statement, but one country stood up and was alone in the vote against the adoption of the right to water. It is a national shame that Canada, my country, was the rogue state on the right to water and it certainly has tarnished our reputation= we earned a rebuke from the United Nations in May, 2006.

Endorsing the right to water would ensure access to clean, safe drinking water for all Canadians, regardless of the town, city, region, or First Nations community they live in. Treating water as a fundamental right will help address the issues of poverty alleviation, gender inequality and promote healthy communities all around the world.

By endorsing the right to water at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Canada can regain our position in the international community as a leader on human rights.

The Council of Canadians has a vision of an integrated National Water Policy that

§    Create national clean drinking water standards.

§    Commit federal funding for municipalities and First Nations communities to upgrade public water utilities.

§    Ban the bulk export of water.

Most importantly, a National Water Policy must treat water as a fundamental right and close the door forever to corporate control of fresh water. Canada should take the lead within the international community by recognizing the right to water at the United Nations. Recognizing the right to water in Canada will ensure equal and adequate access to water for all people, irrespective of their province or territory, or the community to which they belong.




Notes 20020602 Womens Health Research

WOMEN’S HEALTH RESEARCH:

A PORTRAIT OF WOMEN’S HEALTH IN ATLANTIC CANADA’

Speaking notes to the National Council of Women of Canada
Annual Meeting
June 2, 2002
by
Carol Amaratunga
Executive Director
Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health
Halifax, Nova Scotia

1.1 OPENING REMARKS: IT IS A PRIVILEGE AND HONOUR TO SPEAK THIS MORNING ON BEHALF OF THE ATLANTIC CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH. MY PRESENTATION, “A PORTRAIT OF WOMEN’S HEALTH IN ATLANTIC CANADA – 2002”, IS BASED ON THE RESEARCH AND COMMISSIONED WORKS OF THE CENTRE DURING OUR FIRST FIVE YEARS, SPECIFICALLY THE WOMEN’S HEALTH IN ATLANTIC CANADA TRILOGY2.

1.2 KEY MESSAGES:

•               IT IS DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN CANADA

UNLESS WE FIRST ADDRESS POVERTY AND INJUSTICE — AND THE HEALTH OF SOCIALLY AND ECONOMICALLY EXCLUDED OR “FORGOTTEN POPULATIONS”, THAT IS WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO LIVE IN DISADVANTAGED CIRCUMSTANCES.

•               SOCIAL JUSTICE AND ECONOMIC EQUALITY ARE CENTRAL TO THE

DEVELOPMENT OF ALL CIVIL SOCIETIES. WE NEED TO PROMOTE SOCIAL CHANGE THROUGH POLICY BASED RESEARCH IN AREAS WHICH HAVE TRADITIONALLY BEEN UNDERVALUED AND UNRECOGNIZED. WE WOULD

‘See: Carol Amaratunga, Pamela Roy and Meddy Stanton editors. A Portrait of Women’s Health in Atlantic Canada, Volume 1, Maritime Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, Halifax, N. S.,2000, . The speaker gratefully acknowledges the work of Dr. Ronald Colman, GPI Atlantic, and author of Chapter 1, “Women’s Health in Atlantic Canada”, pp. 9-41. Observations in this presentation are also based on the work of the National Coordinating Group on Health Care Reform and the National Think Tank on Gender and Unpaid Caregiving and the Charlottetown Declaration, November 11, 2001; the research of the Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health (CEWHP); and the Healthy Balance Program on Women’s Unpaid Work and Caregiving, a Community Alliance for Health Research (CAHR) funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and awarded to the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

 

DO WELL TO REMEMBER A COMMENT BY GANDHI, TO THE EFFECT THAT “VIOLENCE IS THE WORST FORM OF VIOLENCE” IN A SOCIETY

•               AT THE ATLANTIC CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH

(ACEWH), WE HAVE LEARNED THAT POLICY IS USUALLY INFLUENCED THROUGH A COMBINATION OF FACTORS: EVIDENCE  BASED RESEARCH, PUBLIC OPINION AND SOMETIMES PUBLIC OUTRAGE.

•               IT IS IMPORTANT TO SUPPORT INVESTMENT IN ARMS LENGTH

INSTITUTIONS, SUCH AS CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH IN ORDER TO ENSURE WOMEN’S HEALTH IS ON THE POLITICAL AGENDA AND RADAR SCREEN OF DECISION MAKERS. CANADA, AS A CIVIL SOCIETY, NEEDS GENDER SENSITIVE POLICIES, PROGRAMS AND SERVICE DELIVERY IN HEALTH CARE – ACROSS THE LIFESPAN.

•               SOCIAL CHANGE/SOCIAL JUSTICE AGENDAS CAN BE PROMOTED THROUGH

POLICY AND ACTION RESEARCH IN WOMEN’S HEALTH. TOGETHER, CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH AND ALLIED PROGRAMS SUCH AS THE FEDERAL STATUS OF WOMEN, PROVINCIAL ADVISORY COUNCILS ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN, AND NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS NCWC, GPI ATLANTIC (GENUINE PROGRESS INDEX), ETC PLAY IMPORTANT ROLES IN ADVANCING THE HEALTH AND WELL BEING OF WOMEN IN CANADA.

1.3 THE HISTORY OF THE ACEWH. PART OF A NATIONAL NETWORK OF CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH – WITH CENTRES IN HALIFAX, TORONTO, WINNIPEG AND VANCOUVER (refer to www.medicine. dal. ca/acewh). THE CANADIAN WOMEN’S HEALTH NETWORK, OR CHWN, A NATIONAL NGO IS A KEY PROGRAM PARTNER AND IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR NATIONAL BILINGUAL PUBLICATIONS AND COM_M_MUNICATIONS PROGRAM. (See www.cwhn.ca)

THE IDEA FOR THE CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH PROGRAM WAS FIRST IDENTIFIED IN THE LIBERAL RED BOOK IN 1993. IN 1996 THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA COMMITTED $12m OVER 6 YEARS AND ALLOCATED $2m FUNDING FOR EACH CENTRE. THE PROGRAM IS MANAGED BY THE WOMEN’S HEALTH BUREAU, HEALTH CANADA AND HAS A MANDATE TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH OF WOMEN IN CANADA THROUGH RESEARCH WHICH ADDRESSES THE SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH.

THE ATLANTIC CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH GOAL IS TO SUPPORT CAPACITY BUILDING IN WOMEN’S HEALTH RESEARCH, AND TO INFLUENCE POLICY AND PROMOTE ACTION ON THE SOCIAL FACTORS THAT AFFECT THE HEALTH AND WELL BEING OF WOMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES. IT IS OUR VIEWS, THAT WOMEN’S HEALTH IS MUCH MORE THAN A MATTER OF

 

MEDICAL CARE. A WIDE RANGE OF FACTORS INTERACT WITH EACH TO AFFECT PEOPLE’S WELL BEING, AND PLAY OUT DIFFERENTLY IN THE LIVES OF WOMEN AND MEN. FOR US, WOMEN’S HEALTH INVOLVES OUR EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL, CULTURAL, SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING, AND IS DETERMINED BY THE POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC CONTEXT OF WOMEN’S LIVES AS WELL AS BY OUR BIOLOGY.

THE ACEWH HAS ATTRACTED SIGNIFICANT FUNDING COMMITMENTS SINCE 1996 FOR RESEARCH PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS IN WOMEN’S HEALTH RESEARCH AND POLICY – FROM FEDERAL, PROVINCIAL, INTERNATIONAL FUNDING AGENCIES AND FOUNDATIONS E.G. THE CANADIAN AIDS FOUNDATION. RECENTLY HEALTH MINISTER ANN MCLELLAN MADE A COMMITMENT FOR A SIX YEAR RENEWAL OF THE CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH PROGRAM (CEWHP) UNTIL 2008.

UNFORTUNATELY, DUE TO EXTERNAL FACTORS SUCH AS THE INTERNATIONAL WAR ON TERRORISM, THE CEWHP BUDGETS HAVE BEEN REDUCED THIS FISCAL YEAR.

1.4 PROGRAMS OF RESEARCH: OVER THE PAST 5 YEARS THE ACEWH HAS SUPPORTED OVER 80 RESEARCH PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES IN THE 4 ATLANTIC PROVINCES. OUR MISSION IS TO PROMOTE SOCIAL CHANGE THROUGH POLICY BASED DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH RESEARCH, WITH A SPECIAL PRIORITY ON PROJECTS WHICH ADDRESS 4 PROGRAM AREAS:

•               SOCIAL INCLUSION – WOMEN’S ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL SECURITY

OVER THE LIFE SPAN – WHICH ADRESSES WOMEN LIVING TN DISADVANTAGED CIRCUMSTANCES, WOMEN IN POVERTY, WOMEN LIVING IN RURAL AND REMOTE REGIONS, RACIAL AND ETHNIC DIVERSITY

•               GENDER EQUITY ANALYSIS OF PROGRAMS AND POLICIES E.G.
HIV/AIDS – WE RECOGNIZE THAT HIV AIDS IS NO LONGER A DISEASE OF GAY MEN – IT IS AWOMEN’S HEALTH ISSUE. WE ARE VERY CONCERNED THAT 50,000 CANADIANS ARE HIV POSITIVE AND 30% DO NOT KNOW THEY ARE INFECTED. THE FASTEST GROWING RATE OF HIV INFECTION IS AMONG YOUNG WOMEN 15-19 YEARS OF AGE4 (see the Health Canada website: Health Canada Epi Update, May 2001)

•               WOMEN’S HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT E.G. ENVIRONMENTAL
TRIGGERS FOR BREAST CANCER (n.b. The Atlantic Centre (N.B. formerly the Maritime Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health) received an anonymous and generous donation of $1.7M donation to endow the Elizabeth May Chair in Women’s Health and the Environment, Dalhousie University)

•               PAID AND UNPAID CAREGIVING.

1.5 PORTRAIT OF WOMEN’S HEALTH: WHY DO WE NEED TO INVEST IN

4Health Canada, HIV/AIDS Epi Update, May 2001, www.HealthCanada.ca

WOMEN’S HEALTH

•               IT IS GENERALLY ACKNOWLEDGED THAT WOMEN REPRESENT 80% OF THE

HEALTH CARE WORK FORCE. ALONG WITH CHILDREN THEY TEND TO BE THE HEAVIEST USERS OF THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

•               WOMEN AND MEN, HAVE AMONG THE HIGHEST ILLNESS/MORBIDITY RATES
– E.G. THE CANCERS, CARDIOVASCULAR„ MENTAL ILLNESS IN CANADA AND, ACCORDING TO GPI ATLANTIC5, ARE MORE CHRONICALLY STRESSED THAN PEOPLE IN OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY. THROUGHOUT THE 1990’S, NS AND NB REGISTERED LOWER LEVELS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL WELLBEING THAN OTHER CANADIANS6. IN 1998, FEMALE LEVELS OF TIME STRESS IN CANADA WERE MORE THAN 30% HIGHER THAN MALES. OUR NATIONAL POPULATION HEALTH SURVEYS TELL US THAT 20% MORE ATLANTIC CANADIAN WOMEN THAN MEN REGISTER LOW LEVELS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL BEING, AND WOMEN HAVE 14% HIGH RATE OF PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALIZATION THAN MEN AND A 21% HIGHER RATE OF ADMISSION TO GENERAL HOSPITALS FOR MENTAL DISORDERS’.

AS WE KNOW, POVERTY IS ALSO RECOGNIZED AS ONE OF THE MOST RELIABLE PREDICTORS OF POOR HEALTH – AND ACCORDINGLY POOR WOMEN AND MEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE HOSPITALIZED THAN THOSE WHO ARE AFFLUENT.

ACCORDING TO RON COLMAN, THE EDITORS OF THE BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL HAVE IDENTIFIED THAT “WHAT MATTERS IN DETERMINING MORTALITY AND HEALTH IN A SOCIETY IS LESS ABOUT THE OVERALL WEALTH OF THE SOCIETY AND MORE ABOUT HOW EVENLY OR UNEVENLY WEALTH IS DISTRIBUTED. THE MORE EQUALLY WEALTH IS DISTRIBUTED, THE BETTER THE HEALTH OF THAT SOCIETY”‘

ON THE SUBJECT OF THE WAGE GAPS, GPI ATLANTIC NOTES THAT IN ATLANTIC CANADA, FULL AND PART TIME WORKING WOMEN EARN AN AVERAGE OF 63% OF THE ANNUAL INCOME OF THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS AND OF COURSE, THE GENDER WAGE GAP TRANSLATES INTO HEALTH STATUS. IN 1999, 25% OF WOMEN IN THE ATLANTIC REGION WHO WORK FULL TIME FOR THE FULL YEAR EARN LESS THAN $15,000, AND FULL TIME WORKING WOMEN ARE SEVERELY UNDER REPRESENTED AMONG HIGH INCOME EARNERS. THE ONE EXCEPTION IS PEI WHERE WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO EARN A FAIR WAGE THAN WOMEN IN THE

5Women’s Health in Atlantic Canada: A Statistical Portrait, Op. Cit., pp. 12-14

6Women’s Health in Atlantic Canada: A Statistical Portrait, Op.Cit.p.13

P 12

p. 15

9Ibid., p. 14-19

OTHER ATLANTIC PROVINCES.10 PEI ALSO HAS ONE OF THE LOWEST RATES OF POVERTY AMONG SINGLE MOTHERS AND CHILDREN IN CANADA – PERHAPS THIS PROVIDES A COMMENTARY ABOUT THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SUPPORTS.

NOT SURPRISINGLY A HIGHER PROPORTION OF WOMEN THAN MEN LIVE IN POVERTY IN ATLANTIC CANADA, 1 IN 5 WOMEN LIVE BELOW STATSCAN LOW INCOME CUT OFF LINE OF APPROXIMATELY $21,000″.

FROM A SOCIAL ACCOUNTING PERSPECTIVE AND “EVIDENCE” IDENTIFIED IN THE GPI ATLANTIC ANALYSIS, WE CAN CONCLUDE THAT A STRATEGIC INVESTMENT IN POVERTY REDUCTION FOR SINGLE MOTHERS WILL HAVE SPECTACULAR EFFECTS IN TERMS OF IMPROVING THEIR QUALITY OF LIFE. TWENTY YEARS AGO WE WERE SUCCESSFUL IN PUTTING POLICIES IN PLACE TO REDUCE POVERTY AMONG THE ELDERLY. SIMILAR INVESTMENTS ARE NEEDED TODAY TO REDUCE POVERTY AMONG SINGLE MOTHERS AND CHILDREN WHO LIVE IN POVERTY12.

MATERNAL AND CHILD POVERTY IS ONE OF TWO STRATEGIC SOCIAL INVESTMENTS THAT WILL RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT LONG TERM DIVIDENDS IN REDUCED HEALTH CARE SERVICE COSTS. IN SHORT, BY INVESTING IN LOW INCOME MOTHERS AND CHILDREN, WE WILL DO MORE TO STRENGTHEN OUR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX IN ATLANTIC CANADA THAN PERHAPS BY ANY OTHER MEASURE. OF COURSE WE KNEW THIS IN 1989 WHEN AN ALL PARTY RESOLUTION WAS MADE TO REDUCE CHILD POVERTY BY THE YEAR 2000.

1.6 PAID AND UNPAID CAREGIVING: THE SECOND KEY INVESTMENT IS THE DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF A NATIONAL HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE PROGRAM – IN OUR VIEW, ONE WHICH WOULD COMPLEMENT THE CANADA HEALTH ACT.

TODAY, 1 IN 8 CANADIANS PROVIDES UNPAID CAREGIVING TO A LOVED ONE. ACCORDING TO THE CAREGIVERS ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA (CGANS), 85,000 PEOPLE CARE FOR ELDERLY RELATIVES OR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES.

ON THIS SUBJECT, THE ACEWH AND NSACSW RECENTLY RECEIVED A $1.7M GRANT FROM THE CIHR. THIS FIVE YEAR PROVINCIAL WILL STUDY THE EFFECTS AND IMPACT OF UNPAID CAREGIVING ON THE HEALTH AND WELL BEING OF

p. 16

11Ibid., p. 17

2lbid., pp. 20,21.

WOMEN13,

IN NOVEMBER 2001, THE ACEWH AND THE NATIONAL COORDINATING GROUP ON HEALTH CARE REFORM CONVENED A NATIONAL THINK TANK ON GENDER AND UNPAID CAREGIVING. WE ASKED, HOW DO WE TRANSLATE KNOWLEDGE INTO PRACTICE, HOW CAN WE BUILD A GENDER SENSITIVE NATIONAL HOME CARE ARCHITECTURE?

THE NATIONAL COORDINATING GROUP ON HEALTH CARE REFORM (A WORKING GROUP OF THE NATIONAL CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH) COMMISSIONED MARIKA MORRIS TO UNDERTAKE A SYNTHESIS OF 45 RESEARCH PROJECTS14. THE MORRIS ANALYSIS IDENTIFIED THE FOLLOWING:

  • WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY THAN MEN TO EXPERIENCE STRESS AND OVERWORK AS A RESULT OF MULTIPLE CARE AND WORK RESPONSIBILITIES
  • CAREGIVERS FACE ECONOMIC INSECURITY, LOSS OF PENSION BENEFITS, AND ENCOUNTER SIGNIFICANT OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES
  • WOMEN USE THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM MORE THAN MEN AND SPEND A GREATER PROPORTION OF THEIR LIVES IN POOR HEALTH AND IN POVERTY

•             THE RELATIONSHIPS AMONG KEY VARIABLES HAVE NOT BEEN FULLY OR

SYSTEMATICALLY EXAMINED FOR HEALTH IMPACTS. POLICY AND PRACTICE ARE NOT NECESSARILY BASED ON EVIDENCE.

•             WOMEN IN ATLANTIC CANADA FACE IMPOVERISHMENT WHEN SPOUSES,

PARENTS OR DISABLED CHILDREN ENTER LONG TERM CARE (NURSING HOMES) AS MEANS TESTING FOR ROOM AND BOARD AND MEDICAL CARE IS DONE ON BOTH INCOME AND ASSETS – WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE FAMILY HOME. IN MANY OTHER PROVINCIAL JURISDICTIONS MEANS TESTING IS LIMITED TO INCOME ALONE.

•             GENDER PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN CAREGIVING – AND WOMEN TEND

TO RECEIVE FEWER HOURS OF CARE THAN MEN. MEN ARE ALSO MORE SUCCESSFUL IN NEGOTIATING CARE PROVIDER BENEFITS AND SERVICES

‘See A Healthy Balance: Women’s Paid and Unpaid Caregiving – monthly updates are provided on the project website and also on the websites of the NS Advisory Council of the Status of Women and the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health e.g.:

www.medicine.dal.ca/acewh

14See Marika Morris – Report to the National Think Tank on Gender and Unpaid Caregiving, Charlottetown, November 8-11, 2001, Co Chaired by the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and the National Coordinating Group on Health Care Reform, see www. cwhn. ca

THAN WOMEN

•                       CAREGIVERS AND CAREGIVING RECIPIENTS IN IMMIGRANT, REFUGEE AND

VISIBLE MINORITY COMMUNITIES FACE RACISM, LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL BARRIERS

  • LESBIAN AND GAY CAREGIVERS FACE ADDITIONAL STRESS IN TRYING TO ACCESS CARE IN THE FACE OF HOSTILITY AND DISCREVIENATION
  • THE BURDEN OF CARE IS GREATER AND MORE COSTLY FOR RURAL THAN URBAN WOMEN
  • WOMEN CAREGIVERS ARE AT GREATER RISK OF VIOLENCE AND PHYSICAL SAFETY THAN MEN

•                       HEALTH CARE RESTRUCTURING, SHORTER HOSPITAL STAYS, DE-

INSTITUTIONALIZATION, AND THE SHIFT TOWARDS COMMUNITY CARE HAS HURT WOMEN BY ADDING TO THEIR BURDEN OF CARE

  • MANY WOMEN CAREGIVERS ARE POOR AND CANNOT AFFORD TO PURCHASE PRIVATE SERVICES
  • IN EXAMINING 2000 STUDIES ON HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE, ONLY 184 WERE GENDER SENSITIVE
  • THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT GENDER GAPS IN HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE LITERATURE

•                       THERE ARE HUGE GAPS IN THE LITERATURE ON THE CAREGIVING NEEDS

OF FIRST NATIONS PEOPLES, REFUGEES AND VISIBLE MINORITIES, AND LITTLE INFO ON LESBIANS AND GAY MEN

•                       WE HAVE LIMITED INFORMATION ABOUT LIFELONG FINANCIAL IMPACT,

CARE RELATED ABSENTEEISM, REDUCED WORK HOURS, UNPAID LEAVE, MISSED EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND HIDDEN COSTS

•                       WE NEED MORE RESEARCH ON COST OPTIONS FOR FINANCIAL

COMPENSATION, COMPARATIVE STUDIES ON CAREGIVER SUPPORT, TAX BENEFITS, APPROPRIATE RESPITE AND GENDER SENSITIVE CARE

1.7 CHARLOTTETOWN DECLARATION PROCLAIMS THE FOLLOWING:15

  • THE RIGHT TO CARE – CANADIAN SOCIETY HAS A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE UNIVERSAL ENTITLEMENT TO PUBLIC CARE

15See Charlottetown Declaration: The Right to Care, www.cwhn.ca

THROUGHOUT LIFE WITHOUT DISCREVIENATION AS TO GENDER, ABILITY, AGE, PHYSICAL LOCATION, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, SOCIOECONOMIC AND FAMILY STATUS OR ETHNO/CULTURAL ORIGIN. THE RIGHT TO CARE IS A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT.

THE RIGHT TO CARE REQUTRES:

  • ACCESS TO A CONTINUUM OF APPROPRIATE CULTURALLY SENSITIVE SERVICES AND SUPPORTS
  • THE CHOICE TO RECEIVE OR PROVIDE UNPAID CARE
  • ACCESS TO REASONABLE ALTERNATIVES AND SUFFICIENT INFORMATION CARE IS:

•                    ESSENTIAL, AN INTERDEPENDENT RELATIONSHIP, SKILLED WORK,

MULTIDHVIENSIONAL, AND IS DIVERSE – IT IS FUNDAMENTALLY ABOUT HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS – NOT JUST TASKS

CARE IS:

•                    EQUITABLE, ACCESSIBLE, CONTINUOUS, RESPONSIVE AND TRANSPARENT,

INCORPORATES DIVERSITY, PARTICIPATORY, BASED ON STANDARDS, PUBLICALLY ADMINISTERED AND RESPECTFUL

THESE RIGHTS TO CARE MUST BE VIEWED THROUGH LENSES THAT RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF GENDER ANALYSIS, DIVERSITY, INTERDEPENDENCE BETWEEN PAID AND UNPAID CARE, AND LINKAGES AMONG SOCIAL, MEDICAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRAMS AND SERVICES.

THE NATIONAL THINK TANK ON GENDER AND UNPAID CAREGIVING16 CONCLUDED THAT WE NEED:

•                                            A CANADA HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE ACT BASED ON THE

PRINCIPLES OF THE CANADA HEALTH ACT – ACCESSIBILITY, PORTABILITY, UNIVERSALITY, COMPREHENSIVENESS, PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION TO ENSURE ACCESS TO COORDINATED, APPROPRIATE, PUBLICALLY ACCOUNTABLE AND CULTURALLY SENSITIVE SERVICES.

16See final report of the National Think Tank on Gender and Unpaid Caregiving, www. cwhn. ca

IN CLOSING, I WOULD LIKE TO RETURN TO THE ORIGINS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF CANADA. THROUGH YOUR MANDATE AND PROCESS OF GRASS ROOTS CONSULTATION AND DEBATE YOU ARE WELL SITUATED TO HELP STRENGTHEN WOMEN’S HEALTH RESEARCH IN CANADA.

ORGANIZATIONS LIKE UUKS, WHICH ARE NATIONAL, NON-PARTISAN, ANT) AT ARMS LENGTH FROM GOVERNMENT, DO HAVE A MORAL IMPERATIVE TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS OF LIFE FOR WOMEN, THEIR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES. I INVITE ALL OF YOU TO JOIN WITH US IN THE CAMPAIGN FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH-HELP US TO GROW THE PROGRAM OF WOMEN’S HEALTH RESEARCH IN CANADA -­AND TO TURN UP THE VOLUME!

THANK YOU




Brief 201110 Brief Pre Budget Consultations

Speaking Notes
for the presentation of the Brief
to the
Pre-Budget Consultations
of the
House of Commons
Standing Committee on Finance
submitted by the

National Council of Women of Canada/
Le conseil national des femmes du Canada

Prepared by Carla Kozak
Vice President Economics

October 2011

 

Recommendation #1: Eradicate Poverty Recommandation No.1: Mettre fin à la pauvreté

Subcommittee on Cities (Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology) Dec 2009 Report: “In from the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness.”

Poverty costs us all:       expands health care costs

burdens our policing services diminishes our educational outcomes

Reversing poverty through:     training and educational supports,

income supports during short-term gaps in income and small income transfers through taxation regulations Would (by lifting many families out of poverty):

improve our productivity

make our labour force more flexible

expand our economy in an uncertain world economy.

La pauvreté nous coute tous: elle augmente les couts des soins de santé

Elle met de la pression sur notre corps policier

Elle diminue les résultats de notre système éducatif Faire reculer la pauvreté: appuyer les programmes de formation et d’éducation, modifier les règlements d’impots et offrir des transferts de gains lors d’une courte période de cessation du travail.

En faisant reculer la pauvreté de nombre de familles, ces actions pourront: Améliorer notre productivité

Rendre notre force de travail plus flexible

Bonifier notre économie dans un monde incertain

Expanding our economy – VERY important:

World economy very uncertain today

Uncertainty undermines economic growth

Reducing poverty in Canada/expanding our economy

would create positive waves thru-out the world economy

strengthening other nations as well as Canada

Bonifier notre économie est TRÈS important:

L’économie mondiale est très incertaine ces jours-ci

L’incertitude diminue les opportunités d’expansion économique Réduire la pauvreté au Canada/Bonifier notre économie

Pourrait créer des vagues positives partout dans le monde économique

Pourrait renforcer d’autres nations, ainsi que le Canada

Success: with seniors in Canada

Fed policies & programs – quite successful (lifting seniors out of extreme poverty)

Similar programs (modifications) – help the working poor

Le success: avec la population des ainés au Canada

Les programmes et les politiques fédéraux – ont connu beaucoup de succès en faisant reculer la pauvreté extrême des ainés

Des programmes similaires (avec des modifications) – pourraient aider les travailleurs qui vivent sous le seuil de la pauvreté

Recommendation #2: Increase Support for Education & Skills Development Recommandation No. 2: Augmenter l’appui pour l’éducation et le  développement d’habiletés

Basic education / keeping students in high school – part of the problem ALSO – upgrading education in high-tech & rapidly-changing job market

L’éducation de base/ encourager l’assiduité des élèves à l’école – ça fait partie du problem

AUSSI – améliorer son niveau d’éducation dans un marché de travail hautement technologique et en constante évolution

Barrier: employers who cannot find employees fully-qualified for a job

employers operating on a small margin (small & medium businesses)

employers cannot afford to absorb up-front costs of training Solution: federal government subsidize very short-term upgrading ( a few hours to a few days) (NOT diploma programs)

subsidy for EXISTING jobs going unfilled & currently decreasing our productivity

Obstacle: les employeurs qui ne trouvent pas de candidats qui ont toutes les compétences requises pour un emploi

Les employeurs qui n’ont qu’une petite marge de profit pour leurs operations (entreprises petites et moyennes)

Les employeurs qui ne peuvent absorber les couts de formation

Solution: le gouvernement fédéral pourrait offrir des subventions pour les programmes de formation à court terme (quelques heures à quelques jours ) (PAS pour les programmes de diplome)

subvention pour les postes EXISTANTS qui ne sont pas comblés et qui ont comme effect de diminuer notre productivité

Barrier: lack of child care support (short term) – barrier to upgrading training

Catch-22 situation: need more income to support family

Need to upgrade training for better job

High child care costs make upgrading impossible

Solution: short-term subsidy for child care during training (1 year max)

Obstacle: un manqué de services de garde (à court terme) – un obstacle à la formation pour mettre à jour ses compétences

Un cercle vicieux: besoin d’un meilleur salaire pour appuyer sa famille

Besoin de la formation pour se trouver un emploi plus payant Les couts de garde sont trop élevés pour obtenir la formation nécessaire

Solution: Une subvention pour la service de garde pendant la période de formation (jusqu’à un maximum d’un an)

These supports: win / win / win

Worker wins: gets a job

Employer wins: fills a job opening, is more productive, more competitive (world econ)

Government wins: receives more income tax revenue

Canadian economy wins: expands & creates more confidence in Canada

Ces mesures d’appui: gagnantes pour tous

Le travailleur gagne: obtient un emploi

L’employeur gagne: comble un poste, est plus productif, plus compétitif (dans l’économie mondiale)

Le gouvernement gagne: reçoit plus de revenue d’impôts

L’économie canadienne gagne: grandit et crée plus de confiance en Canada

Definitely revenue-positive !

Définitivement un plus pour les revenues!

Recommendation #3: Ensure Fair & Equitable Rates of Taxation Recommandation No. 3: Assurer les taux de taxation justes et équitables

Increase tax relief to:

Working poor (many single-parent families, grandparent families)

Elderly

Disabled

Augmenter les subventions d’impôts:

Aux travailleurs qui vivent sous le seuil de la pauvreté (plusieurs

familles mono-parentales, les familles parentées par les grands-parents)

Les ainés

Les personnes ayant un handicap

Not across-the-board tax cuts: benefit higher-income people do little / nothing for middle class / working poor

Contre des coupures de taxation générales: elles bénéficient uniquement les gens ayant un salaire plus élevé

Elles font peu pour la classe moyenne / les travailleurs qui vivent sous le seuil de la pauvreté

Basic exemption has not kept pace with inflation L’exemption de base ne réflète pas l’inflation

Raise exemption: more $ in hands of lower & middle income groups

their spending: bolster the Canadian economy

Augmenter le montant de l’exemption de base: plus d’argent dans les mains

des gens ayant une revenue moyenne ou plus basse

Leurs dépenses: bonifient l’économie canadienne

Please note: NCWC opposes a general reduction in income taxes that could threaten our social, health & educational programs in Canada.

Veuillez noter: Le CNFC s’oppose à une reduction générale d’impôts qui pourraient menacer nos programmes sociaux, de santé et en education au Canada.

For 118 years, NCWC has worked to improve the quality of life for women, families and communities in Canada through education & advocacy

You Honourable Members of Parliament are working toward the same goals through legislation / regulation. The members of NCWC hope that these suggestions help you to create a better Canada for all Canadians.

Depuis plus de cent dix-huit ans, le CNFC travaille pour améliorer la qualité de vie des femmes, des familles et des communautés au Canada, aux moyens de l’éducation et de l’avocatie. Vous, les membres du Parlement, vous travaillez pour atteindre les mêmes buts, aux moyens de la legislation et la réglementation. Nous, les membres du CNFC, nous espérons que ces suggestions pourront vous aider à créer une meilleure vie au Canada pour tous les canadiens.

 

National Council of Women of Canada / Le conseil national des femmes du Canada

MEMBERS

Provincial Councils

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan

Local Councils

Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, London, Montreal, New Westminster, Ottawa, Prince Albert, St.Catherines & area, Saskatoon, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg

Nationally Organized Societies

Action Canada for Population and Development

Anglican Church of Canada

Association of Public Service Alliance Retirees

Azerbaijani Women’s Support Centre

Baha’i Community of Canada Office for Advancement of Women

Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

Canadian Association of Midwives

Canadian Council of Muslim Women

Canadian Federation for Sexual Health

Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women

DES (Diethylstilbestrol) Action Canada

Girl Guides of Canada

Hadassah-WIZO Organization of Canada

League of Ukrainian Women

National Association of Women and the Law

National Consultation of United Church Women

Polish Alliance of Canada

Polish Canadian Women’s Federation

The Salvation Army

Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada

Ukrainian Women’s Organization of Canada

Victoria Order of Nurses

Women’s Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church

YWCA




Letter 20130214 Harper C38

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

The National Council of Women of Canada

[NCWC] is deeply disappointed in your government’s rushed passage of Omnibus Bills C-38 and C-45 in 2012 which we think  will undermine environmental  protections, and threaten our country’s future, environmentally, economically and socially.  We urge you to step back from the approach that appears to put commerce before the environment, and in the instead  consider all environmental issues through a precautionary, multi-ministry, life cycle cost/benefit  analysis lens.

Established in 1893,  NCWC is one of the oldest Canadian educational and advocacy  organizations working for the betterment of women, families and society, and in 2005 was designated  a  “National Heritage Institution”  by the National Sites and Monuments Board.

Our environmental work began as early as 1910, when Local Councils of Women in Montreal and Toronto persuaded those cities to install water filtration systems. Since then, NCWC policies have advocated for such important issues as natural resources and wildlife (1923), acid rain (1976), conservation of water resources (1980),creation of a national river basin management policy (1985), and continued protection and restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem (2004).

In the past eight years however, your government has proceeded to dramatically weaken its commitment to environmental protections. An example is found in Bill C- 38, where the role of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has been altered to give the Minister of Environment and the Cabinet, rather than independent environmental regulators, the final say in determining how well the environment will be protected from potentially damaging projects such as pipelines.

Given government’s steady and cumulative progress over the preceding 100 years in protecting Canada’s environmental resources, NCWC is dismayed that this past year   the voices of others in government and of environmental groups failed to prevent a significant   weakening of a variety of important  well-established Acts of Parliament  such as  the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

We find it unacceptable that these important changes, were thrown together into the Omnibus Bills C-38 and C-45, which would seem to benefit commercial interests, rather than the environment, and were rushed through both Parliament and the Senate with scant time for public input, proper in-depth  debate and close Parliamentary Committee scrutiny.

This narrow government focus on ‘lessening’ barriers for commercial development interests neglects to take into account the huge economic and environmental risks for other sectors of our society and economy of some projects.  For example, there appears to be no account taken of the long term costs to communities, to tourism or damage to habitat relied upon by fishermen, First Nations or the Inuit in the event of accidents, oil spills or fire.

The life cycle analysis work of the renowned Experimental Lakes project and its studies on acid rain, the fish and forestry industry and pollution abatement, has demonstrated enormous lasting cost savings in these areas.

The National Council of Women of Canada urges your government to scrutinize all pieces of Federal Legislation that have the potential to harm our treasured environment, to measure their impacts on the basis of a “precautionary life-cycle cost/benefit analysis” and to recommend environmentally protective changes.

Sincerely,

Denise Mattok, President

National Council of Women of Canada

 

 

 




Letter 20120723 Ashfield Experimental Lakes Area

THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF CANADA

Established 1893

The Honourable Keith Ashfield

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Parliament Bldgs.

Ottawa

keith.ashfield@parl.gc.ca

Dear Minister Ashfield,

The National Council of Women of Canada  (NCWC) finds it unfathonable, and unacceptable,  that your Ministry would cancel the  internationally renowned Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program, which has for many  years been a model of how scientific  research, properly structured and invested in,  can be of  invaluable service to Canadians and many millions of people  world-wide.

NCWC’s interest in the environment and the health and welfare of Canadians as it relates to the ELA  is long standing. For instance in 1978, with regard to the damages of acid rain on our fresh water lakes,  we noted that ” S04, when associated with Hf1 , together forming sulphuric acid , has been documented to have caused irreversible ecological  damage in waters with low buffering capacity  in the Precambrian shield  areas of Canada, Scandinavia and the USA” . We then asked the government of Canada to  ” Investigate potential human health hazards of  acid rain and to continue research programs to determine the current state of representative components of the natural environments; continuously monitor the environmental effects of acid rain ; and, study the occurrence and effects of long-range transport of S02 and its products within   and into Canada, including their origin, their geographical extent and their overall effects on natural aquatic and terrestrial systems, the quantities of S02 which are assimilable by geographic regions , without undue harm , and the likelihood of recovery of systems  from over exposure to acid rain.”  NCWC went on to ask that ” an international, bi-lateral agreement  with the United States on acid rain control and  abatement be persued .”

It was  ELA’s “lakes-based,  whole-ecosystem”  approach , conducted at its research  facility in an area  bounded by  58 lakes in the Precambrian shield in  northwestern Ontario where acid rain has been a significant concern, that  resulted in  the 1990  US-Canada Air Quality Agreement . In turn, this led  to a reduction in acid rain in the 1990s and the agreement  was expanded in 2000 to include  transboundary smog emissions under the Ozone Annex.

ELA   research has covered not only acid rain , but other  issues that NCWC has had concerns about over very many years, such as   green house  gas  emissions and climate change, mercury pollution,  aquaculture,  watershed  and lake protections,   and the preservation and enhancement of ecosystems ” whole-ecosystem ” approach .

Canada, as the lead  initiator of the ELA, with  Ontario as a partner,  should be justly proud of such an internationally successful project,  which  has resulted not only in important treaties such as the US-Canada Air Quality Treaty, , but  in hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles, data reports and books, which have led to the development of  sound scientific policies, plans and programs in Canada and around the world.  And, on a practical monetary level ELA  has received   excellent reviews from Canada’s Auditor General’s office and over the last 10 years a federal investment in $4 million in new infrastructure.

NCWC members across Canada applaud  the important work and accomplishments of the ELA . We urge you as Minister of Fisheries to intervene personally to protect this unique and irreplaceable agency , which has such a tremendous  history of successful, ground-breaking, fiscally responsible  environmental research that has helped Canada be a leader in protecting our  environment, and that of other countries.

In closing, we respectfully ask that in making any determination regarding such an intervention, that you consider the views of the National  Council of Women of Canada , a Council which represents hundreds of thousand of  Canadians  through its 19 (?) nationally federated organizations, with provincial Council federates in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario  and quebec , 14 local Councils across Canada and study groups in Prince Edward Island and Oakville, Ontario.

Sincerely,

Denise Matok, President

c.c. The Hon. Peter Kent, Minister of Environment




Letter 20130918 Stoddart Mass Surveillance

September 18, 2013.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada
112 Kent St
Place de Ville, Tower B, 3rd Floor,
Ottawa, ON
K1A 1H3

Dear Ms Stoddart,

The National Council of Women of Canada,

[NCWC] takes this opportunity to support, encourage and lend urgency to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s investigation into the recently revealed mass surveillance of Canadian citizens. We are awaiting with keen interest a full report on the findings of your discussions with surveillance organizations such as the Communications Security Establishment of Canada. I addition, we note with concern the media reports that indicate the government of the United States has paid many web service providers to meet its compliance orders to tap into their customers’ private communications and to keep the extent of this access hidden from the public.

The National Council of Women of Canada policy is adopted democratically at its Annual General Meetings. We have two relevant policy resolutions that allow us to speak on mass surveillance. The first is “the Right of the Canadian Public in Information Concerning the Public Business” 1977 and the second “Balancing Protection against International Terrorism and the Protection of Civil Rights”2002.

The Council is aware of the history of Canadian intelligence activities during the Second World War, the cold war and for trade purposes. Since 2001, the scope of surveillance has become unprecedented.

Canadians have a right to know on an urgent basis how and why their personal data are being collected, stored, shared and otherwise used by the Government of Canada and its international partners and exactly what mechanisms are in place for overseeing and reporting on these activities to the Canadian public. Canadians also need to be advised routinely when the privacy of their communications is not guaranteed.

We look forward to a response at your earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

Denise Mattok,

President NCWC.

 




Letter 20130226 Kent Expedite Liquid Waste

The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

February 26, 2013

Dear Minister Kent,

In a letter of  February 19th  the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC)  requested that  you authorize  a full-panel CEAA Environmental Assessment  for  Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC),  Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) and the U.S. Department of Energy  (DOE) plans   to “expedite”  approval of multiple transfers   of   intensely radioactive  liquid waste   from the Fissile Solution Storage Tank (FISST)  at Chalk River Nuclear laboratories (NRU) to the  Savannah River Facility  in South Carolina .

On February 21st however,  CNSC  released information   outlining the newly legislated  Environmental Assessment  rules,  whereby   CNSC ,  rather than yourself or Cabinet,  now has complete control of the EA  process  and  makes final decisions on nuclear projects under review.

Given   CNSC’s  recent nuclear  “advocacy role”  regarding  several projects, such as   the proposed shipment of radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes, this change in CNSC’s role is most unfortunate .

Additionally, NCWC  feels that  the newness of the EA rules  and  the  precedent -setting  nature  of multiple  transfers of such extremely dangerous  liquid nuclear waste that could  put public health and safety  at risk and threaten the environment should an accident happen along this extraordinarily lengthy route,  makes it  absolutely essential that your  Government  act in  a most  precautionary manner in this instance .

Therefore , NCWC  respectfully  requests  that you as Minister of Environment   recommend  to  Cabinet  that the government proactively  intervene  to protect the public interest, by calling a halt to these  nuclear waste shipments   until the public can be assured of their  safety, or, that there is not a safer way to move  them,   such as the  recommendation of nuclear expert Dr. Gordon Edwards that they be   solidified on-site at Chalk river, and only  then shipped  to South Carolina.

Should this not be your choice,   we   request that strong   due diligence be used in your, or any other Ministry’s, observation and involvement in a CNSC review and assessment of this project.

Denise Mattok,

President




Letter 20121023 Harper Chrysotile Asbestos

The Right Hon.Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A.,M.A.
House of Commons,
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

October 23, 2012

Dear Mr Harper,

On behalf of the National Council of Women of Canada[ NCWC],which represents many thousands of Canadian women through our federation of 15 Local and six Councils as well as 20 Nationally Organized Societies I write to commend your Government on its recent decision to reverse Canada’s position on the listing of Chrysotile asbestos as a dangerous substance under the Rotterdam Convention.

NCWC members have long been concerned about the dangers of asbestos mining, its use and export. We are concerned too about its effect on Canadians as well as on people in the developing world.  Several resolutions on this topic were discussed at Council meetings across the country and debated at the Annual General Meeting held in Toronto in May 2010. The resulting policy states that” The National Council of Women of Canada adopts as policy the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos as a dangerous substance in the Rotterdam Convention” and “further that NCWC urges the Government of Canada both to include chrysotile asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention and to ratify the Rotterdam Convention without delay.” Another resolution calls for a ban on the mining and export of all forms of asbestos.

NCWC members are pleased to see that both your Government and the recently-elected provincial government of Quebec are taking the concerns of citizens seriously about the danger of chrysotile asbestos. We hope you will continue to provide leadership on this matter.

Sincerely,

Denise Mattok, President

National Council of Women of Canada.

c.c. The Hon.P.Kent, Minister of the Environment.

The Hon.L Aglukkaq, Minister of Health




Letter 20120124 Friends Donations

Dear Friends,                                                                                                January 24, 2013

The NCWCDO was established by the National Council of Women of Canada in 1985. It is a Registered Charitable Organization dedicated to the advancement of women and girls in Third World countries and Canada. Funds are raised to support projects that address education and skills that will improve the life of women and children through basic education and skill training. In addition, projects that will protect children and young women from physical, sexual and mental abuse are strongly supported. In the past 25 years the NCWCDO has supported programs in Canada, India, and Africa.

A donations towards these GRASS ROOTS projects have shown a positive influence in the communities.  The NCWCDO aims to fund small local initiatives that contribute to the empowerment of women to become self sufficient and to the prevention of crimes and abuse against women and children. Volunteers, predominantly women play a significant role in all projects.

A small donation towards these programs has lasting impact. Please consider supporting this non- profit national organization. Let us help those who are less fortunate and those who suffer daily from mental,  physical or sexual abuse.  We are fortunate but must remember to look outside our community where innocent young children and girls are suffering and often forgotten.  They need our help!

PROJECTS FUNDED  2012

THE EQUALITY EFFECT Funding provided contributed to a Canadian initiative seeking to secure a court order so that the State of Kenya enforces existing criminal protection from rape and assault for young girls and women.

OUR KENYA KIDS funds were donated towards the “Tailoring Project”  which provides practical training to young girls and women with AIDS,  the opportunity to advance their technical skills that will empower them towards self sufficiency  that will  improve their future.

CHEZ DORIS WOMEN’S SHELTER is a drop in day center for homeless women in Montreal.  Funding is committed to the establishment of a sewing class where women have the opportunity to be trained for employment in an effort to achieve independence , off the street and into home.

Thank you so very much for considering and supporting this important mission.

WOMEN AND CHILDREN NEED YOUR SUPPORT.

 

Please send your donation to:                             

NCWCDO
605-175 William Paul Street,
Verdun, QC,
H3P 1P1

Sincerely,

Bonnie Stamos Destounis

Chairperson of NCWCDO

466 Beverley Ave.

Mount Royal, Que. Canada H3P 1L3

 

National Council of Women of Canada Development Organization

Organisation de développement de conseil national des femmes du Canada

 

NCWCDO GRANT APPLICATION

Established by the National Council of Women of Canada in 1985, the NCWCDO is a Registered Charitable Organization*. NCWCDO is dedicated to the support of projects, in Canada and in developing countries, which are directed to educational and social welfare programs aimed at improving the quality of life for women and their families. The funds help to empower women, and at the same time, it provides opportunities for NCWC’s provincial and local councils to become aware of the Canadian and global conditions (and actions) for women and children. The objectives of NCWCDO are:

 

  • To advance literacy and basic education and provision of skill training for women and girls in Canada or third world countries and when deemed necessary, provision of other expenses such as  accommodation and meals during prescribed periods of training or capital equipment.

 

  • To contribute to the general well-being of all members of a designated community through  specific projects such as wells in third world countries to provide for pure water; a social or cultural facility to be available for recreation, health clinics, crafts, and adult education including health, nutrition and sanitation.

 

NOTE: The groups receiving funding will be asked to provide a report about how the funding was used.  Pictures, DVDs, or other materials from the project will be used for promotional purposes and displays at NCWCDO fundraising luncheon, on  June 1, 2012.  DEADLINE  for submissions is March 31, 2013

 

For further information, please contact Bonnie Stamos Destounis, Chairperson NCWCDO

                Phone: 514-733-7238 or bonnievstamos@gmail.com

   

NCWCDO GRANT APPLICATION FORM – 2013

PLEASE INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION

Name of organization:

Contact person for the organization:

Location of project:

Address and contact information of the project:

Contact person in Canada for the organization:

Name:

Address:

Telephone                                   Fax:                      Email:

 

Mission/Goals of the Organization:

(Use extra paper if needed for these answers)

Target Population:

Description of project including time frame: Grants are small (approximately $500 – $2,000), so if necessary you may apply for a segment of the overall project which may need support).

Estimated budget – please itemize (use separate sheet)

Attach supporting materials (brochures, etc) about project if available.

Charitable number if applicable:

Council/group supporting application:

Contact person:

Address:

Phone:                                            Email

Send completed application before March 31, 2013 to:    Bonnie Stamos Destounis

466 Beverley Avenue, Montreal, Quebec H3P 1L3 Email    bonnievstamos@gmail.com Phone: 514-733-7238 




Letter 20111110 Harper Bill C10

The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.

House of Commons,

Ottawa, ON

K1A0A6

November 10, 2011

Dear Mr. Harper,

On behalf of the members of the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), I urge you to provide Canadians with a clear understanding of the financial impact attached to each proposed legislative change or policy reform related to the proposed Omnibus Crime Bill C-10.

The introduction of the Bill is of significant concern to members of NCWC particularly as it relates to costs and the lack of clarity on its effectiveness in ensuring public safety.

At its 2011 AGM in Winnipeg, the Council approved a Resolution which called for the postponement of prison expansion until further study of the need, the need for separate facilities for the mentally ill, alternative approaches to sentencing and treatment; and working with the provinces and territories on poverty reduction strategies, and on community programs for support of at-risk families.

The introduction of longer sentences and plans to introduce new laws that will result in a projected increase in costs in the billions of dollars is unnecessary and unconscionable. The estimated increase in costs to the Government of Canada on just one of the bills is projected to be five billion dollars – more than doubling the costs for the corrections system alone. It is calculated that the provinces and territories will bear the brunt of the increase. Estimates provided by the Parliamentary Budget Officer put this figure at between $6 –billion to $10 –billion dollars. Enactment of the Bill is unacceptable without consultation with, and the agreement of, the provinces and territories based on firm projections.

Members of NCWC would rather see their hard-earned tax dollars spent on public housing, child care, pensions, health care, mental health services, public education, and other services that support families. These measures have proven effective in reducing prison populations. Experience in other countries and from credible studies fails to show that increased use of mandatory sentences and building mega prisons leads to safer streets and communities. Reports from United States, for example, indicate that moves to change its system are currently underway. Greater preventive measures and more police on our streets have proven more effective. Further, with crime rates declining, our members fail to see that the measures contained in the Bill will increase their safety. Putting money into a system that has no basis in fact at a time when our economy and our personal financial position are in jeopardy makes no sense.

One might question the logic of imposing a U.S. style prison system on Canadians when the U.S. itself doubts the effectiveness of the model.

The Parliament of Canada, the provinces, and territories; and, of course, Canadians, must have a clear understanding of the costs related to the changes imposed by Bill C-10 and have the assurance that the changes will be more effective in preventing crime and will lead to increased public safety.

Yours sincerely,

Denise Mattok

President

Copies to:

Robert Nicholson, Minister of Justice

V. Toews

Nycole Turmel, Leader, New Democratic Party

Jack Harris, Critic for Justice, New Democratic Party

Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada

Bob Rae, Liberal party of Canada

Maria Mourani, Critic for Environment and Justice, Bloc Quebecois

Irwin Cotler, Critic for Justice and Human Rights, Liberal Party of Canada

CFUW National

Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

The National Council of Women of Canada is a federation composed of Local Councils, Provincial Councils, as well as National, Provincial and Local Organizations. Founded in 1893, it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1914 and has been designated by the Government of Canada as being of national historic significance for its role in Canadian women’s history. For more information, consult our web site at www.ncwc.ca or contact our national office at #506, 251 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 1X3.




Letter 20110711 Harper Fresh Water

The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

July 11, 2011

Dear Mr. Harper,

On behalf of the National Council of Women of Canada may I respectfully draw your attention to the immediate and growing danger to Canada’s fresh water – a vital resource for any country that hopes to protect the health, safety, environment and the economic and social capital of its population, today and in the future.  That is, the recent severe Environment Canada staffing and programs cuts, which will exacerbate the cumulative   impacts of cuts to water protection programs that have been made over very many years.

The earlier cuts were  well documented in the Senate report of 2005 Water in the West: Under Pressure, which noted then that, there were cutbacks, for instance, to  investments in “longitudinal water studies”, the “ National Water Research Institute”, the ” Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration” and   the “mapping of aquifers”.

For its part, the National Council of Women of Canada, representing over third of a million Canadians, has a long-standing interest, and policy, and has spoken to the Federal government many times regarding the need for protection of our national waters through strong Federal legislation, policies and programmes. These included such key water protection issues as, the need for : a shoreline management act, (1977) conservation of water resources (1980),  safe drinking water (1985) , a national river basin management policy (1985), a halt to Environment Canada cutbacks (1987) groundwater protection (1989), continued protection and restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem (2004), federal retention of a strong regulatory role in the protection of the environment (2007), a halt to mining waste pollution (2008) protection of Canada’s navigable waters (2009), and the need for, “all projects within Provincial or Federal jurisdictions, having the potential to harm the environment, to be subject to an appropriate Federal or joint Federal/Provincial Environmental Assessment that is transparent, ensures rigorous scientific input and scrutiny, allows meaningful access to the process and provides project scrutiny before proceeding to the regulatory stage.”(2009).

Due to our very grave concerns regarding the earlier cuts to Environment Canada, and the potential `for further harm to Canada’s water, from 2005 to 2007, NCWC’s affiliated group members conducted public education programs on the many threats to fresh water resources. From 2008 to 2011, funded by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, NCWC held programs on a Water/Energy Connections theme.  A key component of the program was a Canada-wide survey of the public’s water and energy conservation practices and views, and of their opinion of government policies.  In the context of escalating concerns regarding climate change and threats of water shortages and extreme weather and other natural events, water protection ranked highly for the public , with  80% supporting Federal legislation to keep water within its natural river basins, 77% supporting a National Water Policy, 76% a national public debate on energy use and the development of federal legislation and policies to ensure that large scale sources e.g. tar sands, mega-dams and nuclear power, do not negatively impact water resources.

Indeed, Canadians value their fresh water resources and strongly support government measures to protect them.  The public counts on Environment Canada to carry its many vital tasks in this regard, and counts on the Canadian Government to fund its crucial work.

NCWC urges you, as Prime Minister of Canada, to commit to new and increased investments in fresh water protection endeavors of Environment Canada.

Yours sincerely,

Denise Mattok

President

National Council of Women of Canada

The National Council of Women of Canada is a federation composed of Local Councils, Provincial Councils, as well as National, Provincial and Local Organizations. Founded in 1893, it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1914 and has been designated by the Government of Canada as being of national historic significance for its role in Canadian women’s history. For more information, consult our web site at www.ncwc.ca or contact our national office at #506, 251 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 1X3.




Letter 20110630 Morin CBC License Renewals

June 30, 2011

Mr. Robert A. Morin

Secretary General CRTC

Ottawa, ON K1A0N2

Fax:819-994-0218

Dear Mr Morin,

Re: Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-379-Licence renewals for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s French- and English-language services.

I am writing to you on behalf of the members of the National Council of Women of Canada. We have written the Government of Canada several times in the past urging it to provide adequate, stable and predictable funding so that the CBC can fulfill its mandate.

NCWC policy is established democratically at its Annual General Meetings. Our members support the role of the CBC in providing balanced national, regional and local news and news analysis, as well as coverage of international news.

The CBC, both radio and television, can continue to be relevant and meaningful by providing information and analysis about issues important to Canadians across the country, by reporting on the different regions of the country, and by helping Canadians get to know each other. This is a big country and it is not always easy to understand the point of view of those from a different province or region. The CBC can provide the bridge. CBC sports programming is obviously popular with many viewers and helpful to revenues, but we would urge that the CBC also find a way to provide more opportunity for the development of Canadian creative and artistic talent.

NCWC, founded in 1893, continues to be a voice for Canadian women on issues affecting them, their families, and their communities. Its membership includes 19 nationally organized societies, six Provincial Councils , 15 local Councils as well as many individual members.

Yours sincerely,

Denise Mattok, President




Letter 20110621 Harper Missing Murdered Aboriginal

The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A0A6

June 21, 2011

Dear Mr. Harper,

I write on National Aboriginal Day to inform you that at the National Council of Women’s recent annual general meeting in Winnipeg, June 2 to 4, 160 delegates signed a Joint Declaration between the NCWC President, the NWAC President and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Those present bore witness to the critical, tragic and inequitable issue of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls and unequivocally affirmed their commitment to actively work together towards complete protection of, respect for and fulfillment of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples’ human rights; acceptance and affirmation of their cultural identity; and their declared Right of Self Determination.

We are committed to encouraging your Government to implement a National Task Force leading to federal legislation that prevents further missing and murdered women and girls, and that addresses the systemic and inequitable access for culturally appropriate services at the community level and enacts a paradigm shift in how policies are designed that govern such programs and services.

We support the second annual Walk for Justice for murdered and missing women starting today and encourage others to support the walk as it moves across Canada.

Yours sincerely,

 

Denise Mattok

President,

National Council of Women

Cc: Hon. John Duncan, Minister of Northern Affairs

Hon. Rona Ambrose, Minister of Status of Women

The National Council of Women of Canada is a federation composed of Local Councils, Provincial Councils, as well as National, Provincial and Local Organizations. Founded in 1893, it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1914 and has been designated by the Government of Canada as being of national historic significance for its role in Canadian women’s history. For more information, consult our web site at www.ncwc.ca or contact our national office at #506, 251 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 1X3.




Letter 20090923 Parliament C391

To: Members of Parliament, Government of Canada

Re: National Council of Women of Canada Call to Defeat Bill C-391

Conservative MP Candace Hoeppner’s Private Member’s Bill C-391 is scheduled for second reading debate on Monday 28 September, 2009. Bill C-391 proposes to eliminate long-gun registration and to destroy all existing registration records.

The National Council of Women of Canada is strongly in favour of gun control.  We, along with the police, believe that the gun registry is an important tool to  prevent crime and to support criminal investigations, in addition to getting guns away from those who should not have them. It is equally important to have licences renewed to ensure that the data the Registry has, is as up to date as possible. We believe that the existing controls over rifles and shotguns have contributed to public safety. Compliance with the law has been estimated at over 90% (2 million gun owners, 7 million guns are in the system.) Since 1995, 333 fewer Canadians die annually from gunshots. Homicides with firearms are down, suicides with firearms are down, and domestic violence with firearms has gone down drastically (although murders by other means have not.)

The Coalition for Gun Control shows that the current system works, stating that 9000 licences were revoked from potentially dangerous persons. Those who support the Gun Control Registry include the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, the Canadian Police Association, the Centre for Suicide Prevention, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, and more than 40 women’s organizations.

We firmly believe that all firearms should be strictly controlled. Unrestricted rifles and shotguns are most often used in domestic violence, suicide, and police killings. They include the powerful semi-automatics such as that used at the Ecole Polytechnique and the “elephant gun” used to kill Constable Gignac in Laval. These guns are also frequently found in caches recovered from gangs and organized crime.

There are still too many tragedies involving rifles and shotguns, for example:

  • Heidi Ferguson was shot by her estranged husband at her Orangeville, ON, home in September 2009. An avid gun collector and hunter, it is believed he later turned the gun on himself.
  • In July 2009 Joan Hanson, her daughter and granddaughter were shot by her estranged husband who then turned the rifle on himself at her rural home in northern Alberta. Financial pressure is believed to have been a motive.
  • In November 2008 84-year-old Lily Walker was shot by her husband who committed suicide in Red Deer, Alberta.
    • In February 2008, an 8-year-old wounded his 9-year-old friend with his father’s .22 calibre rifle while playing “guns” in the basement of his house on Manitoulin Island, ON.
    • In February 2008, a teenager in Whitby, ON, contacted police as her distraught stepfather had locked himself in a closet with a rifle and was threatening to commit suicide. Police found 26 firearms inside the house, all of them legally registered.
    • A 16-year-old girl was shot in the head by her 17-year-old boyfriend in Regina, SK, with a stolen rifle and ammunition in October 2007. The girl lost one eye, the hearing in her right ear, experienced paralysis on one side of her face, some brain damage, and had to relearn how to walk, speak, chew and swallow.
    • In September 2007, Kathryn Knudsen was shot to death in broad daylight in the parking lot of a local park in Sarnia, ON, by her boyfriend who then committed suicide.
    • The man found guilty of a triple murder in Ontario stole a rifle on a nearby farm in July 2007 and killed Bill and Helene Regier at their Mount Carmel, ON, farmhouse.

 

We need gun control and the gun control registry. The evidence shows that stronger gun laws, which include the licensing of gun owners and the registration of guns, have helped to reduce gun-related death, injury, violence and suicide.

The National Council of Women of Canada strongly urge you, the Members of Parliament, to defeat Bill C-391.

Karen Dempsey

President, National Council of Women of Canada

The National Council of Women of Canada is a federation comprised of Local Councils, Provincial Councils, and Nationally Organized Societies. Founded in 1893, it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1914 and has been designated by the Government of Canada as being of national historic significance for its role in Canadian women’s history. For more information, consult our web site atwww.ncwc.ca or contact our national office at #506, 251 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 1X3.




Letter 20130226 Kent CEAA

The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

February 26, 2013

Dear Minister Kent,

In a letter of February 19th the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) requested that you authorize a full-panel CEAA Environmental Assessment for Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plans to “expedite” approval of multiple transfers of intensely radioactive liquid waste from the Fissile Solution Storage Tank (FISST) at Chalk River Nuclear laboratories (NRU) to the Savannah River Facility in South Carolina .

On February 21st however, CNSC released information outlining the newly legislated Environmental Assessment rules, whereby CNSC , rather than yourself or Cabinet, now has complete control of the EA process and makes final decisions on nuclear projects under review.

Given CNSC’s recent nuclear “advocacy role” regarding several projects, such as the proposed shipment of radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes, this change in CNSC’s role is most unfortunate .

Additionally, NCWC feels that the newness of the EA rules and the precedent -setting nature of multiple transfers of such extremely dangerous liquid nuclear waste that could put public health and safety at risk and threaten the environment should an accident happen along this extraordinarily lengthy route, makes it absolutely essential that your Government act in a most precautionary manner in this instance .

Therefore , NCWC respectfully requests that you as Minister of Environment recommend to Cabinet that the government proactively intervene to protect the public interest, by calling a halt to these nuclear waste shipments until the public can be assured of their safety, or, that there is not a safer way to move them, such as the recommendation of nuclear expert Dr. Gordon Edwards that they be solidified on-site at Chalk river, and only then shipped to South Carolina.

Should this not be your choice, we request that strong due diligence be used in your, or any other Ministry’s, observation and involvement in a CNSC review and assessment of this project.

Denise Mattok,

President




Letter 20120926 Duncan Oil and Gas Explore

The Hon. John Duncan,
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada,
Parliament Buildings, Ottawa ON.

September 26, 2012 Dear Minister Duncan,

The National Council of Women of Canada

[NCWC], representing thousands of Canadians from coast to coast, has for many years studied the destructive impacts of resource exploration, development and use on Canada’s environmentally sensitive ecosystems, and has often urged the Government to act in a “precautionary” manner to protect these treasured natural areas. Most recently, oil and gas explorations have been of significant concern. At NCWC’s 118th AGM it was resolved that “the NCWC adopt as policy the banning of off-shore drilling in Canadian Arctic waters”.

With this in mind we express to you our profound dissatisfaction with the recent announcement by your Ministry that over 905,000 hectares of land in the north eastern stretches of the Beaufort Sea is up for auction to large resource extraction companies.

The Canadian Arctic is our last unspoiled frontier, and it may not be this way for much longer if this is allowed, as we know that drilling disasters have occurred recently in the Gulf of Mexico, and off the coast of Brazil. Drilling technology is never 100% safe and it is always dependent on priorities set by the private company for spending its money, and the directions given to its scientists and drilling employees. Clean-ups after spills are only partially effective. It is estimated that merely 20% recovery was achieved after the Gulf spill.

However, in the Arctic there is an even more formidable job to clean up an oil spill. The effort would be severely limited by the isolation and the climate of the area. The National Energy Board of Canada Review study of the risks in drilling in the Arctic noted that “clean-up efforts could be impossible at least one day in five”, due to wind, waves and ice.

NCWC is disturbed that the Government of Canada is moving full speed ahead into its newly invigorated oil and gas leasing program, despite several “review” findings, and the warnings made to the Review Board at community hearings. Duane Smith, Vice-Chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and President of the Inuvik Community Corporation, cautioned that “Any offshore activity in the Canadian Arctic could affect the entire circumpolar Arctic region,” and that “Negative effects on marine species would affect people in other regions who depend on those same resources…. fish don’t recognize international boundaries.”

Our concerns are reinforced by the Government’s promotion of the development of Canada’s resources, speeding up regulatory approvals, and its recent weakening of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

At the end of its lengthy review, the National Energy Board promised that “we will pursue opportunities to strengthen our regulatory framework in support of future board decisions on Arctic offshore drilling” and that, “the dialogue will continue.”

In the current climate of government and business resource development and promotion, with the irrevocable damage that could be incurred if resource development is undertaken, the Energy Board’s promises ring hollow.

Therefore, NCWC urges you, as the Minister responsible for protective natural resource legislation and policy, to ban off-shore drilling in Arctic waters and in this way allow Canadians, and others sharing our Arctic space, to enjoy the huge, long-lasting environmental and social benefits of doing so.

Sincerely,

Denise Mattok, President

National Council of Women of Canada

 

c.c. Prime Minister Stephen Harper.




Letter 20120712 Harper Burma

The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A. House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

July 12, 2012 Dear Mr Harper,

The Canadian Council of Muslim Women, an affiliate member of The National Council of Women [NCWC], has requested that I convey to you, and your Government, its deep concern about recent events in Burma, where thousands of Rohingya Muslims have recently been massacred in the Arakan region. According to Platform, a U.K.-based human rights organization, six thousand homes belonging to Rohingya Muslims were burned during the unrest. A group of extremist Rakhine nationalists killed or burned alive at least 650 Rohingya Muslims and raped hundreds of women in the region between June 10th to 28th. At least 1,200 Muslims are reported missing and more than 80,000 displaced.

This recent massacre is not a new genocide of Muslims in Burma. In 1942 Rakhine nationalists massacred 5,000 Muslims in Minbya and Mrohaung Townships. Since then the government has denied citizenship rights to Rohingya Muslims, subjected them to forced labour, required them to seek government permission to marry, confiscated their lands, restricted them from traveling within the country and forbidden them from having more than two children per family. They are considered “resident foreigners”. According to Human Rights Watch children as young as seven years old have been seen in forced labour teams. The Burmese army and police conduct arbitrary violence upon these Rohingya Muslims.

According to the United Nations the Rohingya Muslims are the most persecuted minority of the world. Many have been forced to flee to Bangladesh and Malaysia to escape the violence and discrimination.

NCWC policy supports all U.N. Conventions that have been signed and ratified by a Canadian Government including the Convention on Political and Civil Rights, the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, CEDAW and the Rights of the Child. This atrocity violates all these Conventions. We stand with the Canadian Council of Muslim Women and call upon your Government to speak for these oppressed people and demand the Burmese government accept its responsibility to them and redress this horrendous situation.

Sincerely

Denise Mattok

President

National Council of Women of Canada.

P.O. Box 67099                                                                        FOUNDED 1893                                                                            TEL: (613) 232-5025

Ottawa, Ontario                                      IN FEDERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN                                         E-MAIL: ncwc@magma.ca

K2A 4E4                                                           (Incorporated by Act of Parliament of Canada)                                                    WEB SITE: www.ncwc.ca




Letter 20120608 Harper Tobin Tax

June 8, 2012

The Right Hon. Stephen J. Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A. House of Commons.

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A0A6.

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

We wish to bring to your immediate attention the important resolution that was adopted by the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) in 1999, and reiterated at our recent Annual Meeting, held in Ottawa, May 31 to June 3rd, 2012. This Resolution is regarding the Tobin Tax.

In the 1999 policy statement, the NCWC supported an international initiative to implement, across the international community, a tax on speculative international financial transactions. It was earlier that same year, March, 1999, that the Government of Canada passed a motion supporting a tax on financial transactions (Tobin Tax).

With the upcoming G 20 meetings, we would like to point out the intent of the Tobin Tax, as envisioned by Canada (and NCWC) in 1999, was to support development assistance, and not to create domestic revenue to resolve domestic financial challenges. We note that several European countries are now in support of a Tobin Tax, but would use the funds to create revenues for their domestic needs.

During this time of fragile world economy, with many countries reducing or suspending their international aid budgets, it is even more critical to reserve the Tobin Tax for the support of the most vulnerable in the world. We believe Canada should show leadership by reminding others of the original intent of the Tobin Tax, to promote sustainable development, as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals.

Please advise as to the position Canada will be taking at the upcoming G 20 meetings. Sincerely,

Denise Mattok, President, NCWC.

cc. Hon. Bev Oda, Minister for International Cooperation Hon. Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance

NATIONAL OFFICE P.O. Box 67099 Ottawa, Ontario K2A 4E4

FOUNDED 1893

IN FEDERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN
(Incorporated by Act of Parliament of Canada)

TEL: (613) 232-5025

FAX: (613) 232 8419 E-MAIL: ncwc@magma.ca WEB SITE: www.ncwc.ca




Letter 20120523 Ashfield Experimental Lakes

The Honourable Keith Ashfield Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Parliament Buildings

Ottawa, ON

Dear Minister Ashfield,

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) finds it unfathomable and unacceptable that your Ministry would cancel the internationally renowned Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program, which has for many years been a model of how scientific research, properly structured and invested in, can be of invaluable service to Canadians and many millions of people world-wide.

NCWC’s interest in the environment and the health and welfare of Canadians as it relates to the ELA is long standing. For instance in 1978, with regard to the damages of acid rain on our fresh water lakes, we noted that “S04, when associated with Hf , together forming sulphuric acid, has been documented to have caused irreversible ecological damage in waters with low buffering capacity in the Precambrian Shield areas of Canada, Scandinavia and the USA.” We then asked the government of Canada to “Investigate potential human health hazards of acid rain and to continue research programs to determine the current state of representative components of the natural environments; continuously monitor the environmental effects of acid rain; and study the occurrence and effects of long-range transport of S02 and its products within and into Canada, including their origin, their geographical extent and their overall effects on natural aquatic and terrestrial systems, the quantities of S02 which are assimilable by geographic region, without undue harm, and the likelihood of recovery of systems from over exposure to acid rain.” NCWC went on to ask that “an international, bi-lateral agreement with the United States on acid rain control and abatement be persued.”

It was ELA’s “lakes-based, whole-ecosystem” approach, conducted at its research facility in an area bounded by 58 lakes in the Precambrian Shield in northwestern Ontario where acid rain has been a significant concern, that resulted in the 1990 US-Canada Air Quality Agreement. In turn, this led to a reduction in acid rain in the 1990s and the agreement was expanded in 2000 to include transboundary smog emissions under the Ozone Annex.

ELA research has covered not only acid rain, but other issues that NCWC has had concerns about over very many years, such as green house gas emissions and climate change, mercury pollution, aquaculture, watershed and lake protections, and the preservation and enhancement of ecosystems “whole-ecosystem” approach.

Canada, as the lead initiator of the ELA, with Ontario as a partner, should be justly proud of such an internationally successful project which has resulted not only in important treaties such as the US-Canada Air Quality Treaty, but in hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles, data reports and books, which have led to the development of sound scientific policies, plans and programs in Canada and around the world. And, on a practical monetary level, ELA has received excellent reviews from Canada’s Auditor General’s office and, over the last 10 years, a federal investment in $4 million in new infrastructure.

NCWC members across Canada applaud the important work and accomplishments of the ELA. We urge you, as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to intervene personally to protect this unique and irreplaceable agency, which has such a tremendous history of successful, ground-breaking, fiscally responsible environmental research that has helped Canada be a leader in protecting our environment and that of other countries.

In closing, we respectfully ask that in making any determination regarding such an intervention, that you consider the views of the National Council of Women of Canada, a Council which represents hundreds of thousand of Canadians through its 19 nationally federated organizations, with Provincial Council federates in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, 14 Local Councils across Canada and Study Groups in Prince Edward Island and Oakville, Ontario.

Sincerely,

Denise Mattok President

P.O. Box 67099                                                                        FOUNDED 1893                                                                            TEL: (613) 232-5025

Ottawa, Ontario                                      IN FEDERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN                                         E-MAIL: ncwc@magma.ca

K2A 4E4                                                           (Incorporated by Act of Parliament of Canada)                                                    WEB SITE: www.ncwc.ca




Letter 20120315 Harper Afghani Women at Bonn

March 15, 2012

The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A. M.A. House of Commons,

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

Dear Mr Harper,

On November 3, 2011 the National Council of Women of Canada

[NCWC] wrote to applaud your Government’s strong voice in support of the equality and human rights for Afghani women at the Bonn Conference in December 2011.

We are happy with the role your Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird played in personally leading the Canadian delegation which met with the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton and the E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton.

We are especially pleased to learn that Mr Baird met with the Afghan Women’s Network to learn about their concerns and priorities prior to the Bonn Conference and that this contact will continue as a means to track their efforts.

In addition we are pleased that Canada funded the Afghani Women’s network attendance at the Conference through the Canadian International Development Agency.

NCWC urges your Government to continue its support of the equality and human rights of both women and girls throughout the world.

Sincerely,

Denise Mattok, President NCWC.

c.c The Hon. John Baird, P.C. M.P. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

.

NATIONAL OFFICE                                                                    FOUNDED 1893                                                                            TEL: (613) 232-5025

P.O. Box 67099                                       IN FEDERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN                                                 FAX: (613) 232-8419

Ottawa, Ontario                                                 (Incorporated by Act of Parliament of Canada)                                                  E-MAIL: ncwc@magma.ca

K2A 4E4                                                                                                                                                                             WEB SITE: www.ncwc.ca




Letter 20120208 Harper Enbridge Northern Gateway

February 8th, 2012

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, PC., B.A., M.A. House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Harper,

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC ), representing many thousands of members across Canada is alarmed at the potentially devastating risks to the environment posed by the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal to build a pipeline to carry tar sands bitumen from Bruderheim Alberta, to the deep water port of Kitimat British Columbia, and from there by ocean tanker to the markets of Asia.

The building of this pipeline over a 1,177 km land route will present extraordinary challenges, and the passage of hundreds of thousands of barrels of bitumen crude oil per day along its length, will create multiple opportunities for accidents which could cause irreparable ecological damage. The pipeline will pass through the unforgiving Northern Rockies and the Coast Mountains of BC, over wetlands, flood plains and bird sanctuaries; and will cross, or come very close to, more than 800 streams and rivers, 600 of which are fish spawning habitat . The bitumen will then be transported by ocean tankers which must negotiate the very treacherous and ecologically sensitive waters of the BC shoreline before heading out into the broader ocean.

In 1925, members of the National Council of Women of Canada were concerned about the leakage of crude oil from ships and placed this issue on the agenda of the International Council of Women. Then the concern was the damage to birds caught in the slicks of crude oil discharges. This remains a serious issue to-day, especially as the number and size of the oil tankers have increased. As we have noted, further challenges, and significant risks lie along the rugged and sensitive shoreline route to the ocean, where if accidents happen they are exceedingly difficult to remediate.

We expect that the established environmental Regulatory Panel will hear many voices who share our concerns, as well as the economic arguments that will be put forward by proponents of the pipeline. NCWC has always urged the government to take a “precautionary” approach. To-day, this involves a thorough examination of the life cycle of a proposal and consideration of all the probable costs in every stage and circumstance. We feel that the long term costs cleaning up an oil- spill , the environmental damages and loss to livelihoods in the event of an oil-spill, should all be considered. We are strongly of the opinion that if all these factors are included in a comparative evaluation that the Regulatory Panel will not recommend approval of the pipeline.

Should this be the case, we urge your Government to accept the Panel’s decision.

NCWC is an inclusive group of voluntary sector member groups and individuals across Canada, with no monetary interest in the issue, which adheres to democratically developed policies speaking to the health of the environment, family and society. We respectfully urge you to keep an open mind and act in a “precautionary” manner in the best interests of all Canadians.

Yours Sincerely,

Denise Mattok,

President,

National Council of Women of Canada

NATIONAL OFFICE P.O. Box 67099 Ottawa, Ontario K2A 4E4

FOUNDED 1893

IN FEDERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN
(Incorporated by Act of Parliament of Canada

TEL: (613) 232-5025

FAX: (613) 232 8419 E-MAIL: ncwc@magma.ca WEB SITE: www.ncwc.ca




Letter 20120127 Harper Jasper

 January 27, 2012

The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.

House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Harper:

On behalf of the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), which represents over one third of a million Canadians, may I express our dismay that a section of Jasper National Park is at significant risk of extensive damage and privatization, if the travel company Brewster Canada is allowed to blast a 300-metre metal walkway into its UNESCO World Heritage Site mountains.

NCWC has a long-standing interest and involvement in the creation and protection of Canada’s National Parks. Over many years, we have developed policy on both the establishment of National Parks, in order to protect vast areas of “natural resources and wildlife” (1923), and their “protection from commercial exploitation” (1926). And, in 1928, NCWC asked the Government of Canada to create “two national parks in each province”.

In 1969, NCWC asked for immediate government action to “create national parks in significant localities”, with particular emphasis on the “creation of a national park in the Pacific Tidal Flats area; and, that these parks be of sufficient size to preserve the integrity and viability of their natural state and that outside the boundaries of the park.” And later, in 1983, NCWC drew attention to the fact that the Pacific Rim Park was yet to be legally established, even though it had been agreed upon by the Provincial and Federal Governments in 1970. Then in 1992, NCWC urged the Government of Canada to “proceed without delay to produce targets, timetables and maps of areas to be protected as per the 12% by 2000” campaign, and integrate the ecological impact of development and use into all parks systems.

It was in part due to NCWC’s early efforts that the government of the day set up its National Parks system, to preserve them for future generations of Canadians. In 2005, this was one of the reasons the national Historic Sites and Monuments Board declared NCWC to be “of National historic significance” and placed a tree and “a commemorative plaque in the Allan Gardens in Toronto, where, on October 27th, 1893, 1500 women met in the Horticultural Pavilion to form the National Council of Women of Canada”.

NCWC is appreciative of government plans to add five more Marine parks to the system under the Marine Conservation Areas Act. However, it remains extremely important to our many members that existing National Parks be protected from damaging projects such as those being promoted by private interests in the mountains of Jasper Park.

NCWC, therefore, respectfully requests that the Federal Government refuse this project, and any other requests for privatization within Jasper National Park. Privatizing Jasper Park puts all of our National Parks at risk of ecological damage and privatization. It does not benefit the millions of visitors each year who visit, study, and admire the priceless beauty of this natural wonder. And most of all, It does not support the National Parks system’s mandate of long-term protection of species and their habitat.

Yours sincerely,

Denise Mattok

President

National Council of Women of Canada

Cc:       The Hon. Peter Kent, Minister of Environment

Nycole Turmel, Leader of the Official Opposition Bob Rae, Leader of the Liberal Party

Greg Fenton, Parks Canada Superintendent