Status of Women Budget Reductions

Question Period

Senator Jane Cordy October 28th, 2013

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, Canadian women still continue to earn almost 20 per cent less than men for performing the same work, yet this government has shuttered the Status of Women offices across the country and cut budgets across the board. Just $29.6 million is now allotted annually to address the challenges faced by Canadian women. To put this in perspective, this government spent $28 million in planning and celebrating the War of 1812.

So, $29.6 million for the Status of Women and $28 million to celebrate the War of 1812, which took place even before Confederation.

My question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate is this: Why has this government closed most of the Status of Women offices and reduced the national budget to $29.6 million?

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): I would like to start by underlining our government's support for the status of women. We have increased funding for the women's program to record levels.

Since 2007, we have invested over $46 million to improve the safety and economic prosperity of women, over $21 million to promote women's leadership and democratic participation, and over $62 million to fund more than 300 projects to end violence against women and girls.

Economic Action Plan 2013 extends our support to young women at the beginning of their careers in the labour market, including those in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and skilled trades. We have a commendable record in terms of investing in the status of women.

Senator Cordy: I can't believe that you would stand up and say that you support the Status of Women when you have closed all these offices across the country. There's no office in Nova Scotia. There's an office in Moncton. There's one office in Moncton to deal with the four Atlantic provinces. That's not performance.

I don't believe, either, that the families of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women would say that you are supporting women.

I don't believe that the families who cannot afford child care for their children or the families who cannot find a licensed child care spot for their child or children would say that you are supporting the status of women and women's concerns in Canada.

Government officials have claimed that the $29.6 million budget was reduced because— "other departments also fund women." Can you tell me whether or not the government in fact collects information gathered by these other departments for their funding for women's issues?

Senator Carignan: I am taking note of your question and I will get back to you with a complete list of each of the measures taken by each department to support the status of women. As I was just telling you, these are significant measures that have involved hundreds of millions in funding since 2007.