Currently, there is economic growth in Canada; wealth is being
created, but it is not being tunneled through the labour market to create jobs.
We are living through a "jobless recovery" - an inevitable outcome of the
accumulated pressures of globalization. Many women, among whom labour force
poverty has grown by about 160%, find themselves trapped in low-skill, low-pay,
non-standard jobs without access to unemployment insurance.
The proposed two-tier system of premiums and benefits would
penalize the most vulnerable workers - women in particular - and discourage
employers from hiring precisely those people most in need of employment.
Similarly, the proposals to extend the time required to quality for ill fail to
recognize the seasonal nature of many jobs. For example, rural farm workers
would generally be excluded from UI by a prolonged qualification period.
Secondly, farmers - including women - would lose access to a pool of
experienced workers forced to seek employment that provides UI coverage.
We recommend, therefore, that the UI fund be returned to an
unemployment insurance program exclusively and that ,everyone in the paid
labour force, including part-time, temporary, self-employed, "home workers,"
and other "non-standard" workers be eligible for coverage.
Every parent and
child has the right to universally accessible, comprehensive, high quality,
not-for-profit, accountable child care. The Green Paper does not adequately
address the provision of this service, and seems to overlook the fact that the
lack of adequate and affordable child care is one of the greatest impediments
to employment outside the home for low income and moderate income families.
We therefore recommend that the federal government develop a
Child Care Action Plan to ensure that child care is universally accessible in
Canada by the year 2005.
The Green Paper
speaks to the need to address child poverty, yet overlooks the reality that
children are most often poor because their mothers are poor. We recommend the
following: that social assistance never be contingent on participation in
training or employment programs; that unpaid work, both domestic labour and
volunteer work, be recognized and compensated; that pay and employment equity
legislation be enforced and that the federal government assume a greater role
in promoting economic development at community, provincial and national levels.
We propose that
any future actions taken by the federal government in the area of social
security reform reflect the following three key considerations:
- The right to choose must be a fundamental component of
Canada's revised social contract. This means that options and opportunities
should be made available to individual Canadians, free from any form of
coercion. Social programs containing elements of coercion foster resistance,
abuse of the system and poor performance, and often penalize women experiencing
systemic and institutionalized discrimination.
- The federal government must continue to allocate time for a
serious and thorough public debate prior to any decisions about social security
reform, including discussion around the general framework for reform. This
debate must consider major changes to the tax system.
- Social and economic programs have different impacts for
women than for men. The federal government must commit to completing this
consultation process, and to incorporating a complete gender analysis of the
social security system into its proposals. for change.
- Copies of the full brief are available from CCLOW.