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Community and political leaders gathered around womens priorities - International Women's Day

2010-03-08

 
 
Some 150 citizens, political leaders David Alward (Progressive Conservative), Jack MacDougall (Green), Roger Duguay (New Democrat) and Social Development Minister Kelly Lamrock (Liberal) gathered around four topics pertaining to women and equality Monday in Moncton. The organizers of the round table discussion, Political Parties on Women’s Priorities,are happy that the issues of pay equity, child care, gender based analysis and poverty mustered so much attention from the community and were treated earnestly by the politicians. Yet, the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, the Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick (RFNB), the New Brunswick Child Care Coalition and the Common Front for Social Justice Front (CFSJ), are still waiting for firm commitments from the politicians on certain issues.
The New Brunswick Child Care Coalition considers that during the round table discussion, the political parties all demonstrated that they understood the importance of investing in child care services. But, none of the parties revealed how it plans to build a quality child care network that is accessible and affordable.
 
“If they are serious about getting results for children and families, they need to go towards a publicly-funded system, one that doesn’t rely on parent fees. That’s what jurisdictions that get good results do”, states Jody Dallaire, Executive Director of the organization.
 
Less than 20% of kids from 0 to12 years old have access to regulated child care and parents’ fees are high, reaching between 500 $ and 600 $ per month for a full time space.
 
The CFSJ was looking for commitment on poverty reduction. Minister Lamrock stated that by increasing social assistance rates for the “employable” from 294 $ per month to 537 $, his government gave them an 80% increase. In reality, this group represents only 1200 people. Close to 37 000 other welfare recipients will have to wait one and a half to two years before getting a 20% increase. According to David Alward, each New Brunswicker should be able to live in dignity, yet, he did not elaborate on how his party plans to achieve that. Jack MacDougall regrets that poverty hasn’t diminished in the past 20 years, particularly for students who are in debt. Roger Duguay, just as the CFSJ, notes that the traditional parties favour the well to do and neglect the poorest and that strong legislation is needed to change that tendency.
 
The RFNB is left wanting more because none of the political parties committed to using gender-based analysis in the budget process. Gender-based analysis is used to ensure that budgets have an equitable impact on women and men. It provides an analysis of their different needs and socio-economic status on which budget decisions can be based.
“We are still encouraged to see that the NDP and the Liberal Party seemed to acknowledge the importance of gender-based analysis. However, we were disappointed that the Progressive Conservative and Green parties chose not to comment directly on the issue », stated Estelle Lanteigne, President of the Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick.
 
The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, which advocates for pay equity legislation for the private sector, assesses the event rather positively.
 
“Three parties have committed to legislation for the private sector The Progressive Conservative Party is the only one still talking of voluntary measures. Nevertheless, human rights must apply to all and a law is essential to make this happen. We will evaluate each party’s platform and we still hope to see the promise to legislate in the private sector in each one”, emphasizes the Coalition for Pay Equity’s Executive Director, Johanne Perron.
 
The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, the Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick, the New Brunswick Child Care Coalition and the Common front for Social Justice Front say they will continue the dialogue with the political parties and their efforts to keep women’s priorities on the political agenda.
 
Political Parties on Women’s Priorities was organized in collaboration with the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the Moncton & District Labour Council.
 

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