Unions mark Gender Equality Week with election demands

September 22, 2019

Canada’s unions are marking Gender Equality Week 2019 by calling on federal political parties to commit to creating a fair Canada for everyone.

“Gender Equality Week was created to celebrate recent gains while reflecting on the work that needs to be done to improve gender equality and women’s rights across Canada,” said Marie Clarke Walker, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). “With a federal election underway, we are asking political leaders to take this opportunity to prove their commitment to women’s rights and gender equality.”

Gender Equality Week runs from September 22 to 28, 2019 and was first introduced by the federal government in 2018 through Bill C-309, the Gender Equality Act. This year’s theme is #EveryoneBenefits and is inspired by the vision of a gender equal society and the benefits of advancing gender equality to women, men and people of all gender identities.

“On election day, voters will have the chance to reject the politics of division by voting for a party that stands firmly for gender equality and women’s rights,” said Clarke Walker. “We hope to make that choice much easier by asking candidates to distinguish themselves through concrete platform commitments.” 

The CLC’s plan for “A Fair Canada for Everyone” asks political parties to commit to taking action on five key priorities for working people and their families – actions that can make a real difference for women and help promote gender equality.

Women deserve good jobs, liveable wages and fair working conditions.

Unions are calling for action on pay and employment equity, access to universal, affordable child care and a federal task force on care work and care jobs.

Women deserve opportunities to learn and advance their careers. They deserve adequate support to balance work, family and personal time.

Women should not face barriers in accessing medication.

Many women do not have workplace benefits and face difficult choices when they or a loved one requires medication they cannot afford. Everyone in Canada deserves a universal, single-payer, public prescription drug plan that would guarantee pharmacare for all.

Women deserve retirement security.

Thanks to the persistent gender pay gap, senior women are among Canada’s poorest populations. After a lifetime of hard work (whether paid or unpaid), no one should have to struggle to make ends meet. Action on retirement security means improved Old Age Security benefits and a reformed Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Women must be at the centre of climate action.

The climate crisis will have a disproportionate impact on women and marginalized populations. Smart investments in a clean future will put people at the centre of climate action. Investments in renewable energy, clean technology and green manufacturing can provide a source of good, green jobs for women. Climate action can also include investments in social infrastructure to help create and support good jobs and resilient communities.

Women deserve a government focused on equity and inclusion.

Canadians need a government committed to challenging hate and intolerance in all its forms. They need a government ready to improve our immigration and refugee policies, track and report on hate groups, and commit to strengthening Canada’s action plan against racism.

They also need an action plan to implement the recommendations of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“The CLC’s election campaign outlines a plan that would promote gender equality and make a real difference in the lives of women and their families,” said Clarke Walker. “Everyone benefits if we unite together to challenge racism, welcome refugees and support real reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. This election we are demanding fairness.”

This Gender Equality Week, unions are calling on voters to attend local election town halls and debates to ask candidates what their party is prepared to do to promote gender equality and a fairer Canada for everyone.

CLC Secretary-Treasurer Marie Clarke Walker will be hosting a Facebook Live event on Wednesday, September 25 at noon EST featuring a conversation about what is at stake for gender equality in the federal election.

Voters can sign up for real-time election updates from the CLC as the campaign progresses.

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