|trouble (trouble) wrote,|
@ 2011-03-29 03:07 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||canadian content|
I have, however, not been surprised.
(Fact 0: I'm not from NB, and I have never lived there, so take everything I say as coming from that point of view.)
NB is the only officially bilingual province in Canada.
The premier of NB, David Alward, is allegedly very proud of the fact that he is flaunting the current Canadian standard and not allowing women who seek abortion services to have them paid for under the nationalised health care plan. This current stands as in order to take this issue of discrimination back up to the Supreme Court of Canada, as happened in 1989 with the Chantal Daigle case, someone with standing - that is, someone who paid out of pocket for an abortion - would need to take up that mantle, and strangely, not a lot of people are willing to do that.
[David Alward is a Conservative, which is our mainstream right-wing party. Liberals are more centrist, NDP are more left-wing. Every one of this parties would be left-wing as things stand in the US, and right-wing as things stand in Europe, to my general understanding of things.]
You can read more about the situation facing people who seek out abortion services in NB at Anti Choice is Anti Awesome, although the author no longer lives in NB.
About The Issue (from the blog for the ACSW):
During his election campaign, David Alward promised that, if elected, he would consult with the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Then he released the 2011 provincial budget, which abolishes the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women, effective April 1st.
The government is stating that the NB ACSW is going to be absorbed into the government’s existing internal Women’s Issues Branch to “eliminate overlap” and that this move is not an attempt to “water down the activities” of the organization. The government has stated that there will be no staffing reduction as a result of this move.
Of course, the Women’s Issues Branch and the ACSW do not overlap and the Women’s Issues Branch cannot simply absorb the work of the ACSW. The ACSW’s defining feature (and the reason it is so important) is that it is an arms-length agency that has the freedom to criticize the government, its policies and its decisions. By its very nature, as a government department the Women’s Issues Branch cannot act as an independent voice for the women of New Brunswick the way that the ACSW does. (There is also a staff reduction as a result of the abolition of the ACSW: two full-time staff have been offered positions with the Women’s Issues Branch while one full-time staff and a part-time contract worker have not.)
Primer on what the NB ACAW actually does
NEW BRUNSWICK ADVISORY COUNCIL ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
The New Brunswick Advisory Council is an arm’s-length government agency established to bring matters relating to the status of women before the public and the government. On women’s issues, it is the only government body which sets its own agenda, priorities and positions, and which has the mandate of promoting equity for women in all sectors of New Brunswick society.
The Advisory Council was brought into existence by law. In 1974, New Brunswick women organized a provincial conference, which resulted in the creation of an ad hoc committee to lobby for the creation of an Advisory Council on the Status of Women. A law creating an Advisory Council was adopted in 1975 and the first members were appointed in December 1977. Its creation followed on the ground-breaking 1970 Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, which recognized that “continuing effort to attain and secure equal opportunity for women requires a distinct and specific agency devoted to that purpose.”
The Council is mandated to “bring before the government and the public matters of interest and concern to women” and to “advise the Minister on such matters relating to the status of women that the Minister refers to the Council for its consideration, or that the Council deems appropriate”. The Council may receive petitions and suggestions from individuals and groups; undertake research and suggest research areas that can be studied by governments, universities and others; recommend and participate in programs, propose legislation, policies and practice to improve the status of women and publish reports, studies and recommendations.
Part of the unique mandate of the ACSW is to analyze the impact of government action and inaction on the status of women and to bring it to the attention of the public and decision-makers. The Council has taken positions and advocated on a wide range of women’s concerns, from the introduction of early childhood services to the appointment of female judges, from the pay gap to maternity care, from child custody to employment standards. The overwhelming number of calls made by battered women to its toll-free line in the late 1970s led to the production in 1979 of a brochure, the first of its kind in Canada, on the then-taboo subject of violence against women.
The ACSW members determine the Council’s spending priorities and positions on issues. Council members are chosen to represent the regional, linguistic and cultural diversity of the province and are appointed by Cabinet. They ensure a continuing liaison with individual women and organizations in their region. The members receive modest per diems and travel-related expenses for attending the quarterly meetings held around the province.
The agency responds to hundreds of information requests each month, many from individuals, and many from women’s groups, government and media. The ACSW also conducts research on the major economic, social and legal issues affecting women and shares its findings with the public and government decision-makers.
New Brunswick women today still face obstacles to their full participation in all spheres of society. Despite the continued presence of women’s groups and the creation of some new services for women (ex.: transition houses), there are fewer and fewer sources of funding for community groups, especially advocacy groups, and more and more fragility in governments’ support of women’s equality. It is clear that there is a continued need for an independent publicly funded body to aid women and groups in advancing the issues, especially given the low representation of women in decision-making positions and the invisibility of women’s concerns on the traditional public agenda.
The Advisory Council’s weekly email bulletin, NB Women’s News / NouvELLES, which started in 2002 with 200 subscribers, currently has 4,300 subscribers.
Since 2006, the Advisory Council has a weekly column in a Moncton newspaper and occasional opinion pieces in provincial newspapers.
The ACSW’s internet site gives access to all of the Council’s publications, including its newspaper columns and archived newsletters, as well as publications on equality issues by other N.B. groups and researchers. The site records over a million hits every year and several thousand visitors each month.
SOME PUBLICATIONS IN LAST 5 YEARS
Safe Surrender of NewBorns – Submission on An Act to Amend the Family Services Act, 2009.
Status Report on Women in New Brunswick – a statistical profile, 2010, 2008, 2006.
Tax Reform and Women – brief, 2008
Poverty Reduction – brief, 2009.
What About Women? Gender Analysis of Discussion Paper on New Brunswick’s Tax System, by Kathleen A. Lahey, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University, 2008.
Ten Things You Need To Know About Poverty – factsheet, 2009.
Supporting Population Growth in New Brunswick, brief, 2007.
Women and Post-Secondary Education, brief, 2007.
Pictures of Poverty – some New Brunswickers living in poverty and some obstacles to change, booklet, 2006.
PUBLIC EVENT TOPICS
(mostly Lunch & Learns, all free, in about 20 different communities, reaching about 5,000 New Brunswickers)
Invisible Women / Concrete Barriers (refugee women)
Fiscal and Economic Implications of the 2009 Tax Reform in New Brunswick
Safe For Pets Too… in transition with you (partnership to launch a new service for battered women)
When Life Intersects: How the intersectional perspective can help (gender-based diversity analysis)
Women in Politics (sessions in a dozen NB locations)
Women, Poverty and the Recession (with noted national economist)
Political Parties on Women’s Priorities
Are We There Yet? Update on the Status of New Brunswick Women (sessions in a dozen NB locations)
Equal opportunity for First Nations children in N.B. (with NB Ombudsman)
Child Care Spending As Economic Stimulus
“Be Her Or Support Her » (1-day training for women re politics)
Loving Her to Death (research about femicide in N.B.)
Why pretending there are no gender differences makes for bad policy and bad budgets with examples
Promoting Social Justice for Rural New Brunswick
Prostitution – Notes from a visit to Sweden
Moving Women’s Issues Forward
Ending Sexual Violence
City Hall 101
Addictions, Addictions Services and New Brunswick Women
Workplace Bullying (a dozen sessions around the province
Threat in the Third Age
Ending the Holy Hush (religions and violence against women)
Sex, Lies & Economics
Aboriginal Leadership & Governance
Bill C-31 and discrimination in the Indian Act
Elders in Aboriginal Communities
Sex Workers in the Maritimes
Sex and Taxes
Women-friendly and family-friendly municipalities
Aboriginal Women Workshop – Healthy Relationships
Aboriginal Women – Workshop on budgeting etc.
Aborginal Women – Workshop on Board Member Skills
Skills for Change (2-day conference for representatives of groups)
Promoting Immigration in Atlantic Canada
How to Get Fair Wages for Child Care Workers
Child Care – It’s More than Money
Abused Rural Women
IF THE ADVISORY COUNCIL DISAPPEARS…
Without the Advisory Council, New Brunswick will have no independent body to:
- report on the status of New Brunswick women and make statistics and information available to groups, women and media;
- research and lobby on New Brunswick women’s issues that are not yet on the government agenda;
- keep the community informed on New Brunswick women’s issues;
- say to government and the public “that is not in women’s interests”.
Why is the NB ACSW being abolished?
Transcribed excerpt from CBC Radio Shift program: Victor Boudreau, Interim Liberal Leader, speaks to why the NB ACSW is being abolished (http://bit.ly/aDkW9R):
“Well obviously it’s to muzzle the organization, it’s all I can see. The Advisory Council on the Status of Women has been in place since 1977 by law and they’ve done a very good job of advocating on behalf of women, you know, various issues pertaining to women over the years. To say now that a civil servant within the Women’s Branch at Executive Council is going to be able to fulfill that same role of lobbyist and advocate is completely false. You never see the civil servant come out and question a decision of a minister or a government, that just doesn’t happen in our system.”
What can we do?
Sign the petition!
Participate in the on-line Action begun by the NB Rebelles.
Raise awareness that this is happening!
Here’s what you can do to support the ACSW:
Post messages of support for the ACSW on Twitter using the hashtag #nbwomen
Join the Save Our Advisory Council Facebook Group
Check out the blog set up to keep people informed and provide new ideas for action to support the ACSW.
If you’re in New Brunswick, contact your MLA, the Premier, and/or the media.
Know an organization or blogger or social media activist or local celebrity who’d make a statement of support? Get them talking.
YWCA: Cutting New Brunswick Advisory Council Undercuts Women, says YWCA
Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada: Statement on New Brunswick's decision to abolish the NB Advisory Council on the Status of Women
Canadian Autoworkers Union: Solidarity from the Canadian Autoworkers Union
What happens next?
This Thursday, the NB Legislature (the provincial government) will debate the motion to reinstate the NB ACSW, as proposed by the opposition Liberals. Hopefully the outcry against this decision will lead to a change.
It is not too late to stand up in solidarity. I hope you will be able to do so, and add your words to those calling for the continued existence and support of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
[Cross-posted to politics]