International Women's Day

International Women's Day celebrates the strength and courage of gender rights activists worldwide. We take this day to recognize the injustices and the inequality lived by many, and to look with hope towards the work being done to make the world a better place. Equality and empowerment for women means stronger, healthier communities for all.

In every country feminists are standing on the front lines of struggles for human rights. We stand for LGBTQ rights, for reproductive rights and for the right to be educated. In too many places, including Canada, we stand for the basic freedoms of safety and self-determination. Those who feel voiceless are given voices through the work done by grassroots gender equality agencies and organizations.

Here at home, and in spite of great adversity, the calls for a National Inquiry and National Action for missing and murdered Indigenous women and their families, remain loud and clear. Every rally, vigil, march and round dance held in honour of Indigenous women demonstrate how there is no stopping the tide of voices and no dampening the spirit of those calling for action.

This week, Canadians saw an example of the change that can be galvanized by one young feminist, in particular. The President of the Student’s Federation at the University of Ottawa, Anne-Marie Roy, has demonstrated courage by calling out misogyny and rape culture in her community. Her choice to stand up against sexual harassment on campus is an example of the dedication exhibited by women activists around the globe.

As the critic of the Status of Women for the New Democrat Party, I invite all men and women to join me in solidarity and celebration of a brave new generation of women’s rights activists.

A message about child card from MP Jinny Sims, Newton - North Delta, B.C.

Access to quality childcare fundamentally underscores women’s equality in Canada. Without affordable daycare spots parents cannot participate fully in the workforce. The countries where women enjoy the highest status in the world all offer free or subsidized universal childcare alongside excellent parental leave programs. Government investment in childcare is social and fiscally responsible, because female participation in the workforce is central to a thriving national economy.

Unfortunately, Canada has a childcare crisis. For many families, quality child care is entirely unaffordable – up to $2000 a month for a spot. That’s if you can find a spot at all.

For too long, Conservatives and Liberals have squandered billions on tax giveaways to well-connected industries instead of helping parents. Their broken promises have resulted in too many parents having to make difficult choices between working and staying at home.

Studies confirm that a childcare strategy makes great sense- with every dollar spent returning two or more. Canada ranks last among comparable countries when it comes to public spending on child care and early learning as a percentage of GDP – leading to a critical lack of quality, affordable spaces.

Demand better for children, families and women in Canada. Sign the petition: http://petition.ndp.ca/childcare

A message about Income Tax Splitting from Peggy Nash, MP, Parkdale – High Park

The Conservative Government’s plan to introduce “Income Splitting” has the potential to erode the status of Canadian women. The plan for income splitting will cost the federal budget about $3 billion a year out of a painfully achieved surplus. It is a regressive and inefficient tax expenditure that simply does not benefit a staggering 86 per cent of Canadian families.

That budgetary surplus belongs to all Canadians, not only the wealthiest among us.  Such funds could be invested in a childcare strategy, or creating compassionate caregiver program: two initiatives that will substantially help Canadian families across the board.

Income Splitting will increase income inequality. The CD Howe Institute has confirmed it will do more harm than good. The bottom 60% of families would receive, on average, $50. The richest 5% of Canadian families — those making over $147,000 — would see an average benefit of $1,100.

CCPA Senior Economist David MacDonald says: “Income splitting is a policy choice that would purposely exacerbate already high income inequality in Canada. This is inequality by design, not by accident,”

While the Conservatives may say they want to create jobs, its plan is a very strong disincentive for the lower-income spouse to work. Sadly, since women in Canada earn, on average, 19% less than men, the lower-income earner will usually be the woman.

Conservatives, like the Liberals before them, are doing nothing to decrease rising gender inequality in Canada. In Canada today more than %52 of single mothers with small children are living below the poverty line. These women work hard and deserve a break.  Single parent families, 80 per cent of whom are headed by women, do not stand to benefit at all from income splitting. As feminists, we must educate ourselves and speak out against Income Splitting. New Democrats are committed to all Canadian families, not just the richest among us.