Executive Council
October 17, 2006

National Person's Day Emphasizes Need for Federal Government to Rethink Funding Cuts

Women across Newfoundland and Labrador will remember the great achievements of their fore sisters tomorrow, October 18, on National Personís Day. The Honourable Joan Burke, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, encourages all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to recognize the advancements that have been made and the challenges that still exist for women.

"Everyone should take a few minutes to reflect on the progress women have made over the past 80 years" said Minister Burke. "However, despite significant improvements in the status of women, there is still much work to be done and we must be diligent in our efforts to ensure women have equal opportunity."

National Personís Day was established on October 18, 1929, when the British Privy Council decided that women were "persons" under Canadian law, and therefore eligible for appointment to the Senate. This decision was made after a lengthy legal and political struggle, known as the "Persons Case."

"This is an opportune time for the federal government to reflect on their recent decision to cut funding to Status of Women Canada and for women and men in our province and across Canada to send a strong message to Ottawa that these cuts and the elimination of funding for advocacy work may be detrimental to advancing womenís issues."

A 2003 Statistics Canada study showed that women make only 62 per cent compared to men; women make up 82 per cent of lone parent families, 68 per cent of the part time work force is comprised of women, and women are most often the victims of violence in our province.

Minister Burke does not believe that reducing funding is a way to bring about positive change. "This is not the first time Ottawa has taken steps that negatively impact programs and services in Newfoundland and Labrador. This latest move is especially puzzling, given that the federal government is now holding onto a $13 billion surplus," said Minister Burke.

In 1997 the Federal Government announced it was discontinuing operational funding to Womenís Centres. The province filled that void by providing womenís centres with $50,000 annually. Since 2003, The Williams government has increased that support to $75,000.

In addition, government has committed $1.2 million annually for six years to fight violence with the creation of the Violence Prevention Initiative - Taking Action Against Violence. Additional funding is being invested specifically to fight violence against Aboriginal Women and approximately $300,000 is provided to the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, which, among other things, is the voice of advocacy in the province.

"We recognize the hard work of womenís organizations and the positive impact they have on women everywhere in our province. I am hopeful that the Federal Government will create a mechanism that will allow them to still connect with grassroots organizations and for advocacy work to continue. Strong federal leadership in partnership with provinces and communities is essential to achieving true gains for women in this province and across Canada."

Media contact:
Michelle Hynes
Communications and Policy Research Analyst
Womenís Policy Office
709-729-6225
michellehynes@gov.nl.ca

2006 10 17                                          11:40 a.m.


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