CCPA calls for government action to improve the lives of women in British Columbia

October 12, 2000

(Vancouver) On the eve of the World March of Women and a conference on women's economic security co-hosted by Premier Ujjal Dosanjh and Women's Equality Minister Joan Smallwood, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is calling for immediate government action to improve the lives of women and their families in British Columbia.

"While there has been some improvement in the social and economic status of women over the past decade, the gap between women's and men's wages and women's added burden of unpaid family responsibilities remain entrenched," said CCPA-BC Researcher Donna Vogel, author of a policy brief on women's economic equality submitted to the provincial government.

"There are many steps the Government of British Columbia can and should take towards eliminating the barriers to women's equality," said Vogel. In paid work, ending gender inequality requires comprehensive and proactive pay equity legislation. "Six Canadian provinces have already implemented pay equity legislation, and there is no reason not to do the same in British Columbia."

The Centre's brief also recommends mandatory employment equity requirements for the public sector and private companies that receive government subsidies and contracts. "Reducing the barriers to male-dominated occupations is crucial for achieving economic security for women. Only an employment equity law that forces employers to abandon discriminatory hiring practices will protect women from the systematic discrimination they face, as well as open up new opportunities for them," said Vogel. She commended the government for the bold equity measures it took in the successful Vancouver Island Highway Project, but pointed out that "the success of one project is not enough."

The Centre also calls on the government to take a proactive approach to improving women's paid employment by maintaining a strong and vibrant public sector in BC. "The public sector has been a source of stable, relatively-well paying jobs for women. Government cutbacks and privatization reduce the pool of good public sector jobs that fuelled much of the improvement in women's average earnings over the past several decades," said Vogel.