April 2003 Women and Work By 2001, women made up about half of the Women workers are also over-represented in labour force in Nova Scotia. Yet the value placed minimum wage jobs - which means they are on women’s work still lags far behind that of living below the poverty line and frequently being men - in terms of pay, promotions, working forced to use food banks to feed their families. conditions and benefits. Also, violence in the workplace continues to be Women workers are mostly found in the an issue of major concern to working women. In clerical, health and food service/food processing January, 2002, the Health & Safety Advisory sectors, all of which pay lower salaries than Committee submitted a recommendation to the work requiring less training and education provincial government calling for changes to the usually done by men. In addition to lower pay, Occupational Health and Safety Act, which many of the workers impacted by government would recognize violence in the workplace as a cutbacks in health care, education and social health and safety issue under the terms of the services have been women. act. This recommendation has yet to be enacted. ➤ What action will your party take to make sure the wage gap between women and men is eliminated? ➤ Will your party immediately put into place the recommendations of the Health & Feminists for Just and Equitable Public Policy (FemJEPP) Safety Advisory Committee, with respect to violence in the workplace? Provincial Advisory Committee — Women Matter! Women Vote! ➤ What is your party’s policy on increasing the minimum wage in Nova Scotia? In this Information Pamphlet . . . Women’s Centres Women’s Centres provide crisis support services, meet the demand for their vital services. You will find 16 key areas of concern to the women of Nova Scotia and our families. The format information and programs to women in their provides a brief overview of the current situation and is then followed by questions to pose to all communities. Women’s Centres work provincially Re-entry Training: political parties and their local candidates for Member of the Legislature (MLA) in Nova Scotia. falls within areas of community services, education Women’s Centres that have offered Re-Entry and health. Together, the eight Women’s Centres Training in their communities have had excellent This pamphlet is a “group effort” bringing together equality-seeking community groups, academic across the province provide services to more than success rates, with 80% of the women who take and community researchers, individual social activists and women in the labour movement in our 1,000 women every month. Our communities are this program either entering the workforce or province. We trust women across the province, in particular those most impacted by public policy, asking us to expand our services and provide furthering their education. There are waiting lists for will find this information useful in finding out their local candidates’ party positions on the areas of outreach programs in other areas. Provincial this program. Women’s Centres have developed the funding currently provided through the Department capacity to deliver the program throughout Nova concern to themselves and their families. of Community Services has not been stable, Scotia through a facilitator’s manual and trained adequate or long term. Women’s Centres are facilitators. What is now required in ongoing, stable substantially underfunded and are working hard to funding for this program. Get commitments ➤ Will you work to establish adequate, secure, long term funding for the eight from your candidates existing Women’s Centres? before you elect them . . . ➤ Will you work to ensure Women’s Centres are able to provide a full range of Know where they stand on programming including outreach services? the key issues impacting ➤ Will you work to ensure that Women’s Centres have the appropriate federal and women in Nova Scotia. provincial funding to enable them to provide their Re-entry Training Programs in their communities? Health Post Secondary Education Health is not only the absence of disease, but a gender or income. Across the board solutions Post secondary education should be a right not a Certain groups of women such as Black women, state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and to health care problems miss the mark - a privilege! It is important to the political, social, Aboriginal women living on reserve, female lone social well-being. Disease treatments cost more gender-based analysis helps to focus on the real and economic well being of women and their parents and women with disabilities remain than investments promoting health and well- problems and more effective solutions. For families in Nova Scotia. However, the current marginalized with respect to education and being. It is important for Nova Scotians to have example, midwifery is offered as a health care decline of provincial government funding for general equality. access to care and treatment in an equitable option in many other provinces, also teenage post secondary education in Nova Scotia has Recent research also indicates women must manner but it is critical that we look after our smoking rates are higher among girls than boys shifted the financial responsibility to the private achieve a much higher education to earn a living population as a whole, no matter who we are, and smoking cessation programs should address sector. This shift from the public to private wage, than do men. Therefore post secondary where we live, or what our culture, language, this particular fact. sector has caused increased tuition fees, a lack education is important for women to acquire a race, of equality, a decrease in quality, lack of profession or a career with a living wage to gain accessibility and a lack of public accountability. and maintain economic security and social Therefore post secondary education is a privilege stability for themselves and their families. ➤ Where does your party propose to spend our health care available mainly to those with higher incomes. dollars in the next 5 years? ➤ Will your post secondary education policies increase equality and ➤ How will you invest in promoting health and preventing access for women from all socioeconomic backgrounds? illness? ➤ Will your party freeze tuition fees? ➤ How will you invest in women’s health and well-being in Nova ➤ Will your policies reverse the previous financial cuts to post secondary Scotia? institutions and increase funding to post-secondary institutions? Homecare Mental Health Care in the home is women’s work. Women being and on their families and communities. One in five people struggle with some form of Such needs include, but are not limited to, provide more than 80% of the paid home care Privatization and cost cutting measures have led mental health issue. Research has identified isolation, stigmatization (particularly in small and and also provide a similar proportion of the to an increased burden on those providing clinical depression and anxiety as the two major rural communities), lack of proper medication, unpaid personal care for the elderly and for unpaid care in the home, and most of these issues. As women make up the majority of lack of supervised medication regimes, those of all ages with long term disability or unpaid caregivers are women. mental health consumers, based on population, substance and alcohol dependence or abuse, short term illness. Older women may be doubly the mental health needs of women are gambling addictions, lack of a participatory disadvantaged because, as a group, they are Mr Romanow has recommended that the increasingly being seen by community-based process that would include and empower more likely to need these services and to be Canada Health Act should be immediately women’s organizations. These needs are women in an action plan for their recovery and acting as caregivers for others. This has social expanded to include homecare. increasing in direct proportion to the growing more community-based mental health support and economic consequences on women’s well- social and economic stress in our communities. services. ➤ What do you think about the Romanow recommendation to establish a national homecare program? ➤ If you and your party are elected, what is your vision of a ➤ Given that it is widely recognized that mental health is key to homecare program for Nova Scotia? personal well being as well as the well-being of our families and communities as a whole, what policies does your party ➤ How will this program (or services) address the needs of Nova propose that would expand mental health support services for Scotia women who are the majority of those providing care in women to meet an increasing demand? the home? Early Learning and Child Care Programs for Children and Families Quality early learning and childcare programs play an important role in promoting the social, parents working shift work and week-ends. Special Thanks... emotional, physical and cognitive development Government funding initiatives are needed to of young children. They also provide provide direct care and learning for children in community support for Nova Scotia Families. settings such as childcare centres, family To the many equality-seeking childcare homes, preschools, and nursery Childcare needs to be of high quality, affordable schools. Types of investment could include community-based groups, academic and to families, inclusive of and responsive to capitol and operating funding, expansion of the children with differing abilities as well as to number of fees subsidies, access to free pre- community researchers, individual social activists children in various cultural and linguistic circumstances. Childcare services need to school programming in Family Support Centres, wage enhancement, training, professional and women in the labour movement across our provide the flexibility to respond to the varying needs of parents and children, particularly, single development and support, quality assurance and parent information and referral. province who made this publication possible. ➤ What will your party, if elected to government, do to respond to the varying needs of parents and children in NS? Contact: Women Matter! Women Vote! c/o Stephanie Hunter, FemJEPP Coordinator ➤ What funding initiatives will your party, if elected to email: email@example.com government, provide for direct care and learning for children Phone (902) 423-8025 in various child care settings in NS? Fax (902) 454-2437 Poverty Abortion: Women of low-income and their families have Women and their families are at Risk! Currently in Nova Scotia, women’s access to Women also face significant challenges in been hurt by the current changes to our social ➤A single parent (most often women) with abortion services is extremely limited. Most obtaining abortion as a result of anti-choice welfare system. They lack access to post one child would need to work two full-time abortion services are located in Halifax – at a gatekeepers. Planned Parenthood affiliates secondary education, and are forced into a job jobs at minimum wage to bring the family hospital unit dedicated to abortions, and at a across Nova Scotia hear numerous stories of market leaving them with part-time casual income up to the poverty line private clinic. Although there are services in women who cannot find a pro-choice doctor. temporary employment which does not pay a other communities, these are provided within a As a result, these women are faced with an wage that sustains them or their families. ➤70% of Nova Scotia single mothers live general gynecological practice and women may unintended pregnancy beyond the 16 week Dependency on the food bank has increased; below the official low-income cut off line not have the supportive environment found in a window period and are forced to seek services decent housing is almost an impossible dream ➤47% of unattached female seniors are living unit or clinic dedicated only to abortion services. outside of the province or to continue with this for any low-income family and as the cost of on low incomes in Nova Scotia The situation in Nova Scotia is challenging to unintended pregnancy. This can be very living rises, welfare rates have not. women who live outside of the city and who do traumatic for these women, many of whom are not have the resources to travel. youth. ➤ Will you and your party ensure that there is an increase in the ➤ Describe how your party will address the significant issues of number of health care settings in this province that provide poverty surrounding women of low income and their families abortion services? For instance, services should be available in in Nova Scotia. Sydney, Yarmouth and Amherst. ➤ How will you ensure that the voices of women of low-income ➤ Will you and your party actively address the ability physicians are included in your overall plan? have in denying women the right to choose an abortion? Housing Women’s Economic Security The federal and provincial government have Furthermore, it will not even begin to address Women’s economic security can only exist if women Women must be included in the development recently agreed to spend $37 million over the the need of people living on very low incomes, have access to: equal pay for work of equal value process of policies which promote our economic next four years, which is targeted at creating most of whom are renters and in critical need, (pay equity), credit, affordable quality childcare, security. Presently, women are tremendously under- new affordable housing units. This is the first and some of whom face particular challenges continuing education and personal safety at home represented in the political and financial decision- sign of funding for affordable housing Nova and need supportive housing. and in the work place. making process in this province. Scotians have seen in about 10 years. Housing In Atlantic Canada, women who work full-time, Women and their advocacy organizations have the Services Division of the Department of Neither will it furnish funds for community- year-round jobs only earn 71% of a man’s income. expertise and willingness to work with Community Services admits that this is not based organizations to help the people who are Also, one in six Nova Scotian women lives in poverty, government(s) to develop “good policy for women enough money to help a significant number of in need of affordable and supportive housing to most of whom are single mothers and unattached and their families” that will enable the social and the 47% of Nova Scotian renters who are develop appropriate, targeted solutions to meet elderly women. In a study of single mothers living in economic well-being of all Nova Scotians. paying more than 30% of their incomes to rent, those needs. Atlantic Canada, 78% reported household food and therefore are deemed to be in “core insecurity. need.” ➤ What will your party do to support pay equity? ➤ If you were elected, how would you work to address the ➤ How will your party ensure that women have equal access to credit? range of housing needs in Nova Scotia? ➤ How will your party ensure your policies reflect the concerns and issues of women in this province? For example, will your party work to provide economic supports for women, such as negotiating with the federal government to put women back in HRDC program funding as a designated group? Services for Abused Women and their Children Peace Women in Nova Scotia are still living with The 2002 Spring budget attempted to remove A peaceful community is one that is free from effective abroad. As peace-seeking Canadians we abuse and violence within their intimate nearly $1 million from transition houses, men’s oppressive emotions and actions. It embraces can reduce the burden on women by providing relationships. In fact, police report that the intervention programs, and women’s centres. security and harmony - in our homes, in our work, focused assistance and support to address the number of acts of violence and abuse It has been only due to the strong response of or in our schools. For many women and girls in double jeopardy of being a member of a visible committed against women by their intimate the public and the opposition parties that these Nova Scotia this is not their reality as discrimination minority and a woman. and violence continue to root themselves in our partners is on the increase. And yet the groups have been able to maintain their society. Gender equity is a fundamental step for creating a Government of Nova Scotia - despite its funding to this point. peaceful community. Research shows that in stated commitment to the issue of ‘family Also, considering the harsh reality of war and the equitable communities, where women have violence’ - has, since 1999: Transition House Association of Nova Scotia growing number of armed conflicts in developing decision-making roles, adequate resources and ➤Terminated the Family Violence Prevention member organizations provide vital services to countries, Nova Scotians must consider their access to services, peace is more attainable. But assist and support women living in or leaving responsibility to protect and promote the rights of when women are poor and powerless, discriminated Initiative abusive relationships - from shelter and women coming to us, often as refugees. Peace against or otherwise oppressed, peace will remain a ➤Terminated advocacy programs established counseling to advocacy and outreach for building must begin here at home if we are to be distant concept. under the ‘Framework for Action on women and their children. Family Violence’ ➤ What policies and measures will you adopt to ensure and encourage the participation of women in decision-making processes with regard to violence prevention and community peace building? ➤ Will you state your commitment to helping transition houses ➤ How will you support new initiatives to address racism and gender-based discrimination to strengthen and enhance their services, so that the vulnerable further support refugee and immigrant women? women and children most directly affected by ‘family violence’ ➤ To what extent will your party increase funding to current programs and organizations that are assured of safety and support? promote peace, work to address racism, and provide services to women affected by violence - for example, women’s shelters and outreach education programs? Legal Aid Services for Women Women In Conflict with the Law Without access to legal aid, women have no ➤disputes, workplace issues, including Women in the criminal justice system in NS are the women are rarely given passes required to access to justice. Women dealing with justice workplace harassment and wrongful rendered some of the most “invisible” women in attend these programs. issues need to know that they can access legal dismissal. the province. Removed from their communities to services through legal aid. Although the caliber serve their sentences at the Central Nova Scotia Many women are choosing to go in front of a judge of our Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyers is top- Women in conflict with the law often have the Correctional Facility, they face further isolation due and request federal time with far longer sentences notch, due to government budget cuts legal aid same needs. It is also very difficult for them to to the very location of the institution. This institution so they can receive programs as opposed to sitting access legal assistance when they are dealing has been designed along the Super Jail models in and doing nothing in provincial correctional facilities. lawyers are increasingly hampered in the Ontario, resulting in near maximum security services they are able to provide. Many women with issues which originate inside the prison system. conditions under which to do their sentence. This We are also criminalizing women with mental health have difficulty in accessing the legal aid services provincial facility offers virtually no education, issues and they do not get the treatment needed, as they need. Currently, Nova Scotia Legal Aid offers legal treatment or mental health programming. When their actions are seen as behaviours rather than Women require legal help when dealing with: assistance only on a limited basis for basic family provincial programming is offered, it is inconsistent symptoms of their mental issues. Upon release or law matters and for criminal offences - provided and or limited (i.e. school program only to Grade 10 receiving day parole, women are also faced with ➤Child custody and access, child support, the woman meets the financial needs test. This equivalent). The women’s days are filled with few reintegration supports which leads to peace bonds, divorce, division of property, does not allow the multi-layered needs of unskilled tasks such as doing laundry and preparing reactivating their addiction and often new criminal child welfare disputes, landlord/tenancy women to be addressed. bags with coffee packets. Where programs are charges resulting in the “revolving door” scenario. available through community agencies in Halifax, ➤ Will you state your commitment to ensuring that Nova Scotia ➤ What does your party propose to do to address 1) the current lack of maintains and strengthens our Nova Scotia Legal Aid services, programming for women while incarcerated, and 2) lack of access to to ensure that women truly have access to justice in this community programs that includes providing support and resources for Province? true re-integration? Environment Sydney Tar Ponds: Fisheries: The Sydney Tar Ponds and coke ovens site are Despite the collapse of many ground fish stocks, tens Canada’s largest toxic waste site. Sydney residents of thousands of Nova Scotians still depend on the experience serious health problems and die, on fishery for their livelihood. Provincial government average, ten years earlier than the average policy has been encouraging the development of oil Canadian. and gas off-shore, without having first identified the sensitive areas. This is true despite a commitment in Previous attempts at clean-up failed and actually the provincial energy strategy, “Seizing the increased contamination to adjacent areas. Opportunity,” to ensure advance identification of ➤ Will you and your party commit to a full important fishery and environmental areas. panel review of the remediation options for ➤ Will you and your party support local fishers hazardous sites in Sydney under the and place a moratorium on any oil and gas Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in exploration or development activities in order to ensure any clean up is protective of spawning, migratory and other sensitive human health and the environment? areas? ➤ Will you and your party commit to rejecting ➤ Will you and your party commit to incineration of toxic materials in Sydney or integrated coastal management to ensure anywhere else in Nova Scotia? community involvement in decisions about fisheries and competing industries as set out in the Oceans Act?