WORKING POLICY POSITIONS
Collected into five key sections (Foundational, Representation, Health, Accessing Services and Education) we cover issues facing Canadians going into the 2019 Federal election. We are continuing to refine our positions, the following is where PIFS stands as of May 9th, 2019. We anticipate modifications, and welcome feedback.
FOUNDATIONAL: IDENTIFY AS FEMINIST
We will be asking politicians and parties whether they identify as feminist: as advocates for equity and equality for all genders. This should be an easy question to answer in the positive in 2019.
FOUNDATIONAL: COMMIT TO SEEKING INTERSECTIONAL SOLUTIONS
We note that legislative decisions often appear to be made in isolation within departments thinking of a visualised ‘average’ Canadian, rather than in conjunction with other departments and with mindfulness of the impact to the varied Canadian experience. We propose politicians and political parties commit to enacting intersectional solutions: solutions which take into account the interconnecting impacts of legislative decisions on the needs and lives of Canadians. This, too, should be a straight forward commitment to make. In confronting the challenges facing us in 2019, this will be a requirement for a sustainable and equitable future for all.
FOUNDATIONAL: CREATE SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICIES
As the world contends with the ongoing revelations of the #metoo movement, all political parties at all levels should have readily available sexual harassment policies as a minimum standard. There is currently no requirement to do this, and PIFS has only found one federal party with a sexual harassment policy. Having a policy indicates how a party may deal with the ongoing systemic challenges highlighted by #metoo when forming government. We are therefore asking all parties to implement a robust sexual harassment policy and program.
REPRESENTATION: MORE WOMEN ON BOARDS
We note and commend the progress made by Bill C25, but there is slow progress on establishing a gender balance at a senior level in Canadian corporations and we don’t believe that Bill C25 goes far enough to encourage real change. We propose the amendment of Bill C25 to include a provision which requires companies to set and publish publicly an annual diversity quota or target as part of their diversity plan. Corporations would also be required to provide annual updates on their progress toward that goal and what was achieved during the year. International evidence demonstrates that requiring corporations to publish a goal increases progress toward diversity significantly, while allowing corporations the freedom to pursue greater diversity at the pace appropriate for their growth and executive recruitment cycles. Required diversity targets or goals also increase visibility of this space to promote greater dialogue about the challenges (real or perceived) in increasing diversity and provide an opportunity to celebrate success as diversity goals and targets are achieved.
We note that there are barriers to participation in democracy for women from many backgrounds. This reinforces existing imbalances in engagement, representation and problem-solving. We propose the following aggressive policy commitments:
- More public consultation and monthly open forums for more underrepresented groups to be able to engage in democracy.
- For Federal representatives to better use technology to allow MPs to remain in their constituencies for more time and to do more in their local communities by removing the need to travel to Ottawa on a weekly basis (eg: use of videoconferencing and electontric forms of voting, etc). This allows all MPs to have balance in their local personal lives (including family and band responsibilities).
- To redress the low numbers of representatives from marginalised groups, that Federal decision-making bodies have targets for equitable representation of all marginalized groups.
REPRESENTATION: TRANSPARENCY AND RESPONSIBILITY IN THE RCMP
We note that vulnerable persons and people from marginalized groups are disproportionately targeted by the RCMP. This is particularly evident in work with survivors of gender or sexualised violence, folx from black or Indigenous communities across Canada, and people with mental health problems and/or substance use. We propose to empower the RCMP civilian oversight committee to be able to investigate complaints about RCMP independently and transparently, removing the 1 year complaint time limit. The RCMP must also reform its current inappropriate and discriminatory complaints procedure. While our current judicial system stands, all Canadians must be held equal before the law, and that includes RCMP officers. These actions serve not only to protect average Canadians, but also RCMP officers themselves.
HEALTH: CLEAN WATER
We note that access to clean water continues to be an issue affecting many Canadians, particularly women in rural Indigenous communities. We propose support for the Water recommendations outlined in the Alternative Federal Budget 2019 by Council for Canadians: to ensure all Canadians have access to fresh, clean water as a human right; fund water and wastewater infrastructure; fund water research; safeguard lakes, groundwater, freshwater sources and oceans; exclude water as a tradable good, service or investment.
HEALTH: MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
We note a significant funding shortfall in mental health services. We propose allocating federal funding to intersectional organizations that recognize individual needs. This work must incorporate an acknowledgement of the systemic barriers that create the stresses around refugee and asylum status, race, sexual orientation, class, and gender. Work must also be done towards dismantling these systemic oppressions.
HEALTH: EQUALITY IN PHARMACARE
We note that there are inconsistencies in access and provision of Pharmacare at a provincial level, particularly for marginalized groups including Indigenous women, women with disabilities and women suffering from addiction. We propose a standardized Federal ruling on Pharmacare that recognizes the value of preventative healthcare in preference to emergency responses.
HEALTH: ECONOMIC EQUITY
We note that there is a persistent and ongoing disparity in income and wealth distribution across Canada: between genders, races, and those with mental or physical disability. This results in sustained negative impacts to personal, familial and community health, as well as social and economic well-being. We propose the immediate and official recognition that the purpose of economy be to enhance the economic well-being of all members of society equitably: commiting to focus on benefiting people rather than capital gain in the Canadian economy. We propose the following legislative measures:
- Greater family leave, and monitoring/regulation of pay equity in private sector.
- For the Government to enable facilitation of collective bargaining for non-unionised workers through an independent and easily accessible body.
- Create a ‘stock exchange transaction tax’ and/or apply the GST to stock exchange transactions to increase revenue in order to redress the economic imbalances, per above.
ACCESSING SERVICES: LOCALIZED FEDERAL SERVICES
We note many Federal services prioritize the standards in Ottawa, such as time zones and working hours, to the exclusion of the rest of Canada. We propose that Federal services best practice guidelines, funding, and training be revised to better serve all Canadians. Policy should recognize time and labour differences particular to provinces and communities with emphasis on recognizing the different social and systemic prioritizations of all Canadians. Such as in: work patterns; travel patterns; child and elderly care responsibilities; band responsibilities; unpaid community labour such as volunteering at schools, sporting associations, and religious institutions; the specific demands of the ‘gig economy’; as well as being actively informed about the additional challenges embedded in racial, class and disability inequity nationwide.
ACCESSING SERVICES: TGD2S PARTICIPATION
We note that there are many barriers to community safety and participation for folx in the Trans, Gender Diverse and 2 Spirit community, particularly in civic participation, public areas, and recreational activities. We propose a standardized commitment to ensure access and participation for all.
ACCESSING SERVICES: CHILDCARE
We note that Canada’s childcare shortage persists and remains a key barrier to providing economic freedom for Canadian women and non-binary parents. We believe that as a priority, Canada needs a national childcare strategy to provide access to affordable, quality childcare in all Canadian communities.
ACCESSING SERVICES: INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
We note that funding for International Assistance does not equally benefit women and non-binary people. We propose that funding should be specifically prioritized with recognition that there is disproportionate access to resources provided by development funding and aid, and so to take active measures to ensure that all have equal access to supplies (including adequate sanitary products), protection from violence, and access to education.
EDUCATION: EMBED INTERSECTIONAL PERSPECTIVES INTO THE CLASSROOM
We note that the intersecting challenges of gender, race, sexuality, Indigeneity and disability are not widely understood by the Canadian public. We propose incorporating intersectionality into the education curriculum and creating large-scale awareness campaigns in both rural and urban communities that promote an understanding of intersectional issues. To facilitate this, the Federal government should earmark funding to develop effective public awareness campaigns, working with the many excellent third sector organizations operating in the space.
EDUCATION: ADVOCACY FOR REFUGEES & ASYLUM SEEKERS
We note that there is negativity around the inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers into Canadian life, particularly for women and non-binary people who can face additional barriers. We propose more public awareness campaigns around multiculturalism in Canada, the UN Migrant Agreement, and myth-busting information about refugee resettlement concerns.
EDUCATION: MEDIA WATCHDOG
We note that there is a high level of misinformation being perpetuated by social media and news organizations without recourse. We propose expanding the role of the current election watchdog to become a permanent intersectional and transparent agency. This body should monitor and remove misinformation, as well as track and respond to technology-driven trends as they emerge. A central tenet of this work must be the robust engagement with the public about the process and the specific findings to assist in awareness of how to navigate our ever-changing media landscape. This monitoring body would work closely with social media companies to highlight best practice and remove malevolent bots where possible. The team should be composed of a mix of civil servants, industry experts, and community advocates.
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